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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Mandated PNG Education System Shift Will Take Time
Research fellow says completion of changes by 2013 'impossible’

By Moua Omoa and James Gumuno

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 10, 2012) – It is impossible to switch from the outcomes-based education (OBE) to another curriculum and implement it next year, an education department adviser and a National Research Institute senior research fellow said last Friday.

Dr. Arnold Kukari said switching from the OBE curriculum would take at least two years but English would be brought back as a teaching method at the elementary level next year.

But Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said "enough is enough" and warned the education department to implement the reintroduction of the old education curriculum in place of the OBE "immediately."

Addressing the first graduation of the Enga Teachers College at Governor Peter Ipatas’ Irelya village, O’Neill said: "The officers in the education department are not listening to the government and cries of the people in the country to get the old system back quickly."

He said the government could not tolerate any more slackness in the education system.

O’Neill said enough was enough and wants the government’s directive to be carried out without any further delay. The first time the PM expressed anger at the Education Department early this for delaying the second batch of the free education money, the secretary lost his job.

O’Neill said that the Outcome Base Education introduced in the country is not working effectively and result in the drop of education standard in the country.

Principal of Enga Teachers College, Micheal Homingu said that the OBE was in total disarray and described the OBE as a, "evil" introduced into the country to spoil the education system.

Also last Friday, speaking at the conclusion of the weeklong OBE consultative forum coordinated by the Department of Education at March Girls resort outside Port Moresby, Dr. Kukari said switching from one curriculum to another was not an easy process. It would take two to three years and a lot government funding to switch, he said.

Kukari said the Department of Education was serious about the government’s decision to exit OBE and the forum was a first step, but there was a need for further research and consultation by various stakeholders.

"The forum is the first step into exploring ways and strategies of exiting OBE. What the government wants for next year is impossible," he said.

The departmental so outlined the structure of the proposed Taskforce as decided by the NEC in 2008 and its function would be to put together recommendations for switching from OBE strategies, forward them to the top management team (TMT) to endorse for NEC submission.

Poor academic performance at elementary levels prompted the government to do away with OBE system and some recommended interventions from the forum included:

  • That English be taught as a subject at the elementary level;
  • The teaching of moral ethics from the Bible at the elementary level;
  • Skills based education; and
  • That elementary focus on reading.

Capacity building for teachers would be a priority with constant teachers training and in-service at elementary level and teachers’ qualification standards would be raised to Grade 12 school leavers.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/
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