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11 September 2010


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It may be germane to speak glowingly of experience with military training courses, and fondly recall the potentials unrealised, but the evidence is that the taxonomy that produced those military courses also fashioned its cousins employed in the national educational fields.

Our old nemesis, Bloom, was as hard at work then to satisfy the demands of military management systems as he was seen to be in the development of those precursors to the OBE of today’s debate.


The need for a systematic approach to training began with World War II when thousands of military personnel had to be trained in the shortest time possible. Various kinds of teaching machines, training films and teaching aids were used in military training sessions.

With the publication of BF Skinner's book, 'The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching' in 1954, behaviourist principles were used in the design of instructional strategies wherein the principles of reinforcement and feedback were introduced.

Most popular being "Program Learning" which emphasised the formulation of behavioural objectives, the breaking down of the instructional sequence into manageable units and providing feedback for each unit attained.

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom, introduced the 'The Taxonomy of Cognitive Objectives', which provided instructors with a list of intellectual behaviours to be developed.

Bloom also introduced the notion of 'mastery learning' in which a learners had to be brought to a level of mastery before going on to the following unit of learning.

About the same time, military researchers took the model of 'General Systems Theory' by Ludwig von Bertalanffy based on biological interactions and together with Bloom's Taxonomy, introduced the systems approach to instructional development which integrated content and the delivery of instruction.

In 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik which started a space race between the USSR and the US. This led to a re-evaluation of the American education system especially with the teaching of science and mathematics.

In 1962, Robert Glaser synthesised the work of various researchers and introduced the concept of "instructional design" with a model that linked 'learner analysis' with the design and development of instruction.

About the same time, Robert Mager proposed the construction of performance objectives which, according to Mager, should be measurable and exhibit a terminal behaviour.

In 1965, Robert Gagne published his influential book, 'The Conditions of Learning', in which he described his instructional design theory which initially was behaviouristically based but later shifted to a more cognitive approach.

My comment:

The problem faced within PNG is that there are now fewer human resources to work with capable of comprehending the levels of instructional intent by science, industry or military in a vocational environment.

The means of acquiring those assets is dependent upon the success of the institutions, which we observe have dramatically failed.

There is presently no measurable body of achievement in the public sector by which to assume a well regulated scope and sequence of educational progress to grow and prosper.

Unless some radical shifts are made to remedy the aberrant philosophy and practice of the past 15 years, PNG can just expect more of the same.

There were criticisms of the Program in Problem Solving in the military in Australia. The view was that this was all just commonsense.

And we all know that commonsense cannot be taught. We just learn the basics of checking and double-checking from our mother's knee. Spoken like true military training idiots.

What was commonsense to young Australian officers in the 1970s was not commonsense to Papua New Guinea young men.

That is where training fell down at the hands of the Australian military. There was a massive cultural gap between the Australian trainers and the PNG trainees. It still exists with the consultants who brought OBE to PNG. It was all just commonsense.

The common feature of the application of "mastery learning" techniques as experienced by PNGDF or local schools is the conditioning of the subjects to conform to a regime of achievement facilitating the aims of the administrators.

In the case of the PNGDF and the schools, the demolition job done on both is patently obvious to contemporary historians.

Meanwhile, the architects of application, generally, are now the objects of examination for the degree of responsibility or otherwise that saw them preside over what is becoming a ruin and a tragedy of national dimension.

The soldiers lose their pensions and pride of service.

The students lose opportunity and a future.

The architects and their minions get pay rises.

Only now does it appear minutely possible that there is some hope of change re application of lessons learned from failure.

Probably, much of that possibility has been engendered by the kick-start Corney gave to the education debate, and the overall scope of this most valuable blog to publicly airing many other aspects of PNG issues

Is the military not part of the relationship between Australia and PNG? Do we just keep the blog as Kiaps Attitude?

We would talking about reasons for the failure of the PNGDF.

Rod - What is a parade of soldiers? It is a 100% stocktake of men, clean uniforms and weapons.

What would happen if the soldiers had to line up outside the platoon commander's office and be inspected one at a time?

They would play all kinds of tricks. 40 soldiers - 20 clean rifles presented to start with. Four soldiers had to borrow hats. Twelve changed into polished boots.

Talking about all this is like old times.

And before we become Military Attitude....

Go to it offline fellas - KJ

Rod - I agree with you. The trouble with Australian Army training is that so much was not trained but expected to be known from the military culture. It was very insular.

Take the young duty officer who released the prisoners. He would not be counselled by the CO on the approach to checking and double-checking. He would be given ten extra duties and expected to work it out by himself.

Officers should be educated in decision-making by being able to apply the insights from solution of one problem to the solution of other problems in different contexts.

According to the Defence Force journal article, this was key objective of the Program in Problem Solving (PIPS) developed for the PNGDF. It prepared young men who knew very little about decision making.

The Army did not know how to turn out educated decision makers. The military appreciation process and the Operation Order did not prepare an officer for ordinary day-to-day probems that he may face.

It would be thought that if we teach men and women how to know all the tricks they would face in accounting for stores and equipment, they would then use that knowledge to steal. The system can not win.

So we do not train for accurate decision-making. Keep them stupid and give them extra duties when they stuff-up.

The designer of the Program in Problem Solving became a consultant in the Australian Defence Force on training foreign students. He advised the schools of the Australian Defence Force in the period 1985-1991.

His article on Mastery Learning appeared in Defence Force Journal 44. Type into Google "A Systems Approach to Mastery Learning. Defence Force Journal B D"

PIPS reminds us that in Outcome-Based Education there are two approaches to thinking. There is convergent thinking that requires only one solution and divergent thinking that allows many solutions.

The Program in Problem Solving seems to be totally convergent which requires one solution only. If not, the student is wrong.

It also requires the teacher and course planner to be totally precise in setting out the details of the problem. It may be that too much OBE in schools suffers from totally vague problems and not enough detail.

Mastery Learning requires many parallel problems that demonstrate the same approach.

Divergent thinking requires divergent and creative thinking. Whereas checking the phone number of the commanding officer is convergent, the task of researching the economic problems of PNG is divergent.

All mathematical problems, spelling and reading comprehension are convergent as only one answer is acceptable. Outcome-Based Education requires a balance of convergent and divergent activities.

With the break-up of the Joint Services College, all services went back to their old training.

The Programme in Problem Solving was given to the training officers of the other two services while the program continued at the new Military Academy.

Checking situations were categorized in three levels depending on urgency.

The first had to take place before any further response as in a guard checking an ID card at the gate or a soldier seeking a passwprd.

The second took place in the process of checking as with a fire engine checking a fire in the process of arriving at the scene.

The third was a 'Shoot first and ask questions later' in a combat situation. Sadly many women gathering firewood in the jungle have been shot.

It all comes back. This was the most practical mastery learning Outcome-Based Training I have ever experienced. I came on the scene in Australia.

It was like old times reading about the Program in Problem Solving (PIPS) designed for officer cadets of the PNG Joint Services College. It was far ahead of its time and the first course in Outcome-Based Training ever conducted in PNG.

It was carefully researched and based on the range of problems a young officer would face after graduation as a junior regimental officer.

Looking back, I can see the massive value of this program and know that it provoked interest in the Australian Defence Force. It was based on 120 or more basic problems in checking and double-checking with an extension into fault finding and planning.

The program was passed to the Royal Military College of Duntroon, though I do not know what they did with it. The staff cadets were not given a textbook, being told to research checking and double-checking in practical scenarios.

I recall one problem that illustrates the practical worth of the program. A young officer on duty received a phone call from a man who told him he was the commanding officer and that he was to go to the cells to release the prisoners.

The young officer knew he had to check, so he asked for the caller’s phone number and rang back. The angry caller told him that he would be charged if he did not obey his order. So the prisoners were released.

In the morning, an angry commanding officer was demanding to know why the prisoners were released. “But, but you told me to do that sir and I checked with you”. “I did not and you did not”.

His error was to ask the caller for the number. He should have taken the telephone number from the duty log. Failing that he should have visited the house of the CO. Even then the CO may have been a hostage under duress.

The basic principle in checking is always to use a means independent of the source. There are hundreds of scenarios in which this can be applied

After a year of solving these problems, the staff cadets were quite brainwashed in the discipline of checking and double-checking. There were about 120 more.

This is Outcome-Based Training. The basic principles are the same for OBE. The instructor needs to be practical and experienced in decision-making skills.

Rod - I read about the Type programming in the DF Journal copy of 1979 and it was good learning stuff.

A correction with the ranks here. The former PNGDF Commander was Commodore Peter Ilau and the present one being Brigadier General Francis Agwi (both one star).

I have been involved with Papua New Guinean teachers for many years and have met quality teachers, but many others I would not feed. They are totally unhelpful to students.

Among lower quality teachers there is the unprofessional view that they are educated while students are low grass roots nobodies. Students will be told once and, if they do not understand, it is their fault. To make matters worse, they insult the professionalism of the teacher by not listening.

There seems to be no idea that a difficult concept has to be retaught daily for a week, practised and then retaught three weeks later and practised.

No. That makes students lazy. I am a professional teacher and I teach once. If they do not get it they fail.

There have been many calls in the PNG media for Outcome-Based Education to be scrapped, and these can not be ignored.

Educationist Aaron Hayes has written wonderful and practical explanations of OBE in The National newspaper.

His view follows basically what has been written on this blog with a focus on lack of resources, particularly in rural schools.

He says OBE is an offshoot of Mastery Learning. Perhaps this is where it all went wrong. Too much is left to the student.

Mastery Learning requires a sequence of exercises for (1) teacher demonstration (2) student practice and (3) student assessment. Teachers may be unable to come up with practice exercises before the assessment.

Teaching strategies are like a see-saw. At one end is teacher-centred learning. On the other is student-centred learning.

The best place to sit is in the middle. Too many education authorities can never integrate two approaches. It is all in or all out.

It was pleasing that the major allocation of funds in the recent PNG budget was to education, with a focus on resources, training, employment of more teachers and infrastructure.

Now OBE has a chance to come alive. There are still more problems coming with Universal Basic Education extended to Grade 12.

Children in rural schools have enough problems going as far as Grade 6, let alone Grade 12. It will not be solved by making them sit on school seats for another six years.

It does not mean that they will learn. Still the increase in funding for school resources may help them along.

Barbara - OBE is just the same as teacher-centred learning with a good teacher who gives a range of assignments and promotes knowledge.

Students learn to think and work independently and in a team.

The students now do assignments for Outcome Based Assessment. It should be basically the same as teacher-centred learning. But they do more of the work now.

It is assessed. It will take time if students are used to being spoon fed.

It will take libraries with hundreds of books and many in multiple copies. Students in a class should not all have to scramble for the same book to complete the same assignment.

In the Weekend Courier is a letter from a Grade 10 student from Enga Province on the problem of failure in Grade 10 exams that was blamed on OBE. He wrote:

"We were prepared to tackle the exam but the papers distributed were totally new to us. We went through the old exam of the old system as revision and mock (trial) exams.

"There were no samples of OBE papers given in advance to go through. We had no taste of it until the exam which was a total surprise to most if not all of us.

"I believe that this led to the psychological disturbance that caused such poor marks. Can the Department of Education look at alternative ways to look at us?"

This blog was spot on in our assessment of the causes. Did this happen in other provinces?

M Kila - I am a retired teacher. I was asked to use an OBE system. I did not like it and moved to another school which had very high standards of teaching.

I was told yesterday that the academic standards of the school using OBE dropped.

I realise that any good teacher will use assignments and require students to do wide reading. It is not something unique to OBE.

There are other problems to do with OBE, just ask the teachers.

I fully agree with you that it is imperative that all schools have a library and a good supply of books for the students to read to improve their reading ability.

Barbara - It depends on where you are standing. To my mind, the issue is becoming rational and clear.

It is not about OBE. As a letter to the editor advised in the Post-Courier today, it is about a broken promise of the government to spend K300 million on books and other resources.

There has been an upsurge in donations of books in the last month and many politicians spending some of their discretionary funds on double classrooms.

If this continues, the OBE issue will solve itself. Teachers want better working conditions. They want more pay. That is not OBE. We have to do a little of defining terms.

Read the report posted by Tom Kuligi today about the donation of books by Oil Search. That is typical of what is starting to happen.

Success with OBE starts in learning and reading from elementary school. Then OBE becomes a national challenge.

Teachers in the Western Highlands are planning to go on strike to get rid of the OBE system.

Spokesperson, Nius Rom, who teaches at Mt Hagen Park Secondary School, said they would hold a public forum to discuss factors brought on by OBE - class size, lack of students materials, failure in the education delivery system, and teacher work conditions.

"We are now at the crossroads, that is whether to make changes and improve the failing education system or ignore these calls," Mr Rom said.

"We cannot pretend that nothing is wrong and start to jump up and down later after the whole education system has collapsed," he added.

A debate on OBE was on air today after the 8 am news on the national radio and Corney Alone spoke for about 10 minutes. The discussion on OBE is gaining momentum.

Wonder just what happened to Corney Alone who started the debate in the first place. He has gone very quiet.

Tom Kuligi has hundreds of good ideas that he needs to write a long letter to PNG Education Secretary, Joseph Pagelio to suggest new strategies to further reform the country's education system.

Go for it, Tom...

In “The National”newspaper today, the Governor of Madang Province, Sir Arnold Amet, attacked Outcome Based Education calling it a national tragedy. He described it as absolute nonsense.

Speaking at Brahmin High School, he said his education vision for Madang was for all children at school age to start school and that education should be free for them.

Sir Arnold Amet stressed there had been a lot of push-outs from the schools since OBE started, and that this was unacceptable.

He said the old system was better where children started from preparatory, advanced to Grade 6, then went on to high school.

Max David, founder of Brahmin High School, said OBE, while successful for schools in urban areas which had better access to libraries and computers, had not been success stories in rural areas.

Sir Arnold said he hoped to give preferential treatment to Madang students in disadvantaged areas to continue, as it was unfair to push them out at Grade 8.

He said that a total of 4,000 students were pushed out at Grade 9 of 5,900 that sat for the Grade 8 exams last year.

He said we have to upgrade school capacities, double class sizes by shift arrangements and be able to think through radical ideas for change.

Sir Arnold has good ideas but his vision is clouded by a view of how it all used to be. Across the nation, large numbers of rural children were pushed out at the Grade 6 competitive exam.

Now they are pushed out at the end of Grade 8. The push-out at end of Grade 10 is a normal selection process.

Not all rural children succeed at school. Girls have problems with accommodation in villages and the danger of sexual abuse from village men and boys.

Many rural children can scarcely speak English and can certainly not write English. They know very little about anything. Going on to Grade 8 is extra punishment for these students and teachers.

They will bring extra problems to the school with fighting, smoking marijuana and drinking home brew. If they can not do school work, they may operate outside the school system in destructive and disruptive ways.

Outcome Based Education has problems as pointed out above. But it has to be given time. Teachers have to be trained. Schools have to be given greater access to resources. The motivation of children to learning must be radically uplifted.

Extra time has to be given by schools to the basics in reading, writing and mathematics. That means that the Education Department has to reduce the workload for students and teachers on OBE.

Schools with a bad record of success in the Grade 10 exam must put extra weight on the OBE assessment mark. But not too much; that will inspire cheating.

We have to remember that the move to Grade 11 is an enormous jump for struggling Grade 10 students.

Teachers are so pressed for time they cannot prepare students for external exams. Effective exam preparation is the key to success. Students have to be coached on passing exams.

The Department and schools have not yet got the mix right. They must do so over the next year or two but not unfairly discriminate against students.

If students do badly in the external exam, look at their OBE assessment mark. If in doubt, send out the inspector to check assignments that should be locked at the school in a secure room.

I have been talking to a senior pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist Church on the problems of no dormitories in top-up primary schools for young girls who are 15-17 years old.

He agreed and said that the matter had been raised at a Seventh Day Adventist conference that large numbers of young girls at rural primary schools are becoming pregnant.

This is because they have to live in villages near the school where they face sexual abuse. At high schools, they would be in dormitories.

This is failure of Universal Basic Education. It means that many village parents stop their daughters from going to school in Grade 5 so as not to put them in danger away from home.

Universal Basic Education discriminates against village girls.

From this morning's Post-Courier: "Grade 10 results shocking" [by Peter Saa and Peter Korugl]

Education authorities in Enga Province are lost for words after it emerged yesterday that all the grade 10 students that sat for their final examinations have all scored very poor marks.

About 3,000 students from 12 high schools including the two international schools scored well below the cut off mark to enter Grade 9 next year, prompting the Enga Provincial Government to call on the National Government to revisit the Outcome Based Education program implemented in schools throughout the country.

“The lowest score is two out of 100. All the students have scored a fail mark in all the subjects they were tested. I don’t know how the parents are going to accept these results,” the Provincial Exam Coordinator Nicholas Pombeam said from Wabag yesterday.

Teachers marking the exam papers at the UPNG Centre in Wabag said the highest grade was 41, scored by one student and that was well below the cut off mark which is 60 points.

There is a report in the media that the Grade 10 results in Enga Province are shocking. OBE is blamed. It is surely more complex that that.

Were the papers too difficult? Was there no link between what was on the paper and OBE outcomes? Were teachers not prepared to teach OBE? Were there no proper resources?

It simply means that the exam pass mark will be lowered. This is valid but sad. It does not mean that the students did not work hard and well. It may just mean they could not show it on the exam paper.

Robin - I have been reading your letters for a number of months and have decided you are too much concerned with conspiracies.

You forget there are powerful forces in the world that can counterbalance any force that could ever be set up by the UN or AusAID.

In the last decade, there has been a campaign in this country promoting importance of family in the national HIV/AIDS response. We sought to promote family relationships and family values.

To our surprise, there has been serious opposition from the UN and AusAID who have wanted to stop a family message and promote the rights of women and children with no responsibilities.

I know the facts as there have been emails going out every week for years. The good news is that the family message has now taken centre stage in the nation.

Two weeks ago, there was a two-week crusade in Port Moresby conducted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Department for Community Development. Focus was on family, marriage and parenting.

The UN is not a powerful organization. Countries surely have a take it or leave it attitude. The Moslems have decided to leave it as they see the UN as the servant of Satan.

We take insight from the League of Nations that lost support of nations over a 20 year period ending in World War II.

There are valid humanist values. Most nations teach history as propaganda for their own sense of nationhood. History belongs to the victors. We do really have to rise above all this.

We are all human beings. We have the same needs. We face the same dangers. We have the same doubts. We all have children we want to live a good life. Many of us are in poverty. Many of us die of curable diseases and hunger.

Teachers are generally not propagandists except to promote human values. Teachers are loyal to their nation, community and children. They will generally promote what they think is best.

And you call Bloom's Taxonomy "psychobabble". Are you a teacher?

The 'Post-Courier' (14/10) reports PM Somare’s address to the 8th Pacific Islands Forum Education Ministers Meeting:

“The success of the region depends on the quality of human capital that we can harness and develop for a better future.’

“We cannot talk about development in the region without developing our human resources, because educating and skilling our people are the fundamental building blocks for the Pacific region.

"If this foundation is weak then the livelihood of our people will be difficult to improve.’’

“Our goal must be to achieve universal and equitable participation in basic education. This will provide the foundation for higher education and life long learning.’’

Somare's speechwriter draws from the UNESCO well of understanding. Essentially the words reflect a growing consensus among world leaders that speaks to “change.”

There is a religious nature to “change” The fervency of its apostles cannot be underestimated.

Julian Huxley, first Director-General of UNESCO explained it well in his 1947 book, 'UNESCO: Its Purpose And Its Philosophy'.

His socialist philosophy is at the root of PNG’s education system:

"The task before to help the emergence of a single world culture.... You may categorize the two philosophies as...individualism versus collectivism...or as capitalism versus communism, or as Christianity versus Marxism.

"Can these opposites be reconciled, this antithesis be resolved in a higher synthesis?... [T]hrough the inexorable dialectic of evolution, it must happen....”

Such is the deviousness of process in pursuit of “change” that folk like Stanford's Professor Stephen Schneider helped speed it up.

As a member of the UN’s IPCC, he shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and won worldwide praise. But back in 1989 he shamelessly described the manipulation behind both "system thinking" and social change:

"...we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public's imagination.... So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts.... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being
effective and being honest."

UNESCO agents formulated outcome-based education just as they developed the thesis for universal basic education, which is regarded as a priority for developing countries and the focus of the 'Education For All' movement led by UNESCO.

It is also included in the Millenium Development Goals as number 2: Achieve universal primary education by 2015.

The worldwide problem facing implementation of UBE goals is the current massive under-funding ultimately expected to come from first-tier nations.

It was expected that some of the consensus supposed to arise from the Copenhagen conference would lead to disbursing of percentiles of donor GDP’s toward fulfilling Huxley’s vision.

Climategate put paid to that.

Now, the new bogeyman on the block, echoing Schneider’s sentiments, is “biodiversity.”

Getting PNG up to speed by 2015 to meet MDG’s is dead in the water. It won’t happen.

What can happen is a radical redraw of PNG’s curriculum along the lines of tested and tried linear-thinking unaffected by the holistic-thinking psychobabble of Bloom's Taxonomy.

Linear thinking is characterized by:

-- Beliefs: with a Judeo Christian compass vs UNESCO’s “unifying spiritual blend”

-- Culture: extolling individualism vs UN global solidarity

-- Values: absolutes and objectivity vs UN subjectivism and human idealism

-- Morals: moral boundaries vs UNESCO sensual freedom (affective domain?)

-- Rights: personal freedom / self control vs UN social controls (operant conditioning)

-- Economy: free enterprise vs UN socialist collective

-- Government: by the people vs UN centralised mass control

Note Cilla Aarons’ recent comment: “The most important classroom in the nation is the home. The most important class is the children in the family. The most important lesson is family values."

Cilla poignantly reflected on those aspects of life that are deemed precious to most of us.

Now those most precious reflections and the institution of family behind them are under attack.

The architects of change would have Cilla Aarons and you depart that sanctuary to more holistic climes of conformity and operant conditioning, replete within the dogmas of OBE and UBE teaching a new generation to be collectivist clones of the New World Order.

Keith Jackson has done a service to PNG by allowing the educational blog to set out the major basic problems facing the country.

Inasmuch as the plight of PNG’s education sector is a more severe reflection of Australian woes, today’s Sydney Morning Herald piece on the draft curriculum being considered offers no solace.

On reading the various issues identified as of concern, there is seemingly little change in the expressions of doubt by critics as if, as is the case in the prolonged debate raised by Corney Alone re OBE, the Aussie draft has merely rearranged the deck chairs on an already sunken ship.

You can read it here:

Looks like the inmates are in charge at the asylum.

What’s the guess that the developers are themselves very much the product of OBE and are incapable of comprehending the basics that are needed for PNG (and Australia) as those basics form no part of their resume?

Beware the gift of curriculum resources from AusAID to PNG.

It is likely to be the leftovers of redundant and discarded stocks from the Australian stores.

I was interested to read what Somare said at the opening of the 8th Pacific Islands Forum on Tuesday, as reported in the PNG 'Post-Courier'.

"We cannot talk about development in the region without developing our human resources.. Our aim must be to produce citizens who are healthy and intellectually smart. ...balanced with good ethics and positive attitudes."

He mentioned "that the Education Department was working towards Universal Basic Education (UBE)."

I have recently been writing the history of my family. My grandfather came to Australia from Scotland in 1854 when he was 9 years old.

He lived with his father who taught him the 3R's and he had extra education attending the church's Sabbath School, run for poor children.

When he and his father finally settled down, he was 15 years old. The government had recently set up a school in the small town where they were living and he went to evening classes while he worked as a shop assistant by day.

He later did an apprenticeship. He married in the 1880's and his child, born in 1888, went to school until she was 12 years old when she received her "Certificate of a Child being Sufficiently Educated" up to the standard of education required by the Public Instruction Act of 1880.

I wonder what Somare would understand to be the level of Universal Basic Education which every PNG child should reach before they left school?

Reg - I think the issue has changed to a more broad-based focus on the problems of education.

But there is a political will to improve the situation that did not exist before by the government and overseas donor organizations.

So there has been a positive result from the initiative of Corney Alone.

All these good discussions were triggered off in the first place by Corney Alone but the problem now is, after stirring up the hornet's nest, he has conveniently gone quiet.

I am interested to hear some of his good ideas of making education work well in PNG. I want Corney to continue the debate here on the pros and cons of OBE or other educational models (if any) he thinks may be suitable for PNG in future.

Come on, Corney, let's hear it from you. There are enough comments here to write a complete new book on many ways we could improve the current educational reforms in PNG.

Did you have the planned UPNG forum you were organising to debate this issue with educational officials and the public?

However, I could not attend but then I have heard nothing about it, so I am wondering whether this organized public discussion/debate did actually take place at all.

Did anyone attend that to give us a brief here?

Something is happening. In the last couple of weeks, politicians are making public through the media the number of double-classrooms they have had built in their electorate with their discretionary fund money.

Perhaps the attacks on the two politicians is having some effect. They are realizing that going back to their electorate with no support given may be dangerous.

Every politician who receives K19 million should find a million or two for schools in the electorate.

Secretary for Education Dr Pagelio announced through the Post Courier today of the plan to train 1800 elementary teachers a year in the new Elementary Teachers Training Program.

They will be trained for 12 months on the techniques of teaching. That is better than it was with elementary teachers trained for one month.

Could we imagine a pilot, nurse or health officer being trained for a month? Their pay will need to be raised to a living standard. But they will still have to close their schools once a month to go to town to collect their pay.

Many schools close for a semester each year while the teacher takes a week to go to some towns and a week to get back, having spent half their pay on living and travelling expenses before they come back to school and their families. They may do that 12 times a year.

Thanks, Tom, for this news item. It would appear to me that there are two separate matters that need to be investigated.

Firstly the problems that have resulted from the change-over to the present three levels of schools:
-- Elementary school (Preparatory Year and Grades 1&2),
-- Primary School (Grades 3-8) and
-- Secondary School (Grades 9-12)

Secondly, there are the problems that have resulted from the introduction of the Curriculum Reforms - which include OBE.

All these problems need to be tackled.

The people who have written in response to Corney's original article have covered many of these problems.

I'm sure, over the years to come, the people of PNG will be able to solve these problems. They know why they made the changes and now they can see the resulting problems which need to be rectified.

I wish them well.

Having 'hedgehopped over these discussions it seems that there are a number of differing views about education methods by former teachers and concerned parents.

However isn't everyone really only debating the symptoms and ignoring the disease? PNG education is reportedly under funded, poorly managed and not providing what the teachers, students and the country as a whole desperately needs. Why? Because there has been a fundamental breakdown in the holistic management of the country.

If young men now aspire to taking home a high powered rifle as a means of obtaining prestige in his village rather than obtaining a complete and useful education, there has got to be something wrong.

If parents aren't able to educate their daughters because they fear for their well-being there will be a lack of educated women for those young men who do get an education to meet as equals. This will have subsequent spin off effects on educating the next generation.

It could be said that PNG is being led along the wrong track but anyone looking from the outside would come to a conclusion that the country is not actually being led at all. The only leadership at the top is mostly providing examples of what not to do.

PNG's people must start taking an active part in bringing the country back from the brink of anarchy. Everyone has a responsibility to start mobilising and save their country. Blaming someone else is non productive.

PNG education will only improve when the country as a whole improves. Spending countless hours debating the old argument of 'what comes first, the chicken or the egg' is clearly not going to fix what is obviously a systemic problem.

The most important teachers in Outcome-Based Education are loving fathers and mothers. The most important classroom in the nation is the home. The most important class is the children in the family. The most important lesson is family values.

I have been to the Family and Marriage Seminar in the Jack Pidik Park that ran for two weeks at night organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church sponsored by the Department for Community Development and the National Capital District Commission.

We need to be aware that village schools are often pushing against village culture. Boys are to be seen and not heard. Girls are to cook, wash and look after small brothers and sisters.

Boys do not have conversations with their fathers. There is no teaching going on. A boy watches his father fixing an engine. He watches only. The boys may come to school with a few hang-ups.

If a boy asks what dad is doing - why are you opening that hose? why are you tightening that round thing? - he will get a clip in the ear. He will come to school with no background of successful enquiry.

In many villages, boys have no role until past their teenage years. That is why they are happy to go to live in town. Some boys are pleased to go back into the village with an automatic rifle.

The children who do best at school are those living with their families in the towns. Fathers and mothers are educated and see the importance of providing their children with a rich learning environment at home.

George - I think you are right about books stolen. But those that get to the schools will first educate the teachers who will then educate the students.

Teachers will have resources to be used that they have never had before. The village schools can really be the centres of learning. Teachers can follow whatever interesting topics are in the books. Thank you EU and AusAID.

I have been back to the Department of Education at Gordons and advised several senior officers in Curriculum Development of the existence of the blog 'PNG Attitude' and the issue of Outcome-Based Education.

They were most interested. When I have time, I will go to the 6th floor of the Department of Education at Waigani to pass the blog address to the Secretary.

This blog is worth more than an army of overseas advisors.

Rod - I am not sure if you have been an English teacher in PNG schools. If so, please remember the textbook 'Listen and Learn'. I think that is what it was called. It was a long time ago.

It had spelling practice, breaking words into syllables with prefixes and suffixes. There were no Latin roots, though my Australian teacher always taught us the Latin roots and derivation of English words.

It would be good if these skills were taught in grades 7 and 8. So this country has been learning certain basics for use of words.

I have met a senior teacher, a Mr Jonduo, involved in literacy in this country. We talked on many matters about literacy and he had a most interesting insight into reading and learning.

He said many students, particularly in rural schools, have no concept of the value of books.

Their knowledge is based on village life and they have no idea that new knowledge can be taken from books and added to what they already know.

New knowledge can be discussed and used to promote change and increase awareness.

He said many students see books as something to look at and put away once they have turned the last page. No input of knowledge. Empty slates remain empty.

Early educationists used to refer to ‘tabula rasa’, a permanent condition among many PNG students particularly from rural schools.

The explanation of the Eiffel Tower is just a story about a pointy thing. Nothing more. A photo of a bullet train just shows a flat, shiny pointy thing. No thought of reading the caption.

We both agreed that a large increase in school libraries across the nation and use of books for research in Outcome-Based Education will awaken the students to the fact that books are the key to the world to be discussed and used to increase the knowledge of the world.

Then Outcome-Based Education will come alive. But students have to stop just turning pages in books and tearing pages out for smoking tobacco. Corney, you have it wrong. Please leave it to the teachers.

Mr Jonduo learned about Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives as well as Mastery Learning at teachers’ college in the 1970s . Is Bloom’s Taxonomy taught in modern teachers’ colleges?

As he explained about learning skills, he spoke of making plans, putting ideas together, explaining knowledge. I could feel him running down in his mind through Bloom’s Taxonomy. Old teachers never forget.

Tom Kuligi please post 'The National' report on the statement from the Department of Education on teaching English and vernacular in elementary schools and the 12 month training of elementary school teachers particularly in teaching English. Advice was that critics have
no idea.

George - Thanks for commenting.

If you believe the results of the educational crisis in PNG are now the purvey of conspiracy buffs, you indeed have a right to scoff.

One does not have to look far beyond the last ten to fifteen years of OBE’s regime to note a severe dysfunction in “outcomes” arising from its application.

Who are the victims here? The children and the teachers (Refer to Marilyn’s law of diminishing returns. She’s right, you know, you get out of a system what you put in.)

One can draw parallels from early industrial England where Robert Raikes began the Sunday School movement in a private home in July 1780.

This was the era when the common people of England had no access whatever to education except as it might be imparted by parents or elders. Children were made to work in the mines and factories. Six days of the week they worked. Sunday was the only day free.

By 1831, Sunday schools in Great Britain were teaching 1,250,000 children, 25% of the population. These schools were the forerunners of the English state school system.

The government of the day viewed children as exploitable human capital. Education was the province of the rich and privileged.

In the latter part of the 19th and into the early 20th century, the principal method of reading instruction employed “Intensive Phonics.” Along the way a conflict developed over the best way to foster literacy.

Early versions of “Whole-Language” or “Look-Say” were developed. This conflict continues today.

In 1912, Myrtle Sholty published a study of the “outcomes" resulting from the two competing methods.
Two kinds of readers emerged: objective and subjective.

The alphabetic-phonics method produced fluent, accurate, objective readers.

The sight method produced impaired subjective readers who guessed at, omitted, inserted, substituted and mutilated words. (Sound familiar?)

In “Why Johnny Can't Read” (1955), Flesch wrote: “The teaching of reading - in all the schools, in all the textbooks - is totally wrong and flies in the face of all logic and common sense.”

Flesch went on to explain how, in the early 1930s, the professors of education changed the way reading was taught in American schools.

They threw out the traditional alphabetic-phonics method, which is the proper way to teach children to read an alphabetic writing system, and put in a new “look-say” whole-word or sight method that teaches children to read English as if it were Chinese, an ideographic writing system.

Flesch argued that when you impose an ideographic teaching method on an alphabetic writing system you cause reading disability.

Obviously, this is a recipe for the destruction of literacy, not its improvement.

Whole-Language proponents have called reading a "process of generating hypotheses" or a "transactional process" in which the reader "creates" meaning rather than retrieves it from the text.

The process is totally subjective, with the text merely providing some mental stimulus. (Compare Bloom’s Affective domain) The reader is free to interpret the text any way he or she wants. And who is to say when the reader has gone too far in his or her interpretation?

Whole-Language represents a major shift in thinking about the reading process. Rather than viewing reading as "getting the words," Whole-Language” educators view reading as essentially a process of creating meanings.

It is a transaction, not an extraction of the meaning from the print, in the sense that the reader-created meanings are a fusion of what the reader brings and what the text offers.

In a transactional model, words do not have static meanings. Rather, they have meaning potentials and the capacity to communicate multiple meanings. (You don’t have to be a conspiracy nut to see a confusion arising here.)

This view of reading is nothing less than an outcome of the radical literary philosophy of “Deconstructionism.”

An article on Jacques Derrida, the French proponent of this philosophy, says: “Deconstructionism” emphasizes the reader's role in extracting meaning from texts and the impossibility of determining absolute meaning.

It is important for parents and students to understand this connection between Whole Language and Deconstructionism. The purpose of both is the destruction of the absolute word.

In addition, it was well known by the top psychologists involved in creating the new look-say or sight reading programs that these whole-word instruction methods produced inaccurate subjective readers.

Despite this, the professors proceeded to devise and publish the textbooks based on this very defective methodology.

The generational successors to those early publications are what, in part, heavily influences the educational outcomes of today’s crop of students.

If children are taught to invent their own meanings in whatever they read, then what is to stop them from reading any literature in their own subjective manner, inventing whatever meaning happens to please them?

Trying to change an inaccurate, subjective sight reader into an accurate, objective phonetic reader is not easy.

The sight reader is in the habit of leaving out words that are there, putting in words that aren't there, substituting words, guessing words, mutilating words, truncating words, skipping words, etc.

Only a remedial program based on Intensive Systematic Phonics can alter these bad habits.

Reg - If they put you in charge of a defence rebuild, I reckon you’re going to have to instigate a remedial literacy and numeracy program into it in order to get troops that can fulfil the roles required of them.

Sir Paulias - Will you come out of retirement to serve as the old fashioned and effective Inspector of schools that you were reputed to be?

I recently met an officer of the Department of Education. He had internet and I showed him the blog of opposition by Corney Alone.

He said that their main trouble is finding money to publish new copies of books. He acknowledged that 154 books from AusAID had gone out to each school of PNG.

He also advised that each school was to get 742 books from the European Union that had already been sent to Provincial Departments of Education, but not yet distributed to schools.

That would give small schools a library to excite the imaginations and curiosity of children

I asked him about the opposition to OBE. He acknowledged there were problems but stated that many teachers were not happy to be involved with new approaches that made them come out of their comfort zones.

He acknowledged there would be problems with young school girls sexually harassed and abused when they found accommodation in villages to go to primary school. Young girls in Grades 5-8 can be 12-17 years old.

He said that there was a plan to turn elementary schools into primary schools. That would increase the numbers of village children going safely to grade 8, especially girls. They would stay with their families.

George - I have quoted the observations from teachers at primary schools, high schools as well as university professors from our nation.

Give us a pointer as to where else we can capture the "feeling of the nation of teachers", apart from those at well resourced international schools?

It would also be interesting to read success stories of OBE in other countries where it has blossomed both in first and third world countries?

I'll be happy to supply information on countries where this "OBE thing" failed to impress its citizens - and they mobilised to abolish it.

As a citizen, I do not take comfort at people and organisations who want to see this country raise mediocre people who will forever wash the feet of others who trample over us.

Corney - What percentage decline in standards is due to OBE? What percentage is due to poor planning? Then tell us how you know. That will give us a firm basis to debate the matter.

So is OBE the cause of cults, smoking marijuana and drinking homebrew? Is fighting in schools not the cause of decline in standards? Or does OBE cause fighting?

Will decline in standards be affected by a lack of resource materials? Is OBE the cause of no money spent on infrastructure.

Please take care that you are not giving an excuse to teachers to oppose OBE.

What is wrong with teaching students to work independently? In grades 11 and 12, they have to prepare for doing that in higher education.

Yes, OBE is squarely to be blamed. The Law of Diminishing returns is not the "it". It's only peripheral. They were and are many well-trained teachers that knew what to deliver.

This massive nonsense of OBE overwhelmed and confused everybody - resulting in this slump in quality.

Throwing billions of so-called aid money doesn't help. It's not a pure money problem. Of course one wonders how such figures evaporates from the ivory towers of Waigani.

The rest of your list are symptoms of poor planning.

M Kila and Marilyn, please explain this observation:


By Thomas Hukahu [The National, 22 September 2010]

A Law lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea has expressed concern over the declining quality of students leaving various institutions throughout the country.

Associate professor of Law, John Luluaki said the quality of students today was lower than in the past.

"I am teaching ‘down’ instead of teaching ‘up’ ”, he told students, parents and citizens during the East Sepik Provincial Day celebrations at the Waigani campus last Saturday.

Thank you, Tanya, for the linked article. I am now understanding why I felt so much antagonism to OBE when I was asked to introduce its form of assessment many years ago.

Previously I complained about all the "jargon" (meaningless talk) OBE used. This article explains how OBE advocates continually use double-entendre expressions.

When they talk about "new basics" they are not talking about Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, but OBE Attitudes and Outcomes.

Evidently when OBE talks about "critical thinking" they mean a relativistic process of questioning "traditional moral values".

As a Christian I believe in "Absolute Moral Values". Today Non-Christians are keen to push "Relative Values" or even "Radical Values".

Benjamin Bloom, who introduced "Mastery Learning", essentially the same as OBE, stated "the purpose of education is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students" ["All Our Children Learning" p180].

So OBE raises the question of who should decide what values, attitudes and beliefs a child should be taught.

Should schools be allowed to teach values that may be controversial and sometimes contradictory to values taught to children by their parents?

I feel OBE smacks of "mind control" and takes away the student's free will.

As Robin has mentioned, if OBE does not put emphasis on teaching children to read for themselves, what hope is there for the education of a child who has been brought up under an OBE approach.

OBE is summed up as "a process for the government to tell our children how to live, what to say, what to think, what to know and what not to know" [Schlafly Report 1993].

My philosophy of education required me to teach children to think and reason things for themselves, no matter what subject I was teaching.

I taught at a Christian school which catered for the handicapped and introduced the concept of integrating them in the normal classes whenever possible.

It did not "dumb down" the gifted and talented, who finished their work early. These children were very happy to help with the teaching of the slow learners. They later went on to excel in the HSC.

There is a place in this world for people of all levels of talents and we are all expected to use our talents to the best of our ability.

I hope that the gifted and talented children of PNG will still be able to go on with their advanced education in the government school system.

I hope PNG parents who want the best education for their children will not be in a situation where they would have to either, send them to an expensive private school, or send them overseas for their education.

I believe that this has happened in a number of developing countries.

Back in 1953, Paul Hasluck, the Minister for Territories, saw the lack of secondary education in PNG and arranged for some of the gifted and talented PNG students from primary schools to be sent to Australia for their education.

Today PNG government schools should now be capable of training their own gifted and talented students. But if OBE is going to hinder this and "dumb down" then something should be done to solve this problem.

Educators admit that OBE is very expensive and it is therefore, on this basis alone, not suitable for PNG.

Tanya - It is good to see you recognising the limitations placed on OBE. The lack of newspapers and other resources was a key starting point on this blog.

I have just read a report below mine today of the supply of 154 books to every school by AusAID.

You seem to think that the system is pulling the "elite" down. That does not help your argument at all. In all schools, the top students rise if there are resources and skilled teachers.

Are you saying that living skills of health, nutrition, hygiene, social relations and growing up have to be taught in technical colleges?

My children know so much and they are in grade 5 and 6. Do the students in primary and high schools miss out in your plan? Teaching social values in schools is a key objective in CEDAW.

Your argument is full of holes. And there are teachers complaining about the non-core subjects being assessed because they are lazy. My mum was a teacher too. So was my sister.

Students in grade 9 are only starting to plan their future careers. My 12 year old daughter in grade 5 wants to be a lawyer. That has been her interest for a long time.

Well said, Tanya.

One of the most telling statements, in the linked article on your post, must surely be, “OBE is a method for concealing and perpetuating the number-one crime of the public school system — the failure to teach first graders how to read.”

From all indications over the weeks of commenting, this, I think, is the muddiest area of concern for PNG parents and children.

“If OBE were applied to basketball, the basket would have to be lowered so all could score equally."

What about the talented tall basketball players? How can they discover and refine their talent if they are forced to play with all the shorties?

Previous assessments introduced competition. Bright students were identified and pushed onto further education.

They may have been spoon-fed in community school but they were the top 5% of the "illiterate" lot - they were identified for their innate intelligence and coached further.

These group are now the educated elites of PNG. Why are we setting the standard so low for our future citizens?

Vocational schools were available after grades 6/8 and 10 to teach life skills to those who were not able to go on further.

There were technical colleges and even distance education centers for those wanting to get a college education. What was wrong with that system?

Back then, students streamlined into career paths in grade 12 at the mature age of 16-18 years.

OBE requires students to streamline in grade 9 at the tender age of 14/15/16 years; imagine your 15 year old choosing a career path that may or may not eventuate in 10 to 15 years time.

What do these kids know about their innate talents and abilities to help them make this big decision? Why are we limiting the choices of our future citizens?

Further, how can rural schools in PNG be expected to implement OBE when there are literally no resources to cater for student centered learning.

This is especially so in places at the edge of PNG where the daily newspaper arrives once in a blue moon when a town relative comes visiting; even then the newspaper is valuable commodity, not to be wasted in the classroom.

Why are we taking away the rights of our future citizens to a fair competition in education?

If OBE got chucked out in first world countries, who have excess to Wikipedia at their finger tips, what makes a third world country like PNG an exception?

Just a last note - teachers are not lazy. My mum is a teacher.

The OBE curriculum is just a guideline with bullet points. The matter of the subject is left up to the creativity and resources the teacher can scrounge from their own sources.

OBE would be a success if all teachers had the creativity and ingenuity same as my mum. With the incentive of K7 housing allowance and a pay that lasts until the end of the pay week - well you can see the incentive....

Quality in an OBE system is shamefully woeful. What reasons would the disciples of OBE have for on the ground observations like the following?


By Thomas Hukahu [The National, 22 September 2010]

A Law lecturer at the University of Papua New Guinea has expressed concern over the declining quality of students leaving various institutions throughout the country.

Associate professor of Law, John Luluaki said the quality of students today was lower than in the past.

"I am teaching ‘down’ instead of teaching ‘up’ ”, he told students, parents and citizens during the East Sepik Provincial Day celebrations at the Waigani campus last Saturday.

The world is a big marketplace for employment. PNG needs to think bigger and do better, not undoing good.

Educating masses to enter into menial plantation jobs is what this nation has graduated from.

We need not adopt an inward looking so-called reform which is not a reform. It's a deformation that urgently needs to be reviewed and discarded.

The education issue is bedevilling most countries except places such as Finnland, which has a simple philosophy - train teachers well and let them get on with the job!

Others seem to be looking for magic bullets such as national curricula, testing the 'basics', performance pay, technology and so on.

If you know any computer programmers, I have designed a system that will enable the mass production of individualised curricula using the "We Think" world brain concepts outlined by Charles Leadbeater in his book.

This would solve many of PNG's education and training problems.


You can get in touch with Mike through PNG Attitude - KJ

I would like to see the Department of Education put out a supplement in the newspaper on all aspects of Outcome Based Education.

It could explain policy and give practical advice for teachers, students and parents.

Sir Paulias Matane first attended Keravat in 1951.

He mentions in his book, "My Childhood in New Guinea", that his “teacher was short and fat and he would write a few mechanical sums on the board and tell us to do them while he retired for a short nap. This would go on until noon.”

An early form of OBE in PNG!

Australians need to know that life in schools is very hard. In boarding high schools, many boys and girls get no money from their parents to buy their needs.

Watch the Seventh Day Adventist video "Em i rong bilong mi yet" that shows a young girl with no money at boarding school. She eventually caught HIV/AIDS and died.

In boarding schools, many students go into the showers last to scrape the soap from the floor. They have no money to buy pencils, writing pads and erasers. Stealing is common.

We wonder why some girls go out and sell their bodies. It is for money to live. Boarding schools may not have food for students who are always hungry and need snacks. The boys and girls are hungry all the time.

Rod - I wasn't going to write anything more on this debate on the merits of OBE.

But over the past three years I have been helping an Indian Australian lady with her English essay assignments during her study at the University of Western Sydney to be a Registered Nurse.

When I first started to help her I realized that she was being given assignments for work that she had not been taught.

She was not doing very well at all. Probably her grasp of English and her short time in Australian and lack of knowledge of Australian nursing were holding her back.

Yes, you have guessed it! I researched the topic with her, all on the web, and "taught" her. This has happened a number of times over the past three years.

Fortunately she seems to have been taught the clinical/ biological/ medical side, well and has a good grasp of it all from her clinical practice. So I feel she will be a very good nurse.

"We" have been doing very well in "our" essays lately and get good marks!!

I even "played my part" in a couple of these incredible "group assignments".

So I do know the faults with OBE today in the education of nurses.

This Indian Australian lady has persevered with her studies although she found them difficult. I know of a very talented Korean girl who gave up the same course very disillusioned!

Some time in the future, after I have gone, I wouldn't be surprised if this approach to teaching was thrown out.

Marilyn - In Home Economics at Brandi High I taught the senior girls a lot of nutritious cooking ideas including various ways of improving the nutritional value of sago.

We taught about eight recipes for sago and I was particularly proud of my sago pizza!

As well as sago flour, it included some wholemeal wheat flour, eggs and milk, chopped up capsicum and onion and slices of any kind of cooked meat or fish that was available.

You poured it into a pan of hot butter then turned down the heat and cooked it very slowly with the lid on. The bottom went quite crisp and the capsicum etc floated to the top and added flavour and nutrition to the rather insipid sago, which is just pure starch.

I wonder if any of the girls still make it that way? Traditions die hard!

And Rod, I always hoped that the Economics that I taught would help in whatever the students did in their future lives. Some of my top students have ended up as top doctors - including no doubt "economic doctors".

I have many happy memories of my teaching times in PNG. But I am very sorry when I hear about the problems in the schools today and wish I could help to solve them.

I think the discussion that we have had over the past few weeks has been very informative and I just hope that some good will come out of it all.

Sir - With due respect, one need not be a teacher or in the educational domain to warrant holding views on this.

Education is a matter of national importance and its citizenry's stake and views count.

As an engaged and patriotic citizen who has a vested interest in the future of this nation, I have critically studied the available literature on OBE as implemented elsewhere and its applicability to PNG.

I don't see the logic of a teacher's or educationist's ruler on this aspect.

Maybe there must be an obstructionist's ruler that came out of the OBE mill as well; that I don't know of?

During the 1970's and early 1980's I was a teacher in PNG high schools. I taught "subjects" to many pupils. I did not teach "outcomes". I did not know the outcomes of my teaching until a long time later.

The subjects that I taught included Geography, History, Commerce, Economics, Politics, Art, Music, Home Economics, English and Science.

I was also involved in the development of the syllabi for a number of these subjects and I tried hard to make them relevant to PNG students.

What right did I have to decide their "outcomes"? As far as I was concerned that was a personal matter for my students.

I taught Economics at Keravat National High School and this week was visited by one of my former students who went on to obtain his doctorate in Macro-economics and who now has an important job in the Reserve Bank.

I was thrilled to meet him again. What a humble man, off to Uruguay for a World Bank conference. I never dreamed that he would do this.

I wanted my students to learn something of the subject of Economics. It was up to them how they used it.

There was no way that I could teach my economics pupil what is essential to be able to run PNG monetary policy. That was an outcome of his PhD degree at University.

There is much that I could write about OBE.
I realise that much of what OBE says are "their underpinning premises" are just basic good educational philosophy which I followed throughout my teaching career.

What I feel is wrong with OBE is that it has been introduced into PNG and has upset so many teachers who have been educated in "subjects" and have learned how to teach these "subjects", and who have now been told that they have "got it all wrong" and should have been teaching "outcomes".

I'm glad that I was able to teach "subjects" to pupils and I am now absolutely thrilled with the outcomes, which I could never have imagined at the time when I taught them!

OBE in any of its three forms (traditional, transitional and transformational) has never proven to be successful in any country.

PNG has been misled into introducing the so-called transformational OBE. It may have sounded sexy to the gullibles then; but the reality demonstrated by its fruits as seen in the schools (from primary to university) smacks of a farce.

Let's not muddy the waters. It needs to be halted and thrown out and so PNG can return to the syllabus based curriculum.

I would like to see Rod Everett in Papua New Guinea to give support to the Department of Education on Outcome Based Education.

He has now turned the issue into a positive challenge. It looks like a program that will benefit the nation if we get it right.

May I suggest Keith Jackson use his great media communications skills and political influence in Canberra, and send all these very good comments in the forum discussion to AusAID office and the PNG Education Department.

They can then hopefully further refine their OBE policies and future strategies for DFAT to implement in PNG.

OBE may just be a good sounding name, but there are many facets to a final educational model for a country still struggling to get ahead in the modern world in a fast competitive way.

But are we going too fast for a country that's 35 years old with still so many complex differences within its people, and society.

I say to the PNG Government: let's slow down our cruising speed a little as we re-chart our whole future course in the next 35 years to a hopefully more affluent, fair and just society.

From the many posts here, what I see as priorities are as follows:

1 - Child and teacher safety is first priority.

2 - Self esteem and pride is a prerequisite for any education system to be viable when children are involved and their willing participation is needed.

3 - There must be total transparency between teachers, government, parents and children.

4 - Most forms of education rarely address the fact that what you learn or teach is often outdated before you finish learning it, this in itself tears great holes in OBE style education in some areas whilst also acknowledging it has some merit in other areas.

5 - What is actually needed has yet to be found.

Many people on this blog help in giving opinions and, whilst they are opinions, they are tendered faithfully from real world experience one hopes.

We all have differing life experiences and that can be a major advantage over the academics who normally set the agenda in these areas.

They have after all rarely if ever actually left the school system to truly experience what the world will present to their students and therefore are not the ideal people to give guidance unless working with people from other facets of life who have the required experience to add into the mix.

An old saying but relevant to this subject regarding the future of PNG education and the children of the country.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life.

The good people who are trying to help Corney Alone should read

It looks like they have tried to bring in too many changes too quickly with not enough money to cover the costs.

Contributions and comments on outcome-based education have been voluminous on PNG Attitude and are still very welcome.

But, like all comments on this site, they must have a direct relevance to PNG, otherwise they will be deleted.

I am taking a report from the Post Courier [27 September 2010] on study options for high school children. The title is “Making the right choices”:

Grade 7 children are required to take all the subjects. They experience the content and general awareness of all topics in the subjects offer. Grade 8 sees the content being narrowed.

In grade 9, the content is specialized as students begin to focus on careers in their guidance classes. This is refined in grade 10 when students are given options in school.

The combinations of subjects in these strands are strategically placed as choices determine what they are to study at a later level.

If they choose to study economics at university, they should take mathematics, English, commerce, and history.

If they wish to follow a career in sales and management, the compulsory subjects will be mathematics, English, social science and science,

Guidance teachers are there to assist students in choosing subjects. Parents should assist by discussing their choices.The home influence is very important. Schools should have parent/teacher interviews.

In The National today is a report of the police in Kundiawa catching two boys making homebrew. They took their equipment.

The boys were in grade 6 and elementary school. The report stated that homebrew is openly sold in Kundiawa markets. It shows that homebrew is obviously made in PNG high schools particularly in rural areas.

The people have chosen between tourism and homebrew. They can not have both. Kundiawa is also the centre for marijuana. We could probably count the annual number of tourists on one hand.

From my readings of information available on the web and from discussions with former and present teachers in PNG I have found the following.

The PNG government through the Department of Education started to reform the education system in 1994.

Its key objective was "to develop an education system to meet the needs of PNG and its people, which will provide appropriately for the return of children to the village community, for formal employment, or for the continuation to further education and training" [National Education Plan, 1996, p2]

The Australian Government began to support this reform process through a series of AusAID-funded projects.

One of these was the curriculum reform implementation project (CRIP), a five-year project worth $30 million and designed to support curriculum reform from Elementary Prep to Grade 8.

During the implementation of CRIP, the development and release of curriculum documents and the provision of related teacher inservice did not keep pace with structural reform.

Teachers have not been trained in how to teach this new curriculum. Many teachers do not understand the new OBE curriculum and they do not have the resources to teach it.

In some subjects, for many years, there have been no textbooks. Evidently, some are now being written.

Many teachers, with no appropriate training, did not understand the new curriculum and, without appropriate resources, have had to manufacture their own methodologies.

A lot of the people AusAID recruited for CRIP had no previous PNG teaching experience and, sadly, teachers with many years of experience, who had a good understanding of PNG and what was required, who criticised CRIP, were asked to leave the country by the Department of Education.

I think I am starting to understand Corney Alone's problem, which of course is PNG's problem.

Do not blame the students. Many of them are worried that the highland students are coming down to Lae and Port Moresby and taking all the places in secondary school.

They can see that coastal students are going to be pushed out of schools. More highlands students will come to buy land and take school places as the violence increases in the highlands.

Many villages have automatic rifles and some are even making very powerful weapons by welding water pipes.

Boys are killed in fighting, not women and girls. Many boys will be sent to live on the coast and study at high schools and university.

Tom Kuligi thank you for your report on Sogeri High School as taken from the ‘Weekend Post Courier’. Now we seem to be getting closer to truth.

The deeper problems in the high schools are not about Outcome-Based Education – perhaps only in part.

The principal of Sogeri High has revealed a deep secret on top students going to Provincial Secondary Schools. We know that the tail is being crammed into the national high schools at the levels of Grade 9 and 10.

Universal basic education is being forced into schools infrastructure with no changes. There will be three students to each dormitory bed soon. Students believe that provincial secondary schools are to be for students in that province.

The accusation is that, through corruption, students from other provinces who miss out in their provincial secondary school are finding their way into the provincial secondary schools of other provinces.

The schools are particularly those in the main towns like Lae and Port Moresby. Hence the violence in some schools with the formation of provincial ethnic groups fighting students they believe should be back in their provinces.

Let the Department of Education deny that this is a problem. There is a strong belief that Highlanders are taking over the land, jobs and school places in Port Moresby and Lae.

Corney, you have got the bull by the tail. Are you a teacher? Do you really know what is going on? For a second time, I will now ask you to advise your qualifications and work experience.

Are you using OBE as an excuse to cause national trouble?

Corney Alone - We have to move away from the traditional curriculum and give the teachers more freedom.

Reading, writing and arithmetic are important, but these have to be done in the context of information that can only be found in newspapers, books and internet.

Having students sitting like logs and copying from the blackboard with no talking is not education.

Talking has to start in the elementary school and the home. It starts simply and builds up with student knowledge and confidence.

Many students hate school because the trouble making students can control the school if they come together to fight another school. The rest of us can not study when this happens.

Teachers can not control students if so many refuse to obey school rules. In my school, students smoke marijuana at night. They can be violent. Students are afraid to stay at school when there is violence.

How can PNG classes work effectively when there can be 50-60 students crammed into a class?

If there are 20 desks and two students at each desk, there may be three students to a desk in a class of 60. It is impossible to write, with one student having his arm across your page.

Some students will be sitting on the floor between the desks and at the front. This has been the scene in grades 7 and 8 with students coming in from the village schools.

With students coming to high school from grade 8, many schools will be crammed 3 to a desk in grades 9 and 10. This would give a powerful shock to teachers. The situation is cruelty to students and teachers.

The only option to maintain control is for lessons to be completely teacher-centred with summaries on the blackboard to be copied into students books. This is the lowest possible level of teaching.

The first option is to increase the numbers of classrooms and teachers and reduce the teacher:student ratio.

Schools, hospitals, baby clinics and prisons are all overcrowded. All were built when the population was two thirds smaller.

How can it ever be different? It can only change when we stop billions of kina being stolen and use this to improve living.

Hi George - You can disagree with my views but please don’t get annoyed about it. There are numerous aspects of this discussion about which I believe we share common understanding and concerns.

My take on this is that some of the problems you described are symptoms of policy failure or, if you will, flawed judgments on the part of policy makers.

As is common, policies have largely been dictated by "interest groups". Hence, no apologies for naming names.

One needs to do a bit more reading to understand the interests at play. It would also help understanding our history with important policy on education too.

And to Rod, thanks and I appreciate your thoughts and comments as always. I think I have answered you on my posting of 18 September.

Thanks everyone for a wonderful discussion of this thread and wish all a refreshing weekend.

Rod, Reg et al - This animal hasn't been tested to be effective both in developed and developing countries.

We simply need to return to the syllabus based curriculum that was proven to be working well prior to 1993 with modest changes. That system was less costly and delivered the goods. There wasn't much controversy with that.

The fundamentals of education need not be tossed around like what reformists and linguists (both here and abroad) seem to think where the magical pill lies.

Since the advent of Education Reform in 1993 stemming from the "Jomptien Declaration of Education For All in 1990", UNESCO has been spearheading (with aid donors) the illusory target of 2015 as the God-appointed time to end ALL by rushing countries like PNG into a 1500 metre sprint that is doing massive destruction on its path.

It turns my stomach as to why national policy analysts, philosophers, policy-makers and educrats blindly jumped into the fray (without objective analysis) undoing successes achieved over many years and bring about a major failure that will take billions of kina and decades to fix.

I am in the process of coming up with a simple grassroots-backed education policy to put this madness in education on its right path.

Rod - You have many good ideas. You remind me of a good educationist friend I had some years ago who has gone finish to his dry country down under.

May I suggest you send some of your brilliant ideas direct by email to Secretary Pagelio to include in his education reforms.

They are in the process of realigning their departmental strategic plans with the 20 year and 40 year strategic plans the government just launched.

Rod: The OBE we desire for PNG is a many-faceted model. There are several "middle-grounds" to a final model once the PNG stakeholders are happy with it.

This will be systematically factored into the Vision 2050 plan framework to be refined annually. On the same token, the whole process does not need to be so complicated that it can't be cost-effectively delivered.

The final OBE model also needs to have a good value-added outcome so money is not wasted on a student who will be little use to his community, or as he/she progresses on up in the education ladder/career, the individual can also take on the challenges on the modern world like Robin is inferring here.

More debate but sooner or later the PNG Attitude should be able to collate some of what the blog reformers are saying to convey to Education Secretary Pagelio for further review and action in due course.

In a 2009 article, PNG Secretary for Education, Dr Pagelio, said his department was working to improve the education system.

“In the old curriculum, the teacher stands and gives talks and the student follows so the student is not creative, so we are moving away from that type of education to where there is a greater involvement of student. The reform is student centred,’’ he said.

Surely that statement needs challenging.

Arguably some of the best brains in PNG have been outcomes of the very processes derided by Dr Pagelio.

The creativity sought by Dr Pagelio smacks of the dumbed-down assent by OBE indoctrinated students to predetermined outcomes dictated by curriculae that are poles apart from the creative brilliance of a former generation.

The paper below was originally presented to the Linguistic Society of PNG in Madang in 1995. It outlines the history of language policy in PNG, with a focus and discussion of post-independence (1975) policy in particular.

During this latter period the vernacular languages became an accepted and integral part of the early village school curricula. Early top-down control of local education was gradually reversed as the decentralized grassroots policy proved more successful.

The review here demonstrates how the process of indigenous literacy development proceeded and how it conformed to national guidelines.

My comment: Those close to the heart of PNG’s development will probably reflect on the heady days leading up to and after Independence.

The aspirations toward retaining, not losing, the cultural uniqueness of the myriad tribal mix making up society was a facet of taking control by new management.

It would appear, from observations of history since, and recent 'PNG Attitude' posts, that some dysfunction has arisen.

It was and still is a valuable tool in PNG society for tok ples to be made literal and given publication.

The nature of PNG’s interface with a wider world of commerce and industry has created demands for a skills base in its workforce which, to date, has not surfaced in any enduring form.

I believe this is mainly because of the eroded education sector which has become disenfranchised from the nations goals in pursuit of vernacular goals.

Are my observations correct in assuming that the derailing of a westernized goal of reaching standards-based educational objectives was replaced by “vernacular” which, itself, has now been overtaken by OBE with all its regalia of teacher centred focus etc?

And that the student body overall has failed to move beyond vernacular to a sufficiently high standard of English with which to adequately process the demands of 21st century PNG life and times?

Others observe dropping standards. They make reference to the seeming subjectivity applied to study results in ways that impact on assessing the true ability of the student.

How can it be determined by a prospective employer concerning the worth of the employee to his business?

Much of the earlier focus on vernacular suited the national focus on sovereignty and self-governance which has now been challenged by globalism to conform to precepts and policies in direct contravention of PNG’s constitution.

It can be shown that OBE as a system has been planned by those favourable to a globalist outcome.

Does this then conflict with what the average PNG citizen aspires to in civic life and expectation?

Some of these many good long comments here could in themselves be sent to the blog as separate articles. We need to precisely highlight just where the OBE debate is going.

Are we all trying to regurgitate the same related issues but doing it in so many different ways to confuse readers?

Surely there must be some good middle-ground areas here where we take the best of what OBE purports to deliver, as not everything about it is so bad as it is painted to be, and also acknowledge what the many good well-meaning 'PNG Attitude' reformers are saying.

Only then we may be able to send a collective viewpoint to the PNG education authorities, with DFAT and AusAID on our circulation list to factor into their future education development agenda for PNG.

I feel its getting to the stage where the forum bloggers will soon beat this issue to death through sheer volume of repetition.

There are of course many angles to this issue of a good OBE for PNG, as I see the final outcome here to be made the same 'end-state' that both sides want to see in educating our next generation of smart PNGeans in future.

We need to say what is the final outcome we want for PNG people. Education on the whole must be made affordable for all citizens, no matter what their social background is.

A good affordable education should be able to prepare PNGeans adequately to be able to adapt themselves to their daily environment.

In this way, our people can constructively contribute positively to their respective communities, society, country and to the world at large in whatever capacity in future.

My neighbour has just lent me a book called 'Elementary Activity Book', first published in 1999 by the Department of Education, Papua New Guinea, and written by Valerie Jones ISBN 9980-925-56-6.

There is a foreword from the then Secretary for Education, Peter Baki, who says elementary education requires teachers who are dedicated, creative and in touch with their community.

He says this activity book will assist these teachers to use their environment and their community in their teaching.

The child-centred approach encourages community participation, learning by doing, cooperation, problem-solving, self-confidence, initiative, curiosity and independence in the classroom.

We have to understand that a teacher-centred approach can have a child-centred approach as its focus. It does not mean that pupils do not learn by doing.

They are not learn by rote which is a valid way of learning basics like times table, spelling and poetry.

The teacher is working to make it happen. Teachers have been using a teacher-centred approach to promote a child-centred outcome-based approach for 50 years.

It really is a wonderful book that involves the children in looking at a problem, breaking it down at the level of a 7 year old child, identifying the key factors, categorising knowledge and writing a story.

There are even spelling and grammar exercises. It all helps the children to take the knowledge of 7-year olds into their minds, abstract ideas and make a plan. This is pure Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (cognitive and affective domains).

There was a wonderful letter to the editor in 'The National' of 22 September supporting Outcome-Based Education. It even mentions Bloom’s Taxonomy.

You have done well Corney in raising a problem, particularly for the rural primary schools and high schools. But you may have to start pointing the finger elsewhere, just a little.

Start at grades 7 and 8 having to go back to primary school, no cut off in grade 6, illiterate children going on to higher education, 13 and 16 year old girls at primary school without secure dormitories and living in villages away from their parents, boys smoking marijuana and drinking home brew in rural schools.

Focus on teachers closing rural schools to get their pay every month, no books, no family support and no in-service training for many rural teachers and teachers never returning to re-open the school.

Think of teachers in poverty living a subsistence life in village schools working in their gardens after school to provide food for their families and the Department of Education never reemploying resigned teachers from the comfort of air-conditioned offices.

A little Bloom based decision making and planning is in order in the Parliament and Department of Education.

The recent writings to the blog have opened up an issue that is causing great worry to young girls and their parents. In older times, the girls went to high school after grade 6 and lived in secure dormitories.

At grade 6, young girls are 13 years old and quite developed as young women attractive to men. They have to be looked after if they are to stay in a boarding school.

Now the foolish government has kept the grade 7 and 8 children at primary school. There are no boarding schools for primary school children and no secure dormitories for girls. At grades 7 and 8, girls are 15 or 16 years old, often beautiful young women but still under the age of consent.

In the media recently, the Minister for Education told the nation that there should be equity for boys and girls in being sent to school.

How can that be when the girls can only go to grades 7 and 8 if they stay with family away from their parents? At least they were safe in secure dormitories at boarding high schools. Many young girls are now in fear of unwanted sex while they complete primary school.

Many parents will have now stopped their daughters at grade 6. It is not discrimination but protection. Many do not want their young women to stay for two years with their uncle in a village near the school.

That has been the fate of younger girls for many years. Many village schools did not go to grade 3 and the children had to board near the school long distance from their village with extended family.That is why so many village girls and boys do not go past elementary school.

Reform of grades 7 and 8 is further destroying the freedom and educational opportunities of young women of PNG. I condemn the Government of men for foolishness. Did they consult women on this matter?

My sisters stopped going to primary school. They can not skip grades 7 and 8 and go on to grade 9. So they stay in the village and wait to have babies. Universal Basic Education. What a joke. My small sister wanted to be a lawyer. She now waits at home to have babies.

It simply means that more girls abandon school and more illiterate boys go to school for longer periods to smoke marijuana and drink homebrew.

Hi Marilyn - I went to school in the village and completed Grades 1 to 6 in kunai thatched classrooms.

We learned the basics well from Papua New Guinean teachers - and advanced to high school with a pretty good understanding of English, maths, science and social science.

Appreciate you can see that now. Many thanks again.

Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives is a classification of the different objectives and skills that educators set for students (learning objectives). Bloom divided educational objectives into three "domains:" affective, psychomotor and cognitive.

It is hierarchical, like other taxonomies, meaning that learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower. Bloom intended that the Taxonomy motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education.

1 Affective: Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel another living thing's pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings.

2 Psychomotor: Skills in the psychomotor domain describe the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer. Psychomotor objectives usually focus on change and/or development in behavior and/or skills.

3 Cognitive: Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and "thinking through" a particular topic.

Bloom was considered a world guru of education. He was first involved in world education when the Ford Foundation sent him to India in 1957 to conduct a series of workshops on evaluation.

This led to a complete revision of the examination system in India. It was also the beginning of his work as an educational adviser and consultant to countries around the world.

He also served as educational adviser to the governments of Israel and numerous other nations. In the US and abroad, Bloom was instrumental in shifting the instructional emphasis from teaching facts to teaching students how to use the knowledge they had learned.

He revolutionised education through his thinking, backed by significant research evidence, that what any person can learn, all can learn, except perhaps for the lowest one or two percent of students.

'Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook 1: Cognitive Domain', published in 1956, addresses cognitive domain versus the psychomotor and affective domains of knowledge.

It was designed to provide a more reliable procedure for assessing students and the outcomes of educational practice.

Bloom’s Taxonomy provides structure in which to categorise instructional objectives and instructional assessment.

The foundation of the Taxonomy was based on the idea that not all learning objectives and outcomes are equal. For example, memorisation of facts, while important, is not the same as the learned ability to analyse or evaluate.

In the absence of a classification system (a taxonomy), teachers may choose, for example, to emphasise memorisation of facts (which make for easier testing) ahead of emphasising other (and more important) learned capabilities.

My comment

While not a the sole reason for dislike of Bloom's findings, the statement that “he revolutionised education through his thinking that, backed by significant research evidence, that what any person can learn, all can learn, except perhaps for the lowest one or two percent of students” is perhaps a key to gleaning an insight to the methodology.

Bloom was an educational psychologist. He lived amid a gaggle of peers in that rather nebulous world of experiment and discovery.

If you read some of the things to which a notable of his era, BF Skinner, subjected his child, and see the deranged outcomes of that experimental work, you would, in 2010, call for him to be locked up.

The world-view of many in those realms of academia was not always benevolent and kind but somewhat inclined to view humanity through the prism of evolution thus allowing thereto a pathway of progress toward improvement more along the lines of a “Pavlovian response” than to have regarded people as products of “design intelligence.”

Wait a minute though! Perhaps in this generation we would not after all lock up such a fellow. Perhaps we would instead subject our children to their world-view and its outcomes to leave them ravaged by almost psychopathic experimentation on a grand and global stage for the purposes of ongoing consultation and peer review of results by a great social change agency in development.

Never mind the rejection of OBE by the many countries who have endured it. Spare a thought instead for the miserable legacy of despair and hopelessness felt by those in PNG, both teachers and students, who over the past decade or so have been nurtured in this “hell’s kitchen.”

Fed on psycho-soup that has stunted and deformed their creative capacities, robbed them of a sustainable future, they now form, descriptively, in Bloom's own words, “all can learn, except perhaps for the lowest one or two percent of students.”

Sample project in Grade 12 science: Pollution from mining and effect on the jungle ecosystem and human habitation.

In preparing this assignment, students are to seek information from newspapers, department supplied texts, school prepared files, reference books and TV programs.

-- survey chemical processes in a mining process,
-- explain the chemical properties,
-- survey the jungle ecosystem,
-- explain the chemical disposal methods,
-- survey possible damage to jungle ecosystem
-- explain damage to human and animal life,
-- survey legislation and existing arguments,
-- create a plan for mine disposal of waste,
-- evaluate the risk of environmental damage.

Teacher-centred component to consist of explanation of technical terms to be used, concept of ecosystem, research from overseas mining studies, half-life of chemicals and awareness from mining companies.

Students are to write in English with accurate grammar, appropriate use to be made of technical and legal terms, use to be made of graphs and tables, accurate calculations, information to be quoted with references. Completed work to be explained as lecturette to teacher and / or students.

Work completed by the student. Team collaboration to be acknowledged with names of team members given. Teacher to advise specialist references available. Texts not to be taken out of the library.

Words 2000. Date due Last Friday in Sep 2010.

Rod - I am quoting you here: "Check in all the countries that are succeeding with OBE".

I would love to check/read success stories of those countries where OBE is a success, including the country where you taught.

Could you give me the names of the countries, please.

Marilyn - I wouldn't fancy delving into the science of education models. That is not the thrust of my discussion.

It is, however, a protest against a system that has been proven to fail in many countries, yet it was exported to PNG. The results are disappointing here.

Would you consider a teacher or a group of teachers' actual account of what they're seeing as opinion or fact?

Please assess for yourself from the article (1) and the letter (2) below.
#1. English teachers of secondary schools in Morobe province said the level of written and spoken English in schools is dropping and have again blamed the Outcome-Based Education curriculum (OBE) for the demise saying it be done away with.

About 22 teachers had been working day and night to mark 4,433 written expression papers for students attending 27 high schools nationwide. The teachers from schools all over Morobe also blamed the use of vernacular in elementary schools as the contributing factor.

“We are talking about English, we teach English but the same can be said for other subjects too,” one of them said." (See the full article on my blog)


#2: Education reforms catastrophic for us. A lot has been said about the education reforms but the issue has gone cold.It must be revived and debated publicly because the outcome-based education is catastrophic for PNG.

Let us look at why it has been catastrophic. Firstly, the structural reforms are such that Grades Seven and Eight are kept at the primary level. Students are mostly in their adolescent stage where learning of all aspects are at their peak. The reform is such that only basics are taught, disregarding human norms of behaviour and attitude.

Also, the discipline system there (primary) may not be to expected standards as to train a well-disciplined and behaved student now as compared to how it was like when Grades Seven and Eight were at a high school with an effective discipline system and rules of conduct and behaviour.

Students in both grades are those mostly in their teens and when kept in an environment with children of Grades three to Six, they may lose their sense of maturity, thereby displaying behaviour and attitudes of immaturity as they move to Grades Nine and 10.

The high/secondary school system did better when students were groomed for four years, Grades Seven to 10.

Secondly, the curriculum reforms are such that students are taught basics from a choice of very broad topics in all subjects. Even certain units in subjects are omitted so an average child will be taught to an extent where the person will not be properly educated on certain subjects.
In other words, there is no quality and PNG qualifications would not be recognised abroad.

In addition, someone passing out from the PNG
national education system would have a low IQ because of the kind of the curriculum we have adopted.

This is now becoming evident in classrooms where students seem to have poor general knowledge and low intellectual ability.

PNG is looking at not being able to export professionals such as doctors, engineers, etc; instead, it will be exporting fruit pickers to Australia and New Zealand. This is a shame for PNG.

Thirdly, the Education Department’s language policy on curriculum reforms is a total mockery of the language of communication, learning and instruction in the school environment.

In fact, the language policy contradicts its purpose as a tool for better learning. As a teacher, let me reveal the very frightening experiences I am currently encountering in my Grade Nine and 10 classrooms:

* My students cannot write a complete sentence in English;

* My students are very passive and cannot answer the questions I am asking, especially questions requiring an explanation, description, etc; Instead, they can answer questions requiring a “ONE” word answer;

* My students do not have a habit of reading and doing research;

* Assignments handed in are not properly done;

* My students are not confident to interact with me and I take it that they do not have the language confidence and ability to communicate effectively;

* Many of my students are unable to pronounce words correctly; and the list goes on.

The OBE curriculum is centred on active participation by students in learning but I am beginning to experience the opposite where students are passive.

Sometimes I feel as if the students are dumb or that I am talking to the wall. This is because our curriculum development officers and policy makers in Waigani are enjoying their salaries and assuming that things in remote Manus, Sepik, New Ireland, Simbu, Western, Southern Highlands, etc, are getting on fine.

As a teacher, I am telling you guys in Waigani that this is a nightmare teachers can do without. I pity the students who are going through this as a result of poor decisions.

I call on Dr Joseph Pagelio and his team in Waigani to be realistic about the education reforms and its effect on our education system.

Fourthly, I want to challenge PNG teachers and the PNG Teachers Association to join the debate on the reforms.

Why are teachers keeping quiet when the reforms are not working and are very detrimental to PNG? They are not reforms but rather deforming our children.

It is not too late to get rid of OBE.

Last but not the least, I see the so-called reforms as a medium to promote hidden agendas of foreigners.

The Government blindly voted to accept the reforms because they do not care, and have the means to send their children overseas. If any of our MPs had bothered to study the bill before passing it, they would have known that it was not possible for us to implement it as we did not have the means.

I suggest the old system be reviewed and improved on than to overhaul the system entirely.

I hope Papua New Guineans with a heart for the future will take on the battle and stop the current education reforms which are catastrophic for PNG.

Wii Kauma

The father of the Outcome-Based Education movement is Prof Benjamin Bloom. His book, 'All Our Children Learning' [published in 1981] is the bible of OBE.

In it he says, "The purpose of education and the schools is to change the thoughts, feelings, and actions of students."

No, the purpose of education is to provide students with a sufficient knowledge of basic skills in writing, reading, arithmetic, as well as history and the sciences.

Thus prepared, they are likely to be the kind of citizens who will question efforts to deprive PNG of its sovereignty in favor of a world government run out of the United Nations.

It gets worse. Writing in 'The Effective School Report', DrThomas A Kelly stated that "The brain should be used for processing, not storage."

This is the view of education that says you prepare students to take a test determined by federal standards of what they should know.

The student is merely to process predetermined bits and pieces of information. The best example of this is the rat’s maze where the rat learns to follow a specific path to get a piece of cheese.

In her book 'The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America', Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt says, "The real purpose of this project was to propose a radical redesign of the nation’s education system from one based on inputs to one based on outputs."

It switched, in other words, from a curriculum of content a student was required to learn, to a series of answers the student was supposed to repeat when tested.

Google away, Julie. As you say, it’s like 'Mein Kampf' revisited.

I wish to address Robin Lillicrapp on the quotes he claims to have taken from Professor Benjamin Bloom.

He claims the professor was planning to subvert youth through a Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. That is not an acceptable accusation to make of an eminent American educator.

I am amazed that the professor would make such an incriminating statement so different from the intention of the taxonomy he worked on with other contributors.

Would you please quote the reference. If on Google, that is even better. What you quoted seems to be more appropriate to Mein Kampf.

The taxonomy was non-political. It is a framework for study. We know information, understand, break it down into component parts, apply to a need, build up a plan and
evaluate before use and after use. Outcome-Based Education can fit anywhere along that scale.

Professor Bloom and his colleagues tried to make study more practical and relevant to the ordinary student. It was a guide to teachers in designing projects for study. It is a decision-making check-list for us all.

There are two taxonomies in the world of education. The other is Krathwohl’s taxonomy. Please comment on this one too.

Rod - You haven’t changed my mind, if that’s what you think.

I stand firm on the views I hold on OBE because, as a patriotic citizen who has a vested interest in the future of this nation, I have critically studied the available literature on OBE as implemented elsewhere and its applicability to PNG.

Economically, implementing OBE to any decent degree of success in PNG, would have been considered insane from the start because it is resource-intensive, costly to train and/or retrain teachers and is nonsensical to pursue, given its unsaid but clear goal of mass mediocrity production.

Amidst the misgivings and massive discontent elsewhere, where was the logic that it could fly in PNG? So far, it’s a sad story of things gone radically wrong.

This nonsense successfully neutralised the efficacy of an education system that thrived in producing smart Papua New Guineans who were as good as anybody else globally, albeit in small quantity.

As I indicated in my blog (, the education system only needed a phased and incremental change to build on that working system - not tear it apart with a ridiculous monster.

I started school in 1981 and went through a schooling system that never conditioned me to compliance but equipped me to have a will of my own to reason, understand, analyse and objectively assess things in life. And articulate on issues.

That system served me well to challenge consultants' solutions and ideas with PNG's long term goal in mind in a competitive world.

The 22 school teachers in Morobe Province who spoke out against OBE last month (posted on my blog), and a flurry of letters from parents nationwide to the daily papers together with senior academics' comments from universities, are just a tip on an iceberg.

It tells me one thing. The country is heading in the wrong direction.

As an independent thinker, I will not join the chorus of Waigani’s education department and select few international schools who have been hoodwinked into accepting mediocrity labelled as success. That is what I refuse to accept and believe.

I have reasoned thoughts (in my blog) that OBE advocates might like to read and challenge me on - a blog that is purposely set up to campaign against OBE.

A South African secondary school principal, Dr Malcolm Venter, in a paper presented at the Australian Principals Association Professional Development Council Conference in 2000 offered a range of criticisms of OBE which can be summarised as follows:

-Weakening the idea of striving for success by eliminating the concept of failure

- Unfairly increasing the workload on teachers by imposing an individual-based, diagnostic assessment regime

- Reducing the emphasis on subject knowledge in preference to skills and process

- Being couched in education jargon that disempowers and alienates classroom teachers

The failures of politically correct outcomes-based education in Australia have been well documented by Dr Kevin Donnelly, in his 2007 book 'Dumbing Down'.

In general, it appears that, in Australia, OBE has now been replaced by a more academic and teacher-friendly syllabus.

I was recently told by a well qualified educationalist working in a PNG school that the present assessment system in PNG high schools is a total sham with Grade 12 students, who have mastered less than 50% of an already dumbed down and inconsistent curriculum, being awarded A's, as all marks are scaled up.

This means that students go on to university knowing less than 50% of an already low standard curriculum.

With that level of knowledge you can imagine what the universities, technical colleges and other tertiary colleges have to work with.

As some of the other writers have mentioned, an improperly trained doctor can kill people. Nurses who can't do maths could also do the same.

I'm sure Corney Alone and other well educated PNGeans, can work out what they want for their children. They can see when there are problems with education.

They also have the ability to see that OBE is a flawed educational philosophy which is causing educational standards to drop in PNG.

I think OBE takes the teacher's mind off the pupil's education and they start to fixate on the recording of meaningless marks. Not good. No wonder so many teachers are disillusioned.

The upcoming OBE debate looms large. Many people are aware of the crisis of education facing the nation and its future.

The need for creating a resourceful and creative community of human capital has never been more pressing.

Reg Renagi has wisely perceived the greater need for educational outcomes to focus on practical skills. Henry Sims has echoed those sentiments, asking "what does a Kukukuku know about globalism?”

That there is a crisis is a matter, self evident! That a solution be found is also self evident. That there is an attack on issues of culture and sovereigntycannot be doubted.

This attack did not originate randomly. It had its roots in academic ground long ago established in the mindsets of social change planners.

In the 60’s and 70’s, if the prediction was uttered that the future leader of the Communist world would one day be walking arm in arm with the VP of the USA, mutually agreed upon the imposition of the Earth Charter, attending to imposing a new core set of values and overturning the traditions and cultures of nations, wouldn’t the speaker be maligned as an idiot?

Well, it’s 2010. What has the world media been portraying as Gore and Gorbachev do their thing?

So back to Corney’s fight with Outcome-Based Education (OBE).

It sounds noble for a school to set a goal of outcomes to be reached before graduation, but what are those outcomes?

Unfortunately, in the global curriculum the desired outcomes are more concerned with attitudes, behaviors and beliefs than with academic knowledge.

According to Professor Benjamin Bloom, the Father of OBE, the new “purpose of education and schools is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students.”

Now, using OBE, the focus is on teaching students what to think, more than on teaching them a thorough understanding of the facts.

Bloom realized that “students armed with facts and strong convictions resist manipulation.” The curriculum is therefore made up of carefully chosen bits of information and teachers are trained to facilitate discussion and challenge fixed beliefs in order to achieve the end result desired.

Aware that knowledge is the foundation of all true thinking, Dr Bloom had discovered a process that could control the outcome or end product of thinking, which was often an opinion or value judgment.

By censoring a student’s knowledge base, the teacher could direct the student’s thinking.

Bloom’s process works. Through biased information, carefully designed hypothetical stories, and pointed Socratic questioning, students are persuaded that their home-taught beliefs and values are incompatible with the needs for the next century.

In 1987 Raymond English, Vice President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told the National Advisory Council on Educational Research and Improvement that: “Critical thinking means not only learning how to think for oneself, but it also means learning how to subvert the traditional values in your society.

You’re not thinking “critically” if you’re accepting the values that mommy and daddy taught you.

When this style of critical thinking is combined with a curriculum which revises history and distorts the truth through textbooks [PNG parents say, what textbooks?] which present limited facts from the desired perspective, then asks leading questions and expects students to come to a consensus, one can see how effective it might be.

Students are encouraged to make decisions and solve problems without having all the information.

They need the truth and they need the freedom to stand on their convictions. As parents we need to look beneath the surface and study the content and techniques our schools are using to realize that things are not as they seem. Do not be deceived.

Go Corney!

There should not be much pressure on resources provided classes are not double-booked on the same topic.

Not all classes in the one grade level are doing the same subject at the same time. They can go to the library at different times.

The library can be used in library lessons and lunch hours. Boarders can have access on the weekends.

Other students can study topics set for months in advance when no other student is using the resource material.

But students must not be allowed to stay away from school on the excuse they are doing assignment preparation. They may be cheating with someone else's assignment.

I have enjoyed reading the various views of the OBE debate.

When I trained teachers in PNG we always started lesson preparation with the phrase 'by the end of the lesson the pupils will be able to...'

With OBE the focus was on what each individual pupil was able to do and the various levels of competence achieved.

This focus on outcomes made assessment much more complex for teachers and entailed much more time on assessment activities for teachers.

I agree with Reg Renagi that there must be a middle ground where the value of OBE can be presented in a PNG context of the learning materials available to both the teacher and pupils, and the pre-service and in-service teacher training available.

I have not been in a school for a number of years so my understanding of the situation is based on what I think is possible.

The strategy of Outcome-Based Education requires much resource material supplied partly by the Department of Education.

It is not known if the resource booklets are provided to each student. But these could be taken from newspaper cuttings and reports in magazines. Every day in the media there are national issues supported by editorials of high quality. Access to internet provides more material.

There should be access of students to a wide range of national issues that include environment protection, violence, gun control, HIV/AIDS, corruption, landowner issues, compensation, maternal deaths, maritime safety, overseas trade, illegal immigrants, health, government funding and many more.

These should be kept in a section of the library and catalogued as a set of books regularly added to. The librarian could have the job of adding to the file of material from the newspapers.

It is a big job if 100 students in every grade require access to the resource material. So teachers have to coordinate the requirement. Group study will reduce the pressure on resource material.

There should be a school calendar of grades, subjects and the resource material required.

It may be English students in grade 9 English complete 4 assignments due in March, May, July and September on (1) corruption (2) landowner issues in the Highlands (3) HIV/AIDS and (4) gun control.

Grade 10 science will complete 4 assignments due in March, June, August and October on (1) pollution of rivers (2) protection of wildlife (3) HIV/AIDS and (4) pests coming in from overseas.

Grade 8 science will complete 4 assignments due in April, June, August and October on (1) pests from overseas (2) pollution of rivers (3) HIV/AIDS and (4) protection of wildlife.

It does not matter if the grades repeat the same topics. These change with updating. It has been an educational practice in PNG schools to repeat the same topics year in and year out with more scope and detail in the advanced grades. It compensates for lack of knowledge.

Students are to be given the opportunity to research ahead if given the topics ahead of time. It would be easier to do research when no others need the resource material.

No one needs the protection of wildlife material in June or the HIV/AIDS material in February at least in this small sample.

Care must be taken to ensure that no student uses the same topic in another subject. There is still the opportunity for cheating.

Projects are returned at the end of the year. In this country it has always been the job of the inspector to check the assessment material for each grade. I was in a school in which a teacher falsified his results. No one challenged him as he was the pastor.

Topics are changed for the following year but may be used again the year after that. Topics for the new year are being prepared.

Greater flexibility and professional satisfaction will be given to schools if teachers are allowed to select topics for each subject in each grade. These are agreed to in a meeting of subject masters.

Topics can be discussed in teacher-centred lessons so that understanding is given to a class. Exciting.

I think I will go back teaching. My children are growing up. I hope this report gives courage to teachers.

Why do we have the idea that teacher-centred learning is rote learning? I studied for two years in Australia and never forget my grade 9 -10 science teacher.

He taught us to understand science in a practical way. He had hundreds of questions that he asked the students. They would solve problems with the teacher, in groups or for homework.

--Why does our skin go blue when we are cold?
--Why does the temperature drop on high mountains?
-- Does temperature rise or fall down a deep mine?
-- How does a blanket keep us warm?
--Will a blanket keep a dead body warm?
--Why do we put a spoon in a cup of tea?
--What if the spoon is made of wood?
--Why does frost kill plants?
--What does a thermostat in a car engine do?
--Why does water expand when freezing?

I will never forget what I learned in science. It did not matter if it was teacher-centred or student-centred. Sometimes it was one and some times it was the other but we learned to love learning science. How many PNG teachers help students to love study?

PNG students would be different people if they were able to answer 2000 questions from my old teacher over two years. I wish I were a science teacher. Many PNG students come out of science with no questions in their heads.

The best I do is ask my children many questions about the world. Education starts at home. Good teachers do make a difference.

Capitalising upon the important role of schools in the development of children, the UN embarked on a vigorous campaign to replace traditional Western curricula, which had promoted a strong sense of national identity and a Christian ethic.

The author of this new global curriculum was Robert Muller, a long-time member and highly influential man in the UN.

In 1989 Robert Muller won the Unesco Peace Education Prize for developing his World Core Curriculum. The purpose of this global curriculum is to draw our children more in line with the movement towards a global community and a one world government.

Only by re-educating our youth to embrace a new set of cosmic values—referred to by Gorbachev, Muller, and other New Agers as the “Global Ethic”—could their political efforts succeed.

Unesco’s educational philosophies are immersed in curriculum guidelines worldwide.

Words are used like “multiculturalism,” “globalism,” “pluralism,” “values clarification,” “Outcome-Based Education,” “tolerance,” “life-long learning,” “metacognition,” “creative or critical thinking” and “consensus building”

Though at first glance some of these words may appear innocent enough, they mask underlying concepts.

Professor Philip Vander Velde, who teaches 'Foundations of Education' at Western Washington University wrote:
"…unless a new faith…overcomes the old ideologies and creates planetary synthesis, world government is doomed…

"Nation-States have outlived their usefulness, and a new world order is necessary if we are to live in harmony with each other…The task of reordering our traditional values and institutions should be one of the major educational objectives of our schools."

Meanwhile, in PNG, as the OBE debate approaches, there has been an extraordinary number of comments on this issue.

It goes to show the powerful impact upon peoples lives that a good or bad educational outcome can have.

Too much criticism of OBE and its perceived ineffectiveness.

There needs to be some deep research to find a 'middle-ground' solution for PNG, as millions have already been spent on so-called education reforms by both PNG and Australia.

Let's try for a simple but practical outcome: education delivered in schools or under a mango tree needs to be affordable for most PNG parents.

What knowledge is acquired or learned can be of immediate practical use in real daily life the moment a student leaves the classroom; and enters the community.

There is a report in the Post Courier on 15 September 2010 with the heading “OBE is good”. It is a report with authority coming from Apelis Benson principal of the Madang International School.

He said that Outcome-Based Education is not a monster. It is a different way of teaching. Mr Benson said that OBE is criticised by those who have no idea of what it is about.

He said that Madang International School had the reasons together with the practical experience to show how it can be successful.

He said OBE is not only about educating the child academically but based on the idea of developing the child as a whole person.

OBE is child-centred learning more than teacher-centred learning. He said the system works well if the teachers are trained well, the resources are identified and the teachers are trained to use the resources.

Mr Benson said it is a collaborative learning system where children learn to work together as a team to achieve the learning outcomes.

This report in the Post-Courier touches all the goal posts. International Schools are well run with student and teacher commitment high. Teachers still maintain caring control in the classrooms. Projects are completed at school. Students work as part of teams.

OBE will not work in badly run schools with few resources, limited control of students and unhappy untrained teachers who have a lack of authority over students.

I wish I were a teacher in OBE at Madang International School.

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