REVIEW OF TUITION FEE-FREE EDUCATION POLICY IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA: INSPECTORS AND DISTRICT ADMINISTRATORS PIVOTAL

Challenges of implementing a free education policy have been many. Political will and funding are among the top issues, including education department’s capacity to monitor and evaluate the policy. From 2012 to 2016, the government’s commitment to implementation of Tuition Fee-Free Education (TFFE) policy has been better than the other attempts in 1981, 1993 and 2002. In addition, funding commitment was consistent and the amount committed to implementing the TFFE policy set the bench-mark for any future governments wanting to implement the free education policy.

Size of TFF funds since 2002

On the contrary, there were many challenges faced between 2012 and 2016. TFFE policy framework lacked detail from the beginning, though there were guides like the TFFE Manual 2012 to show attempts have been made to establish some control mechanisms. In fact, details of monitoring and evaluating was lacking and therefore a major obstacle to the success the policy both in the past and present.

For example the School Learning and Improvement Plans (SLIP) which is the key for knowing what has actually transpired on the ground (in schools), as far as accounting for TFFE spending was concerned, remained obscure.  By this I mean, the school inspectors (call them standard officers) and district administrators (DA) played an important role to not only maintain standard, but also improve standard. 

The inspectors and  DAs are a link between schools and department of education and this link is vital for monitoring school operations and providing accurate reports required by the Tuition Fee-Free Secretariat of the National Department of Education. And therefore, the standard officers and DAs not monitoring SLIP (school population, development plans, head teachers’ spending, etc.…) have a negative impact on the. overall monitoring and reporting of TFFE policy. Their roles are pivotal to whether the government gets an accurate report or not.


One could argue that the SLIP does not correlate to TFFE policy and its implementation, and the school inspectors and DAs have little to do with the school yearly plans. This is not true. The school yearly plan (SLIP) tells you all you need to know before releasing the government’s fund to a school; monitoring it on a regular basis; and reporting it as and when required. In brief, strictly monitoring SLIP gives you the ability to meet the challenges and limitations of implementing the TFFE policy.

Is it too late to talk about the TFFE policy? Well, the question of continuation of the policy is sketchy as are the election results post 2017 elections – no one knows what happens until it happens. So, we never know. But what we know is that the current government TFFE policy continued for the last five years – no government is the past has done that. It is an achievement. Nevertheless, there are many challenges.

Perhaps it is important to know that who (or which party) forms the government after 2017 election is NOT important. What is important is that EDUCATION, must, remain number one. The new government has to plan to ensure key stakeholders like the school inspectors and DAs perform their roles effectively. Also the new government must identify the KEY INDICATORS needed addressing within the education system, and address them properly from the beginning.



I have written extensively about the Tuition Fee-Free policy since its inception in successive years. The screen shots are the Abstract and Content pages of an academic paper I wrote for a post graduate study. The paper reviews three governments efforts in the past, compares it to the current government attempts and discusses 4 recommendations needed going forward.


An updated version of this paper  now available. You can download the Tuition Fee Free Education Policy in PNG PDF for free (⇒ PDF download)

Declaimer: All attempts have been made to ascertain the factuality of information presented in this academic paper. Please, let the writer know if there is anything you wish to point out in the comment section. You can use the Contact Form or Twitter ().




Students Sitting National Examinations at Grades 8, 10 and 12 - Overall Increase of 4 percent 2015 to 2016

Here is a quick spreadsheet graph of the number of Grade 8, 10 and 12 students sitting for the national examinations in the country in 2015 and 2016.

In terms of percentage the number taking exams increased by the following percentages (rounded to the nearest whole number): 

  • grade 8 increased by 3%, 
  • grade 10 increased by 7% and 
  • grade 12 increased by 6%. 

Overall there was an increase of over 4 % in the total number of students taking exams at grades 8, 10 and 12.

The graph shows figures released by the education department (and reported in print media) in 2015 and 2016.  

On the other hand, the numbers of students passing from grade 8 to 9, grade 10 to 11 and grade 12 to tertiary institutions have remained relatively low. In 2015, the retention at each stage was shocking and has not improved very much.

For more information on examinations and related issues, check the following links:

Examination 2014 – Grade 8, 10 and 12Students taking exams

Examinations 2015 - 2016: Grade 8, Grade 10, Grade 12 Exams Papua New Guinea



Students Taking Exams: 63, 535 Grade 10 Students, 24, 710 Grade 12 Students and 124, 095 Grade 8 Students

A total of 212,340 students in Grades 8, 10 and 12 are going to sit their final examinations starting next week with the Lower Secondary School Certificate Examination (Grade 10).
A total of 63, 535 Grade 10 students will sit the examination which starts on Monday, October 10 and ends on Friday, October 14.


Following that, the Upper Secondary School Certificate Examinations (Grade 12) begins on Monday, October 17 and ends on Wednesday, October 26. A total of 24, 710 students are sitting this exam.

The Basic Education Examination will follow on Monday, October 24 and ends on Thursday, October 27. This exam will see a total of 124, 095 Grade 8 students throughout the country sitting for it.

Acting Education Secretary Dr. Uke Kombra, PhD said these examinations are very important for the students because they contribute to their final assessments for the year.
Click on the image to see 2015 figures 

“School assessments are very important because they determine whether students can be selected to the next level of education or get employed,” Dr Kombra added.

He urged parents, guardians and teachers to give as much support as possible to help students sit these examinations.

The Acting Secretary also reminded everyone to ensure that there is no cheating in these examinations.

“The penalty for cheating or assisting to cheat in the National Examination is Non Certification. I urge the External invigilators, Schools and Standards Officers to report any malpractices to the Measurement Services Division for analysis and action,” said Dr Kombra.

He urged all concerned parties to make every effort to give all the students and schools “a fair go” and to be honest and sayNOto examination cheating.
2016
“On behalf of the Department of Education I wish all our Grade 10, 12 and 8 students the very best in their examinations," said Dr Kombra.

NOTE: To compare the figures for the past years, click on the image or follow this link.

Source: Loop Author 17:45, October 8, 2016

GRADE 12 EXAMINATIONS - CHANGES TO THE NATIONAL EXAMINATION DATES

The Acting Secretary for Education Dr Uke Kombra has advised all the Provincial Administrators, Chairpersons of the Provincial Education Boards, Provincial Education Advisors, Church Education Secretaries, Principals of Secondary Schools, Secondary Schools Standards Officers and Board Chairpersons of Secondary Schools of the changes to the 2016 Grade 12 National Examination dates.


The changes were made because principals of some schools have not complied with the standard procedures used to guide students to select subject combinations. This situation has forced the Department to revise this year’s Grade 12 National Examination Timetable to be conducted for two weeks when it should have taken only one week.

The Secretary’s Circular Instruction has been issued on 7/9/16 to advise the schools and provincial authorities about the recent changes so that they can familiarize themselves before the scheduled Grade 12 Examination is conducted on Monday, 17th October to Wednesday, 26th October as shown on the revised timetable below:

Day/Date Examination Paper Time



Monday 17/10/16 Advance Mathematics 1 and General Mathematics 1 8 am – 10.30 am

Tuesday 18/10/16 Physics 8 am – 10.30 am
History 11am – 1.30 pm

Wednesday19/10/16 Chemistry 8 am – 10.30 am
Economics 11am -1.30 pm

Thursday 20/10/16 Language & Literature 1 and Applied English 8 am – 10:30 am
Geography 11am – 1.30 pm

Friday 21/10/16 Advance Mathematics 2 and General Mathematics 2 8 am- 10.30 am
Information Communication Technology 11 am – 1.30 pm

Monday 24/10/16 Applied Science 8 am – 10.30 am
Accounting 11am – 1.30 pm

Tuesday 25/10/16 Biology 8 am – 10.30 am
Legal Services 11am – 1.30 pm

Wednesday 26/10/16 Business Studies 8 am – 10.30 am
Geology 11 am – 1.30 pm

(For this year's dates click HERE)

Dr. Kombra instructed all examinations to be administered on the time and dates as published and not based on Measurement Service’s calendar 2016 as the new changes supersede the initial timings already printed on the Examination Booklets especially for History, Economics, Applied Science, Accounting, Biology, Legal Studies, Business Studies and Geology.

Any time other than the timings given will nullify the Examination and the Examination Marks will not be used for moderation of the final results.

The Secretary’s Circular also reminded everyone that the penalty for cheating or assisting to cheat in the National Examination is Non Certification, and the External invigilators, Schools and Standards Officers must report all observed malpractices to the Measurement Services Division for analysis and action.

The teachers are not allowed to view, read or access Exam Papers while conducting the exams. Mobile phones are also banned from the Exam Rooms for students and all school personnel. Principals and Deputy Principals must stay in school during all exams and enforce strict implementation of the schedule and abide by all Measurement Services regulations relating to examinations.

All concerned parties have been urged to make every effort to give all students and schools “a fair go” and to be honest and say NO to examination cheating.

PRESS STATEMENT
DR. UKE KOMBRA, PhD
Acting Secretary for Education