Showing posts with label PNG exams 2015. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PNG exams 2015. Show all posts

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

Phasing Out Grades 8, 10 and 12 Examinations Must Be Done With Care


Phasing out examinations at Grades 8,10 and 12 can have serious impact on standard of education in the country - it will affect both students' behaviour to learning (study) and teachers' approach to teaching. 

This change (if it happens) will completely revolutionise, for worse or for better, the whole teaching-and-learning process. This change must be done with caution.

It must be done with proper planning and based on proper academic research or a special parliamentary committee findings. I don't think changing the system to meet some UN's Medium Development Goals (MDGs) is the best way. Compulsory education at elementary and primary schools and compulsory education at secondary school have to be differentiated when it comes to discussing educational changes and how each stage is catered for in terms of giving every child the best chance to excel in life.

As learnt from the curriculum change, OBE-1993, a change without clear plan is doomed to fail.Therefore, among the three main changes (Structural change 2016, Curriculum Change 2015, Examination Change) a clear plan must be set in motion prior to implementing it. The details, thereof, must be communicated to all stakeholders so that they also know what is expected, instead of expecting the unexpected.

We (by 'we' I mean the politicians, senior education officials and all stakeholders) must know what is actually changing, and not just about what is changing. So, what is the alternative to phasing out examinations? Will the 'new' assessment style be formal, informal or a bit of both? How will it be carried out and who will be responsible, teachers or Measurement Service Division?

I want to see improvement in the way examinations are conducted, I want to see spaces expanding and more students make it to Grade 12, but phasing-out exams, just,  to let everyone through without a rigorous assessment and or examination system may not be the best thing for our children now and in the future.

Here is what other Papua New Guineans are saying about this change.

120 000 Grade 8, 59 000 Grade 10 and 23 200 Grade 12 students To Sit Examinations in 2015

More than 59,000 Grade 10 students in 256 schools will sit for their weeklong School Certificate Examination (SCE) from next week, an official says.

Secretary for Education Dr Uke Kombra said: “We have reduced the national examined subjects from 12 to seven as of this year.

“The other subjects will still be assessed and results will be based on the internal assessment.”

He said the subjects examined are English, mathematics, social science, science, personal development and two optional subjects.

The examinations will be conducted from Oct 12 to 16.

Kombra said preparations for Grade 8, Grade 10 and Grade 12 examinations were well underway.

Grade 10 SEC papers are currently being dispatched to the provinces.

“All provincial education advisers and examination supervisors are urged to ensure that the examination papers are well secured before they are dispatched to the respective schools.

A total of 23,200 Grade 12 students from 146 secondary schools will be sitting for their Higher School Certificate Examinations (HSCE) from Oct 19-30.

“About 120,000 Grade 8 students from 2,663 schools will sit for the Certificate of Basic Education Examinations (COBE) from Nov 2-5.”

Kombra appealed to everyone to support fair conduct of exams and to report any malpractice to school administrations, provincial and national authorities or Police for appropriate action.

“There are strategies already in place to minimise and avoid cheating in schools.

Source: The National, Tuesday October 6th, 2015 || By SHEILA MALKEN