The National, Wednesday October 7th, 2015
THE Department of Education says that roughly 202,200 students will be writing their national examinations in the next few weeks.
According to a statement from the secretary’s office more than 59,000 Grade 10 students in 256 schools, 23,200 Grade 12 students in 146 schools and 120,000 Grade 8 students from 2,663 schools will sit for these crucial examinations.
Their future literally hinges on these exams; passing them with above average grades would mean proceeding to higher grades for some or placements at tertiary institutions for others.
For students, parents and guardians it would be a tense few weeks ahead.
The future for the thousands of school going people is in the minds of everyone who has an interest in their progress.
Children themselves would be looking forward to the next stage of life’s education journey.
However, given the workings of the formal education system and the formal sector’s ability to absorb youth in gainful employment, the bulk of these young people would be left out to fend for themselves.
Only a few thousands would proceed to the next level of education as dictated by the PNG education system’s own type of natural selection where the most academically fit survive and proceed to another stage.
As far as absorbing the thousands of graduates from secondary level, the reality on the ground is still quite grim: We can only take in roughly a quarter of the students with a Grade 12 education.
Given this reality, cheating in examinations to score sufficiently high grades to win one of the very limited numbers of places at universities or colleges is understandable.
But there is a catch to that.
As academic and former education secretary Dr Musawe Sinebare pointed out recently, cheating can follow cheaters into institutions of higher learning and the workplace.
They may be top performers but with a very shaky moral foundation, their actions and motives will eventually find them out to the detriment of their immediate work place and society at large.
These are those who do not believe in good old honest hard work but in shortcuts and instant success, fame and self-gratification.
These are they who have no qualms breaking stable marriages through their cheating.
Must we envy success that comes from cheating?
Students at this crucial period of their lives should ask themselves what kind of future they want.
If it is one with a culture of selfish ambition, corruption and laziness and moral weaklings then cheating in examinations is a sure way to it.
If, on the other hand, they want Papua New Guinea to be among progressive and fair and morally strong among nations of the world then only smart and honest hard work can make that possible.
It is imperative that young people are motivated to nurture positive attitudes and discouraged from cheating and not made to envy the success of cheats.
However, many honest and hardworking students would find themselves without a place and would therefore need other pathways to a productive and prosperous future.
They would need something to drive them to get out there and grab life’s circumstances and turn them to their advantage.
There should be an entrepreneurial spirit and a yearning in their young minds to better themselves.
They would need to generate a living with their minds and hands.
This is where life skills such as personal viability training, financial literacy and small business management come into play.
There is nothing more rewarding than being financially independent and that is precisely what sets the big businessman apart from the employee who must work to pay for his basic needs.
The government’s drive in promoting small and medium enterprises would be quite successfully if existing and prospective small entrepreneurs have personal viability training.
And the thousands of graduates who leave at the end of every year would have a door of opportunity open for them if they had been trained to think, generate incomes, save and spend prudently to better themselves and those around them.
And above all, the students and youth need moral courage which comes from within the family – to face a fast-paced world and its offerings.
Spare a thought and a word of prayer for our students writing their exams.