This is the message from the National Research Institute after releasing a report on the current state of education in Papua New Guinea.
NRI has noted that one of the key policies in most political parties’ platforms in the current 2017 National General Elections campaign is education.
However, are PNG’s candidates focusing on quality as well as quantity?
While Tuition Fee Free (TFF) policy is being rolled out to all schools nationwide, funds have only been enough for minor improvements in resource facilities.
“There is an increasing acute shortage of textbooks and teaching aids due to increased student enrolment. This has progressively worsened since 2012,” says the NRI.
“Limited funds and in some instances, zero funds, were invested to improve the quality of education in schools.
“All efforts have been focused only on the provision of school access.
“At present, the declining quality of learning, in particular in basic education, is a major concern.”
The Institute has based its research on Grade Eight examination results, which is one way of assessing the quality of learning across the country.
From the sample of Grade 8 Certificate of Basic Education results analysed in 2013, NRI noted the low literacy, numeracy and combined subjects’ skills in the three examined subjects. Apart from that, the results show 17 of the 22 provinces scoring below the all-PNG cut off mark of 80 in 2013.
“Even in those provinces that have attained high access rates, the quality of education is very poor,” reports NRI.
What’s concerning is that when the average score across provinces is far lower than the national cut off mark of 80, the provinces then lower the national cut off mark. This is to select students to continue to Grade Nine, which in turn causes the quality of learning in the provinces concerned, and across PNG as a whole, to decline.
“This approach poses high risks for these students to drop out even before completing lower secondary education, which in turn will lead to poor quality of learning. All these suggest that rigorous efforts are needed to improve quality of learning, especially at the basic education level,” states the NRI.
“It is now up to the people of Papua New Guinea to vote for leaders whom they believe will advocate for quality education to better the lives of children and the majority of PNG’s populace.”
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