Govt sets standards

Historical pass mark of 50% set for all examinable subjects as 2020 school year begins

Caption: Education Minister Joseph Yopyyopy speaking to the media with his Department Secretary Dr Uke Kombra beside him.

By DENNIS ORERE

For the first time in PNG’s education history, Minister for Education Joseph Yopyyopy will set the pass mark at 50 per cent of the total school examination marks of each nationally examinable subject.

On the eve of the 2020 school year opening, Minister Yopyyopy challenged school students across the country saying: “The pass mark of 50 per cent can also be applied by teachers in the assessment of learning standards or proficiency levels. Proficiency levels will be used in the future as indicators of education quality. This will be the first, and perhaps the only time, where pass mark will be used as a measure of quality.”

Over two million primary and secondary school students around the country are expected to commence the 2020 academic year, as a new chapter of learning experience.

“Education indicators are important for measuring and evaluating progress towards the achievement of access, retention, quality, equity and management targets or expected levels of achievement. These indicators provide important reference points for measuring the Department of Education’s achievement of its sector goals and objectives, and progressively towards meeting the goal to ‘take back PNG’ – leave no one behind.

“Proxy indicators have been used over the years as indicators of quality education, owing to lack of valid data on students’ performance in national examinations. Pass mark is often used globally as a true measure of quality. Again, no pass mark was established and used as indicator of quality in PNG over the years,” Minister Yopyyopy, who is also Wosera-Gaui MP, made these comments at a press conference in Port Moresby on Thursday this week.

Prime Minister James Marape, in his New Year’s Message to the nation earlier this month, stressed the importance of education for children in PNG and the Government’s commitment towards it: “Whether you continue education as you come out of Grade 8, you continue education as you come out of Grade 10, or you continue education as you come out of Grade 12, we don’t want to leave any child behind. The easiest children to manage are those who are already in the classrooms. The hardest to manage are those who have left schools. And this is where Government has tapped in to ensure every kid is brought back and for Government to know who you are, wherever you are and for us to put you back into a formal program.

“Those kids or children of Papua New Guinea who are out there who have nothing to do in life, I would like to encourage you in 2020, don’t go to drugs, don’t go to alcohol, don’t go to lawlessness, don’t go to abuse – whether abusing yourself or abusing those who are close to you. I would like you to come back. Go to a District Educational Advisor somewhere in the 89 district headquarters. They will bring your name and list to the Provincial Education Advisor who will take stock, also in line with the National Census activity of 2020.”

Education Secretary Dr Uke Kombra announced during the press conference that 2019 Tuition Fee Free (TFF) Education payments and underpayments for Term Four, will be paid at the start of the 2020 school year.

“Calculations and all necessary clearance, including approvals have been done and delayed until February 2020 when the schools commence. 2019 Term 4 TFF payments totalling K95,999,705.16 is currently in the process to be released by the end of this week. The 2019 Term 4 TFF underpayments of K11,376,870.99 is currently with the Department’s Audit Team for vetting, before the payment is released,” explained Secretary Kombra.

Dr Kombra assured schools that have missed out on payments in 2019, that they will be paid at the start of the academic year in 2020. He also urged all the school boards and their administrative personnel to ensure that unnecessary debts are not incurred with service providers at the start of the new academic year. The Secretary said these payments can be used by schools to pay their 2019 outstanding debts and also to commence preparations for the new school year.

“The funds were held back from being issued at the end of last year, to avoid the funds being taken advantage of or abused by the schools during the festive season holiday period. This is the final payment under the TFF policy. The next grants will be under the new Government Tuition Fee Subsidy Policy,” clarified Dr Kombra.

Minister Yopyyopy said the Marape-Steven Government is committed to ensuring every student receives quality education under a standard-based education system, with a quality standard-based education curriculum – a 1-6-6 school structure, a robust standards assurance system and schools’ operations have sustained funding from both Government and parents.

“We are providing K486 million (63 percent of the total required tuition fees) and increases in funding for curriculum, school assessment and examinations, and standards monitoring so every school is visited to ensure teaching and learning is taking place,” Minister Yopyyopy said.

Prime Minister Marape explained the new school fee policy in his message: “The Government has entered a path where school fee is a shared responsibility. In as far as school fees are concerned, we have put break-ups in school fees for Elementary up to Grade 12, and the parents, Provincial Governments and Members of Parliament can pay up to 37 percent of the school fees.

“The National Government will pay the 63 per cent this year 2020, and going forward. This is all about us sharing responsibility and helping our country get back on the right road. Kids at colleges and universities and kids who have finished school and graduated from Grade 8 and Grade 10 we have a place for you. Don’t lose hope.”

Minister Yopyyopy echoed these words to school students for the 2020 academic year: “I hope you have enjoyed yourselves well during the 2019 holidays and have prepared yourselves well for the new academic year, starting on 27 January, 2020, for teachers and 3 February, 2020, for students.

According to the 2020 Education Department calendar, school students end Term 1 on April 17. Term 2 begins on April 27 and ends on July 3. Third term begins on July 20 and ends on September 18, while Term 4 commences on September 28 and winds up on December 11.

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