The School of Excellence concept was introduced by PNG government in 2009 in a meeting in Wabag. The concept is now being tried out at Sogeri, Passam, Kerevat, Aiyura, Port Moresby and Wawin National High Schools and Kabiufa Secondary School . The government has tasked the Department of Education to immediately start work on the concept and begin the implementation in 2013.
The following are 13 major NEC decisions.
1. Convert/Change National High Schools to Schools of Excellence. DoE to make necessary structural changes to re-focus the current National High School system.
2. 5% of the top students to be selected to attend School of Excellence. DoE to project figures and advice NEC appropriately.
3. 1% of the top SoE students to be selected for specialist education abroad. DoE to project the figure and advice NEC appropriately, as well as advice whether or not to increase the number of students to 5% to 10% etc based on student subject choices.
4. DoE to develop budgets for National High Schools rehabilitation.
5. Establish and standardize all Schools of Excellence requirements.
o Classrooms standards
o Teacher standards
o Curriculum standards
o Student standard
o Teachers houses standards
o Laboratory standards
o Library standards
o ICT standards
o Messing and food standards
6. SoE curriculum must be internationally compatible. Realign or re-structure all SoE curriculums for all sciences, social sciences, mathematics, economics, technological and technical programs par with the international best practice.
7. Design and develop a School of Excellence detail budget
8. Develop a School of Excellence Policy. The policy must be fully costed out.
9. Select specialist scientific, technological and technical courses for all sciences, technological and technical programs in preparation for students study abroad.
10. National government will provide scholarship for students in School of Excellence and study abroad. Develop a detail budget
11. Implementation of School of Excellence to begin in 2013
12. Approved Kerevat, Aiyura, Sogeri, Port Moresby, Wawin and Passam national high schools and Kabiufa secondary school to be Schools of Excellence. DoE to advice NEC whether or not to expand the School of Excellence to selected secondary schools in the regional provinces.
13. Identify specialist scientific, technological and technical course abroad. DoE to advice NEC appropriate
What is the background to the NEC decision on the proposed School of Excellence concept?
Human capital need assessment-Highly skilled scientific and technological workforce lacking
An extensive analysis of human capital need assessment study undertaken in PNG identified huge gap in highly skilled scientific, technological and technical human resources since colonial era and current (Exxon Mobil, 2010). The study identified 10000 scientific, 10000 technological, 20000 technical workforces were needed in two Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects. The study revealed that PNG did not have the scientific, technical and technological capacity and most of the workforce will be recruited from abroad. Evidence provided shows that majority of our people will be laborers. One of the factors impeding the country progress in developing highly skilled workforce is that successive governments’ over the decades failed to invest in highly science, technology and technical manpower needed to develop our mineral resources.
1900s to 1960s - Huge resource booms less investment in highly skilled workforce
From 1900s to 1960s (60 years) there were records and unrecorded extraction of huge renewable resources and non renewable mineral resources from the country. Millions and billions of dollars were paid to the colonial administration as taxes. Where was this money invested? Where would PNG be if our colonial government invested in highly skilled education? The question is how did our colonial administration go wrong in investing in education when there was a huge boom in agricultural, fisheries and mineral resources development in the country since 1900s?
The first economic boom was recorded in 1900s (copra plantations and spice trade), the second resource boom was recorded in 1930s (Wau/Bulolo gold field, Gulf oil extraction, Highlands gold extraction), third resource boom was recorded in the 1980s (Bougainville copper, Ok Tedi Mining). Those resources extraction generated millions and billions of dollars under colonial administration and PNG pre-independence government (Batten, 2009). During the period, the colonial government earnings did not translate into tangible investment in human resources programs. Despite those massive earnings (1905-1980) there was still huge number (200000) of school aged-children not in school in that period (DoE, Corporate Data, 1973). Investment in secondary, vocational and technical schools as well as the development of highly skilled scientific and technological skilled work force was lacking and wanting.
Colonial administration education goal- inadequate and wanting
Although Australia colonized Papua New Guinea for over 70 years (1900s-1974), there was nothing to show case Australian colonial administration commitment to developing PNG highly skilled human capital development despite Papua New Guineans showing potential. In the same period Australia heavily invested in education and infrastructure development for its citizen and disregarded its colony. The colonial government disregard for investment in highly scientific and technological workforce was deliberate even though there was billions of dollars extraction of renewable and non renewable mineral resources out of the country.
This was well reflected in the colonial administration education goals. The aim of education under colonial administration was basically to replace expatriate workforce in the public service. Hence, the focus of schooling was to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills for the readily available public and private sector job markets. As soon as students completed grades 6, 8 and 10, they were employed directly into the public service workforce. The education of many Papua New Guineans at that time did not go beyond secondary school level. This goal was based on the preconceived notion that Papua New Guineans were unintelligent to think scientifically, technological and technically and be competitive in high level of knowledge and skill acquisition despite many Papua New Guineans showing high level of intelligence and potential (Ref here).
It is well documented that the attitudes of different colonial governments towards Papua New Guineans in that period portrayed Papua New Guineans as “bush Kanakas” (uncivilized and unintelligent in all western introduced concepts and ideas) (ref here). Another disturbing revelation was that colonial government did not want the indigenous people to have access to advance education and development. Hence, the pace for education and development for the populace was slow, selective and discriminative (ref here). Relevant studies on Papua New Guinea colonization revealed that the colonial government had the secret agenda of ‘keeping the indigenous always primitive’ (KIAP) (Ref here). For this reason, the country’s highly social, economic and political development was lacking and wanting.
These questions are pondered to reflect on the past and the current status of our country’s development in terms of highly skilled workforce. Where would PNG be if colonial governments invested in scientific, technical and technological education without negative portrayal of its colonial subjects? Was it a deliberate move to sabotage the intelligence of the indigenous people so that white supremacy and domination was legitimized? There were three economic booms recorded in the country during the colonial era but where was the money invested?
Why School of Excellence? What is the problem?
The problem is that although the Government has increased participation in education and reduced significantly inequalities, improving high level of science, mathematics and technology is lacking or non existent. The Government is worried that if this ‘trend continues the hope of bringing the country closer towards achieving a knowledge based economy’ may not be possible (PNGDSP, 2010, p.55).
Further, the past and current education systems at post primary level has failed to develop higher skills needed for PNG’s prosperity. The role of post primary institutions is preparing young people to supply higher education institutions with first-rate scholars crucial to supply the skilled workforce required for the country’s development. This is not the case, because there is still wide spread lack of highly skilled workforce in all specialist scientific and technological work fields. To make up for the shortage, there is huge number of foreign specialist consultants that PNG relies on to fill each year is proof that our higher education system is not delivering (Vision 2050, 2010).
Papua New Guinea does not have a strong dynamic and competitive economy in manufacturing science, technological, technical, gas, oil, forestry, marine products and services. This is because there is lack or non existent of highly skilled manpower that is needed to remain competitive at the regional and international levels. One of the contributing factors is that the universities and tertiary education institutions in the country are not producing highly skilled workforce that is needed to develop PNG (DSP, 2010). Given this scenario the ‘nation will not become develop and prosperous without developing specialised highly skilled workforce that is needed in all sectors of economy’ (DSP, 2010, p.59). Hence, there is high demand for graduates that meet international standard and have appropriate types of skills required to meet PNG’s scientific and technological future workforce.
PNG is high tech consumer oriented country. That means we use technological goods like mobile phones, computers, scientific goods such as medicine and technical goods such as cars and planes etc. The Government question is: Can PNG own citizens make cars? Can PNG own citizens make their own computers? Can PNG own citizen build a plane? Can PNG own citizen become world famous movie actors and actresses? The answer is yes. Do our people have the potential to excel and produce scientific, technological and technical products and services? The answer is yes.
What is the current PNG status on highly skilled workforce?Papua New Guinea lacks highly skilled scientific, technological and technical workforce needed to develop the country’s natural resources. It also lacks highly skilled specialist workforce in agriculture, fisheries, arts, crafts, dancing and music. This is due to government lack of investment in highly skilled human resources over the decades.
The government is concerned that despite huge investment in education over the last decades the country lags behind on improving high level of excellence in science, mathematics, applied sciences, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, information communication technology, arts, agriculture and fisheries. The government is worried that not very much attention has been given in the field of science and technology education to move forward the country into the next century.
The School of Excellence concept is developed to support and address the huge highly skilled scientific, technological and technical workforce lacking in the country.
Where is the foundation to begin building such a highly skilled workforce?The government is of the view that investment in specialized education in the National School of Excellence and selected secondary schools in preparation for higher education should pave the way forward to fill these high knowledge and skill gap that exists in science, technology and technical workforce. The top cream of students at Grade 12 will be selected to study in prestigious universities abroad in the selected specialist fields of study.
The government is firm on establishing all curriculum standards at grades 11 and 12 that is internationally compatible and compliant. Once such curriculum standard is set, it will have cascading effects upwards (university courses) and downwards (secondary, primary and elementary curriculum).
What is the government expected outcomes of the School of Excellence concept?
The introduction of School of Excellence has the potential to produce and transform the country into one of the highly scientific and technological countries in the world. The government anticipates that if PNG start investing in selected high scientific, technological and technical human resources now will put PNG on the road to becoming one of those technological and technical advanced countries in the world.
School of Excellence is a school of the future. This is a small step to begin work on establishing a vibrant and smart society. This is a deliberate intervention by the government to solve some of the country’s highly skilled human capital need lacking in the country. The School of Excellence will set advance curriculum standard, teacher standard, student standard and all building standards that are of superior quality. The setting of such higher standard will have cascading effects on other education sectors such as universities. The School of Excellence demands replacing traditional practices with in-depth higher learning experiences for learners to pursue individual interests.
The government is adamant that PNG should be among those countries that design and produce cars, airplanes, heavy equipment, software, computers, telecommunication products, fishery products, agricultural products, oil and gas products, actors, and actresses. The government intention is that PNG should never be a consumer oriented country but one that produces and sale it’s scientific, technical and technological products abroad. These are issues the national government is endeavoring to address. The PNG School of Excellence concept is a small step to begin work on building Papua New Guinea destiny into one of the highly scientific and technological countries. These are the hopes and dreams that our national government is optimistic about achieving in the next millennium.
We have given you the brief history on our past and current trend in the development of highly skilled workforce. We have presented to you the government intention to make PNG one of the scientific, technological and technical advanced countries in the next millennium.
So what do you think? Can we do it? Can PNG do it? If your answer is yes and no, come join the Department of Education in the up coming seminar to debate and discuss the government National School of Excellence concept.
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