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Suva, Fiji – To raise the quality of education in the region, the Conference of Pacific Education Ministers (CPEM) discussed and endorsed key findings of two Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) research studies and their benefits for the Pacific Island countries.
Education Ministers from around the Pacific gathered for the three-day conference in Auckland, New Zealand in March, to discuss the progress, achievements, and ways forward on pertinent matters affecting education in the region.
The Pacific Community’s (SPC) Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) presented the PacREF’s Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEL) report at the conference. Apart from the MEL updates, the report also highlighted key findings of research focussing on Early Childhood Education (ECE) and factors affecting cohort survival rates in Pacific schools.
“PacREF has provided the opportunity for Pacific nations to amplify the voice of the region in a way that has ’allowed donor discussions to happen in a Pacific way and thereby, bringing the global agenda to the Pacific and, in turn, the Pacific to the global agenda,” said PacREF’s MEL Implementation Adviser, Seci Waqabaca.
The two research studies were conducted by EQAP in collaboration with member countries and with support from the Australian Council for Educational Research. EQAP also leads the qualitative aspect of the monitoring, evaluation and learning component of the 12-year framework.
The research focused on mapping the links between Early Childhood Education participation with the outcomes of the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA) and the underlying factors contributing to cohort survival rates, drop-out rates and re-entry rates in specific Pacific countries and contexts. Despite the numerous challenges faced during PacREF’s implementation, the milestone achieved through the completion of the two research studies is a testament to the unwavering effort to realise the intended outputs set out by the framework.
The Chair of the Conference and New Zealand’s Education Minister, Honourable Jan Tinetti stated that “we have heard from diverse voices, sharing nuanced needs and solutions on how we, collectively, can empower education for all Pacific peoples”.
She added that key decisions made during the conference were prioritising and preserving Pacific languages and cultures, responsive and evidence-based training programmes to best prepare teachers and school leaders, inclusive curricula, recognising the need to elevate technical and vocational education and training pathways and skills development and increase investment in early childhood education.
Hon. Tinetti encouraged the regional Education Ministers to reflect on these research findings. “From the advice we have received from those on the front line, our Pacific educationalists, civil society and development partners, I can say we’re working better than expected, but we also know more needs to be done”.
The education leaders in the region are now working with implementing agencies to develop a strategy for regional collaboration based on the research findings.