Number of dropouts still high


ONLY 9,852 of the 25,500 Grade 12 students who applied for places in tertiary institutions for next year have been accepted.
Given the workings of the formal education system; 15,648 students (about 67 per cent) will be left out to fend for themselves.
This year, a total of 31,817 students from 188 secondary and the six national high schools sat the Grade 12 National Exams.
While we may blame the poor grades on Coronavirus (Covid-19) which forced disruption to the school year, the high number of students being pushed out of this career path keeps increasing.
Why should it be the same old story again of parents bemoaning their children’s lack of luck and sense of failure and being not good enough?
Only a few thousand will proceed to the next level of education as dictated by the education system’s type of natural selection where the most academically fit survive and proceed to another stage of schooling.
The education sector will continue to experience problems at all levels from elementary to tertiary.
These problems, in part, are unavoidable for a developing economy such as Papua New Guinea.
In pre-Independence times, the challenge that faced the colonial government was building up the ranks of skilled workers among the local population to eventually take over the Australian administration.
The challenge then was really about getting as many of the best and brightest students to study and train to become the nation’s first administrators and managers as well as filling in the other positions in society in health, education, industry and so on.
But today, it is the other way around.
There are a lot more students; many of them bright, capable and keen to learn to better themselves, but they are faced with a range of challenges, one of which is the limited number of spaces available.
With the bottleneck forming at the university/college level, the system has responded with a quota system to deal with the space problem.
This quota system has been achieved twofold.
First, there is the grade point average system and then there is the selection criteria in which students, in their year 12 school leaver form, pick their top-three preferred institutions.
The first choice is a luxury in this country and it’s so critical and that’s not our control. It has come to a stage where the second and third choices can no longer earn you a space in a tertiary institution.
It is clear that the number of learning institutions simply cannot accommodate the growing ranks of students pouring into the secondary and tertiary levels on a yearly basis.
As far as absorbing the thousands of graduates from secondary level, the reality on the ground is grim.
The rest of these school leavers are left to fend for themselves either in the job market or in private education institutions – if they can afford it.
The problem is clear but the solutions are not so easy to come by.
It will be interesting to see what the Government can come up within the next two years to address this.