Front page schools, back page schools : a case study of factors perceived to affect academic performance in five Papua New Guinea secondary schools

Kombra, Uke Wikai N. (2011) Front page schools, back page schools : a case study of factors perceived to affect academic performance in five Papua New Guinea secondary schools. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Papua New Guinea has reformed its colonial established education system and made huge investments with the help of donors to achieve equal access and quality education for all its citizens. Despite this national aspiration and these policy reforms and investments, secondary schools that enrol grade 9 students who are relatively equal in education ability show huge disparities in their grade 10 academic performances. This study examined perceptions of students, teachers and principals regarding factors affecting the disparity in academic performance in the context of a developing country. The central question for the study is: What are the perceptions of students and teachers of the factors that affect disparities in secondary schools' academic performance?

This qualitative case study involved two high and three low academic performing secondary schools in Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Primary data were collected through focus groups and semi-structured interviews involving 112 participants. Students and teachers are key participants in this study, as it intends to find out the realities of schools, yet they are an under-researched group. A postcolonial and sense of community conceptual framework was developed for the analysis of the participants. perceptions. In addition, scholarship on school effectiveness and equity in education informed the interpretation of the findings.

Three themes were evident in participants. views. First, participants expressed their view that differences in academic performance were related to the adequacy and equitability of resources. The inequities in resource inputs led some of them to coin the metaphor of .back page and front page. schools. Second, many expressed the view that deficiencies in implementing bilingual education, given the difficulty of catering for 800 vernacular languages, contribute to poor English proficiency and subsequent poor academic performance. Finally, participants believed that, in order to have a positive school culture, it is necessary for educators to recognise and respect contemporary students. identities, communal/tribal membership and needs.

This study has implications for national education policy on resource allocation to address equality and equity, bilingual education and teacher education. Moreover, as the study found that high academic performance in this context is also influenced by intra-school social relationships, these relationships need to be nurtured. When appropriately nurtured, they become an important factor in sustaining quality education for all secondary school students. This thesis has laid the foundations for further research and invites further investigations into policy and implementation of school reforms aimed at improving academic achievement.

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ID Code: 52643
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Hickling-Hudson, Anne, McLaughlin, Juliana, & Pillay, Hitendra
Keywords: academic performance, education equality, education equity, postcolonial perspective, school effectiveness, secondary education, sense of community, state social capital
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 20 Jul 2012 06:52
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:43

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