PNG government and education department would have realised that a large portion of teenagers is missing out on higher education. Stats are indicating a sad situation. Over 96% of primary school students are pushed out of the system just 4 years shy of a college education and training.
Technical or vocational education
The point here is not about some Grade 8 students entering colleges or universities. It is about having a plan for MOST of the Grade 8s to get technical or vocational education.
Take the Grade 8 students on board the education train.
The Education Secretary, Dr Kombra, in a newspaper report in 2015 revealed that 120 000 Grade 8, 59 000 Grade 10 and 23 200 Grade 12 students would be taking national examinations. But, there are fewer than 4500 spaces at tertiary institutions that year.
Interestingly, the number of grade 8 students remains fairly the same, however, nothing has been done in the vocational and technical sectors to accommodate the Grade 8 (and Grade 10) students drop-outs.
Number of students in grades 8, 10 and 12
Take a look at the table showing the numbers of students in grades 8, 10 and 12 compared to spaces available to them after leaving school at the age of 18 years.
Retention is the problem, not dropout: students do drop out at will sometimes but those pushed out are more than those leaving.
So, the government has the responsibility to do something- anything it can- to increase spaces at the tertiary level.
The National Education Action Plans (NEP) will not be realised if this trend is left unchecked.
Expanding primary and secondary schools
Primary and secondary schools (then community and high schools) mushroomed whereas spaces at tertiary institutions remain low since structural changes took place.
The number of students entering lower and upper secondary schools increases proportionately, too.
One can also argue that number of students is further growing as a result of the government’s free education policy.
Vocational schools and technical colleges – Key
Go back to the village and you’ll find youngsters are going back to the classroom after years outside. This is not a bad thing.
However, the point is where else they go after they are given this second chance. Do something to improve their chance of getting into vocational schools and technical colleges.
If the government is really serious about educating the younger generations, put the money where its mouth is. Increase retention within the system, especially in the vocational and technical training sector.
Expand the capacity of vocational and technical training schools.
This is surely not a lot to ask.
96% of Grade 8 students drop out
Of the 120,000+ Grade 8 students who sat for the exams, 4% of them will eventually enter a tertiary institution.
You do the maths. It is insanity.
Why give Year 8 students false hope when 96% are bound for the villages or streets?
Sadly, the National Education Plans are useless when only 4% of 15 and 16-year-olds enter higher learning institutions.
It would be BETTER if 96% make it through, wouldn’t it?
The onus is now on the government and education leaders to see through the problem and find an immediate solution.