PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 19, 2010) - Education is always a burning topic for Papua New Guineans and the latest twist is likely to produced animated discussions in many households.

Some will be deservedly proud while others will be red-faced and embarrassed.

From the National Education Board meeting held in Manus Province last week came the summary from New Guinea Islands member Bruno Babato that the wheel had turned in regional education.

Based on last year’s Grade 10 exam results, the best performing provinces in the country were from the Highlands region.

The worst performers were from the Islands. To many, it is not a true revelation, more likely a confirmation of a trend that has been building over the last 20 years.

The same can be said for the Highlands where the desire for higher education and success in life has powered their way to the top of the nation’s education ladder.

The Highlands success can be partly attributed to a natural burning desire to improve and has been further aided by the anxiety of their leaders to get their people into the mainstream of life, supporting them with school fee contributions.

The Islands people seem to have lost their zest for higher education and as a result, their marks have fallen away alarmingly.

In the first years of Independence, it was the Islanders who lead the way in top jobs and higher education, along with young people from the Southern region.

Leaders of the Islands region are worried about the collapse of their academic standards and the lapse of high attainment of the current generation.

Some attribute it to a greater level of satisfaction with village life in the Islands region. People who can derive a reasonable living from cocoa and oil palm farming while having good access to nearby towns and good food, are not as stressed to achieve academically.

It is clear the balance of education and high positions in the nation has swung strongly. It must give great encouragement to the leaders of the Highlands, as they gear up for a mighty boost to their economy through the liquefied natural gas projects. Others are looking on and wondering what they should do to catch up.

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