Abolish OBE in PNG Now!

THE introduction of Outcome-based Education (OBE) system in PNG was a colossal blunder and a grand scam. That label is absolute and spot on. That education model was  scrapped because of large scale failures in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands, South Africa (wants it out) and many more. Why should PNG blindly accept this failed monster? The staggering scale of gullibility and ignorance demonstrated by the peddlers of this scam backed by the education department and coupled with other prominent Papua New Guineans who bought into this evil must be put on trial (I know they’re still around).

This scam is no match to Jimmy Maladina’s Millions of Kina case involving NPF – not even anywhere near the Singapore Forestry Levy Bank Account. OBE is poisonous and damaging for PNG. It’s able to bankrupt Papua New Guinea’s intellectual capacity and accelerate poverty. It is inflicting irreversible and  severe damage to all spheres of life within Papua New Guinea.

This perilous path – obviously chosen out of plain ignorance rather than intelligence or any faint semblance of clear long-sighted view is already taking its toll. The manifestation of  this  short-sightedness is both inexplicable and distressing. Indecisiveness and inaction will only perpetuate the effects of this poison pill further down generational eras.

Thinking Papua New Guineans are rightly outraged by this unforgivable flop – that unfortunately has not been halted yet despite the mountain of demonstrable and proven evidences by teachers, university and/or college academics, and parents nationwide. The opposition to this flop is deafeningly clear from all quarters of PNG and international friends.

What was needed, was an adoption of a carefully planned and phased-incremental reform whereby, addition of at least a few national high schools, colleges, universities, primary, high schools, and preparatory schools one at a time, whilst concurrently upgrading capacities  (both in staffing levels and in infrastructure). Then inserting relevant modules into the old curriculum to keep abreast with developmental trends. Subjects such as information technology, social issues, and environment amongst others. Prior to that, teacher education for secondary schools as well as infrastructure upgrades and/or improvements at colleges and universities should have received substantial attention. Such an approach would have kept the quality of education intact, built on the momentum, and provided sufficient spacing for students in all facets of learning.

However, shallowness in thinking allowed for the unthinkable to happen – mushrooming of half-backed secondary schools everywhere (more than 200 now) forcing the first four (4) iconic national high schools in the country into the shameful eye score we see today and catapulted the quality of education into negative territory. The few experienced teachers were spread thinly all over PNG (mostly concentrated in city based secondary schools) while most schools in less affluent provinces heaped more responsibilities onto less qualified high school teachers to take on Gr 11 and 12’s. One wonders what such a system produces!  The state of high schools and colleges descended into grasslands of absolute shambles. The universities fared no better in accommodating plane loads of half-backed products from so-called secondary and national high schools. This is outrageous and beyond belief. Not only that, it flies in the face of PNG’s first national goal:-

We declare our First Goal to be for every person to be dynamically involved in the process of freeing himself or herself from every form of domination or oppression so that each man or woman will have the opportunity to develop as a whole person in relationship with others”

It is considered the world over that education is the vital tool for “creating opportunity” and “drive masses to freedom” from all sorts of oppression and dominions. Thus, “fair opportunity” in freeing oneself from any form of dominion in PNG should come from a “fair education system” that is taught in the country’s official language of government and commerce – English.

Basic things like reading and understanding medicine labels, filling credit forms,  understanding court forms, ones individual human rights, understanding national policy documents and going into the complex areas of international trade negotiations, researches and reporting, complex problem-solving, articulating important development concepts – all require a working and comprehensive handle on the English language.

Globalization also offers no comfort zone for the semi-educated menial camp either. PNG’s dynamic involvement on global affairs requires intelligent,lateral thinkers,and well schooled citizens, or else we become a ridiculed nation state in the global scheme of things.

In this cut-throat (aggressively, ruthless, especially in dealing with competitors) world of business and politics, PNG must be serious in producing its own crop of thinkers ,technologists, analysts, strategists,  and other key knowledge worker professionals. Failing to do this consigns PNG to “a fish out of the water” where BIG deals are cut and sealed.

Please get this clear: PNG detests the objectionable notion that we’re a “sponge-pad”  for the  so-called “technical experts” to ply their trade.  To the learned and intelligent Papua New Guineans, theirs is more of an insult than an aid related assistance.

Therefore, it is critical that English be the language of instruction starting from the Preparatory School taught by sufficiently qualified teachers. Teaching of English and a good command of the same is implicit here according to the spirit of the first national goal.

As a product of the old education system who has a deft touch on assessing technical systems, I am overwhelmed with distraught as to how this madness could ever be allowed to wreck havoc by the education department planners and the subsequent education ministers in this country.

We DO NOT need any research on the merits and demerits of OBE but a referendum to put an end to this nonsense. The picture is already grim and distressing.

We simply had enough. This clear NATIONAL SCAM needs to be HALTED. And the time to stop this madness is NOW. Ignorance need not be tolerated anymore. This victimizing system must be abolished.

Then without delay, resurrect the teaching of the 3 R’s (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) as they were known years ago, in the Foundation Phase. The Government’s Universal Basic Education – a massification policy (to begin in 2010) at basic level must begin with this resurrection.

In tandem with this, it would be advisable to  consider reverting back to the 1-6-4-2-4 model (1 year Prep, 6Years Primary, 4 Years high school, 2 years higher school and 4 years University/Colleges). Currently it’s something like a 1-3-5-3-4 model.

Doing the 3 R’s will undoubtedly put the basics of education right in its tried and proven path where English and Math get quality timing in its formative years of schooling. We’re dead sure to see huge improvements in our education standards.

After all, how dare can one expect a child to function in the immediate and senior phases if they cannot read and write confidently, accurately and with reasonable insight?

Put an End to Outcome-based Education System in PNG Now . Download in PDF


8 thoughts on “Abolish OBE in PNG Now!

  1. This comment was made by another Papua New Guinean on OBE system in PNG. The article appeared on the National Newspaper, Letters section around the 14 – 20th October, 2008. Unfortunately the link to this article no longer works, so it’s posted here as a contribution towards this debate.

    Get rid of OBE before we regress

    Outcome-based education (OBE) failed in Australia despite the country having all the necessary resources and expertise.
    It was evident time and again that Australia was aware that we do not have the ability, expertise and resources to sustain such programmes.
    Yet, it had continued to dictate funding programmes here. Some of these programmes included the hospital boards systems, education top-up, elementary schools and the controversial OBE.

    The final outcome would be the inability on the State to sustain such programmes because of the prevailing level of poverty. It would add more stress and burden to our recurrent expenditure budgets, weakens the institutional systems that have shown to work and, in the final analysis, downplay the quality of service provided by State institutions.

    OBE has failed to bring the desired level of impacts, particularly in the developing countries and some developed countries where OBE was trialled.

    The applicability of OBE only exists somewhat in theory and PNG was nowhere near the level of resources the controversial programme needs for it to be a success.

    The Education secretary lacks the necessary technocratic and intellectual application of diversified cognitive functions on OBE. He should not even bother to negotiate with the Australian government and bureaucrats who have “ulterior motives”.

    The Education secretary may be one of the best thinkers but not necessarily best doers.

    The OBE is a recipe for disaster and Papua New Guinea’s top brains must unite against this “Australian invasion”. PNG best thinkers must decide through a consultative process for OBE’s exit in the PNG education system.

    We need technocrats and thinkers to move the country forward.
    We need the finest engineers, scientists, medical scientists, architects, doctors, etc.

    This is where science, mathematics and English become very handy. History speaks loud and clear. Thanks mainly to science, technology and medicine, the human race has reached where it is today.
    However, OBE will put us on the back pedal instead of going forward.
    OBE will weaken what we have built so far in PNG and human development will stagnate.

    Let’s not even talk about OBE. It should be thrown out of the window.
    OBE does not have a place in our education system.
    The National Government, politicians, bureaucrats, educationists, parents, students and our best brains must get rid of this Australian nonsense.

    Dr Samuel Maima
    Via email

  2. How many papua New Guineans out there know what OBE is? Outcome-based education is a method of teaching that focuses on what students can actually do after they are taught. All curriculum and teaching decisions are made based on how best to facilitate the desired outcome. This leads to a planning process in reverse of traditional educational planning. The desired outcome is selected first and the curriculum is created to support the intended outcome.
    Read more on ………. http://www.sntp.net/education/OBE_explained.htm

    Read on OBE in America…….. “If OBE were applied to basketball, the basket would have to be lowered so all could score equally. http://www.ourcivilisation.com/dumb/dumb3.htm

    OBE has been linked to NAZI style rule… “..creating human puppets, not independent thinkers. http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/envrnmnt/go/go4outcm.htm

    ” OBE is a dumbed-down egalitarian scheme that stifles individual potential for excellence and achievement by holding the entire class to the level of learning attainable by every child. To accomplish this, children are placed in Politically Correct groups (race, ethnicity, gender, class) for “cooperative learning” and may be given a group grade instead of individual grades. Cooperative learning researchers admit that the purpose of this strategy is to eliminate grading and competition in the classroom. This is the essence of OBE and explains why all measurable criteria — standardized tests, the Carnegie units, traditional subject-matter, and report cards — must be eliminated.

    OBE is based on the unrealistic notion that every child in a group can learn to the designated level and must demonstrate mastery of a specific outcome before the group can move on. The faster learners are not allowed to progress, but are given busy work called “horizontal enrichment” or told to do “peer tutoring” to help the slower learners, who are recycled through the material until the pre-determined behaviour is exhibited.

    Cooperative learning researcher Robert Slavin said in “Mastery Learning Reconsidered” (funded by the U.S. Department of Education in 1987): “If some students take much longer than others to learn a particular objective, then . . . either corrective instruction must be given outside of regular class time, or students who achieve mastery early on will have to waste considerable amounts of time waiting for their classmates to catch up.” If OBE were applied to basketball, the basket would have to be lowered so all could score equally.

    In order to master all outcomes, children with a particular talent are required to forfeit time in their area of strength. Because no child moves ahead until all demonstrate mastery, the inevitable happens: the faster learners quickly learn to slow their pace in order to avoid extra work, and they just give the answers to the slower learners so the group can move forward. Incentive and motivation are reduced, and boredom and resentment increased. The result is that all students demonstrate “mastery” of mediocrity, and none can aspire to excellence. Every child loses under this system.”
    (Phyllis Schlafly Report http://www.ourcivilisation.com/dumb/dumb3.htm

  3. This is a report that sheds some more light on this evil of OBE.
    Taken from the source indicated below.


    What’s Wrong With Outcome-Based Education?
    May 1993 Phyllis Schlafly Report

    Outcome-Based Education (OBE) is sweeping the country in the name of school “restructuring.” OBE calls for a complete change in the way children are taught, graded and graduated, kindergarten through 12th grade. Since the American people seem ready to accept drastic surgery on our failed public schools, state departments of education are seizing this opportunity to force acceptance of OBE as the cure. But OBE has parents even more agitated than they are about explicit sex education. Crowds of a thousand or more parents are known to have gathered in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Ohio. Here is a summary of the ten major objections that parents have raised against OBE.

    1 OBE is packaged in a deceptive language that appears to be mischievously chosen to mislead parents. Public school administrators have an obligation to present their “reform” plans in plain English so that parents can easily understand the objectives, the methods, the content, and exactly how OBE is different from traditional schooling.

    OBE advocates continually use double-entendre expressions that parents assume mean one thing but really mean something different in the OBE context. When they talk about “new basics,” for example, they are not talking about academics such as reading, writing and arithmetic, but OBE attitudes and outcomes. When they talk about “higher order thinking skills” or “critical thinking,” they mean a relativistic process of questioning traditional moral values.

    The following statement from OBE literature is typical: “OBE schools are expected to become `success based’ rather than `selection oriented’ by establishing the instructional management procedures and delivery conditions which enable all students to learn and demonstrate those skills necessary for continued success.” OBE salespersons don’t tell parents that “success” for all children means “success” in demonstrating only the dumbed-down outcomes that the slowest learners in the class can attain. OBE means “success” in mediocrity rather than excellence.

    2 OBE uses students as guinea pigs in a vast social experiment. OBE advocates are not able to produce any replicable research or pilot studies to show that it works. OBE is being forced on entire state school systems without any evidence that it has been tried anywhere and found effective.

    The best test of an OBE-type system was Chicago’s experiment in the 1970s with Professor Benjamin Bloom’s Mastery Learning (ML), which is essentially the same as OBE. ML was a colossal failure and was abandoned in disgrace in 1982. The test scores proved to be appallingly low and the illiteracy rate became a national scandal. Bloom, the father of ML, is well known for his statement that “the purpose of education is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students.” (All Our Children Learning, page 180.)

    Dr. Bill Spady, sociologist and director of the International Center on Outcome-Based Restructuring, defined the connection between OBE and Mastery Learning in an article entitled “On Outcome Based Education: A Conversation with Bill Spady” (Educational Leadership, Dec. 1992-Jan. 1993): “In January of 1980 we convened a meeting of 42 people to form the Network for Outcome-Based Schools. Most of the people who were there — Jim Block, John Champlin — had a strong background in Mastery Learning, since it was what OBE was called at the time. But I pleaded with the group not to use the name `mastery learning’ in the network’s new name because the word `mastery’ had already been destroyed through poor implementation.”

    The major OBE/ML experiment, which took place in Utah in 1984-86, shows how federal funding enabled OBE to spread nationwide. A letter applying for the federal grant, written by Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction G. Leland Burningham to then U.S. Secretary of Education T. H. Bell (July 27, 1984), stated: “This [project] will make it possible to put Outcome-Based Education in place, not only in Utah but in all schools of the nation.” Spady’s Far West Regional Laboratory received the federal grant and he was made director of this pilot project, which is now implementing OBE/ML nationwide.

    3 OBE offers no method of accountability to students, parents, teachers, or taxpayers. Since OBE includes no objective standards of achievement that are measurable, it will be years and millions of tax dollars into the future before we know whether schoolchildren are learning anything important or are wasting their time. Educators admit that OBE is very expensive since each student works at his own pace at mastering every outcome/skill/behaviour until he succeeds. Perhaps this is what they mean by “lifelong learning.”

    For as long as most of us can remember, secondary schools have been structured on a measurable grid called the “Carnegie units.” The traditional high school curriculum includes four units of English; three units each of mathematics, science and social studies; two units each of arts and humanities; a unit of health and physical education; and several electives. After you complete enough units (usually 21), you receive a high school diploma and colleges will admit you.

    Outcome-Based Education tosses these traditional units out the window and replaces them with vague and subjective “learning outcomes” that cannot be measured objectively by standardized tests and for which there is no accountability to parents and taxpayers. OBE will make it virtually impossible to conduct any kind of tests that allow comparisons with students in other schools, other states, or prior years. Under OBE, grades have no relation to academic achievement and knowledge. Colleges will have no criteria by which to judge whether students are ready for admission.

    In the elementary grades, OBE does not teach children essential reading, writing, and arithmetic skills (such as addition, subtraction and multiplication tables), but pretends to teach them “higher order thinking skills” instead. OBE ignores the obvious fact that one can’t engage in “higher order thinking” until one has some facts to think about. For example, an Iowa State OBE assessment test for the 11th grade shows no requirement of math skills beyond the fundamental computations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

    4 OBE is a dumbed-down egalitarian scheme that stifles individual potential for excellence and achievement by holding the entire class to the level of learning attainable by every child. To accomplish this, children are placed in Politically Correct groups (race, ethnicity, gender, class) for “cooperative learning” and may be given a group grade instead of individual grades. Cooperative learning researchers admit that the purpose of this strategy is to eliminate grading and competition in the classroom. This is the essence of OBE and explains why all measurable criteria — standardized tests, the Carnegie units, traditional subject-matter, and report cards — must be eliminated.

    OBE is based on the unrealistic notion that every child in a group can learn to the designated level and must demonstrate mastery of a specific outcome before the group can move on. The faster learners are not allowed to progress, but are given busy work called “horizontal enrichment” or told to do “peer tutoring” to help the slower learners, who are recycled through the material until the pre-determined behaviour is exhibited.

    Cooperative learning researcher Robert Slavin said in “Mastery Learning Reconsidered” (funded by the U.S. Department of Education in 1987): “If some students take much longer than others to learn a particular objective, then . . . either corrective instruction must be given outside of regular class time, or students who achieve mastery early on will have to waste considerable amounts of time waiting for their classmates to catch up.” If OBE were applied to basketball, the basket would have to be lowered so all could score equally.

    In order to master all outcomes, children with a particular talent are required to forfeit time in their area of strength. Because no child moves ahead until all demonstrate mastery, the inevitable happens: the faster learners quickly learn to slow their pace in order to avoid extra work, and they just give the answers to the slower learners so the group can move forward. Incentive and motivation are reduced, and boredom and resentment increased. The result is that all students demonstrate “mastery” of mediocrity, and none can aspire to excellence. Every child loses under this system.

    5 In an OBE system, academic and factual subject matter is replaced by vague and subjective learning outcomes. According to OBE guru Bill Spady, “the traditional subject-based curriculum disappears” from OBE. New OBE report cards substitute check marks for grades, focusing on general skills, attitudes, and behaviours instead of individual subjects.

    A look at the outcomes that have so far been made public show that they are heavily layered with such “Politically Correct” notions as training for world citizenship and government (instead of patriotism), population control, radical environmentalism, and government “solutions” for every problem. (See typical examples below in “OBE in Washington State.”)

    6 A high percentage of OBE “outcomes” concern values, attitudes, opinions and relationships rather than objective information. A large number of OBE’s goals are affective (concerned with emotions and feelings) rather than academic (concerned with knowledge and skills). OBE requires students to meet vague psychological objectives relating to self-esteem, ethical judgment, and adaptability to change. Moving from one level to the next, and even graduation, is dependent on meeting behaviour-change requirements and government-mandated attitudes. (For a sampling of vague and affective outcomes, see below under “OBE in Pennsylvania.”)

    OBE thus involves a major change in the school’s avowed mission. Henceforth, its mission is to conform student beliefs, attitudes and behaviour to prescribed school-mandated social norms, rather than to provide an academic education. Parents are concerned about what methods will be used to change behaviours that are deemed incorrect.

    “Self-esteem” is a major attitudinal outcome demanded by OBE. Many of the techniques used to change a child’s self-esteem or his adaptability to change are psychotherapeutic. This amounts to practising psychology without a license as well as engaging in unprofessional group therapy. Arizona recently made an attempt to protect its school personnel by providing them with civil and criminal immunity.

    Parents who are trying to rear their children with strong religious values are concerned that willingness to go along with the crowd is taught by OBE as a positive rather than a negative attitude. Since “tolerance” is a major attitudinal outcome demanded by OBE, parents are concerned that this includes “tolerance” for extra-marital lifestyles of all kinds. The non-directive, “decision-making” classroom technique leads children to believe they are mature enough to make decisions about sex and drugs that parents believe are unhealthy and may even be illegal.

    The public school establishment is highly secretive about the OBE tests, but tests that have come to light include many questions of attitude and opinion for which there are no right or wrong answers. What is the correct answer, for example, to questions about whether the student “understands others” or “applies good consumer behaviour”? Nevertheless, the student is required to conform to the government-mandated outcomes, whatever they are.

    OBE raises the fundamental question of who should decide what values, attitudes, and beliefs a child should be taught. Should it be the parents or the U.S. Department of Education, which funded OBE? Should the public schools be allowed to teach values that may be controversial and sometimes even contradictory to values taught to children by their parents?

    Behaviour modification is fundamental to achieving OBE-type results. OBE uses a “stimulus-response-stimulus” pattern, a rewards-and-punishment process based on Ivan Pavlov’s and B.F. Skinner’s programmed learning/behaviour modification techniques. Under OBE, students are recycled through the process until they meet the mandated outcomes.

    Educators see computer-assisted instruction (CAI) as a powerful programmed-learning tool to change children’s values. Here are some samples of their thinking. “The computer is ideally suited to the role of facilitator in values education. It inherently possesses the Rogerian qualities of genuineness and congruence. . . . Values clarification and values analysis are aptly suited to being used as a basis for software development.” (“Can Computers Teach Values?”, Educational Leadership, April 1982.)

    It will work on the principle that students’ attitudes can be changed effectively by using the Socratic method of asking an appropriate series of leading questions logically designed to right the balance between appropriate attitudes and those deemed less acceptable.”— (Donald Bushnell, “The Role of the Computer in Future Instructional Systems,” AV Communication Review, 1963.)
    7 OBE sets up a computer file on each child to track the child’s efforts to master the learning outcomes. These “electronic portfolios” will take the place of traditional assessments and test results and will become the basis for the school’s efforts to remediate whatever attitudes and behaviours the school deems unacceptable. The portfolios will include all school, psychological and medical records, and are to be available to prospective employers after graduation.

    The computer portfolio on each child plays an essential role in the tracking of individual students. The computer records how the child responds to behaviour modification, what is his threshold of resistance to remediation, and whether he develops positive attitudes toward the mandated outcomes.

    Parents are concerned about who will have access to these files and what will become of the data compiled on each student. Professional journals describe the goals like this:

    “The computer’s vast storage capacity permits access to a much broader base of data than just one classroom. In fact, the responses of the entire population of a school system could easily be compiled, stored and shared.”
    (Educational Leadership, April 1982.)
    Student privacy is tossed out the window. Will the child be able to get a job if he has not demonstrated the OBE values and Politically Correct attitudes? Some have suggested that state law should forbid employers to hire anyone who does not have a certificate showing mastery of the government-mandated outcomes.

    8 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. OBE is wholly committed to the “whole language,” word-guessing method rather than the phonics method. This ensures that children will learn only to memorize a few words that are massively repeated. Teachers are cautioned not to correct spelling and syntax errors because that could be damaging to the student’s self esteem and creativity. (For specific OBE reading methods, see below under “OBE in Oklahoma.”)

    The education elitists who are promoting OBE are perfectly content to have the schools turn out quotas of semi-literate workers who can be trained to perform menial tasks under supervision in order to serve the demands of the global economy. OBE graduates will never be able to aspire to enjoy the great literature in the English language.

    The rationale was explained by well-known reading researcher Thomas Sticht, who said in 1987,

    “Many companies have moved operations to places with cheap, relatively poorly educated labor. What may be crucial, they say, is the dependability of a labor force and how well it can be managed and trained — not its general educational level, although a small cadre of highly educated creative people is essential to innovation and growth. Ending discrimination and changing values are probably more important than reading in moving low-income families into the middle class.”
    (Washington Post, Aug. 17, 1987.)
    The U.S. Department of Labor is a big player in the OBE movement. OBE will aid in managing and training the work force by tracking all students beginning in the 4th grade and routing them through vocational education tracks as needed. Functional literacy competencies are defined as an ability to read a map and a bus schedule. Sticht is also a member of the Secretary of Labor’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) and, as Associate Director for Basic Skills at the National Institute of Education, promoted similar techniques called “competency education” and “mastery teaching.” (Washington Post, Aug. 17, 1977.).

    9 OBE, of course, involves high costs for administration and the retraining of teachers in an entirely new system, which will be reflected in higher school taxes. The computer portfolio system is reported to be five times as expensive as traditional assessment tests. Putting computers into the hands of first-graders to give the facade of moving into modern technology is a gross waste of funds. Computers may actually be a detriment to learning elementary writing and arithmetic skills, but they may be very useful in changing values, as noted above.

    10 OBE involves tightened state control at the expense of local control. Although OBE salespersons claim otherwise, the new system tightens the grip of state education officials and federal education laboratories because they write the required outcomes, develop the curriculum, train the teachers, and judge the performance of the students (all of whom must conform to National Goals).

    Even though local school districts may be told to develop their own plan for achieving the designated outcomes, the plans must be approved by the state departments of education. Texas Commissioner of Education Lionel Meno gave his definition of local control (Texas Lone Star, June 1991): The state sets the goals, the local districts choose how they will comply.

    Teachers will not be able to get around the OBE system, and teach the basics anyway, because the teachers are graded on how their class meets the outcomes. Teachers who do not conform will be phased out, and the schools will be taken over by the state, as is mandated in Kentucky.

    OBE in Pennsylvania. When the Pennsylvania State Department of Education first proposed converting to Outcome-Based Education in 1992, it listed 545 outcomes that students would have to meet before graduation. The outcomes were later condensed to 55. Many of the goals are affective, which means that they concern attitudes, values, feelings and emotions rather than academic achievement. A look at some of these outcomes makes clear that they cannot possibly measure students’ performance objectively. Here are some examples.

    “All students develop interpersonal communication, decision making, coping, and evaluation skills and apply them to personal, family, and community living.” “All students understand and appreciate their worth as unique and capable individuals, and exhibit self-esteem.” “All students relate in writing, speech or other media, the history and nature of various forms of prejudice to current problems facing communities and nations, including the United States.” “All students relate basic human development theories to care giving and child care strategies.” “All students apply the fundamentals of consumer behaviour to managing available resources to provide for personal and family needs.” “All students make environmentally sound decisions in their personal and civic lives.”

    OBE in Washington State. Washington State’s Performance-Based Education Act of 1993 calls for a new performance-based assessment system to “replace the current state standardized achievement tests.” The goals are extremely vague. For instance:

    Under Goal 1 students are to “communicate effectively and responsibly in a variety of ways and settings.” No indication is given of what is meant by “responsibly.”

    Under Goal 2 students know and apply the core concepts and principles, among other things, of “healthful living.” What constitutes healthful living is not disclosed.

    Under Goal 3 students are to “think critically and creatively, and integrate experience and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems.” It is unclear whether or not “knowledge” includes the kind of specific fact-oriented knowledge that most of us consider an essential part of education.

    Goal 4 instructs students to “function as caring and responsible individuals and contributing members of families, work groups, and communities.” “Responsible” and “caring” are undefined. The outcomes also include “honest and ethical behaviour,” which suggests a moral code of some sort, though presumably not a Judeo-Christian ethic. Another outcome is “citizenship,” which is redefined from its traditional sense to include “a multicultural and world view.”

    OBE in Oklahoma. In 1992, the Oklahoma State Department of Education published five volumes of “Learner Outcomes” for Grades One through Twelve. The Foreword in each volume makes clear that the changes in the school system do not mean teaching the basics (usually defined as reading, writing and arithmetic). The Foreword states: “Oklahoma has joined a national movement in education — not a `back to basics’ approach, but an effort to focus and organize all of the school’s educational programs and instructional efforts around the clearly defined outcomes we want all students to demonstrate when they leave school.”

    The Oklahoma Learner Outcomes dictate total subservience to the discredited “word-guessing” method of teaching reading to first graders, and do not allow the use of the proven phonics method. Instead of teaching children to read by learning the sounds and syllables of the English language so that the child can sound out words, the child is taught by endless repetition to memorize a few dozen “sight” words, to guess at new words by looking at the pictures on the page, to “predict” the text instead of reading it, and to skip over words they can’t read. The teacher is instructed not to have the child focus on reading actual words, but to let the child substitute any words that seem to fit.

    The ability to read a simple story that a child has never seen before is not on the list of Oklahoma “outcomes.” Predicting is not reading, nor is asking a friend, nor is guessing at the meaning from the illustrations.

    Here are some direct quotations from the official “Oklahoma State Competencies, Grade One,” pages 15-22, which confirm that first-graders will reach their “Reading Learner Outcomes” by guessing rather than by reading: “The student attend[s] to the meaning of what is read rather than focusing on figuring out words. . . . Uses context, pictures, syntax, and structural analysis clues to predict meanings of unknown words. Develops a sight vocabulary of high frequency words. . . . Predict[s] unknown words. . . . Uses predictions in order to read pattern books (stories with a repetitive element). . . . Uses fix-it strategies (predicts, uses pictorial cues, asks a friend, skips the word, substitutes another meaningful word). . . . The student will interpret a story from illustrations.”

    The “Oklahoma State Competencies, Grade Two” reinforce the guessing game rather than teaching the child to read. Here are some additional quotations (pages 7-15): “Use context clues and nonverbal clues to aid comprehension (pictures, type faces, word placement, illustrations). . . . Predict outcomes. . . . Makes, verifies, and/or revises predictions while reading.”

    Even in the 12th grade, the child is still told that he need not “focus on figuring out words.” However, he must nevertheless demonstrate “a positive attitude toward self as a reader.” (Grades 9 through 12, page 21.)

    The Oklahoma Learner Outcomes for Mathematics, Grade One (pages 25-27) make clear that the child will not learn ordinary arithmetic skills (that will eventually enable him to make change at the grocery store), but will instead be given a mish-mash of “higher order thinking skills and facility in applying technology.” The instructions state: “The longstanding preoccupation with computation and emphasis on rote activities must change to a focus on fostering mathematical insight, reasoning, and problem solving both individually and in collaborative groups.” In other words, first-graders must sit around in a group and collaborate on their “insight” without ever learning the sums of 2+2 and 3+3. Learning the multiplication tables is not an outcome specified in any grade.

    OBE’s behaviour modification techniques are evident from the first-grade “Comprehensive Health Learner Outcomes.” They include (page 60): “The student will identify different types of family structures, so that no single type is seen as the only possible one. . . . The student will describe ways family members resolve problems and conflicts.”

    Throughout the Oklahoma OBE curriculum, many “outcomes” are listed that pertain to feelings, rather than academic achievement. For example (Grade 4, page 70): “The student will enjoy feelings resulting from involvement in physical activity.” Here are some of the Oklahoma outcomes that pertain to sex. “The student will identify appropriate expression of sexual feelings.” (Grades 6-8, page 195.) “The student will develop communication skills, including being able to talk with one’s actual or potential partner about sexual behaviour.” (Grades 9-12, page 202.)

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the famous Russian author and former political prisoner in Soviet Gulags, said in a speech in the mid-1970s:

    “Coexistence on this tightly knit earth should be viewed as an existence not only without wars . . . but also without [government] telling us how to live, what to say, what to think, what to know, and what not to know.”
    Unfortunately, that’s what Outcome-Based Education is — a process for government telling our children how to live, what to say, what to think, what to know, and what not to know. What the children say, think and know must conform to the liberal Politically Correct ideology, attitudes and behaviour. What they do not know will be everything else. And because they won’t know the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, they won’t be able to find out. OBE is converting the three R’s to the three D’s: Deliberately Dumbed Down.

    *3 R = “Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic.

  4. Whether it’s parts of Africa or America, the disastrous effects of OBE in the lives of children rings a familiar chord that, this was a ridiculous social experiment. It needs to be halted. And quickly.
    Read more from an African perspective below.


    Revised curriculum a ‘disaster’

    Wide-ranging policy confusion and inadequate support of teachers by the education authorities have bedevilled the implementation of the revised outcomes-based education (OBE) school curriculum, a hard-hitting Education Department report reveals.

    The report, which makes far-reaching recommendations, has prompted a leading analyst to call on the minister for basic education, Angie Motshekga, to admit that OBE was a mistake.

    Nick Taylor, former chief executive of the Joint Education Trust, said that only in this way could bad teaching practices — including the ditching of text books — be eliminated.

    The report is based on the findings of a task team Motshekga appointed shortly after taking office. Its work entailed public hearings and interviews with about 400 teachers, as well as considering inputs from unions and parents. The probe arose from criticism of the OBE curriculum and calls for it to be scrapped. Last week the Mail & Guardian reported that Motshekga’s department has been criticised for failing to provide leadership policy direction and monitoring.

    Motshekga recently publicised some of the report’s recommendations, but the full document was not released to the media.

    It calls for a reduction in the amount of administrative work teachers must do and the dropping of learner portfolios.

    It also finds that there are “far too few” school subject advisers nationwide to provide in-class support to teachers.

    The system depends on subject advisers and district staff to act as intermediaries between curriculum policy and classroom implementation. Yet, “the role of subject adviser differs from province to province” and teachers see them as “technicists” who demand unnecessary administrative tasks.

    In several provinces there are many newly appointed subject advisers “who have received less training on the curriculum than the teachers themselves and have not had the experience of teaching the curriculum”.

    Some subject advisers “have resorted to developing tools to interpret policies and guidelines that have contributed to the confusion and proliferation of documents and paperwork”.

    The report recommends that the role of subject advisers and the exact in-classroom and school support they should give teachers, should be clarified.

    It concedes that the assessment of learners since OBE was introduced has been a challenge for teachers. Testing of learners in grades one to nine is based largely on continuous assessment, meaning that teachers cannot gauge whether learners perform in accordance with national standards.

    The report recommends that grade three to six learners undergo regular external assessment in maths, a home language and an additional language.

    There should be annual national testing for all grade nine learners in maths, home language and a first additional language (English) to ensure a successful transition to grades 10 to 12.

    The report points to a “plethora of policies, guidelines and interpretations of policies and guidelines” at all levels, sowing confusion.

    Many teachers and education department staff have not made the shift from the original OBE to the revised curriculum, resulting in “widespread confusion about the status of the curriculum and assessment policies”.

    It recommends that the department develop one curriculum and assessment policy for every learning area.

    Taylor said teachers and subject advisers routinely fail the tests for which they are supposed to prepare children. “We don’t value subject knowledge, or any expertise for that matter, in making civil service appointments and promotions.”

    Source: Mail & Guardian Online
    Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-10-23-revised-curriculum-a-disaster


    How much longer will this “toxic mix” be allowed to continue? When is the Education Department going to stop throwing money at schools (with the same effect as throwing mud against the wall) in the form of “interventions” and start SERIOUSLY addressing the teacher shortage? And providing a clear model of support for (a vastly increased cohort of) Curriculum Advisors? Must an entire generatio be lost before we see OBE finally dead and buried?

    Claire Jackson on October 23, 2009, 8:54 am


    Can someone please tell me WHY the government hangs on so tenaciously to OBE when not only has it been shown – and admitted – to have failed elsewhere in the world but increasing numbers of studies here have shown unequivocally its disastrous results? What is the agenda?

    Claire Jackson on October 23, 2009, 9:07 am


    OBE is a monumental failure. It is truly mind-bogglingly idiotic from start to finish. It shouldn’t take a report to show anyone that. Those idiots behind it, and those who stood by idly while it continued, should be tried in a court of law, found guilty, and executed in some public and sadistic way. And when I say “idiot”, I mean it in the technical sense.

    robert Dullaart on November 11, 2009, 4:08 pm


  5. Let me be frank. I have read a fair number of reports (from all continents) on the bad effects and symptoms of OBE and have to be blunt to say once again that, OBE is a “de-generative tool“. It is blood-heatingly annoying.

    It’s a confused and a very bad system. This is not just my personal rant. It is backed up by the glaring results on the performance charts of basic English (poor Grammar, poor reading comprehension, Pidginish- English style written, spoken English), poor Math and basic Science topics. Everything poor in simple terms!

    By the way, I have not been able to read that many conclusive and good reports on the upsides or the drummed up positives of OBE – its subtle scarcity may also be an unpenned evidence (clear indicator really) of its own mammoth failure.

    I completely agree with this: Education is not a product defined by specific outcome measurers; it’s a process, the development of the mind (Holt 1994)

    I also share the same view that: Outcome-based education is not education: it is experimentation; it is not academic, it is phychological (Schlafly 1994)

    Richard G. Berlach brilliantly exposes the myth and confused nature of OBE by clearly outlining how the Death of Knowledge occurs when:

    * there’s a lack of conceptual clarity
    * the overly loaded jargons of OBE which obscures rather than illuminate
    the significant.

    * when competent teachers are forced out of the teaching profession by
    ideological aggravation.

    Learn these and many more from the 14 page article here.

    The OBE system is not anywhere near insanity level, but it’s at a total mockery level. It is an offence to be ignoring the toxicity that it’s throwing upon Papua New Guinea’s human resource like that. It must be stopped. And the time to do that is NOW.


  6. The National Government’s Outcome-based Education Policy lacked foresight, objectivity,was faulty, and a clearly flawed Policy decision from the start.

    They were concerned with educating masses up to Gr 12 only – fit for menial jobs.

    The United Nation’s Goals of achieving gender equity based education and substantially reduce illiteracy rates which are essential for poverty reduction and sustainable development is a fantastic idea. However,I would like to add that, they should never be pursued with a one-eyed vision (almost exclusively on primary and secondary schooling) when higher education for the citizens is languishing with dilapidated infrastructure and understaffed faculties and programs.

    Skilled and well schooled citizens help spur manifold opportunities for others.

    I am conscious of the “competitive no-barrier world” that a tiny nation like PNG is a member of. This world which is being dramatically re-shaped by technological and scientific innovations, regional and global interdependence,cross-cultural encounters and changes in economic and political dynamics.

    These changes requires college and university level academic programs that requires the adoption of innovative and application of appropriate technologies. Such thinking is a direct result of homing on the idea that Papua New Guineans can and/are able to compete on the international marketplace of jobs. After all, we have Papua New Guinean pilots flying International airlines, engineers, medical doctors and economists in the likes of Ezekieli Taureka making waves overseas.

    It’s a sad and odd irony that in PNG, our further higher education sector received no (mostly little) attention – demonstrated by the lack of capacity development , both in staffing levels and infrastructure to absorb the increased outputs – into universities and colleges. Those few who do manage to secure places at Universities and colleges are fortunate.

    But, then again, we have been told time and again that bulk of these “fortunate” students’ literacy, reasoning, and analytical skills are poor – a strong indicator on the failure of OBE system. There’s a huge contrast or difference between today’s caliber of university students and those from the pre-OBE era.

    The comments below by the senior academic from the University of Papua New Guinea spells out what was known long time ago.

    Investment in skills and Education are conscious and well thought through policies and decisions. The policy ought to cover Pre-School, Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary education – in tandem with the upgrade and/or improvement in the staffing level and infrastructure. This is right hand and the left hand togetherness thing. It is common sense – nothing radical about it. Anything less wouldn’t cut.

    I am under no illusion about the cost of such a policy. The citizens of this resource-rich country know for the fact that there are more than 2,000 trust accounts holding onto several billions of Kina. We say, rather than using that as the ruling government’s petty-cash box, these money must be channeled into a “greater revenue” raising and far-sighted policy in education as discussed here.

    This is a sound investment. It will pay its dividends many times over through taxation and their productive involvement in national development.

    To do this effectively, the policy should articulate financing and credit schemes – and coordinated transparently by some neutral and trusted agencies.

    An educated and a skilled human resource pool for any country certainly don’t drop from the sky. They are however, results of good planning, effective policy (Acts, Bills) , decisions, and support.

    I agree, mere hot air doesn’t factor in this equation.


    Post Courier .Viewpoints http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20100128/thhome.htm
    Thursday 28th January, 2010

    Expand universities capacity for more intakes

    PLANNING and funding is needed by the Government to expand the capacity of universities to increase student intakes and address the population boom.
    In January several concerned parents came to UPNG to see why their son or daughter was not accepted to university despite them getting excellent grades in grade 12. Here are a few facts to give information to the public.
    * Many UPNG facilities were built by the Australian government in the 1960s and the same facilities are used today. The Government has not funded new infrastructure to cater for extra lecture halls. This is now placing a huge burden on increased student intakes.
    * The population of PNG is growing at an alarming rate and the demand for university education is high. The same lecture halls and laboratories cannot accommodate increased student intakes.
    To give an example, the number of students who enrolled at first year to take chemistry in 2009 numbered more than 500 while the only laboratory to accommodate them can only cater for 48. This meant extra work stress for the available staff to accommodate laboratory sessions into Saturdays. This is the trend and will only get worse year by year.
    * After students complete first year science, they need to be at the top with A grades to qualify for the limited spaces into the medical school. Moreover, students wanting to become geologists will not all make it. Due to space problems, only 20-plus students will be accepted into second and upper years.
    * The Government is placing a huge emphasis on primary education but an equal attention is not given to increasing funding for capacity building at universities. This includes the building of lecture halls, funding for state of the art technology so that scientists and technologists can be innovative and assist research in PNG.
    University education is a right for all PNG citizens. Unfortunately, the Government is plagued with planning, implementation and accountability inability. There is much talk on politics in newspapers but politics is not transparent when it comes to show for infrastructures and new developments in universities in the country. And I do not think the LNG project will bring about fast changes despite high hopes. Because planners, thinkers, implementers, assessors all have an attitude problem.

    Topul Rali, PhD
    Professor of Chemistry

  7. What is it that PNG wants?

    …..an island full of trades people? where will they work anyway, when the government is not creating job opportunities? Who will qualify to be supervisors, superintendents, executives, and innovators if PNG goes downstream processing? If OBE goes on – certainly not a PNGean but we will have the human resources though (that may be a plus). We may need to import expatriate supervisors…….. to tell us how to work in our land with our own resources. We’re told we have a wage bill of K750m for expatriate workers in PNG in 2010.

    Why are our children being suppressed and not allowed to reach their potentials? I wonder if any of the parliamentarians’ children are in the mainstream schools…. I do not think so.. that is why the parlimentarians do not seem to care…. their children are most probably getting educated in Australia and the US. I think these will be the executives and innovators when they get back and our children will be the ones to do the security guard jobs, plumbing, carpentry, and the sewing jobs etc – you know keep them on minimum wage……. that’s your lot now and into the future Papua new Guineans – if we don’t take a step now to remove this system, it will oppress our children…….and for a long time to come!

  8. Critical thinking is expected from all serious scholars in all schools of thought. The lack of it is a serious cause for concern. It’s symptomatic of serious flaws in the kind of curriculum and quality of teachers that are involved in teaching students at secondary schools, high schools and all levels of schools below that. Serious re-examination and re-thinking is in order.

    Students not fit for uni:VC


    STUDENTS entering universities may not be fit for tertiary studies and some of them bring with them bad habits they learn at the secondary level.
    “Students who enrol at the UPNG come from different schools in the 89 districts of PNG and some come into the university with alcohol-drinking and pot-smoking habits”.
    UPNG vice-chancellor Professor Ross Hynes highlighted this at the PNG Higher Education Stakeholders Consultative Workshop.
    “They did not pick up those habits the day before they entered the university.
    “They had those habits with them in secondary school,’’ he said.
    Hynes said the different schools of UPNG are making restructure changes and developing new strategic plans in relation to Vision 2050, adding there are other issues that must be addressed.
    The workshop was hosted by the Office of Higher education in Port Moresby last Friday and was themed PNG Human Resource Strategic Development Plan 2030.
    “Students who are the top in their secondary level studies also do well at the university.
    “But then there are those who come unprepared for tertiary studies and find university life difficult.
    “And when they are unhappy they do not act in the best interest of the university,” Hynes said.
    He said UPNG will provide a supportive environment for students who want to learn but will not allow such students to be intimidated by others who are not ready for university studies.
    “There are DWU students who also take alcohol and get under the influence of drugs, however, DWU’s zero-tolerance-to-alcohol policy has assisted much in minimising this problem,” DWU’s Dr Maretta Kula-Semos said.

    DWU has courses that introduce students to ethics at all levels that emphasise that students recognise the responsibility they have towards those around them. UPNG’s Civics and Ethics course is a course on ethics and is taught to all students, Kula-Semos said.
    “Another problem with new intakes from secondary schools is that they do not have those critical thinking skills, they can’t think for themselves.
    “At most times they like to be spoon-fed. Some of them cannot communicate properly.

    “That is something that can be explored by ED also,” Kula-Semos said.

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