SBE Awareness: English Only - Elementary Schools To Start With Teaching Phonics, Handwriting Ignored Part Two

Commentary - The Education Secretary talked about increasing time allocation to subjects taught at elementary schools. It is achievable if courses taught in Outcome Based Curriculum are slashed, giving enough time to add to Mathematics, for example. The core subjects to be taught at Elementary schools are Language, Mathematics, English and Culture and Community. 

The idea of scripted teachers' lesson plans is ideal during the introduction of SBE. It must be done properly and in detail rather than a brushed work.

Scripted plans must be complimented with worksheets or teaching aids. If the resources are missing, lessons plans are likely to have little or no use.

I like the way Dr Micheal Tapo explained teaching of phonics, though there is not enough detail. How can elementary teachers teach spelling or reading with emphasis on Phonics? Two common  ways to teach early-years pupils 'how' to sound words are either by learning the sound of letters before sounding words; and or memorising sight words. Put together and phonics make sense. 

FOr example, the 'consonant sounds' and 'vowel sounds' have to be taught at stages. By this I mean instead of learning A, B, C, D, E, F, ....X, Y, Z it would be better to sound them as Aaa, baa, caa, dee, eee, faa, gaa..... Xaa, Yaa, Zaa with the emphasis placed on Aaa, Eee, Iii, Ooo and Uuu. 

These are the basic sounds when reinforced properly at an earlier age, established correct pronunciation, eloquence and accentuation. This 'standard' if developed properly and taught rigorously, like in the days our forefathers, will see great results in students' ability to speak, read, write and use proper English.

What I can be critical about is the emphasis on 'writing'. Writing is a skill. It must be developed properly at Elementary school. But, why is not prescribed alongside Phonics?
The NDoE needs to improve on their ability to clearly set out how to teach Handwriting. This is important and must be part of early years learning. I hope the secretary can take this into consideration. 

Another oversight is the assumption that elementary teachers have teaching aid like mobile phones. The NDoE thinks that they can provide teaching resources in SD cards for teachers to use. Using mobile phones as teaching aid has limitations though the intention is good. Some limitations include battery longevity, visibility, audibility and other practical aspects within classroom setting. 

I am for the Standard Based Education. I want to see it taking off. Despite that, I am of the opinion that the change is far from creating an Education revolution in the country. Not because it is a bad idea. It is simply not prepared well - the change must be smart, sharp and efficient.  

I am afraid after 22 years of Outcome Based Education and scrapping of it, Papua New Guinea is likely to have gone down the same path with SBE as far as preparation, awareness and implementation is concerned. 

Read Page 2 of secretary release in line with commentaries in Part One and Part Two (above)


Increase in time allocation

There will also be an increase in the time allocation for teaching of English, language and mathematics. The new time allocation for English is 300 minutes per week and for language it is 300 minutes per week while mathematics has increased from 210 minutes per week to 240 minutes per week, an increase of 30 minutes at the elementary level.

Use of phonics

In the first 10 weeks of the first term (Term 1) in 2015, every elementary pupil will be taught reading and spelling using phonics, a method based on the sounds of letters, groups of letters and syllables.

Elementary pupils will also be prompted to read books that the World Bank-backed READ PNG project has provided for classroom libraries so that every pupil is encouraged to read from the beginning of their school life. 

The DOE has produced new curriculum documents in preparation for the teaching of the elementary SBC in 2015. In OBC, elementary teachers were given samples of big lesson books and asked to develop their own lessons using the language of instruction. Hence, teachers spent too much time developing resources and very little time on high-quality lesson delivery, resulting in poor education at the elementary level.

The DOE’s Curriculum Development and Assessment Division (CDAD) has produced scripted lessons and teacher guides:

• English scripted lessons;
• Mathematics scripted lessons;
• Language scripted lessons; and
• Culture and community teacher guide.

In the SBC scripted lessons, detailed lessons in English have been written by the curriculum writers at CDAD for each elementary subject. What the elementary teacher has to do is simply pick up the lesson plan for each period and teach. 

The teacher will spend less time preparing lessons and consequently will spend more high-quality time with the elementary pupils in the teaching and learning activities. Other resources will also be provided to each elementary teacher and class for effective teaching throughout the year. 

The DOE has re-introduced Shell Books to be used together with School Journals to encourage elementary pupils to learn to read English books at an early age. These are produced by the DOE. Shell books are small readers containing stories, with pictures, from Papua New Guinea. They are written in English and Tok Pisin, with space for teachers to translate the stories into their own languages and with questions for the children. 

These books complement the English and language teaching and can support culture and community and mathematics teaching at the elementary level. There are also DVDs containing dramas, songs and music. There are also SD cards for mobile phones containing songs to accompany elementary scripted lessons so teaching and learning become playful and fun, in order to allow elementary pupils to enjoy their lessons. 

The DOE believes that all elementary teachers have private mobiles phones with slots for SD cards, to be used during lessons as his/her teaching aid. In our next editorial we will elaborate on other resources to support and complement the syllabuses.

Dr. Michael F. Tapo, EdD

Secretary for Education



PNG Insight Maths Exam Resources for Grade 8, 10 and 12

PNG Insight Maths Exam Resources for Grade 8, 10 and 12