Private Training Institutions Vs Upgrade Programs-Disadvantages and Advantages

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Beginning of the year school is full of frustrations and tensions for parents and students. Particularly, for Grade 12 students who missed out on Grade 12 Selections from the DHERST National Online Selection System (NOS). There are various reasons for not being selected and some of these reasons are far beyond the responsibilities of students. So, beginning of school year is not a time to argue and find faults in either the parents and students but to put the issue on the table and have a genuine family discussion and find agree on a way forward.  It is good for parents to just listen and allow the child to express his/her concerns and feelings first. Kinds behave differently when it comes to expressing themselves. Some will openly talk to parents, others will shy, others will confide in either the mother or father. Others will have confidence to talk to a relative than their parents. To start the discussions, bring both parents and the relatives that he/she feels confidence in if possible. If relative is not possible, engage them in phone calls during the discussion.

This article provides some advice that can be useful to have this important family discussion.

Various cause factors that affect selection to tertiary institutions.

There are several factors that is beyond the academic capability of the child. Here some very common cases in PNG setting.

Location and Physical Facilities of the School

Both the 2021 and 2022 National Online Selection (NOS)  from DHERST reveals that high number of students are schools in urban centers or a run by church institutions. For example, St. Charles Lwanga secondary, Marienville Girls Secondary, Port Moresby National High School, Hagen Park and etc which are located right inside urban centers. Location is a factor which attracts good  teachers too. Most qualified teacher would prefer to teach in schools close to urban centers just like any other professionals for easier access to essential services like schools for their kids, banking, shopping, transport, security and etc. Most Grade 12 students are denied that access to qualified teachers and facilities simply because of the location of the school and where they live.

Some parents may ask “How can others from the same school get selected and not my child?. Well, the notion that every student is same just because they attended the same school, grade and subjects is flawed. These factors are learning environmental factors, actual learning is determined by individual characteristics of the student. For example, if the student is partially deaf and if no effort is made to align the condition to the learning environment, no learning will take place for that individual student. This alignment would in be in the form of School administration being is aware of the condition of the student and advises his/her subject teachers to make sure they are aware of the physical condition and to make sure the student is seated close  to the teacher and use microphone if the class is size is big and movement of teacher within the class is required.

It is the committed and creative teachers and school administrators who make those necessary adjustments to make learning comfortable and suited to many students within the class as possible.

PNG is geographically diverse and school location is a main factor why students miss out on selections. Location determines the kind of teachers it attracts, cost of transporting and sourcing school supplies, supporting infrastructures such as water supply, electricity and lots of things which affects the operations of the school. When the school operations suffer it has  consequential effects on s teaching and learning activities.

2: Mobile Phone and social media.

This is 21 century and mobile technologies will continue to be part of young people’s lives. Main use of mobile phones would be to communicate with parents and friends. As such, basic phone will do for a student. Social media like Facebook can be addictive if used too long and can be a distraction to students. Students need to be aware of it try their best to minimize time spend on social media sites.. It is a factor the student is responsible for when it comes to how much time is spend on it. Parents should be make it clear to children to be responsible giving them a phone. Particularly if the student is attending a boarding school.

3:  Boarding Schools

Some of the secondary schools in the provinces are boarding schools. This means the student and their parent are completely separated from each other and it does affect some students in a big way. Particularly to adjust him/self to the new settings. Some of these secondary schools are maintained well, others are not. So, the student is adjusting to the food in mess, dormitory life, daily chores like laundry as well as study matters. It does take a toll on his/her academic performance.  Parents need be ware of this make regular phone contacts and make visits if whenever possible.

New students normally adjust by following Grade 12S and that can have negative impacts. Particularly, in Secondary Schools where there is practice of School Cult groups. Parents expect their kids to stay out of such groups but with schools with weak administration, the student maybe placed in a difficult situation. It can be life threatening and they may join these groups to cope with pressure than a deliberate choice on their part. Regular communication and listening to students is important and ask the them the right questions. If necessary, parents need to pull their children out of the school and transfer them elsewhere rather than letting them go through and expect them to pass the Examinations.

  1. Grade 12 Subject Selection-The Elective Subjects.

This is a very important thing to note. Mathematics and English/Language are compulsory subjects in Grade 12  and almost all the Tertiary Institutions in the country require the students to score high marks in them..

However, when it comes to meeting the Entry Requirements for the different programs at Tertiary Institutions, the subject selected in the Elective Subject Streams in Grade 12 is what matters. So, it is important that before the student starts Grade 12, parents need to sit down and discuss with the student what they want to pursue in terms of their career path. Then select the subjects carefully that will match  their choice will they fill in on the DHERST National Online Selection System (NOS) for selection. For example, UPNG Science Foundation Year entry subject requirements from Grade 12  is Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Advance Mathematics. This means, only those students who have done these four courses plus any of the English courses are eligible to apply.

Read the full article on subject selection and how the DHERST NOS System Works.

5:  High Student to Teacher Ratio

Due to the Government’s Fee Education policy, the number of students in class is increasing. In typical classroom, there are more than 50 students in one class with one single teachers. In secondary schools where there are limited teachers, the selective subjects in Grade 12 is quite a long list of subjects and most teachers take more than 3 subjects. This also puts strain on teachers teaching load.

Teachers and school administration may try their best to help manage large number of students and they may not have the time and resources to help students who need extra assistance.

By considering the above and other numerous factors, PNG Education system  will continue to push potential young people out of completing their studies up to Diploma or Bachelor’s degree level straight through.

Therefore, when a student is not selected for a space at Higher Institutions, it does not mean they are not academically incapable nor they are to be blamed 100% for not securing a place.

Off courses there are some students who really do mess up during Year 12 and deliberately involve so many unwanted activities and fail the national examinations. Despite all efforts from Teachers and parents they choose to go the different path.  For in most cases, genuine innocent student’s future is at stake because of the  ineffective national education system.

Parents are in a very good position to know the true potential of their children.

Private training Institutions Vs Upgrading Programs

When a student is not selected by the DHERST National Online Selection (NOS) system, parents and students normally have two options. To enroll in a Private Training Institute or upgrade their Grade 12 subject marks at bridging programs offered by institutions such as University of Technology Distance and Open Learning (Unitech ODL), University of Papua New Guinea Open College (UPNG Open College) and FODE or Port Moresby Institute of Matriculation Studies (PIMS).  There are more recent ones but these ones has been around serving Grade 12 School Leavers for quite a while.

Here are some basic advantages and disadvantage between these two types of programs.

Private Training Institutions

So many parents still have the more conservative and traditional view or mindset that public tertiary institutions programs are better so therefore, their kids need to continue in a public institution. This is partly due to the fact that education is regarded as an important basic public need and therefore funded by government since PNG was colonized up till now. Private institutions on the other hand operated by businesses for profit and therefore providing this service to make money.

This conservative view has some merit but is limited in a sense. What is important is the provision of knowledge and skills to those who need it. Which type of institution  provides it is irrelevant. Traditional role of public learning institutions as custodian of knowledge is fast diminishing. With the proliferation of internet and internet enabled mobile devices, learning is decentralized to the individual level. However, the individuals need institutions need to assess and certify their learning to verify that the individual learner has acquired the necessary skills and knowledge in a certain field of choice. Individuals need that certification from institutions.

Another fact is that, education is viewed as a public utility and therefore must be funded by the government. This view overshadows the economic cost of providing quality education or training to students. Public institutions are funded by government form public funds and therefore tuition fees are cheaper than private institutions.

Whether the individual is getting value for his or her money from a private institute is a matter for individual to decides as a consumer of the service. Just like other businesses providing goods and services to the public, there are private training institutions that striving to provide much needed skills and knowledge to young and working adults in this PNG. This includes International Training Institute (ITI), Mapex Training Institute (MTI), Institution of Business Studies (IBS), Institute of Banking and Businesses Management (IBBM) and others. Their contribution to human resource development, particularly Grade 12 School Leavers cannot overlooked from the cost and profits point of view. They should be given considered as equal alternative study paths for students.

Advantages Private Training Institutions

  • Programs have shorter durations and multiple exit points. For example, a student can start from Certificate level and move up to Advanced Certificate Level and Diploma.
  • Course units in a program are specially focused towards a specific field. For example, Certificate Program in Accounting would normally include key Accounting related units only.
  • Student can apply for Entry Level jobs using the certificates attained.
  • Student entry requirements are mainly based on their wiliness to pay and career aspirations. Not based on Grade 12 Certificate Subject Grades GPA points.
  • Full-time classes

Disadvantages Private Training Institutions

Most of the disadvantages are around regulatory areas which  DHERST as the government Department responsible for over seeing policy and regulation for private training providers is charge of.

  • No standardized pricing of similar courses across institutions. For example, most institutions offer Certificate in Human Resource Management but pricing varies from institution to institution.
  • Some institution may offer programs that are not accredited by National Training Council or DHERST. Particularly, institutions that are newly established not registered by National Training Council.
  • Public higher institutions may not allow for program and course exemption for programs completed at Private training institutions. For example, if a student has completed Diploma in Accounting at a private institution and wish to do Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting at UPNG or Unitech, she or she might be asked to start as First year Accounting rather, recognizing his/her Diploma from the private institute and admit him/her as 3 Year to finish of the final 2 years. Currently, policy on course credit transfer among higher learning institutions is lucking.
  • Most programs are more field focused and lack broader course units.
  • Shorter Program durations. Example, Diploma at Unitech or UPNG may be 2 years and similar Diploma is 1 year duration at Private training institutions.
  • Most of the institutions are operating within major towns only.
  • Cost are higher compared to public institutions

Check the full list of Training Council approved Private Training Institutions in PNG.

Upgrading Programs


  • Able to upgrade lower subject Grades in Grade 12  and then apply for Admission into Higher Institutions.
  • Most of the provinces have FODE, UPNG Open College and Unitech ODL study centers which can be convenient to students.
  • Cost is normally per course unit so is cheaper.
  • Course units are mainly structured towards academic study pathways. After completion of particular subject or certificate they can apply to any institutions to their choice.


  • Students cannot apply for Entry level jobs with certificates from FODE, UPNG Open College or Unitech ODL. They are regarded as bridging courses for applying into higher learning institutions. For example, if a student spends a year repeating Grade 12 with FODE, he or she is eligible to sit Grade 12 Examination again. On the other hand, if he/she opted to attend a private institution for the whole year, he/she will have completed a Diploma which puts him/her in better position to apply for a entry level job.
  • There is no guarantee that after competing these programs, they will have admission to tertiary institutions. Whether the student does programs with UNITECH ODL, UPNG Open College, FODE or PIMS, there is no guarantee that tertiary institutions will admit them into Bachelors Degree programs when they apply as Non-School Leavers. Priority will still be given to fresh Grade 12 School Leavers selection by DHERST NOS system and only few lucky Upgraders will be considered.
  • Because of logistics and administrative problems between study centers and main administration PNG Open College, Unitech ODL and FODE Transcripts are often released late to study centers. Sometimes students have to wait longer than expected to get them. Normally, the call of Non-School Leavers Applications by tertiary institutions happen around July and August. This means, it will take two years to apply as Non-School Leavers. Most study centers often give students Statement of Results to attach and apply but institutions still insist on official transcripts for screening and admission. It can be frustrating for students.
  • Classes are not full time and less face-to-face interactions. Need to make adjusts to studying alone at home.


Education and learning never stops. It is life long, so if the student is not decided on what career path in life and have not fixed their mind to what profession to pursue academically, then it’s good to get into a Private Training Institute, complete a program in a short span of time and find an entry level job. Job experience will open up different possibilities and direction to take. Then they can enroll through External Mode of Studies by UPNG, taken professional certification courses or take online courses.

Read  5 Reasons Why People with Work Experience Excel in Tertiary Education Studies.

If the student wants to pursue studies and are fixed on a career path, then enroll for Upgrade programs, commit to complete them. Have the patience and apply for admission as a Non-School Leaver in a tertiary institution.