An alternative pathway

Weekender

Flexible Open and Distance Education (Fode) has seen some improvements to its systems to accommodate a large number of students enrollments who are capable of studying and completing their basic education through an alternate pathway.
The principal of Fode, Anthony Rayappan acknowledged that there are many potential students who have been pushed out of conventional schools or left schools for some reasons throughout the country and they need to pursue their basic education in Grade 7 to 12. In order to capture these students, Fode has identified attractive and workable strategies to ensure that these students are enrolled at its 22 Provincial Centres around the country.

Background
Fode’s vision is for all Papua New Guineans to gain Grade 12 equivalent education and certification through flexible open and distance education, harnessing all appropriate and affordable technologies. The vision supports its motto – We are Your School Anywhere, Anytime.
To embrace the vision and motto, the goals will guide its daily operations. The principal as a leader will execute through his management team the planned activities linked to the goals:

  • To provide quality education through alternative choice – secondary education;
  • Second chance pathway – upgrading and continuing; and
  • Public, private and church partnership.

Focus areas
Currently, Fode is working towards achieving the six focus areas as outlined in the National Education Plan 2015 – 2019 (2016): i) Access & Equity, ii) Teachers and Teaching, iii) Learning, iv) Alternate Pathways, v) Local Management, and vi) System Strengthening.

Activities
In the last eight months of this year, FODE was engaged in four important activities. The first one was the implementation and roll out of the new and aligned curriculum through a three-day workshop where FODE curriculum officers presented vital notices and information on curriculum materials to the Provincial staff.
The second activity was the capacity building and financial management training which aimed at improving institutional capacity on areas concerning Data Base and Internet Connectivity to support students’ information management systems. This activity was done through three-day workshops conducted regionally.
The third was a partnership program where an awareness workshop was held in Buka, Autonomous Region of Bougainville with High and Secondary Schools that are being supported by the ABG Government.
Another activity dealt with concerned goods and services where new printers were purchased and sent to the 22 provincial centres. Course materials were also printed and distributed to the provincial Centres. Items also bought were, computers and laptops for officers at Head Quarters and tablets for the students.
The final activity carried out were the civil works done on Daru’s provincial centre where construction of new classroom for tutorial purposes was done plus maintenance and refurbishments were undertaken. Maintenance works were also carried out in the Vanimo provincial centre.

Student enrolment and courses
Rayappan stated that records of the last three years (1916, 1917 and 2018) revealed that Grade 7, 10, 12 and Matriculation was 15,333. The Highlands region recorded 3,652, Southern Region 5,364 and New Guinea Islands 2,739.
The principal also explained that the courses being offered include:
New and aligned curriculum for Grades 7 – 12 will allow FODE students to sit one examination, one assessment, one certification and one selection as enjoyed by students from conventional schools.
Upgraders at year 10 & 12.
Matriculation studies Program.
Older students continuing to do Grade 7 – 10 courses.
Priorities
The existing management of FODE has planned for the following priorities for this year:

  • Provide Quality and affordable Secondary Education.
  • Have adequate Teaching and Learning Materials including ICT models and Science Lab facilities.
  • Recruitment for more qualified and experienced teachers/tutors.
  • Upgrade and maintain Standard Assessment and Exams in line with Measurement Services Division.
  • Upgrade and renovate new infrastructure, and specialist buildings for conducive learning.
  • Strengthening FODE systems through effective and efficient management of Finances, Staff and Resources at all FODE centres.
  • Revise FODE’s Organisational Structure to accommodate its expansion and activities to move FODE forward.

Initiatives taken by Milne Bay education division
This year, Milne Bay education division partnered with its provincial government to build a brand new Fode centre.
It is located in the same campus as the education division. The cost of the building was K2.5 million. This great initiative has enabled FODE students in the province who have been pushed out of the main stream system to continue with their basic education.
FODE Head Quarters has supported the Centre with much needed resource materials for the new library, office furniture, EQUITV instruments, computers etc. as part of GoPNG project component.
Introduction of tablet PCs
On August 7 the 7” and 10” tablets for students in Central and the National Capital District to use to access their learning materials were launched. These tablets are currently trialed in these two areas before they can be rolled out to the other centres in the country. The tablets will be issued to the students enrolled in NCD and FODE Centres at a subsidized cost for K150 and K250 after paying the amount into the Bank South Pacific Bank. Upon receipt of the bank deposit, the students will be issued their tablets. The Tablet PCs are optional for students. A good number of students have availed this facility.

Challenges
While FODE has made some progress, there are three challenges faced for some time that are being addresses. These include:

  • Internet connectivity
  • Sustainability issues of the Systems Developed under the World Bank Project Funding which relates to Internet Connection linking the Provincial Centers with FODE Head Quarters. It is not currently working for many provinces. There is an outstanding issue on bill payment with Digicel.
  • Printing of course materials

The cost of printing and airfreighting course materials to the 22 provinces is huge.

  • Tutorial Classrooms
  • Lack of classrooms for students to receive tutorial lessons at some centres is the major challenge.

Way forward
To move Fode forward, the principal has requested the provincial administration and education advisers to partner with the Department of Education through a memorandum of agreement so that distance education is provided to the many students in their provinces. This agreement will entail effective service delivery at the provincial level.

  • Article and pictures from the Department of Education.

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