Posted By Staff Reporter
The education reform in Papua New Guinea is inevitable given the dramatic technological and interventional changes. The Government of Papua New Guinea has the responsibility to ensure that its Human Development is adequately financed and trained at its highest level. Every country is expected to keep up with the times, which has been marked by rapid and dramatic changes in all walks of life and that educational structures, policy and practice require change. Reform in curriculum is necessary as they are major Government Policies and other International Commitments undertaken by the Government of Papua New Guinea. Curriculum changes are necessary because Papua New Guinea and its citizens are competing with the rest of the nations in the world.
NDOE Annual Report (2002:17-20) states that mainly the following Laws govern the National Education System, and the National Department of Education’s functions and responsibilities:
Ø The Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-Level Governments, 1995, as amended 1996-1998
Ø The Education Act, 1983, as amended 1995
Ø The Teaching Service Act, 1998, as amended 1995
Ø The National Libraries and Archives Act 1993
Ø The Higher Education Act, 1993, as amended 1995 and 2000
Department of Education’s Objectives and Strategies These are determined by the legal framework and policy. They are detailed in the Department of Education Corporate Plans 1998-2002 and 2003-2007 and the National Education Plan 1995-2004 updated in 2000.
The Policy Framework The National Goals and Directive Principles of the National Constitution and the National Education Act, as well as consistent statements of policy and education development strategy have shaped the National policy objectives and strategies for education by successive governments. This consistency has been important to the progress in Education Reform so far achieved.
1. Major Government Policies
Ø Medium Term Development Strategy 1997-2001 and 2003-2007
Ø Integral Human Development of all citizens
Ø Reduction in the size and cost of the public service
Ø Provision of services at the provincial and district level
Ø Recovery and Development
2. Policies Specific to Education
Ø Integral Human Development
Ø Education for All by 2015
Ø Universal Primary Education
Ø Increased access to education at all levels
Ø Government subsidy for school fees
Ø A priority for support for quality elementary, primary and secondary education
Ø Curriculum that is relevant to the life of the people – ‘skills development for life’
Ø Increased retention of children at school at all levels
Ø Equal participation by females at all levels of education and those who are socially and educationally disadvantaged
Ø Development of literacy skills for all
Ø Improved technical and vocational education
Ø Rationalization of higher education, rehabilitation of facilities and a reduction of cost to government on higher education
Ø Strengthening, rationalization and increased availability of distance education
Ø Partnership in education between governments and NGOs including churches as well as parents and communities
Ø Self-reliance in schools
Ø Upgrading and autonomy status for PNG National Commission for UNESCO
Ø Teaching Service Salary and Allowance Fixation Agreement 2000 to 2002`
3. Objects and Purpose of the National Education System
The Education Act, as amended, 1995, Section 4 states that:
Bearing in mind the National Goals and Directive Principles of the Constitution, the objects and purposes of the National Education System, by maximum involvement and co-operative effort by persons and bodies interested in education in the country, and the maximum utilization of the resources available from all sources, are:
Ø for the integral human development of the person
Ø to develop and encourage the development of a system of education fitted to the requirements of the country and its people
Ø to establish, preserve and improve standards of education throughout the country
Ø to make the benefits as widely available as possible
Ø to make education accessible to the poor and the physically, mentally and socially handicapped as well as to those who are educationally disadvantaged as far as this can be done by legislative and administrative measures, and in such a way as to foster among other things a sense of common purpose and nationhood and the importance and value of education at all its various levels.
4. National Objectives
The National Executive Council has assigned three national objectives to the Ministry of Education:
Ø to develop an education system to meet the needs of Papua New Guinea and its people, which will provide appropriately for the return of children to the village community, for formal employment, or for continuation to further education and training
Ø to provide basic schooling for all children as this becomes financially feasible
Ø to help people understand the changes that are occurring in contemporary society, through the provision of non-formal education and literacy programs.
5. Mission Statement
The Department of Education’s mission, as defined by the National Executive Council, is fivefold:
Ø to facilitate and promote the integral development of every individual
Ø to develop and encourage an education system which satisfies the requirements of Papua New Guinea and its people
Ø to establish, preserve, and improve standards of education throughout Papua New Guinea
Ø to make the benefits of such education available as widely as possible to all of the people
Ø to make education accessible to the poor and physically, mentally and socially handicapped as well as to those who are educationally disadvantaged
6. Aims of Education
Consistent with the philosophy of Integral Human Development, as enshrined in the National Constitution and the Philosophy of Education Report, successive governments have called for an education system which:
Ø gives value and status back to appropriate community attitudes, knowledge and skills which are relevant to community development, and
Ø supplements this with a degree of competence in English, mathematics and science in order to ensure the development of Papua New Guinean citizens who are committed to their own personal development and view education as a continuing life-long process
Ø imbued with a productive work ethic, and value both rural and urban community development activities in the context of national development
Ø prepared for the realities of life in most communities; and
Ø have the capacity to participate in further training for manpower needs
7. Aims of the National Education Plan 2005-2014
The aims of the National Education Plan are to provide an education system that will adequately prepare:
Ø school leavers to return to their communities where there is, and always has been, traditional work and opportunities for community-based employment
Ø This covers approximately eighty-five percent of the population. The major source of employment for these citizens will be their own subsistence and small-sale, community-based commercial enterprises.
Ø Their education will have prepared them and/or their parents for this reality
Ø the approximately fifteen percent of the population who will find paid employment in the slowly increasing government, business, and service industries
Ø Their education will have provided them with the academic and technical skills to allow them to partake in tertiary education
Ø the small number of children, like those of any other nation, who will perform at top international standards
Ø the small, but growing, number of marginalized urban youth for the realities of life in an urban situation
8. National Education Plan Objectives and Targets
Ø Access to 9 years of relevant basic education for all children at elementary and primary schools close to home
Ø All children to begin their learning at age 6, in a language they use and understand
Ø An increase in retention rates
Ø Equal participation by females at all levels of education
Ø Reduction in cost structure of the system, and improved capacity for planning and management
Ø At least 50% of grade 8 children to go on to grade 9 and 10 (a doubling of access)
Ø At least 5000 grade 12 students per year by 2004 (four times increase in access)
Ø Access to two years quality secondary level vocational education for grade 8 students in each province, and development of short courses that meet communities’ skill needs
Ø Rationalization and upgrading of courses in technical education, and development of links with the Trade Testing Certificate System
Ø Upgrading of the professional level of college programs and their graduates (e.g. Primary teaching, nursing) by changing to an intake of grade 12 leavers instead of grade 10, and an increase in the supply of new teachers at all levels.
9. Universal Primary Education (UPE)
There are three components of universal primary education:
Ø All children should begin formal primary schooling (grade 1) by the age of seven years
Ø All children should complete the primary cycle of education
Ø All children should reach a required standard of literacy and numeracy at the end of this primary cycle of education
10. Declaration of Education for All (EFA)
The major objectives of Education For All (EFA) are:
Ø Universal Primary Education (UPE)
Ø That people of all ages should have the opportunity to develop basic literacy (through both formal and non-formal programs)
The World Declaration of Education For All was signed in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 and reaffirmed in Dakar in Senegal in 2000. The EFA ‘Dakar Framework for Action’ sets the target date for achieving Education For All as 2015
The Papua New Guinea Government is a signatory to this declaration. It has, therefore, committed itself to achieving Education for All along with other nations of the world.
11. The Six EFA Goals The commitment made in Dakar is to attain the following goals:
Ø To expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children
Ø To ensure that by 2015 all children have access to free and compulsory primary education of good quality
Ø To ensure that learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs
Ø To achieve a fifty percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015
Ø To eliminate gender disparities in basic education by 2015
Ø To improve all aspects of the quality and excellence of education with measurable learning outcomes
The Dakar Framework for Action calls for each country to ensure that EFA goals and targets are reached and sustained, and for each government to establish partnerships with all parts of society and give the ensuing national action plans the strongest political support.
The PNG draft National EFA Plan has been completed and is being circulated for comment in 2002.
12. United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Papua New Guinea signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. Article 28 of the Convention commits the PNG Government to promote the right of all children to have an education. It stresses that this right must be achieved on the basis of equal opportunity.
The Goals of Article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child include:
Ø To make primary education free and compulsory
Ø To promote the difference forms of secondary and vocational education and make educational and vocational information available to all
Ø To take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and reduce dropout rates
13. Millennium Development Goals The eight Millennium Development Goals as developed by the United Nations and that Papua New Guinea has committed to are:
Goal 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3 Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4 Reduce child mortality
Goal 5 Improve maternal health
Goal 6 Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases
Goal 7 Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8 Develop a global partnership for development
In the current economic climate it is difficult to see how the second of these goals can be achieved within the time frame. However, every effort is being made for children to achieve a primary education.
14. Education For All Goals The six Education For All goals that were agreed to by all nations at Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990 and reaffirmed in Dakar, Senegal, and that Papua New Guinea has committed to are:
Ø Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children
Ø Ensuring that by 2015 all children have access to free and compulsory primary education of good quality
Ø The learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programs
Ø Achieving a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015
Ø Eliminating gender disparities in education by 2005
Ø Improving all aspects of the quality and excellence of education with measurable learning outcomes.
In the current economic climate it is difficult to see how the second of these Education For All goals can be realized within the time frame. However, every effort is being made to give children the opportunity to achieve a primary education. The Plan aims to achieve the fifth of these goals within the timeframe of the Plan as opposed to that stipulated.
15. Medium Term Development Strategy This Plan is in accord with the core development strategy of the Medium Term Development Strategy, 2005 to 2010 (Department of National Planning and Rural Development, 2004) and consistent with the requirement to empower Papua New Guineas to mobilize their own resources for higher living standards. The Medium Term Development Strategy is the government’s policy document for development and is a critical policy reference point.
The education sector is part of the mutually supporting sectoral expenditure priorities of the Medium Term Development Strategy. In the education sector basic education is the first priority, vocational and technical training is the second priority, with secondary and tertiary education as third and fourth priorities, respectively. The strategy states that:
In Education, the focus of the Medium Term Development Strategy will be to support the implementation of reform aimed at achieving Universal Primary Education. Under the goal of Universal Primary Education all children will be able to complete nine years of basic education.
At the national level, priority resources will be directed towards basic education, including curriculum reforms, teacher training, infrastructure and rural education facilities, while also ensuring adequate funds are available to pay for the planned and managed increased in teachers’ salaries.
16. The Matane Report (1986) A Philosophy of Education for Papua New Guinea
The Matane Report (1986) provides a philosophical framework for the development of educational services in Papua New Guinea. It underpins the present reform movement in many ways but none more so than the promotion of integral human development as the first goal of education, which focuses on the social, vocational, spiritual, and political growth of individuals and communities. The report points out that there are a number of agencies, in addition to schools, which affect educational outcomes. Institutions such as the home, the churches, the community, the police, the media, and political leaders, together with schools, must work cooperatively in order for integral human development to take place. The Matane report was instrumental in promoting the thrust for educational reform. As a result, the purpose of education changed somewhat, from one of manpower needs to that of integral human development.
17. The Education Sector Review
The Education Sector Review (1991) initiated the education reform process by heavily criticizing existing educational practices and acknowledging the poor attainments in human capital development by the National Department of Education.
The Review together with the Matane Report, was concerned with the large number of children who were not going to school at all, a large number of children who went to school but did not stay for very long, and those who stayed at school. The Review stated that the education, which the vast majority of children who do not enter the formal employment sector receive, alienates them from the way of life of the people, and does little to equip them with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to contribute positively to common or national development.
The reports were also concerned with achievements and outcomes, and examine curriculum, teachers, facilities, and the role of the school. The reports also had very strong statements in support of responses to education that addresses the shortcomings of the colonial model of education, which had been dominant in Papua New Guinea. The fragmentation within the individual, society and the school can be corrected. What is now needed is to establish a conceptual and thus leads towards integral human development. Systems and procedures must then be established so that educators, in partnership with the community at large, can work more effectively towards developing citizens who are proud of their traditions and who can take their place in the modern world and help to develop Papua New Guinea as a nation (Matane, 1986:7).
Several common themes emerged from these two documents.
Ø the need to increase access, equity and retention at all levels of education
Ø the need for quality at all levels of education
Ø the need for curriculum design that is relevant to the future lives of students
Ø an acceptance of the unique contexts surrounding Papua New Guinean education, and an orientation for all things educational to those contexts.
The reports argued that the curriculum will probably remain irrelevant until there is much wider participation in determining its content, and more flexibility of content to encourage provinces and regions to identify and meet the needs of their particular communities (Matane, 1986:16).
The reform in Papua New Guinea is inevitable given the dramatic technological and interventional changes. Every country is expected to keep up with the times, which has been marked by rapid and dramatic changes in all walks of life and that educational structures, policy and practice require change. Reform in curriculum is necessary as they are major Government Policies and other International Commitments undertaken by the Government of Papua New Guinea. Curriculum changes are necessary because Papua New Guinea and its citizens are competing with the rest of the nations in the world.
Whether the change is resisted, and happens by chance or designs; whether we look at it from the standpoint of reformers or those they manipulate, or of individuals or institutions, the response is characteristically ambivalent (Marris, 1975:7). NDOE Annual Report (2002:17-20) clearly stipulates that there are Laws and Policies that govern the National Education System, and the National Department of Education’s functions and responsibilities. Successive governments have maintained remarkably consistent education policies and development strategies. This consistency has been important to the progress of the education reform in Papua New Guinea (NDOE Brief, 1999:45).
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