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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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

PNG Students Allege Corruption In Education Department
Education officials ‘influenced’ students to cheat on exams

By Johnny Poiya

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 22, 2013) – Students from 11 secondary schools in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands region accused of cheating in the 2012 national exams have claimed they are victims of corrupt deals within the Education Department.

Students from at least four schools have revealed to the Post-Courier that there was cheating, but not all the students were involved as many of them were prepared for the examinations, but some students were influenced by corrupt officials in the Education department to cheat.

They said the national government should look at how questions and answers for last year’s grade 12 examinations ended up in the schools before the examinations and get to the core of the issue, who did it and how did it happen, before penalizing about 10,000 students and putting their future at risk.

Only 150 students from the accused schools, including Hagen Secondary, Wabag Secondary, Pausa and Kopen in Enga province, were selected for places at tertiary institutions.

The students claimed that only a handful of students used the "supplied question and answer sheets" during the national exams last year and the majority of the affected were collaborating with police in their investigations.

Representatives from three secondary schools in Enga also claimed that nepotism and bribery may have been involved because those selected never did well in class and were sons and daughters of rich people and relatives of teachers and they demanded an explanation as to how 70 students from their schools were selected.

Students from Kopen, Pausa and Sir Tel Abel Secondary Schools in Enga expressed their frustration about how some of their peers who scored average grades in internal exams were selected for tertiary studies while they were accused of cheating.

The Enga students petitioned the Education department, the Prime Minister and Governor Peter Ipatas for only the external marks to be printed on the certificates; for more places in tertiary institutions to accommodate students from the increasing number of secondary schools; and clarification on the criteria used to select 70 students from the province while more than 900 have missed out.

Eight student leaders under condition of anonymity said the selection of the 70 from external marks, as mentioned by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, was not true because most of them were middle-average students while the brightest students in the province, including the Dux of Sir Tei Abel Secondary, were omitted from the selection.

They said the bulk of them were thrown out onto the streets by some corrupt officers inside the Education department’s Measuring Service Unit.

"We’re not sure where the questions and answers came from. We’re innocent. The MSU should come clear and explain to the country how these papers came to the hands of students concerned," they said.

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