Showing posts with label Apprenticeship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Apprenticeship. Show all posts

A Year In Review: Education and Politics in Papua New Guinea


Every year has been a challenging year for our country, both in education and politics. The political policies on education and how the government is 'setting the course' for the future of young men and women is one area of concern.


The O'Neill-Dion led government's efforts to improve education was, in fact, promoted by the tuition fee free (TFF) policy. Perhaps many people have seen it to be of 'some' double standard. On one hand is aimed to skew parents opinions. On the other, meet the millennium development goals (MDGs). 

The balance between a good government policy on education and one of preserving the interest of government of the day can only determined by the results. 


The government and education leaders should be commended for 'a few' good work they have done in 2015. But, they must be reminded that what they are doing must for the best interest of the country - young people first. 

The new year must bring blessing to our people. This can happen through a good education system, which is the one thing that matters the most. Many parents will agree that not just mass education, but a proper education is the best thing for their children.

A proper education can only be a proper education WHEN policy makers, including well-off parents, START sending their children to a - any - public school in the country. Also, an education system that outsiders would be tempted to send their kids to. This should happen sooner rather than later in our public schools.

One area needed much attention is vocational and technical training colleges. Strengthening manpower and infrastructure development at universities, vocational centres, technical colleges, institutes, seminaries and other  colleges  has to  come first. Focusing on Grades 8, 10 and 12 drop-outs was second to increasing retentions of students at primary and secondary schools this year. This must reverse to cater for the large number of students passing out.

One positive the country can take from here is the implementation the 12/13 recommendations of Ganim's report. Despite government accepting the recommendations in principle, there is more needed to be done in areas of teachers' appointment, salary, leave fares, retrenchment and other benefits. Government must remain true to its promise of funding to make the recommendations of the report come to fruition. 

It is time to leave politics out of education. K605 million allocation for the TFF has not been paid in full to schools. The government paid TFF money in quarterly instalments. TFF funds must be paid in wholesome rather than in parts so that school can continue without the need to remind government to pay up. Last quarter of 2015 - the last payment - was not done on time. 

Some schools prematurely closed for 2015 Christmas holiday, like Lae Secondary School. This must not happen in 2016.

I'll end here by summering the five changes that have been happening (planned to have happened) this year:

1) Policy change - Ganim report and its 12/13 recommendations have been accepted by NEC. Funds promised (and budgeted, if any)  must be released for this to happen. 

2) Curriculum Change - Standard Based Education replaced the controversial outcome based curriculum - change that came after the controversial OB curriculum (1993). A welcome change, but more awareness is required to freshen teachers' skills and ability to deliver revised Standard Based Curriculum. 

3) Structural Change (2-6-6) - this change was hinted to have taken effect in 2016. This change is not necessary, if it goes ahead. It would only complicate the whole system. We are likely to see secondary schools taking in grades 7 and 8.

4)  Phasing-out examinations at grade 8 and grade 10. Again, this change ( if it happens) is unnecessary. The education department would do well if it strengthens the examination processes. Reconsiders function of Measurement Service Division (MSD). Makes examinations at grade 8, 10 and 12  tough and secure. It is better to play it safe then taking a risk. Phasing-out exam is highly risky. There is no proof that letting students through without examinations is a better change.

5) Restructuring school of excellence (the national high schools). There is no clear plan. Little is known about what to do with the national high schools at this stage.

My one wish for next year (as far as educating young people is concerned) is to see the government giving prominence to developing vocational training and technical education, as well as other colleges and institutes in the country. It is time to FOCUS on Grades 8, 10 and 12 school leavers, time to give them a second chance. 


INSPIRED: Story of a young University student who became a truck driver


Updated 23rd December 2018

This story cuts through the topics I've been contemplating lately, apprenticeship and seeking for jobs in PNG. The story of a first year university student who left his accounting studies because he cannot afford the tuition fees.

Trained by a woman truck driver to be a truckie and find job in PNG trucking industry. I liked the story.

If only we could have a wide range of second chances like this, available to many young Papua New Guineans who are leaving school at Grades 8, 10 and 12.

Here is the story as seen on the Facebook group Humans of Papua New Guinea.

“I went to university to study accounting but ended up becoming a truck driver instead.”“How did that happen?”“After...
PNG needs a good numbers of readies and truckies in the PNG Job seeking area. Many well trained skill Papua New Guineans are in the mining and oil and gas sectors at present. But the country also need a good number of skill people in other areas.

Access vs Retention: Statistics Favours Improving Vocational Training and Apprenticeship Schemes Than Phasing-out Examinations



Grades 8, 10 and 12 students are on a long Christmas Holiday - three months of rest and respite. Some are heading back to the villages, others to town and cities. Whilst they are enjoying their vocations, they are sure to ask two important questions: How have I performed in the national examinations?;  Will I be selected to continue to the next level?

The first question can only be ascertained by each student depending on how good they were leading up the exams. Students performance in exams can be attributed to several factors such as how well they prepared (were prepared) for the exams as well as Nature and Nurture. May the best students be given one of the limited places they rightfully deserve.

This brings me to the second question.

Based on the proportion of tertiary places available this year and the preceding years,  96% of Grades 8, 92% of Grade 10 and 81% of Grade 12 students will NOT make it to a tertiary institution this year. By this I mean only the select few will end up in Universities, colleges, vocational centres and other higher learning set-ups. 

Those fortunate enough to continue should be congratulated. They have earned the right to proceed. They passed exams - they can enjoy the privileges (pride) and challenges higher educational institutions bring. And deservedly, they should hold their heads up and be proud to continue. 

What about the bulk of students who would not have continued? What will they do? It saddened me to think that the first year out of formal education, little or nothing is available to those students. What can be done now to take them on board the education train?

It is imperative to note that the planned phasing out of examinations at Grades 8 and 10 will NOT improve the number of students entering tertiary institutions. It will further decrease university access rate (ACCESS), but only maintain the number passing through from Grade 8 to 10 to 12 (RETENTION). 

Take for instance, this year (2015) over 120, 000 grade 8 students sat exams. This number as a percentage of 4500 spaces (at tertiary institutions) is 96%. In actual fact, if the government phases out Grades 8 and 10 examinations, about 120, 000 to 150, 000 students are likely to end up completing Grade 12. The problem of retention is addressed, but the problem of access to higher education is not solved. It remains the same. 

Other factors needed thorough consideration before exams are phased out are the availability of resources, number of teachers as well as primary and secondary schools capacity to hold larger students' population. This exercise, if goes ahead, will put huge strain on schools ability to function.

It was good news to have heard that the Minister of higher education has given out cheques to several universities in the country to expand their capacities. This shows that there is likely to be an increase in spaces at tertiary institutions. But, what is the projection - what number are we talking about in 5 - 10 years time? 

A mere 4500 - 10, 000 spaces would not be enough to suffice the appetite for higher education. For the sake of reasoning,  if we put an estimate that in the next 5 years 150, 000 grade 12 students will vie for a tertiary institution space. The spaces increased (from current 4500) to 10, 000. Still there wont be any improvement - nil. 

For it to work, the government needs to improve university/higher education access rate to over 50% of Grade 12 graduating population. The fact now is that this change will make NO difference as far as access is concerned. 

Papua New Guinea will STILL have Grade 12 drop-put rate of over 90% in the next 5 to 10 years with this change- the same as today! 

So the public statements about phasing out examination has to be backed by some foresight. By this I do not mean make examinations history- no. The public examination system has to be strengthened - made rigorous. Address the problem of cheating. Empower Measurement Service Division. Or, come up with alternative measures to overhaul and make examination processes tough - challenging. 

The question of catering for those who have passed (are passing) out of the formal education system can be addressed by focussing on Internship, apprenticeship schemes and vocational training. I will exploit this in the next topic (Give 'Them' A Fish And You Feed 'Them' For A Day - Teach Them How to Fish) on PNG-Insight. 

Meanwhile, here is what I've posted several month ago on the Key To Addressing Skill Shortage and Grades 8, 10 and 12 Pass-outs

Apprenticeship Scheme: Upskill Grades 8, 10 and 12 Dropouts – Government To Fund, Industry Majors to Implement the Scheme



Recent Opposition statement reported in the media about developing skilled workforce in Papua New Guinea cannot come at the right time when over 80% Grade 12 students were unable to secure a place in tertiary institution. 

It is important to note that the K3.7 billion mentioned by the Opposition leader is a lot of money, especially when it is aligned with skill development. Program duration (How long it will take) and checks and balances remains to be seen.

The Opposition said ‘revenue to implement this policy would be sourced from the proceeds of LNG tax, resale of controversial K3 billion UBS loan and the Sovereign Wealth Fund via parliamentary budgetary process.’ [PNG Loop 19/02/2015]

It seems Don Polye, who was once deputy prime minister and treasurer, knows well how much money is floating around in government coffers. This is just politics but there is merit in his statement.

In the early years of our nation (1950s – 1960s) students choices were limited but policy makers can learn from it. Those who continued to be teachers and pastors were able to read and write well.

On the other hand, given the demand for work force, others became mechanics, drivers, operators, labourers and nurses among other skilled jobs. Many of the early schoolers have worked with construction companies like Dillingham Brothers, Department of Works and subcontractors to build the national highway we now called the Okuk Highway. Others started in Bougainville, Port Moresby and Lae during and after independence and eventually settled in various parts of the country.

So, why am I retelling the story of my father? He was a form 2 going onto form 3 but decided to be a mechanic. So he did – he became a Heavy Diesel Fitter Mechanist a few years after leaving school. His was successful in finding a place because there was demand for workers from companies like Bougainville Copper Mine, Dillingham Brothers and subcontractors.

Any government who wishes to develop skills today will have to create a working plan. A plan that would take into consideration the Grades 8, 10 and 12. And, how these young men and woman can be given the change to develop to their full potential. Begin by asking if are there any companies in Papua New Guinea who would want to make space for the 15 – 16 (Grade 8s), or 17 – 18 (Grade 10s) or 19 – 20 (Grade 12s) year olds. 

The key words are vocational training and apprenticeship. How can the Government creative incentives to attract companies to take in dropouts?

The Opposition (an alternative government) must know that with a K3.7 billion skill development plan, they do not have to create lots of vocational schools, or technical colleges of poly technological institutions. It is not only important to expand the facilities and resources, but to secure a working environment where newbies can rub shoulders with experts. This must be done through work placements and apprentice programs.

In fact, apprenticeship schemes are best programs as students are going to be working with company’s experts and equipment. No doubt, companies will welcome manpower addition to their workforce. But they will not want to pay or accommodate as they are companies wanting to make profit.

If a government comes up with a funded scheme, companies may step in to help. Unlike the early years, today there are World scale extractive, manufacturing, agricultural, building and logging industries in the country. Our current generation can be given the best opportunity if the Government creates are workable platform for companies to take in dropouts.


The opposition have come up with an alternative plan to develop skills. This was a call that came at a time when over 80% of Grades 8, 10 and 12 were dropping out of main stream school. Any government-private partnership for developing skill set in those age groups would be a step in the right direction.