A LOT has been said about the education reforms but the issue has gone cold.
It must be revived and debated publicly because the outcome-based education is catastrophic for Papua New Guinea.
Let us look at why it has been catastrophic.
Firstly, the structural reforms are such that Grades Seven and Eight are kept at the primary level.
Students are mostly in their adolescent stage where learning of all aspects are at their peak.
The reform is such that only basics are taught, disregarding human norms of behaviour and attitude.
Also, the discipline system there (primary) may not be to expected standards as to train a well-disciplined and behaved student now as compared to how it was like when Grades Seven and Eight were at a high school with an effective discipline system and rules of conduct and behaviour.
Students in both grades are those mostly in their teens and when kept in an environment with children of Grades three to Six, they may lose their sense of maturity, thereby displaying behaviour and attitudes of immaturity as they move to Grades Nine and 10.
The high/secondary school system did better when students were groomed for four years, Grades Seven to 10.
Secondly, the curriculum reforms are such that students are taught basics from a choice of very broad topics in all subjects.
Even certain units in subjects are omitted so an average child will be taught to an extent where the person will not be properly educated on certain subjects.
In other words, there is no quality and PNG qualifications would not be recognised abroad.
In addition, someone passing out from the PNG national education system would have a low IQ because of the kind of the curriculum we have adopted.
This is now becoming evident in classrooms where students seem to have poor general knowledge and low intellectual ability.
PNG is looking at not being able to export professionals such as doctors, engineers, etc; instead, it will be exporting fruit pickers to Australia and New Zealand.
This is a shame for PNG.
Thirdly, the Education Department’s language policy on curriculum reforms is a total mockery of the language of communication, learning and instruction in the school environment.
In fact, the language policy contradicts its purpose as a tool for better learning.
As a teacher, let me reveal the very frightening experiences I am currently encountering in my Grade Nine and 10 classrooms:
* My students cannot write a complete sentence in English;
* My students are very passive and cannot answer the questions I am asking, especially questions requiring an explanation, description, etc; Instead, they can answer questions requiring a “ONE” word answer;
* My students do not have a habit of reading and doing research;
* Assignments handed in are not properly done;
* My students are not confident to interact with me and I take it that they do not have the language confidence and ability to communicate effectively;
* Many of my students are unable to pronounce words correctly; and the list goes on.
The OBE curriculum is centred on active participation by students in learning but I am beginning to experience the opposite where students are passive.
Sometimes I feel as if the students are dumb or that I am talking to the wall.
This is because our curriculum development officers and policy makers in Waigani are enjoying their salaries and assuming that things in remote Manus, Sepik, New Ireland, Simbu, Western, Southern Highlands, etc, are getting on fine.
As a teacher, I am telling you guys in Waigani that this is a nightmare teachers can do without.
I pity the students who are going through this as a result of poor decisions.
I call on Dr Joseph Pagelio and his team in Waigani to be realistic about the education reforms and its effect on our education system.
Fourthly, I want to challenge PNG teachers and the PNG Teachers Association to join the debate on the reforms.
Why are teachers keeping quiet when the reforms are not working and are very detrimental to PNG?
They are not reforms but rather deforming our children.
It is not too late to get rid of OBE.
Last but not the least, I see the so-called reforms as a medium to promote hidden agendas of foreigners.
The Government blindly voted to accept the reforms because they do not care, and have the means to send their children overseas.
If any of our MPs had bothered to study the bill before passing it, they would have known that it was not possible for us to implement it as we did not have the means.
I suggest the old system be reviewed and improved on than to overhaul the system entirely.
I hope Papua New Guineans with a heart for the future will take on the battle and stop the current education reforms which are catastrophic for PNG.