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Papua New Guinea - Secondary Education

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During the 1940s and 1950s, the Australian administration in Papua New Guinea focused on developing the country's primary schools. In the 1960s, however, the policy changed under international pressure to expand the secondary school system, create an education elite, and prepare the country for independence. By 1972 the expansion movement had established lower secondary high schools in all of the provinces. Later, two national high schools, for grades 11 and 12, and two international high schools, mainly for expatriate children, were established. Between 1975 and 1985 Papua New Guinea had 32 provincial high schools and 3 national public high schools. The expansion efforts increased enrollment by 70 percent. Still, less than one-third of the pupils who completed primary school were offered places in a secondary school. In 1992, about 12 percent of children received secondary education, with about twice as many males as females enrolled. In 1995, some 68,818 students receivedgeneral secondary education.


Lower Secondary Education: The provincial high schools educate students in seventh through tenth grades on academic and practical skills. This prepares them for the national grade ten exam, which students must pass to earn a Secondary School Leaving Certificate. Students need a Secondary School Leaving Certificate to proceed to the national high schools, tertiary vocational and technical programs, teacher training colleges, and the preuniversity program at the University of Papua New Guinea.

About 35 percent of grade six students enroll in a provincial high school; provincial quotas limit the number of students accepted. Once they are enrolled, about 67 percent of students complete grade 10. Students are promoted automatically from seventh to eighth grade, but provincial high schools lose the greatest number of pupils between eighth and ninth grades. Female enrollment in the provincial high schools has increased since 1981; however, women still account for only 37 percent of the total enrollment. About 65 percent of girls complete tenth grade, compared to 72 percent of boys. Completion rates for women also vary by province and range from about 55 to 86 percent. Some provinces have seen a decrease in their percentage of women graduates. Papua New Guinea had about 130 provincial high schools in 1991, with 53,494 students. About 10,000 students graduate from tenth grade each year.


Upper Secondary Education: At the national high schools students in grades 11 and 12 receive a general, non-vocational education that prepares them to enter a university, a tertiary institution, or go directly to work. About 95 percent of students who enter the national high schools complete the twelfth grade. Students who reach twelfth grade must complete a national exam that determines which higher educational opportunities students receive. The exam also governs most curriculum decisions. Those who pass earn the National High School Certificate, and most pursue higher education.

The four national high schools enroll about 2,000 pupils and produce about 1,100 graduates each year. About 29 percent of the students enrolled are women. In 1990, the National Executive Council approved the Education Access and Expansion Act with the intent of doubling the number of national high school graduates by 1999. Meanwhile, the National Higher Education Plan of 1990 called for increasing the number of grade twelve graduates to five thousand during the same period. But the limited number of qualified teachers has hampered the expansion. In 1991, the four national high schools had 103 teachers; 58 of them were not Papua New Guineans. To produce 2,000-5,000 graduates each year, the national high schools needed an additional 100, up to 600, teachers. Many education officials believed the goal was unrealistic since the University of Papua New Guinea, the country's only training center for national high school teachers, did not produce enough teachers to meet the expansion demands of the early 1990s.


Alternate Forms of Secondary Education: Students who do not enroll in provincial high schools can continue their education in two-year vocational programs or through the College of Distance Education. Vocational centers provide basic vocational education to those who have left school and have not found employment or secured places in secondary school. In 1996, Papua New Guinea had 114 vocational centers that served more than 11,000 students who left grades six and eight. Many nongovernmental agencies, such as churches, the Young Women's Christian Association, and volunteer groups, also run vocational education programs without government aid. Some reports show that students prefer enrolling in the vocational centers to enrolling in the provincial high schools because they face more employment opportunities after graduation.

The Department of Education created the College of Distance Education in the 1980s to provide an alternate form of secondary education to students who could not attend the provincial high schools because of cost or lack of access. Students in the College of Distance Education complete their work by mail and through regional study centers. Students pay for lesson materials and grading, while the government maintains facilities and equipment. Most courses emphasize academics, although some officials want to include more vocational training. Students have encountered some problems though. Many complain that the material and courses are out of date and not relevant. In addition, they say the grading and processing of exams takes too long, and some papers get lost. Nonetheless, in 1992 the College of Distance Education had 10,469 students. It granted 876 certificates for grade 10 and 622 for lower grades.


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almost 6 years ago

My friend did not finish the grade 10 she have to finish a few subject to complete the grade 10. My question is does she can enter a two years vocational courses in go to colleges.

Thank you and more power.

June