Hence, careful consideration, wide consultation and informed debate should have taken place before OBE was introduced.
To date, even Parliament has not debate on it. In
my personal perspective I claim that OBE is not good and will not work in SI
and it would destroy the intellectual capacity of our
beloved nation (SI) in the long run. This paper explores briefly the background
information of outcomes-based education, its weaknesses, and what other
countries say about outcomes-based education. Without wasting much time, I will
now go into real business of my discussion.
Where did Outcomes come from?
Before William Spady came into the picture,
Benjamin Bloom came up with his theory of Mastery learning. Mastery learning
failed in the US and had been rejected outright. After five years, in January
of 1980 William Spady convened a meeting to propose the implementation of OBE
philosophy where Bloom was also present and said this ‘OBE is a new name for
Mastery as it had been destroyed by poor implementation.
William Spady is the director of the High Success
Network and Director of the International Centre on Outcomes-Based
Restructuring. He is the ‘father of OBE’.He works with the Federal Government
of the USA and has a lot of influence over, states and schools by helping them
to implement OBE. He is a sociologist with theories of ‘socialisation’ on
OBE has been designed to prove his theories. He started the theory and philosophy of OBE in 1982 in the United States.
Due to his influence he convinced many states to
implement OBE. By the early 1990s many States in the USA rejected OBE as
it failed to help students to progress academically.
Many parents have argued that OBE is egalitarian and it has not provided the best kind of education for its people.
The parents and concerned citizens argue that OBE
has its basis in mastery learning which was thrown out of the education system. Some
Americans even go as far as saying that OBE has Nazism and One World Order
In the US, after experimenting with OBE during the
90s, the vast majority of the states have now moved to what is termed a
standards approach to curriculum (see Shanker 1993, & Manno 1994). And the
reason as to why OBE was dropped in favour of a standards approach
curriculum is because a standards approach, when compare to OBE, is more
academic in focus, relates to specific year levels, unambiguous and curriculum
descriptors are expected to be concise, measurable and based on academic disciplines.
What other countries say about OBE
The philosophy of OBE also planted in countries
like Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand and recently Papua New Guinea
(PNG) also got hooked onto it. Given the central role OBE has played in
Australian education since the early 90s, there appeared concrete evidence,
demonstrating that OBE had been not preparing younger generation for another
academic competitive level.
When compared OBE to an objective approach, OBE is
conceptually flawed and difficult to implement. This leads to the once bright
promise of subject area standards (OBE), has faded under a wide array of
criticisms, and the movement itself is bogged down under its own weight.
Thus, the former Australian education minister Dr
Brenden Nelson has reportedly described OBE as a ‘’ cancer ‘’ and Australian
education expert Kevin Donnelly reports that ‘’the adoption of outcomes-based
education (in the USA) is considered a failed and largely irrelevant
experiment. The Victorian government education committee chairman, Mitch Field
has reportedly described outcomes-based education curriculum a ‘’a failed
experiment that should be declared DOA (dead on arrival).
In the Western Australia they are now reintroducing syllabus documents that specify clear learning objectives and traditional methods of making students work in a clear move away from outcomes-based education. An independent review of Western Australia’s education system found that the states implementation of OBE since 1998 ‘’cannot be regarded as a success.
In 1995, University of Sydney professor, Ken Etlis, published his findings on outcomes-based education curriculum that there was ‘’no evidence that the approach has been successfully implemented anywhere in the world.
South Africa is another country that had introduced
an outcomes-based approach to curriculum development. Of interest, as occurred
in the US following the introduction of OBE, is that there is also opposition
to what has become the new orthodoxy in designing the intended curriculum.
South African teachers faced similar problems to their English colleagues when attempting to introduce OBE into South African schools Jansen and Christie (1999). A South African secondary school principal, Dr Malcolm Venter (2000), in a paper presented at the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development council
(apadc) Conference 2000, presented a range of OBE
criticisms that can be summarised as follows.
• Weakening the idea of striving for success by eliminating the concept of failure
• Unduly emphasising criterion referenced assessment to the detriment of norm referenced assessment
• Unfairly increasing the workload on teachers by imposing an individual-based, diagnostic assessment regime
• Reducing the emphasis on subject knowledge in preference to skills and process
couched in education jargon that disempowers and alienates classroom
To-date many South Africans secondary schools and
primary schools have (now) moved (back) to a more academically based, that is
an objective curriculum and the OBE is regarded as a null and void.
In the South Pacific region, PNG is one of the
country in which OBE is introduced since 2000, by the controversial Curriculum
Reform Implementation Project (CRIP) sponsored by AusAID. CRIP consisted of a
team of education consultants most of whom are expatriates who had never taught
in a PNG classroom before.
They worked with a team of counterparts in the PNG departments of education, most of whom have never heard of OBE before, were not aware of its failures overseas, and were not in a good position to evaluate its sustainability for PNG schools.
However, during the course of the implementation of OBE in the elementary schools, lower primary schools and upper secondary schools in PNG, there was a growing realisation that the new approach was irrelevant in the context of PNG and difficult to implement.
In that situation, a number of papers and reports
raised a numbers of criticism and concerns, summarised as follows.
• OBE curriculum development is occurring far removed from the realities of the classroom and unresponsive to the needs of teachers and students
• The difficulties involved in managing and recording individual student assessment as a result of adopting criterion-based, continuous and diagnostic approach to assessment
• A superficial and patchy nature of the outcome descriptors that work against the acquisition of essential knowledge, understanding and skills associated with the subject disciplines
• The excessive number of curriculum outcomes, especially at the primary school level, that overwhelm teachers and promote a check list mentality in deciding what should be taught
education is inward looking; it trains and prepares students to go back to
And two weeks ago, Prime Minister of PNG Peter O’Neil has reported in a National Paper cover headline of Friday 12th October 2012, he wants OBE to be abolished and reintroduced an objective curriculum. The reason for ‘’ OBE out and objective in ‘’ is because Outcomes-based education is not providing a quality education for indigenous Papua New Guineans ever since its establishment in PNG. Currently a selected groups of potential bureaucracy educationalist is now working on exist
strategy for OBE and soon probably next year 2013
objective curriculum would be reintroduced and implemented in the education
I was one of the fortunate Solomon Islander students currently studying at the University of Goroka, PNG.
However, it was a great joy for me to team up with many in-service students and the majority of them are implementers of OBE for the last twelve (12) years in PNG.
Prior to my departure for this coming Christmas holiday in Solomon Island I made a thorough interviewed with my fellow colleagues based on outcomes-based education approach in PNG.
Surprisingly the responses from the bulk of the
in-service students were in favour of objectives approach. Some criticisms of
OBE can be summarised as:
• OBE downplays intellectuals development and in the long-run, there will be a shortage of intellectuals
• OBE is a complex curriculum system to be implemented with inadequate resources
drawback of OBE is that the demand on teacher’s time and resources required to
teach is astronomical and unsustainable in the long-run
This generates a much higher perception and
assessment workload for teachers because each student is allowed some
flexibility to work at his or her own pace and the teacher have to be able to
support and observe students working at different levels at the same time in
the classroom. If you think this sound like a nightmare for teachers-you are
And if you are worried OBE might lead to lower
academic standards-you are not alone. How can we expect students to create
their own knowledge in these circumstances? It sounds illogical.
Therefore, OBE is a flashy curriculum that had to
implement; and an objective is an intention, an idea of what is expected to
happen. It has no definite indications of whether it may happen or not. A well
define Objective and well focused activity will bring fort a good result or
what is normally termed as ‘achieving the objective’.
Solomon Island should have a very good lesson to learn from countries that have implemented and found weakness in the OBE philosophy.
The Curriculum planners and developers need to
fully understand the philosophical basis from which OBE sets its foundation.
SI also needs to know if the founders of OBE are educationalist or sociologist.
The curriculum decision makers must not succumb to
foreign ideology, which foreigners try to force upon us to accept without
questioning.SI must show its intellectual capacity and ability to question what
types of practices are good for SI.
Prior to introduction of OBE approach in SI
national education system, SI need to think otherwise, or perhaps, our beloved
nation might loss its resources and so much millions of dollars. In my capacity
as a curriculum major, I claim OBE is not an appropriate curriculum for Solomon
Island education system.
The only sustainable approach for mass education in SI is a prescriptive, relevant and academically sound Objectives-based curriculum supported with teacher-based materials that are particular for use in large classrooms with few resources, normative assessment that enables us to compare results from school to school and fairly
select the better students for the limited places we have available at higher learning institutions.
I believe OBE is not suitable for SI.
At this level, students need to be taught and nurture in order to lay proper foundation. The best way forward for our country is to adapt Objective-based. God bless Solomon Islands!
By Johnson Kengalu Oge
Curriculum Major Student
University of Goroka,
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