Papua New Guinea Education System: A System Battered Since Tuition Free Policy, No Plan Of Action

The National Department of Education has seen many changes. Dr Joseph Pagalio, Dr Musawe Sinebare and Dr Michael Tapo were at the helm and saw the changes through. They can attest to the fact changes are not bad.

But it is ominous PNG’s education system is undergoing four changes since Tuition Free Fee policy was introduced without clear guidelines. This is a recipe for disaster. It is better to avoid repeating mistakes encountered when implementing Outcome Based Education (OBE). This is a generational change. It must be thought through properly.

Lack of planning was obvious before school started. First, Papua New Guinea did not have a 10 year education plan to date. National Education Plan 2005 – 2014 (NEP 2005 – 2014) lapsed last year. If there was a committee working on it, why was it not out?

A 10-year plan is crucial. It puts in perspective a working plan for all stakeholders to follow. It would be better if NEP 2015 – 2024 was made available to everyone sooner rather than later.

The second change is the change is structure, Two-Six-Six: two years of elementary school, six years of primary school and six years of secondary school. I highlighted differences between new and old structures in an earlier post.

The education system is expecting a structural readjustment – just how this will happen is as important as when it will happen. The education minister mentioned that structural change will take effect next year, 2016. However, it would be better if he stated how NDoE would roll it out nationwide.

The third change is the change is curriculum. Make no mistake, reverting to Standard Based Curriculum (from Outcome Based Curriculum) is change in educational curriculum. It is about changing educational instruction – the way works is done. So, what kind of instruction is changing? What unit (or topic, or objective, etc.) is changing? What makes it different to OBE? How can stakeholders, including teachers, compare and contrast OBE to SBE? It is better to give answers to those questions to clarify misunderstanding, is it not?

The final change that needs taking place is implementation of 12 recommendations made by Parliamentary Referral Committee on Education (PRCE) on teachers’ welfare.  Ganim report cannot be left to gather dust. The education minister has to table this report. Parliament must deliberate on it findings. There is never a better time to hear our teachers’ cries than now.

All in all, since the government’s Tuition Free Fee policy started, the education system has got its fair share of battering. It is time to put in motion a clear plan of action and reward our teachers properly.

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