A file picture of a ni-Vanuatu teacher at Central College guiding a student. A revised regional teacher competency standards will serve as an important support instrument for the Pacific's teaching profession.
A review of the regional teacher competency framework has begun as part of efforts to refine and improve guiding standards for teacher professionalism in the Pacific. The new framework, which will replace the 2010 Pacific Regional Teacher Standards, will be one of the key projects for the Pacific Community’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) in 2022.
The revision effort, which falls under the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF), is being made possible through a collaborative effort between EQAP as the implementing agency, its partners; the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and ministries of education across the Pacific.
EQAP’s Curriculum and Assessment Team Leader, Mere Vadei highlighted the importance of collaboration for the review process saying, “the framework must be flexible enough to take into account the unique circumstances and needs of each Pacific country, and yet still provide the fundamental standards to help the entire region. Every voice needs to be heard to make this happen.”
A series of activities have been planned to ensure the review involves wide consultations and deep reflections. The first activity was a sense-making workshop held virtually last month. Vadei said the workshop aimed to foster a shared understanding about several fundamentals including the need for standards, the goal of using a regional approach and realities of teaching in today’s education landscape.
Papua New Guinea’s National Curriculum coordinator Colette Modagai said the review presents an opportunity for Pacific education systems to collaborate and set out a framework that truly supports teachers in all aspects of their work. This, she said, should include regular professional development and appropriate remuneration.
Dr Elizabeth Switaj, the chair of the Republic of the Marshall Island’s Teacher Standards and Licensing Board, said the workshop was a learning opportunity that underlined for her the common challenges Pacific education systems faced. It demonstrated the need to think collectively to shape regional solutions for the common challenges faced.
The Australia experience was shared by a team from the Australian Centre for Educational Research (ACER), EQAP’s technical partner. Australia’s states and territories each have their own education system, and their own varied contexts, but conform to a nationally endorsed teacher standards. ACER’s Dr Hilary Hollingsworth said the distinction is that while the standards aim to set consistent directions and structures to guide the preparation, support and development of teachers, each state is responsible for how it implements the standards.
Hollingsworth, who is a principal research fellow at ACER, noted that comprehensive consultation with key stakeholders was an important part of Australia’s journey. “One element that the region might want to hold fast to in order to succeed relates to engaging key stakeholders in the processes of refining and implementing standards,” she said. “For example, in Australia, it was considered important to engage stakeholders from all states and territories, and from different contexts including different systems and sectors, metropolitan, regional and rural locations.”
A draft of the revised standards will be formulated early in the new year, with focused consultations continuing over several months.