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First Aid

Red Cross

Home and Work Place Safety

Red Cross

Ports Authority

Ministry of Internal Affairs

Personal Relationships, Self Esteem and Individual Rights

CI Professional & Working Women’s Assoc Pan Pacific & South East Asia Women’s Assoc Miss Cook Islands Pageant Association

Reading and Writing

Taunga Artists Society

Pan Pacific & South East Asia Women’s Assoc

Employment – Job Seeking Skills, Budgeting, Business Management

Small Business Enterprise Centre Ltd

Development Investment Board

Fishing and Agriculture Skills

Ministry of Marine Resources

Ministry of Agriculture

Hospitality, Cooking and Crafts

Food Festival Committee

Hospitality and Tourism Training Centre

Vainetini (Women’s Community Groups)

8. Supplement Features : Issues featured in the CI News WeekEnd Magazine supplement and its Business Monthly supplement include Marijuana Abuse, Alcohol Abuse, Domestic Violence, Literacy, Child Mothers, Environment Recycling, Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer.

Source : Alex Sword, Editor, Cook Islands News

Basic education advertisements and articles printed in the Cook Island News between 1 July 1999 and 7 August 1999 are listed in the table below.



Ministry of Health

Healthy Weight

Cancer Awareness – PAP Smears

High Blood Pressure

Breast Feeding

Drinking and Driving

Alcohol Abuse

HIV-AIDS prevention and transmission

STD prevention and condom usage

Te Aponga Uira o Tumu-te-varovaro

(Electricity Authority)

Electrical Safety

Electrical Efficiency


Punanga Tauturu Inc

(Women’s Counselling)

Child Sexual Abuse

Rarotonga Environment Awareness Program (REAP)

Toxic Chemical Disposal

Coral Cuts

University of the South Pacific Centre

Weekly articles promoting learning, study techniques and student counselling

Cook Islands News

Community Service Message


Don’t Rubbish Raro

Mosquito Breeding Prevention

Counselling and Welfare Agencies contacts

Cook Island News Daily and Weekly Articles

"Daily Bread" - a daily text from the Bible

"Virtue of the Week" - weekly article on virtues

"Kids Page" – weekly page of quizzes, poems, stories

Weekly article on Cook Islands Culture

Weekly article on religion

Weekly article on the Internet (Internet Oyster)

Source : MOE Directorate of Planning and Finance, Survey, August 1999

6.6.4 Libraries and Museums

There are 2 public libraries and museums in the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands National Library and Museum is located within, and managed by, the Ministry of Cultural Development, Takamoa, Rarotonga. The Cook Islands Library and Museum, also located in Takamoa, Rarotonga is operated by the Cook Islands Library and Museum Society. The Society organises regular public seminars on a wide range of topical issues. The Library is also the venue for a weekly language development programme for children organised by PPSEAWA. The public also has some access to small, specialist libraries in the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Marine Resources and to some school libraries in the outer islands. The University of the South Pacific Extension Centre, Takamoa, Rarotonga has a library for enrolled students. There is no mobile library service in the Cook Islands. National archives are stored in the National Archives division of the Ministry of Cultural Development, Takamoa, Rarotonga.

Source : Carmen Temata, Head of the Ministry of Cultural Development, Jan 1999

6.6.5 Formal Distance Education

The Education Sector Action Plan (1992) proposed increased utilisation of distance education modes. Distance education initiatives taken by the Ministry of Education include the promotion of correspondence lessons, policy development and the establishment of a centre for distance education delivery. Correspondence Lessons

The Ministry of Education has reported an increase in the use of New Zealand Correspondence School courses particularly by senior secondary school students in the Southern Group islands of Aitutaki and Mangaia. In 1996, the Ministry of Education took the initiative to promote NZ correspondence courses for junior secondary school students in the Northern Group. However the program has not proved to be as successful as anticipated with the major problems being language difficulties and delays in receiving materials. New Zealand allows the Cook Islands a maximum of 250 student places in Correspondence School. (Gill Vaiimene, Director of Operations, personal communication, 1999) Radio Broadcasts

In the early 1970’s school radio programmes were regularly produced and broadcast. The Ministry of Education operated a recording studio. Mr Fabian Kairua, a former studio employee, has suggested that school broadcasts were terminated for a number of reasons including high production costs, reception difficulties in the Northern Group and lack of interactive learning. The Ministry of Education’s Distance Education Report (1997) does not support the reintroduction of broadcast radio for the delivery of formal education lessons in schools.

Source : "Distance Education Report", Ministry of Education, 1997 Television Broadcasts

A willingness to screen educational programmes during school time has been expressed by the management of television stations on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. In 1998, a community based committee raised funds and purchased television sets for every school on Aitutaki. However the regular transmission of relevant programs that complement the curriculum is yet to eventuate.

The Distance Education Report identified limitations and concerns with broadcast television including coordination of transmission with school timetables, the content and presentation of imported pre-recorded tapes, the lack of interactive learning, and the production costs of local production. The costs for the use of the Rarotonga television broadcast network in 1997 was estimated at $250 per hour of broadcast time and the production costs estimated at $NZ 3,000 for a locally produced 45 minute programme. The Report does not recommend broadcast television at this stage as a priority option for distance education in schools.

Source : "Distance Education Report", Ministry of Education, 1997 High Frequency Radio

High frequency radio has been used extensively for inter-island communication and is still the main means of communication with Palmerston, Suwarrow, Nassau and Rakahanga. Mr Stuart Kingan, a noted local scientist and amateur radio operator, has, in the past, facilitated HF radio based conferences between islands for medical and educational purposes. However Telecom Cook Islands holds the rights to the two frequencies allocated to the Cook Islands for outer island communication by the International Frequency Registration Board. The Education Distance Report does not view HF radio as a sustainable option for distance learning in Cook Islands schools.

Source : "Distance Education Report", Ministry of Education, 1997 Telephone and Computer Links

Telecom Cook Islands is the sole provider of telephone services in the Cook Islands. All 13 inhabited islands, except Palmerston, Nassau, Suwarrow and Rakahanga, have a satellite earth station and a digital exchange which enable communication by telephone, facsimile (Fastfax), email and the Internet. Telephone and facsimile services on Rakahanga are also possible via their Ultra High Frequency radio link. In 1998 the analogue satellite links between Rarotonga and the outer islands were upgraded to digital links resulting in stable Internet access for the outer islands. The 1996 Census reports that 73% of dwellings in the Cook Islands had a telephone and 9% had a personal computer.

The Distance Education Report recommends distance education in schools be implemented in 5 phases :

1. Improving telephone and facsimile access

2. Providing Internet email and WWW browsing

3. Using an Internet based audio-graphics environment

4. Providing a Teacher Resource Centre located in the Ministry of Education

5. Providing the Ministry of Education with a WWW Server and Conference Server

The recommendations for schools to be equipped with facsimiles, computers and email access have been accepted by the Ministry of Education’s Senior Management Team.

The Ministry of Education’s Technical and Vocational Education Training Centre opened in June 1999. The Centre will train teachers in the use of computer systems and will be the focal point for the delivery of distance education through electronic email and the Internet. In 1999 the Ministry received 100 computers through the Rarotonga Rotary Club, of which 70 have been distributed to schools with the remainder to be processed by the end of the year. The Ministry of Education is affiliated to UNEVOC which provides a world wide network for information sharing in regard to establishing and managing distance learning programs.

Source : "Distance Education Report", Ministry of Education, 1997


7.0 Ministry of Education Restructuring and Decentralisation

The ADB funded "Institutional Strengthening of the Ministry of Education" programme and the ESPAM Module of the BELS program have been successful in :

restructuring the Ministry of Education

improving policy and planning capacity

establishing an effective education management information system

developing effective school based quality assurance processes

providing training for central and community level management

Some progress has been made towards decentralisation of the education system. The Ministry of Education is now only responsible for Rarotonga schools but it still controls the decisions on teacher appointments and operating expenditure for these schools. The major role of a school committee is still regarded as that of a fund raiser rather than a school manager. The Ministry of Outer Islands Development is responsible for outer island schools with island based Chief Executive Officers facilitating local decision making and establishing the groundwork for Island Councils to eventually assume responsibility for all public services.

Some additional resources for education have been mobilised through cost sharing especially through some school committees being very active in improving school resources and facilities. Increased user charges were introduced for the Rarotonga bus service but this was to reduce expenditure rather than to increase resources. Cost sharing and user charges are sensitive issues in a community that has experienced an economic crisis.

Containment of unit cost was driven by a substantial reduction in the budget appropriation for education following the economic crisis in 1996. Greater efficiency, without unduly comprising effectiveness, was achieved through reducing the number of teachers, school ancillary staff and Ministry of Education administration staff. The potentially adverse effect of reducing public expenditure on school resources was offset by an increase in aid funding. Increased efficiency and effectiveness has also been achieved through the amalgamation of small schools on 3 of the Southern Group islands and through the increased use of correspondence courses.

7.1 Early Childhood Care and Development

Early Childhood education has received significant inputs in terms of curriculum development, teacher training and resources, mainly as a result of the Education Development Project. The framework for more effective teaching and learning is now in place. However a reliable and valid system to monitor and measure the quality of education at this level needs to be developed and implemented. Another concern is that the gross enrolment of 64 % in 1997 shows that enrolment has not improved since 1990 and therefore suggests that initiatives taken to date are, on their own, insufficient to achieve the goal of 90 – 100 % gross enrolment. The role of the parent as the first educator needs to be genuinely promoted and supported.

7.2 Primary and Basic Education

The accessibility and importance of primary school education in the Cook Islands is reflected in net and gross enrolments approaching and exceeding 100%. The Education Development Project, complemented by other programs including TESP, BELS and Inclusive Education, has been effective in improving :

the quality and availability of textbooks and library books

the provision of the basic teaching resources

school buildings, facilities, equipment and furniture

teacher development opportunities

education and curriculum policies and statements

7.3 Learning Achievements and Outcomes

The currently used STACI tests indicate that there has been an improvement in Mathematics since 1994. However standards in English and Maori have declined since 1994. Achievement in Maori has been declining on Rarotonga whereas English is a problem in the outer islands, especially the Northern Group. However, the improved resources, buildings, teacher training and curricula are expected to improve primary school teacher and student performances over the next 10 years. The Ministry of Education’s Directorate of Audit and Quality Assurance has developed a system for assessing teacher performance and, if approved by the Ministry, this system will be able to provide annual data from which trends can be ascertained. Recently completed and imminent testing and measurement systems will provide more valid information on student achievement.

7.4 Adult Literacy

No goals were set for adult literacy and there is no reliable data on such literacy rates in the Cook Islands.

7.5 Training in Essential Skills

The original program to establish a National Employment and Training Authority within the Ministry of Education was not implemented. Instead, the Public Service Commission (PSC) assumed responsibility for post secondary education, training and human resource development. The PSC is facilitating the coordination of human resource development across all sectors with the Cook Islands Association for Non-Government Organisations (CIANGO) assisting by coordinating and promote NGO initiatives.

Substantial opportunities for individuals to develop essential skills in the economic sectors of Marine Resources, Agriculture, Tourism and Business, have been provided by the relevant Ministries and the Small Business Enterprise Centre. These agencies have contributed towards meeting the goals of increased numbers of trained in information technology, crafts, tourism, management and small business operations.

The wide range of social sector ministries and non-government organisations are effectively meeting the country’s commitment to international convention objectives including promoting non-formal education, health issues, reproductive health, gender equity and women’s access to a range of vocational and continuing education opportunities.

7.6 Training in Essential Skills

Through the media, especially the newspaper, television and radio, virtually all Cook Islanders are exposed to public education and awareness programs. The range and frequency of such opportunities increase with proximity to Rarotonga. The country has a well-developed communication system and an increasing number of personnel with information technology skills which provides the foundation for future developments in distance learning opportunities.


The "Institutional Strengthening Technical Assistance Project Final Report" clearly detailed the major risk factors that impacted on the initial stages of the education development programs. These were :

delays on restructuring due to bureaucratic factors, resistance of Ministry of Education staff to change and limited leadership and management capabilities

limited scope and impact of staff development programmes, due to delays in senior and mid-level staff appointments and release for training

limited operationalisation of management reform, due to uncertain timetables for specific policy developments

delays in staff appointments, deployment and rationalisation, due to an uncertain financial/budgetary climate and absence of suitably qualified candidates in some positions

lack of management and organisational efficiency, due to fragmentation of operations over different sites

delays in policy resolutions, due to central-line ministry cooperation

The same risk factors, to varying extents, were also constraints throughout the implementation of the education development programs.

The Ministry of Education, as was the case with other ministries, was grossly overstaffed with under-skilled and under-worked employees who contributed to an overall lack of work ethics and motivation. Supervisors tended to be reactive administrators rather than proactive managers. Down-sizing since 1996 and the appointments of new staff have resulted in some improvement in efficiency and effectiveness. However a lack suitably qualified people in some positions has continued to hamper education development initiatives. Down-sizing has also presented problems including some divisions becoming understaffed, a lack of continuity in some programs due to changes in personnel, and a reduction in the pool of trained teachers.

The public sector reforms and reductions in public expenditure on education have been major constraints. The pressure on Ministries to operate strictly within their appropriation tended to focus managers on cost savings, efficiency and retrenchment rather than on investment, effectiveness and initiative. Budgetary constraints resulted in delays in allocating funds and appointing staff for planned development programs. The reform also transferred responsibilities between some Ministries without creating or amending the relevant legislation. There has been uncertainty, inaction and conflicting instructions due to the Education Act still delegating legal responsibility to the Ministry of Education for provisions that have since been devolved to other Ministries.

A major risk to sustainable, quality early childhood education in the Cook Islands is the lack of pre-service teacher training programmes and plans. The Cook Islands Teachers College only delivers a pre-service programme for primary school teacher trainees. Potential secondary school teachers apply for scholarships to study at overseas tertiary institutions. Early childhood classes are increasingly being taught by primary school teachers who have neither the qualifications nor the experience at this level of teaching. A plan to ensure the continued availability of trained and qualified early childhood teachers is required.


There has been no public awareness of the Education For All program in the Cook Islands. Awareness of the program within the Ministry of Education was also virtually nonexistent until late 1998 when information began to be received regarding the EFA 2000 Assessment Report.

Similarly, awareness of the Education and Training Sector Study and the Education Sector Action Plan is limited to only a very small number of people. The initiation of the Education Development Project was widely publicised for several months in 1995 but since that time there has been no planned and implemented program to keep teachers, parents and the public regularly informed on the objectives, progress and benefits of the project. The renovation of school buildings was designed to be a shared responsibility between the Ministry of Education and the school community with the Ministry funding materials and the community assisting with manpower. Delays that have occurred with this component of the project may have been minimised by a carefully managed public awareness campaign.

The Government initiated and remained committed to education development in the 1990s. Government commissioned the "Polynesia Way" review (1989) and the "Education and Training Sector Study" (1992). In December 1992 the Government and the ADB Loan Reconnaissance Mission signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the proposed Education Development Project. When it became apparent that the Ministry lacked the capacity to implement the project, the Government approved a technical assistance program to restructure and strengthen the Ministry of Education. During the earlier stages of the Project, there was some concern at the rate of progress being made towards meeting implementation schedules and compliance with loan covenants. Government's commitment was reflected in the increasingly proactive role taken by core Ministry members of the Project Coordinating Committee to ensure that the Project regained the momentum required for a successful and timely completion.

The Cook Islands has a strong capacity to develop and implement education development. It has a healthy and well-educated population with a pool of highly qualified people experienced in education, economics, finance, policy and project planning and implementation. The pool is rapidly increasing particularly as a result of ongoing graduate diploma courses in Public Sector Management. One area of deficiency is the lack of suitably qualified people to align the Cook Islands curriculum with the New Zealand curriculum and to train teachers on new aspects of the New Zealand curriculum. Another constraint to improving the quality of education is the high proportion of teachers who lack senior secondary or tertiary level academic qualifications. Education is valued by people in the community and, if kept well informed, they are willing supporters of development initiatives.

The country has modern communication systems, widespread media penetration, and regular air services to most islands. Schools are established on all permanently inhabited islands with the student population occupying only about one half of the maximum classroom capacity. Development in education is therefore focused on improving quality rather than on quantity or access. The Cook Islands economy is sufficiently sound to ensure that the recurrent costs of education and investments into small development initiatives can be funded from the annual government budget. However the Cook Islands is often reliant on loans or aid assistance from overseas agencies to implement large-scale development projects.


Rapid progress was made between 1989 and 1992 in reviewing Cook Islands education and establishing the direction to take for the rest of the decade.

From 1993 to 1995 little progress was made, mainly due to the lack of capacity within the Ministry of Education.

From 1995 onwards, significant progress has been made. The Ministry of Education has been strengthened and there has been significant progress in curriculum development, teacher training, school resources and school renovations. There has been a revitalisation of education in the Cook Islands and it is expected that the benefits of this investment will be revealed in improved student and teacher performances over the next decade.

Primary school enrolment ratios have been maintained at or above 100% proving that at this level there is "Education For All". The challenge is now to achieve the same for level for Early Childhood and secondary school education.

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