2015 HSC performance of PNG secondary and national high schools

As most of us welcome the new year with much enthusiasm and ambition, many young Papua New Guineans and their families greet the dawn of a new year with stress and anxiety for this also marks what is probably the most important part in their lives. In the Papua New Guinea (PNG) education system, High School Certificate (HSC) exams come at the end of year 12 and always seem to signal the ending of a calendar year. Year 12 students all over the country sit for this exam and the results are graded and used to select who continues on to tertiary studies. For some, sitting for the HSC exams would be as far as they go in their formal education while for others, getting an offer after the HSC is welcoming news with the promise of a good life after tertiary studies.

A little over a decade and a half ago, the education system in PNG was a lot different to what it is today. High schools existed through which one only passes through to years 11 and 12 after the national exams at the end of year 10. There were only 4 National High Schools around the country (Passam, Kerevat, Sogeri and Aiyura) then and competition was fierce for placings in any one of these schools. Then came the education reforms which converted high schools into secondary schools offering years 9 through 12 at the secondary level. Year 10 and 12 exams were still in place but there are talks now of doing away with the year 10 exams paving the way for a smooth transition straight to year 12 and the HSC exams, meaning a lot more young people would continue on to year 12 creating a bottle neck at after the HSC exams. This post looks at the results of the 2015 HSC exams based on acceptance into ONLY the six major universities in PNG and an observation of the performance of the many secondary and National high schools in PNG today.

The analysis discussed here focus only on the number of students selected to enter the six main universities in PNG, namely; Divine Word University (DWU), Pacific Adventist University (PAU), University of Goroka (UoG), University of Natural Resource  and Environment (UNRE), University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UniTech). Acceptance lists used in this analysis were downloaded from UniTech, UPNG and DWU websites while listings for UNRE, PAU and UoG were taken from the Post Courier (January 8, 2016). Only school leavers (those continuing on from year 12) were considered in this analysis including those accepted for studies in open colleges. PDF copies were downloaded and converted to excel spreadsheets for analysis, while lists in the news papers were done manually.

The 2015 HSC exams saw a total of 2,645 students selected from 139 different secondary and national high schools to pursue further studies in the 6 main universities in PNG, with the top 12 schools providing almost 40% of the total number of students selected and the other 127 schools making up the remaining 60%. The number of students produced per school ranged from only 1 in 21 different schools to 146 with the school at the top of the list . Click here for the Complete list of Secondary and National High Schools and the number of Students selected from these schools

The top 12 schools (per number of students selected to the main universities) stand as: Port Moresby National High School (146), Mt Hagen Secondary (128), Sogeri National High(123), Wawin National High (103), Kerevat National High(80), Goroka Secondary (69), Kitip Secondary (67), Kopen Secondary (65), Aiyura National High (61), Gordon Secondary (61), Lae Secondary (59) and Marianville Girls Secondary (58). Below is a graph of the top 12 schools and the number of students from each school selected to each of the 6 main universities.
Top 12

Population growth in the last 2 to 3 decades is a likely explanation for the sudden increase in the number of secondary and schools and national high schools. There is also the free education policy granting more Papua New Guineans access to education in a bid to increase literacy rates in PNG. With 139 different secondary and National High Schools in PNG, the government has done well in making sure everyone has access to education but how good is the education when only the top 12 schools provide up for 40% of the students continuing on to tertiary studies at Universities? what happens to the all the other students who have missed out on placings in tertiary studies? Is education to year 12 the only way to increase literacy rates? PNG’s literacy rates are a concern but having a bottle neck at the end of year 12 may not be the solution to this.

While education is a solution to the literacy problems, having so many secondary and national high schools and a bottle neck at the end of year 12 is an injustice to the students and parents. Having fewer secondary and national high schools would not cause available resources to be spread so much. An example is that if there were 5 very good teachers (each teaches a different subject) in an area, having 5 schools in that area increases the likelihood of there being one teacher per school. If there were only 2 schools, then each school would have up to twice the number of good teachers it could have if there were more schools so the students are taught well in two subjects instead of one if there were 5 schools. Fewer schools mean government funding is more focused and fewer schools encourage competition between the students, teachers and schools.

One suggestion is that, the number of secondary schools today must be reduced by at least 50%. There should be at least two secondary schools per province as well as the regional national high schools. Year 10 exams should be reinstated, the number of high schools (years 7 to 10) be increased and a year ten exams used as a bench mark to select the best students to got into secondary/national high school. This allows for the literacy problem to be addressed, creates an environment where only the most eligible make it to year 12 for the HSCs, encourages a system where resources are not wasted unnecessarily and finally, results show more competition between schools to produce students for further studies.

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4 Responses to 2015 HSC performance of PNG secondary and national high schools

  1. Douglas Naea says:

    It’s interesting to note this report and am would request should analists follow up these group of students to their first or second year of studies at respective uni campuses. The follow up is to confirm whether students passed from schools that have recorded high number on your list will continue or fail between 1st & 2nd year of their studies. My concern is for Quality candidates for PNG & NOT Quantity from each schools listed. Perhaps we can draw conclusions whether teachers in each schools do teach their students or it is another bias tactics to pass their students.

  2. Brendan N says:

    Its good to publish such information. These schools are well equipped with resources than others. What about schools like Passam National High School which has just started with no proper resources. A quality student is needed in the country, not quantity. Poor quality students fill up universities and later most dropped out at 2nd or 3rd year while quality students who should have been selected are missed out because of judging the status of a school.

  3. Fidelis Golu says:

    Only within PNG. In the international scale, we have a long way to go

  4. Tom P says:

    It would be good to ask why particular secondary schools are able to send many students to universities annually compared to others. I don’t think there is anything sinister about those top performing schools. I believe every grade 12 student site for the same grade 12 exams. Obviously the top performing secondary schools are those that enforce high standard of discipline, school environment and facilities may be conducive for both students and teachers and that some of the schools are national high schools that only take top performing grade 10 students from other secondary schools whilst most secondary schools take their grade 10 students right through to grade 11 and 12 with possibly average grades. Additionally some secondary schools may be located outside main towns and cities and may not have access to electricity, internet connections, computers and other problems associated with it. This may also prove crucial in the student education and the subsequent grade 12 results.

    I have lived abroad and can honestly say that PNG has some of the best brains in the world and can perform competitively if only sufficient funding is put into building the capacity of secondary schools apart from technical schools, collages and Universities in PNG. I believe in quality education not quantity.

    I understand the PNG University of Technology has set some standard whereby a student wishing to enroll at PNG UT is required to bring in the original grade 10 and grade 12 certificates including passing an aptitude test. I think that system is set to further filter dubious applicants. This should be practiced right through out other collages, technical schools and universities in PNG.

    If a honest hard working student is able to secure a university placements than the success of the student failing or passing his or her university studies will depend on the student setting priority, being self-discipline, being commitment, being able to set their goals and being master of their own destiny.

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