The National- Thursday, February 10, 2011
By YVONNE HAIP
LIMITED spaces in secondary schools in Western Highlands has denied almost 200 Grade 10 students from securing spaces to continue to grade 11.
A total of 191 students from all high and secondary schools in the province missed out on Grade 11 selections this year even though they scored above the cut-off mark.
It is understood that the cut off mark was 77, meaning that if students scored upper passes in all seven subjects examined, they qualified for Grade 11.
This was increased to 90 in schools only in the province, due to the shortage of spaces.
As a result, students who scored between 77 and 90, and were eligible to continue to Grade 11, were dropped, while those who scored above 90 were selected.
Other students who scored well above 77, but scored passes in English, were also not considered, forcing parents and teachers to question the outcomes-based education (OBE) policy which encourages the use of pidgin and local vernaculars.
Senior teachers in the province said the selection criteria used had been at the discretion of the school authorities and was not known to them until the selection lists were released last week.
Mt Hagen-based Teachers Rights Movement (TRM), and concerned parents of the 191 students met to discuss this at the Hagen Park Secondary School last Thursday with guidance officer Ben Mallari.
Mallari explained that the criteria had been used on schools only in the province, and not the rest of the country, because of limited spaces available.
This forced frustrated parents to demand that spaces be made available for their children and Mallari said he would try his best to address the situation.
TRM spokesperson and Hagen Park Grades 11 and 12 history teacher, Nius Rom, said the selection criteria used was not fair.
He said an example was the Hagen Park Secondary School where 95 was the cut off mark and 43 students, who scored between 77 and 94, were not selected to continue studies.
He added that it was also unfair on the part of students who scored high marks but had been dropped because of passes in English.
He said this also questioned the implementation of OBE which encouraged the use of pidgin and local dialects at the elementary level, but saw fit to fail students when they got passes in English.
Rom said this was another problem brought on by OBE and raised concern that if the Education Department wanted to be strict with English, then it had to have a bottom-up approach.
A forum will be held on Saturday in Mt Hagen where parents would discuss this and other issues in relation to OBE.