Who helps students who get left behind?

Editorial

THE Education Department says 210,466 students will be sitting their national examinations in the next few weeks.
From that, 67,500 are grade 10s from 302 schools will sit their final paper, English, today.
Starting on Monday, 27,966 students from 164 high and secondary schools will sit the grade 12 examination from Oct 16-25.
The grade 8 examination follows in the first week of November in 307 schools.
Their future literally hinges on these exams; passing with above-average grades will mean proceeding to higher grades for some or placements at tertiary institutions for others.
For students, parents and guardians it will be a tense few weeks ahead.
The future for the thousands of school-going people is in the minds of everyone who has an interest in their progress.
The children themselves will be looking forward to the next stage of life’s education journey.
However, given the workings of the formal education system and the formal sector’s ability to absorb youths in gainful employment, the bulk of these young people will be left out to fend for themselves.
Only a few thousands will proceed to the next level of education as dictated by the Papua New Guinea education system’s own type of natural selection where the most academically fit survive and proceed to another stage.
As far as absorbing the thousands of graduates from secondary level, the reality on the ground is still quite grim: We can only take in roughly a quarter of the students with a grade 12 education.
The number of yearly school drop-outs and their place and use in society is a ticking time bomb and something the state through its relevant agencies must address.
The problem is clear but the solutions are not so easy to find. So the obvious question is what is the government doing about it? With a build-up of the masses in this demographic there are bound to be issues that society will face.
It has been admitted that the bulk are not going into formal institutions and will be left to fend for themselves,  either in the job market or in private education institutions – if they can afford it.
The solution, or one of them, is to give these students a chance to find employment and become self-reliant and able to function in the modern economy.
Students coming out of our grade 12 system must be given the option of going into technical education.
Technical education should not just be a complementary or supplementary part of the education system, it should be a large part of what schools do now. It shouldn’t be an elective but a core range of subjects.
At present only a few schools at secondary and tertiary levels offer this opportunity to students. More needs to be done to tilt the playing field in favour of students who miss out.
There should be an entrepreneurial spirit and a yearning in their young minds to better themselves.
They will need to generate a living with their minds and hands.
This is where life skills such as personal viability training, financial literacy and small business management come into play.
And the thousands of graduates who leave at the end of every year will have a door of opportunity open for them if they have been trained to think, generate incomes, save and spend prudently to better themselves and those around them.

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