Let’s get our education system right


A NEW education structure one-six-six is to have been implemented last year in the National Capital District.
In this structure, each student will spend 13 years of schooling comprising one year elementary education, six years primary education and six years secondary education.
The structure will allow all students to continue to grade 12.
A child will start formal education at the age of five and is expected to complete secondary schooling at grade 12 at the age of 17 or 18.
And the rationale of introducing the one-six-six structure is to improve the quality of education and accessibility.
Concerns have been raised about this structure on what to expect when it comes into effect in the provinces. Under this structure, the elementary school education will be phased out.
Morobe education officials say the decision to merge elementary and primary schools would affect those teaching in the lower grades.
Questions surrounding their training to prepare for this structure still hangs in the air as they are the ones who will introduce the children into the education system, teaching children fundamental ideas.
The teachers’ performances should have been assessed to see if a grade 1 teacher is able to teach in primary school.
If the structure is not explained and implemented well, we will see a lot of elementary teachers go jobless.
Funding must be allocated so elementary teachers’ skills can be upgraded to fit into the primary school sector.
The message from the education minister in the National Education Plan 2015-2019 is that every child should have a quality education, with teachers’ qualifications upgraded and a national curriculum framework guiding 13 years of education.
There will be quality standards in place for learning, schools, teachers and principals.
In 2014, 11,174 schools were operating in the country, about 53 per cent run by government and nearly 46 per cent by the churches. Student enrolments were just under 2 million.
There were more than 51,000 teachers employed across all sectors of education, with almost 50 per cent of them in the primary sector and 38 per cent in the elementary sector. More males than females were accessing education.
NGOs and private organisations operated some schools outside the national education system. This plan does not cover those schools.
In 2015, the education system had three years of elementary school, six years of primary and four years of secondary. National examinations were in place at the endsof grades 8, 10 and 12.
The National Education Plan 2015-2019 makes changes to the existing examination system to one-six-six.
The government has placed a lot of emphasis on education as reflected in its free-education policy and its allocation of the biggest chunk of the national budget to it.
This is positive given the low level of literacy in the country, and the need to have an educated population to enhance national development and economic growth.
It is good to see more children enroled in schools than ever before because of the government’s tuition fee-free policy.
But there are some school-aged children who cannot attend classes for various reasons such as the lack of access to schools because of where they live, lack of parental support and other family problems.
Basic things such as teacher postings, fees to be levied clarified with parents, getting classrooms ready, ensuring water and power supplies are working and toilets cleaned are ignored until after classes start.
While the education system is evolving and working towards an effective and efficient model to adopt, recurring problems each year are a worry.
It should not be happening.