Education is New Ireland top priority in 2021 - Sir Julius Chan

The Division of Education in New Ireland is ready to move forward after it had frank and open talks with the New Ireland Government and the Provincial Administration on Thursday. 

Governor Sir Julius Chan in an unusual “call out” to reprioritize Education as a pivotal sector invited the Provincial Education board to a round table talk at the New Ireland Legislative Assembly conference room. Present was Chairlady Dr Kappa Malpo, Acting Director Education Wesley Siangat, Appointment officer Gerard Bekeman, Acting Manager Standards Patrick Neman, Senior Primary School Inspector George Choi, District Education Co-ordinator Renson Warkurai, Inspector Godfrey Lutham and Chaiman Education in PEC Felix Katibum, Provincial Administrator Lamiller Pawut, CEO Finance Richard Andia and Director Subsidy Iola Tamtu.

Sir Julius Chan Education Priority
Image: New Ireland Media Unit/Facebook 2021

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One of the key issues raised was on the standard of Education in the province and how to improve it. Findings included a lack of Qualified teachers teaching in all schools, a lack of School Inspectors to police standard and quality in schools, a lack of school infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of students, funding and constraints requiring improved management and financial trainings for school principles to maintain quality administration in their schools.

Dr Malpo also touched on the need to improve the provinces Min Rating Index (MRI) which is the performance average of students per school. “ We must aspire to give our best to each individual student if we are to see an improvement in our MRI’s. And the MRI’s have a correlation with the quality of teachers we have in our schools. We need qualified teachers and we must endeavour to get all teachers to Bachelor level,” said Dr Malpo.

The need for the introduction of more Flexible Open Distant Education ( FODE) into the province was also discussed. With the Educationists stating that just because a student does not do well through the normal education system does not mean that they are failures. Work on the setting up of the New Ireland University and Namatanai Technical college also continues.

Taking in the issues and suggestions by the Education team Governor Sir J relayed that while the New Ireland Government could not fix all the dilemma’s faced by the Education sector it could intervene in areas that are within the policy framework. 

He said his Government through the subsidy division has been actively allocating funds directly to schools and has sperate funding specifically for the upskilling of teachers who wish to pursue higher degrees and encouraged them to utilize the program. For infrastructure development he made particular emphasis on the West Coast Kulube was picked to have a new high school built. He encouraged the Education Division to think new when it came to the construction of the school. Separate meetings will be conducted to discuss more on the rollout of Education infrastructure in the province.

The Governor’s School of Excellence located at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) International School is another positive outcome of Government policy. With a number of students selected through the policy getting high grades last year. 

Sir J thanked the Education Division representatives for taking time to really take stock of the current status of Education in the province, outlining areas of weakness and offering constructive solutions to improve the sector.

“ We cannot solve all the problems but we must adjust our priorities.  We all have our good and bad sides, we just need to choose and create a balance to move forward,” said Sir J.

According to New Ireland Education, it operates 560 schools. With a school a population of over 59, 765 and 2,160 teachers. The Province has improved its effort to deliver quality education across all sectors of education.

In 2019 grade 10s and 12s placed New Ireland in the Top 5 amongst other secondary schools in the country. NIP overall mean average index was 10 behind Pom, East New Britain and East Sepik. 

In 2020 the Covid pandemic contributed to almost 2 months of out of class time for all students in schools. The lost times were catered for through rearranged timetabling and extra classes in most of the examinable grades ( 8,10,12). According to results for performance in examinations for grade 8, the cut-off mark was 75 out of 150. The highest score was 146/150. For Grade 10 the MRI was 77%. All high schools moved up by 1 point. Lihir Secondary school came 10th in the country.

Source: New Ireland Provincial Govt Media Unit

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