Mathematics Exam Resource Website: Former Education Secretary Comments

Your initiative (Mathematics Examination Resources website) is welcomed as an approach students can prepare themselves well ahead of examinations. Consequently, the issues and challenges are briefly discussed to deepened members of the public perceptions on the examination papers, examination, teaching and learning, school curriculum, memorisation and thinking strategies.


Readers' note: The comments are by/from the former PNG Education Department Secretary Dr Michael Tapo in response to the new initiative we spearheaded - making online resources for teachers and students. We thank Dr Tapo for reaching out and the comments below.
The math resource website is called Mathematics Examination Resources (MER). Here is why (The Reason) we create this Math resource website. Take a look and let us know what you think.

An in-depth article from Dr Tapo was published on PNG Insight parent website titled 'Thinking strategies Help Students Solve Problems' - read here.  


Immediate challenges in educational approaches

Central to all of the approaches taken, the century-long learning phenomenon of Thinking versus Memorising of facts in the late 1960s -1980s are worth revisiting. Approaches such as:

  • students were routinised memorising of facts, and
  • learn to remember and then display this at the Grade 6, Grade 8, and Grade 10 examinations. 
When they fail to understand the examination questions and cannot remember the facts they fail to meet the achievement level to high school or to the tertiary and university education.


Problem Solving and Thinking Strategies

School education examination in Papua New Guinea (PNG) since 1975 to 2020 and beyond is all about Knowledge Gathering and Remembering and is significant and very much dependent on the quantity of teaching, quality of teaching, and teacher quality.  

The problem has and continues to be so and is an urgent and acute problem associated very much to the Problem Solving or best described as Thinking.

Almost all high and secondary school education in Papua New Guinea failed to focus Problem Solving Strategies. And have limited teaching and learning strategies that address the scientific approach (of teaching thinking strategies) required to solve problems.  Hence, its an apparent strategy and definite means to knowing the facts from knowledge and skills taught and learned in primary, high and secondary examinations.


Importance of teaching the syllabus 

The amount of time spent in teaching and learning of mathematics, Science and Grammar is interconnected to the number of multiple practices each child assumes in class in these subjects are significant to avoiding and dependency on past and recent examination papers. 

The current culture of schooling and learning is dependent on schools and teachers must teach children more and make them work harder to increase their information on the level of knowledge and skills planned around the subject learning being learned.  

Foremost, the level of individual child intelligence and termly achievements in a subject learning area must be corrected with the facts (knowledge and skills acquisition). Students primarily learn best if they can remember these facts. 


Knowledge and skills being examined 

The ambiguity of language and phrases used in the past and more recent examination papers indicate the facts of knowledge and skills being examined can or could lead to confusion.

Some questions can mislead students selecting or choosing to answer a question in future examinations because of a similar question and answer from the past examination papers and likely answer that is expected in the 2020 or 2021 examination papers.

The quest for high and secondary examinations is placing more emphasis on the thinking strategies which leads children to creativity, problem solving, inquiry, critical approach of thinking in a subject learning area being learned. 


Expectations and clarity of examinations 


Papua New Guinea children in 21st Century must be encouraged and have a voice in determining what is taught in the National Curriculum, what is examined and the rules applied to assessing and measuring of facts in knowledge and skills in examinations.

Quality of teaching and teacher quality needs major shifts towards thinking strategies and say goodbye to the current heavily depended ideology of 'chalk-talk and certainty-principle’ which is central to there is a right and wrong answer to every question! 

Dr Michael F Tapo, EdD 

No comments: