Scrapping exams a positive move

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday November 3rd, 2015

 THE Government’s education policy of making it accessible to as many children as possible has seen a plan put in motion to scrap the grade eight and 10 examinations.  

The education system in Papua New Guinea has always been predicated on the basis of letting only the best and brightest through to the top. 

This pyramid structure of education has seen a large portion of students miss out on continuing their learning experience in formal and state-funded institutions because they could not graduate to the next level as required by the system.

It is not a fair system but it is one that has been in place for practical reasons.

The most obvious reason is to do with the state’s ability to educate all who enter the education system. The state simply cannot cater for every individual.

Other than the reason of volume beating the state’s capacity, there is the question of cost. 

The need for more schools will continue to rise over the coming years. 

This is a normal trend because PNG’s population is increasing at a rapid rate from a manageable size of 3.5 million at Independence in 1975, the country is now teetering close to double digits in the millions as some estimates put the number of citizens at 

well over eight million in 2015.

It is not hard to understand why a move to make the grade eight and grade 10 exams not the be-all and end-all for students navigating their way through the formative years of school but as with every state initiative of this magnitude there must be other measures put in place to help smoothen change that will take place.

Firstly, allowing more students through will more than likely impact on the quality of the student in general. 

National mean scores and averages in aptitudes tests at each level will likely be affected. 

The range of scores for every subject and every grade will see extremes and this will surely affect standards.

One cannot have students of differing ability, talents and aptitudes progress through the grades and levels of education without providing a level playing field.

If it has not already the state must adopt a tiered system of education in school curriculums across the board.

If the cost is too much that is the bed the state is making and so it should sleep in it.

This would work by having in primary school and all the way to senior high school the system of allowing students to learn the core subjects of English, mathematics, science and social science.

That simply means a student who is not proficient in a certain subject will 

not have to compete with students of a higher aptitude and he or she can learn 

the subject and still get some value out of the experience.

Of course detractors would point out the need for one general grade 

average to attain in each subject in order meet the university entrance requirements but where does it say a student cannot qualify for a place in university or any other tertiary institution simply because he or she is deficient in one area really through no fault of their own.

The problem is not with the student but more with a system that groups everyone into the one basket without taking into account individual needs. 

If the state is keen on increasing the numbers of students attending schools and staying in those places and progressing through the ranks unimpeded then it should reconfigure the system to cater for as many different types of students as possible.

Otherwise it would be a waste of tax payers’ money and effort on the part of the relevant departments to see a lot of effort put in for little or worse, a zero outcome.

The state has a crucial role to play in moulding the coming generations by virtue of the fact that they are the main provider of education.   

Getting rid of the grade eight and 10 exams should not mean that there is no final testing assessment for these two levels of schooling, rather the significance of these two end of year examinations is not as dire for students as it currently is.

Failure can be avoided if students are given the tools and guidance in a learning system that caters for everyone’s needs.