PHASE OUT EXAMS, EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION, FODE, TVET - Why now?

COMMENTARY: The PNG education system is going through significant changes in 10 years to 2029 as indicated in the new National Education Plan 2029 (NEP). Here are the main points:

  • Phase-out Grade 10 & 8 exams and introduce what is called National Education Quality Assessment Testing.
  • Students will continue to Grade 12 without taking the normal exams at Grade 8 and 10, only 1 exit/exam at Grade 12.
The education department and the PNG govt want Churches and Private institutions to do more to deliver Early Childhood Education in what it called the Public-Private and Church Partnership. The department noted that Early Childhood Education is NOT its responsibility at present, however it sees Early Childhood learning as an important entry point in education.

School restructure will result in the removal of the Elementary Education Structure and replacing it with Preparatory Schools, prep. A new 1-6-6 structure will come into effect.

This is the structure that many of (if not you) your parents and grandparents have been through. It is like going back to where we started! So why now? Somebody had got it completely wrong. 

The Education Structure 1-6-6

  • Prep 1 year, one entry (1)
  • Primary School, Grade 1 to Grade 6 (6)
  • Sec/National High Schools, Grade 7 - 12 (6)
Indicatively, the 1-6-6 structural adjustment is going to be a huge task.

The education dept plans to 'park' FODE and TVET in high/secondary schools. That would mean that distance education and technical vocational education will be part of the mainstream schools. A better option for 'absorbing' the high number of students at these levels, but just 'parking' these institutions is not good enough. The High/Secondary schools are not parking areas, they are institutions in their own respects.

The CCVE curriculum is in line with the PNG's vision and mission embedded in the Constitution - Christian Country.

In retrospect, a better curriculum teaches the Traditional Ethics & Respect for Elders, Land and Community. CCVE curriculum is absent of the important traditions and cultures of Papua New Guinea. 

What is Christain education when the local knowledge, languages, respect, war history and traditional cultural practices are neglected and or completely absent from the curriculum?

NEP2029 must be a practical document, unlike other past 'paper plans'!

Read the extract from the NEP 2029 below. PNG Insight's Tweets are aimed to add value to this discussion on education planning and development taking place in the country.

You can find the education apps and directory listings here

Fiji is known to have performed really in it Education Goals
NOTE: Fiji has been able to effectively align the Global Education Goals (MDG 2 and SDG 4) to its local targets - performed extremely well as compared to Papua New Guinea. READ ABOUT IT HERE

Background

  1. The current NEP 2020-2029 supersedes the NEP 2015-2019.
  2. The development of the NEP 2020-2029 is based on the best-practice and lessons learnt from the implementation of the NEP 2005-2014, NEP 2015-2019, research documents, reviews, Impact Projects, Programs and data from the Education Management Information System
  3. The National Education Plan was completed in January 2020 and then went through several consultation processes before the CoVID 19 lockdown. The plan was finally approved in principle by NEC in its 19th meeting in 2020 and through the NEC decision 347/2020.
  4. Every province will play a critical role in the implementation of the NEP using the same framework. Provinces will develop their 3 Year Provincial Education

Implementation Plans using the Nine (9) Focus Areas in the NEP 2029

The nine focus areas in the NEP for the next 9 years are:

1. Early Childhood Education 

That all Papua New Guinean children are provided with an opportunity to enrol in an Early Childhood Education program to ensure their full school readiness for entry into the formal education system.

2. Access

That all Papua New Guineans have access to 13 years of education and training in a safe and hygienic environment that is conducive to learning.

3. Equity

That all Papua New Guineans will have equal opportunity regardless of geographic location, economic circumstances, gender and disability.

4. Teachers and teaching

That there will be sufficient well-trained and qualified teachers to meet student demand with resources and support at schools to allow for quality teaching and learning taking place.

5. Quality Learning

That an appropriate curriculum and assessment system is in place to allow learners, supported by relevant and sufficient learning materials, to acquire globally comparable skills and knowledge, certificated when appropriate, required for each to lead a productive and healthy life and contribute meaningfully to national development.

6. Education pathways

That there are easy-to-access pathways available outside of the traditional post-primary education sector that will allow learners to choose an equivalent, alternative way which to attain the knowledge and skills that they need to lead a happy and fulfilling life

7. Local management and partnership

That strong local education leadership at the district, community and school level has ensured well-managed schools, monitored on a regular basis, that are supported by and are fully accountable to the communities that they serve.

8. Management and administration

That national, provincial and district systems will operate efficiently, utilising appropriate information technology, that will allow schools and teachers to focus on improved student learning outcomes.

9. Citizenship and values

That when children exit from the education system they have a sense of who they are and where they come from in respect of Christian principles, their customs, cultures and beliefs, and show tolerance to and an acceptance of PNG ways

Major Strategic Features of the NEP 2020-2029

13 Years of Quality Universal Education: Under this plan, through the school restructure reform, the Department of Education is now taking a bold step to declare 13 years of Universal Education. Children will start at the age of 6 in a preparatory grade and receive a relevant 13 years until they reach grade 12. The move is an exciting and highly significant step forward for PNG as it will see PNG lead in commitments to new global targets.

One Entry One Exit: Children to complete school at Grade 12 and Grade 12 certificate to be the recognized certificate.

Restructure of the School Systems: The plan carefully lays out the 1-6-6 school structure which will see elementary education phased out and replaced as Pre School. 

Key features include the following:

  • Offer 13 years of universal education,
  • One entry at prep and one exit at grade 12.
  • Early childhood will become part of the formal system in 2023 preparing a child for formal schooling at prep grade.
  • Primary education will start at grade 1 and finish at grade 6.
  • High School will start at grade 7 and finish at grade 12.
  • National High Schools to become schools of excellence.

As the restructure takes effect there will be a need to build new or expand existing infrastructure to cater for additional enrolment. The infrastructure development will happen gradually over the plan period.

Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education is not at present the responsibility of the DoE but, there is an increasing acknowledgement of its importance and the global call to promote early childhood learning has challenged the department to develop an ECE Policy and to include ECE in this plan. In this plan period, a PNG model for ECE to capture especially the 4 and 5 year olds will take a Public-Private and Church Partnership approach until such time the government takes on board all aspects of all ECE teaching and learning.

Districts and Churches to partner in delivering Early Childhood Education 

Qualified and competent teacher: To cater for 13 years of universal education, teachers in all sectors must receive high-quality pre-service programs and further undergo professional development programs through regular in-service. Along with improved teacher quality, factors such as the provision of suitable housing and better administration of teacher conditions and welfare are critical.

Infrastructure: An important aspect of quality is adequate school infrastructure. There are many schools in the country that do not have this and the Plan required a significant commitment from all parties, including different levels of Government, schools themselves and local communities, to improve this situation. More than just classrooms, the Plan also required specialist buildings to reflect the importance being afforded the STEM disciplines. It is impossible to know just how much has been done because records are not kept. A start has been made on encouraging sound Water, Sanitation Hygiene (WaSH) practices.

Standards-Based CurriculumOutcome-based Education has been phased out and replaced with Standards-Based Education. The standards-based curriculum will be used in all schools. An attempt to harness the power of the digital age in this plan will see the production of the curriculum in electronic forms for e-learning. 

Citizenship and Christian Values Education (CCVE): Implementing CCVE curriculum will pave the way forward for children to be taught life-changing and guiding Christian principles values and ethics

Education Pathways: To achieve Universal Education, students need to be able to choose the most suitable pathways to their needs. This plan looks at developing and promoting an understanding among parents and students for TVET education pathways, purpose and routes to employment. Strengthening the FODE system and linking FODE and TVET will provide a viable option for students’ movements between the education pathways.

Flexible, Open & Distance Education and Technical, Vocational Education Training: FODE and TVET to be parked in a High School or Secondary School in 2021 and onwards. Provincial Governments and Districts to ensure at least one local level Government has a high school.

General Features Education in Papua New Guinea 2029

Equity

Despite the progress that has been made in providing education to an increasing number of children and young people, not all Papua New Guineans have been able to benefit fully from these advances. It has long been acknowledged that girls and women have been at a disadvantage. 

This NEP has put in place strategies to try and ensure that girls are given equal opportunities to participate in education and to contribute equally to national development. Equity also takes into account the plight of three other groups of people who have been let down by the formal education system. 

First are those who have special needs and who are not able to take their place in the regular school system. An inclusive education plan has been developed and endorsed with this group in mind.

Second are the children and young people who have been left behind, either because they have never been to school, or have dropped out for whatever reason prior to completing basic education. 

Third are the children from the most rural and remote parts of the country where the schools face their own particular problems.

Examination and Assessment

The current grade 8 and 10 examinations will be used for measuring standards and not for selection while the National Examination at Grade 12 will be for selection into tertiary institutions for all students (in mainstream schools, permitted schools, FODE and TVET institutions). This will be achieved over time. 

It will be mandatory for students to sit for the National Education Quality Standards Assessment Test to monitor curriculum and teacher standards.

Language of Instruction

English will be the language of instruction for all schools in the national education system.

Minimum Operating Standards.

There will be standards set on school sizes, class sizes, and teacher to student ratio for each level of education. These standards will determine the establishment of the new school, approval of additional classes and creation of teaching positions.

Leadership and Partnership

Emphasis is also on School Leadership so that there are good school planning and management. Community and Parental Support is also an essential part of this plan. 

The government will continue to support schools through subsidies and grants. All schools to develop School Learning Improvement Plan (SLIP).

PNG Insight has been following the major developments in education in Papua New Guinea for over 10 years. You can find my work here: Education Policies

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