Monday, August 16, 2010

Letter to the editor on Outcome Based Education


I write in response to a letter to the editor of The National newspaper of Papua New Guinea (12 August 2010) written by Dianne McManus Head of English at

Port Moresby International School run by the International Education Agency.

 She wrote in support of Outcome Based Education (OBE) stating that she had checked results in a number of local schools to find that the standard of English

is rising. This is good to hear.

 Ms McManus also wrote to explain what OBE is. She explained that it did not involve the mere regurgitation of facts but required students to think, research,

interpret and analyse.

 This is an important direction for education. That is where the validity of what she is saying stops dead. The local schools in Port Moresby would have been those

with middle-class children enrolled.

 Many would have had educated parents who speak English and who have daily access to TV, DVD movies in English, books, newspapers and understanding of

how to succeed.

 They would have educated opinions on many issues and a background knowledge

of the world.

 Ms McManus may well have come to Papua New Guinea direct from a middle-class school somewhere in the developed world. Her skills in teaching are undoubtedly invaluable to pass on to PNG teachers.

 She has to understand that there is another world out there of primary and secondary schools where education is in total poverty. Schools have no electricity which deprives them of TV, computers and photo copy machines.

 Schools have access only to a duplicating machine which severely limits quality and range of material given to students, provided the school has funds for ink and paper.

 Students come from villages where people do not speak English and do nothing to promote educational success of the children. Girls come home from school to work. Boys come home to swim, fish and throw stones. There is no reinforcement of school in the village.

 Teachers have no choice but to conduct classes from the blackboard. Students copy the work into their books. The top percentage of rural children go on to high school.

 It is only fair that they are not discriminated against. So they may go off to high school with the capacity to use 100 English words and to understand 200 more.

 Many can not understand what is spoken in class and written in books. In library lessons they just stare at a page and turn the page if they see a teacher watching.

 They hide their lack of skill by copying what is on the blackboard into their books. Some hide down in the gardens during tests. They are culled at the end of grades 6 and 8. I personally experienced this in three Morobe rural high schools

 In many schools, there is an anti-antellectual culture among students in the middle grades, the more gifted students have to study quietly and not contribute in class for fear of being intimidated by the less clever students. They know they have to shut up and let the teacher do all the talking.

 Thank you to Ms McManus for your input. I sincerely wish you well in your effort to help OBE at least in the middle-class schools of PNG.





Bruce Copeland BA BEdSt


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