6 Key Views for Policy Construction - Dr Tapo

These views are forwarded to inform the readers, and the public, of the challenges of a  changing education system in Papua New Guinea. In particular the central business of the 

  • initial teacher preparation, 
  • professional practice, 
  • teacher supply and demand, 
  • GPAs (Grade Point Averages), and 
  • Teachers registration and reregistration.
teachers education policy
(Dr Tapo's views are raised to inform readers on matters pertaining to education and policy development in PNG)

All of which are inclusive and overwhelm presentation of education quality and stipulated in the vision and mission of the Education Department and the Education Act 1983 (consolidated to no. 13 of 1995).

In light of the challenges of new graduates lacking important skills, teachers education and practice of new teachers, six considerations have been highlighted to give direction for policy formulation at the end of this discussion.

Education policies and practices 

Explanatory Note: PNG INSIGHT has documented multiple public insights into school education and other educational practices impacting directly and indirectly on Papua New Guineans livelihood and community at large.

Education is seen as a right for every school-aged child. But this far, there are overwhelming gaps in the policy formulation, planning, economic absorptive capacity, and overall capacity. 

There is a greater need to develop sustainable development strategies and implementation activities.

At present, the limited reliance knowledge, capital utilisation and the likely impacts are challenges that have merits to interrogate the policies and practices such as the 

  • high educational failures, 
  • unemployment, 
  • high unit costs of university education, secondary, TVET and FODE programs, etc.

Hence, the discussion hereafter is more than just examination, selection and admission, GPAs, teachers recreational leave fares, standard-based curriculum, teaching and learning resources.

Considerations and explanations

The concerns are ominous: increasing population, teacher supply and demand, schools graduating school leavers with lesser skilled and low GPAs, pupils at graduation, overly high student class size, high pupil to teacher ratio, and teacher absence. Other concerns include:

  • vacant teacher position,
  • unregistered teachers,
  • unqualified teachers,
  • teacher position mishaps,
  • inspections,
  • teaching and learning resources,
  • teacher knowledge, and 
  • lack of understanding of the curriculum.

The list goes on.

Bare Foot Education: Lifelong Consequences

The inherent gaps and sustainability resource absorptive capacity are so real. These all contribute to the gist of this forum 'Bare Foot Education: lifelong Consequences'.

It was great to watch the televised captions of the deemed graduated Diploma in primary teaching from Balob Teacher's College. So to was the principal and the follow-up by fellow colleagues deputy and the secretary for education making a genuine effort to correct the malpractice of established parts of the Education Act 1983 (consolidated to no. 13 of 1995).

balob teachers college
Source: EMTV News 10/02/2021

Standardised reporting practices and processes

Colleges and the Department have established policies, practices and procedures as standardised practices and processes used for selecting, admission, teaching, learning, assessments, and reporting of a novice student teacher (s) achievement standards and professional practice through the two or three-year diploma.

The selection and admission committee, Academic advisory committee and Governing councils are clear on these procedural mandatory requirements clearly defined in the numerous subdivisions of the Act.

Inspection, vetting and action

Membership and attendance, reporting and recommendations from committees and boards are submitted to the Secretary for Education for vetting and action by the directorates and divisions of the Education Department.

This happening to deregister potential beginning teacher graduates who have not entered practice without a practice licence is an administrative judgement error. 

Inspection of a new teacher at work is the only evidence-based and is the professional duty of the inspector. Hence, the recommendation of a teacher or teachers to get a teacher practice licence. 

Only then the performance standards to register or not to register is the question which can lead to suitability and unsuitable report of a teacher to deregister a beginning teacher.

The ambiguity to deregister prior to teacher posting, in a position with a number, in a school does have its underlying motives. This decision is void and in the near future could become part of the practice inconsistent with the established quality standards, measures and guidelines.

6 key views for policy construction

The way forward given the standardised practices that exist in the Education Act 1983 (consolidated to no. 13 of 1995), I offer these views for construction by policymakers, committees, and governing councils of Teachers colleges. These are sixfold:

1) Leader/managers 'show cause" and take a zero-tolerance

Treat the Balob demonstration as a means. It has never happened before, in the life of teacher education presentation since 1975.

Leader/managers 'show cause" and take a zero-tolerance to ensure established quality standards procedural guidelines are honoured. And well understood by a person delegated the power as the Education Authority to act on behalf of the Secretary for Education. Secretary who is the Accreditation Awarding officer of the state on education;

2) Regulate Teacher Professional Standards

Established and regulate Teacher Professional Standards and even go as far as a Parliamentary Bill to enact the proper standards for teacher education providers, specialised programs for specialisations, novice, beginning and practising teachers with particular specialisations, etc;

3) Papua New Guinea Board of Teacher Registration

Established Papua New Guinea Board of Teacher Registration with specific functions and in partnership with the Department of higher education, science and technology and the DHERST Act and the Department of Education and the Education Act, and the Teaching Service Commission and the TSC Act;

4) Separate autonomous body of standards

Divorce the teacher professional standards, quality standards and assurance mechanisms, and the framework of the national standards embedded in the Education, Teaching Service Commission, and DHERST Acts of Parliament to a separate autonomous body;

5) Review Understanding of GPA, Selection and Admission - NDoE and DHERST

Review overall understanding of the grade point average (GPA), selection and admission. Foremost, courses and alphabetical ratings across schools' achievement standards and awards at the completion are not satisfactory merits. 

These merits awards given to grade 12 as the specific grade level has confounding and complex quality assurance concerns because inhibiting factors interconnected and interwoven with grade 12 certificates at High schools, secondary school, national high schools technical high schools and vocational schools and Flexible Open and Distance Education (FODE); and

6) Define Grade 12 and its Equivalence Guidelines

Grade 12 and its equivalence guidelines are defined. For the moment, all school leavers who are deemed grade 12 and or with equivalence continue to show knowledge and skill gaps. 

They have survived the specific grade levels in absence of the required aptitude abilities whereas confidence and competence of knowledge and skill level very much different and do impact the selection, admission and completion of initial teacher preparation. 

Hence, the Balob Teachers College demonstration and the deregistration announcement and action.

Dr Michael F Tapo, EdD 


Editor's note: Dr M.F Tapo has over 40 years of experience, working in the education sector and his contribution is invaluable, balanced and insightful. He is a former PNG Department of Education Secretary. 

We are delighted to have Dr Tapo's thoughts on the discussions on Education and Development on our platform. Related articles: Problem Solving and Thinking Strategies and Thinking strategies Help Students Solve Problems.

thinking strategy
Image: PNG Insight. Supplied, Dr Tapo

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