Is removing Grades 8 and 10 exams a mistake?

The PNG Education Ministry and Education Department are embarking on a 10-year plan to address the growing number of students at schools and reduce the cost of educating them. 

First, let's be reminded of the past lessons:

Remember the curricular and education structural changes - SBC to OBE to SBC, and the 6-4-2 to 2-6-4 to 1-6-6?
These changes were unnecessary and a waste of time and money; and have long-term dominoe effects.

PNG Grade 8 and 10 exam results
Read my post-graduate work on Education and Development in PNG.

What is changing?

The education department has already planned to phase out - remove - the Grade 10 and 8 exams and introduce what is called National Education Quality Assessment Testing

The details of this test are not clear. In fact, no one knows how to carry out this kind of large-scale assessment. It has never been done successfully at Grade 8 and 10 levels, how the Education Ministry and Education Department are going about it is sketchy. 

It is exactly the repeat of past years - the blind (Edu Ministry) leading the dumb (Edu Dept). Sorry to say this, but not sorry it's true.

Again, the PNG politicians, education ministers and senior education officials just need to look back and see the mistakes in the last 20 years (yes, in their lifetime) so that they do not repeat the same mistakes.

In this important change, the students will continue to Grade 12 without taking the normal/external exams in Grades 8 and 10. There'll be only 1 exam in Grade 12.

Changes are good but why change an assessment that works fine? 

  • Just imagine if the SBC was not changed in 1992/1993. The PNG education curriculum would have been far better than it is today.
  • What would the education structure be like if the 6-4-2 was not changed to 2-6-4?
Obviously, no one would be talking about changing them back if these changes have not taken place 25 years ago.

The two points are wishful thinking. The damage has been done. But we know there were people (Papua New Guineans in Politics and Education circles) who did not have the brain to say:

 'NO LET'S NOT CHANGE WHAT IS WORKING. LET'S IMPROVE IT'.

Is removing exams a mistake?

Removing examinations at Grade 8 and 10 is going to shake the foundation of the Education System in PNG, no doubt. 

The PNG govt and the education advisors have got it wrong in the past. The 6-4-2 to 2-6-4 to the proposed 1-6-6 structural re-adjustment is one example of an unnecessary change. Another example of an unnecessary change in the curriculum change we saw lately, SBE to OBE to SBE.

There are many other changes that should not have happened in the FIRST PLACE. Removing a perfectly working examination at Grade 8 and 10 is a case of destroying what works well. 

As a country, we do not want to continue with it for some years and regret it.

Why remove exams at Grade 8 and 10?

The main reason is that the PNG govt cannot effectively conduct exams - it just costs too much. Furthermore, there are too many students in schools dropping out at Grade 8 and Grade 10 - the govt wants them to have a Grade 12 education. 

However, these are not good reasons to remove examinations (external assessments) and instead opt for classroom-based assessments. 

THIS CAN BE THE WORST MISTAKE!

You see, this kind of assessment will save the govt money, but it is not as effective as it is intended to be. At present, the education department cannot rely on the internal assessment marks schools sent to Waigani.

They need the external assessment which is the Grade 8 and 10 exams.

Exams and Assessments

The parents and stakeholders need to know that the education department does *not* have to remove the exam and replace it with another assessment called National Education Quality Assessment Testing

Both can work side by side. 

There are already these kinds of literacy and numeracy (L&N)  assessments at Grades 3, 5 and 7: in the Pacific this assessment is called PILNA; in PNG there is an assessment called CSMT; and in Australia, they have what is called NAPLAN. 

These are broad-based  (literacy and numeracy competency) assessments that run alongside the main examinations.

Though these external L&N assessments are different in design and purpose, they are fundamental pillars of measuring learning. 

Therefore, removing one and replacing it with another IS NOT the right thing to do!


What you can do?

This change will affect you and your children in 20 - 50 years time. You have a responsibility to share this message and make sure everyone knows what is happening.

Talk about it now.

We cannot wait 20 years to realise it's too obvious and change things back.

Classroom assessments are NOT Exams


PNG Education Ministry and Education Department are terrible at making changes. This change - removing Grades 8 and 10 exams - should be considered carefully.

All in all, the reasons for removing the exams do not justify the need to continue with the exams at Grades 8 and 10.

Exams are pillars of a 'sustainable' education system.
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Comment and share your thoughts about the planned removal of Grade 8 and 10 exams.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

The exams give us a fair indication of our students levels. Exam results not only asses students capabilities, but when analysed well, they will also flag areas that we as educators need to inprove on. Definitely schools use the exam results to do better the following year. They set targets to meet or standards to surpass and this is healthy for our system. WE cannot be teaching blindly all the way to grade 12. This is just lowering our standard further.

Unknown said...

See the launching of grade 12 national exam result.