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Part I Descriptive section


Kiribati, has been an independent republic since 1979. It is located in the central Pacific Ocean. Key statistics on Kiribati include:-


1985 census 63,833

1990 census 72,298

Annual Growth Rate - 2.2%

40% under 14 years of age

48.5% between 15 and 49, and

11% over 50 years.

Land Area:810.7 sq km spread over three million sq km of ocean

Island Groups:The Gilbert (17 islands)

The Phoenix Islands (eight)

The Northern and Southern Line Islands (seven)

Language A Micronesian dialect with only 13 letters in the written language and "s" is not of them. A "t" followed by an "i" is pronounced "s" which explains the pronunciation of Kiribati as "Kiribas".

Religion: Mainly Christianity - dominant denominations being Catholic Church and Kiribati Protestant Church (KPC)

South Tarawa and Kiritimati (in the Northern Line Islands) are taken as urban in this study; the other outer islands as rural.

The education system, operated by the Ministry of Education, Training and Technology (METT) covers the primary and secondary schools, the three tertiary institutions - the Tarawa Teachers’ College (TTC), the Technical Institute (TTI) and the Marine Training Centre (MTC), the Curriculum Development Unit and the national Library and Archives. The METT has also coordinated the non-formal education since 1993 from its offices in Tarawa and acts as the official focal point for collaborative efforts by the outsiders, NGOs and the community on all education matters. The EFA target dimensions, namely ECD, UPE, Learning Achievement, Adult Literacy, Training in Essential Skills and Education for Better Living are all included in the above responsibilities of the METT.

Description of the evaluation process implemented in Kiribati

The present report is a collective work done by the National Committee for EFA Assessment set up by the EFA National Coordinator.

The membership of this committee comprised the Chief Education Officer (National Co-ordinator), Senior Assistant Secrectary, Senior Education Officer (Tertiary/Non-Formal), Education Officer (Statistics); from within the Ministry of Education, Training and Technology.

This report has also benefited from the prior report on Education for All compiled by Dr Gurmit Singh, 1994, and from the skills of the Regional Technical Advisory Group.

Thanks are also extended to UNESCO, Apia, for their support with the Support Team members (Mrs Celia Barelle and Mrs Ada Pannett) and for the two workshops held in Nadi, Fiji, during June and August, 1999, Special thanks must be given to Mrs Edna Tait, Director of the UNESCO Office for the Pacific for her guidance and support.


1. EFA Goals and Intermediate Targets

Similar to the situation in other Pacific Island countries, the Jomtien conference did not translate directly into a distinct EFA country action plan but became a reinforcing and reinvigorating force, which sharpened the national aspirations as, reflected in the current national Development Plan:

The broad aim of the Government is to develop an educational system, which provides to all young and adults, irrespective of age, the means to ample self-fulfillment, which reflects the needs and conditions both in terms of quality and quantity. In this context, the Government aims to provide for a continuous process of education for physical, intellectual, and cultural development of people and to inculcate in them capabilities to cope with emerging situations (para 19.8 Seventh Development Plan).

One of the Kiribati delegates to the Jomtien recalled the experience as overwhelming and enlightening:

sometimes we were lost, it was a very big conference however, the ideas in the EFA declaration were already in our plans, in the minds of people and it is difficult to say which targets came from the conference - we has different targets at different times, depending on priorities (Interview 7/11/95)

Seeing that the Jomtien has had a similar impact on most of the Pacific Island Countries, which participated in it, one is tempted to raise the question as to whether the picture would not have been different if there were a concerted follow-up action from someone outside the body. However, there is no doubt at all about the relevance of the Jomtien philosophy on EFA for the Pacific Island Countries.

1.1 Early Childhood Development


1.2 Primary Education


Kiribati promulgated a legal framework for compulsory education for its 6-11 year old children in 1976. The Ordinance, however, provided for exemptions in some localities by the Minister, depending on the availability of a school within a reasonable proximity of children’s home. Based on the assumption that the legal framework ensures UPE, there is a popular belief amongst the local authorities that the nation has already achieved a hundred percent net enrolment ration. This is not borne out by the available data, which indicate a net enrolment ratio of approximately 82% in 1995.and % in 1998

The stated objective for the current period lays more emphasis on the quality of education and assumes UPE. The relevant section of the Plan states that efforts will be made to improve the standard of education to be more relevant to the needs of outer islands and higher education in South Tarawa (DP 7, page 239) *** Insert what is stated in the Medium Term Strategic Plan 1994-97**

The proposed strategies led to the 1992 comprehensive review of primary education through external assistance under the auspices of UK and NZODA; the completed review of the KTC through the Teacher Education Improvement Project under the auspices of New Zealand Overseas Development Assistance. The purpose of the project has been;

To assist the government of Kiribati and New Zealand to improve the quality of teacher education at the Kiribati Teachers College. (Report on the Kiribati Education MSC: Inception Visit Auckland College of Education August 1995)

1.3 Learning Achievement


1.4 Adults/Literacy


1.5 Training in Essential Skills

Goal: To expand and diversify technical and vocational facilities. The government’s plan is to expand and diversify technical and vocational facilities to improve skills and meet emerging needs of the economy.

The main objective of the Marine Training Center (MTC) and the Fisheries Training Center is seen as providing effective and appropriate training for I-Kiribati man to acquire seamen skills and knowledge for overseas employment.

1.6 Quality of Life

Goal: To make available to all individuals and families the knowledge and skills require for Better Living.

2.EFA Strategy/Plan and Actions

The period 1990-95 has witnessed a concerted effort by the government to pool expert advice through donor assistance on different aspects of the education sector. Therefore, the EFA strategy in Kiribati can be said to be in a state of flux presently. The emerging proposals cover an array of EFA target dimensions, namely:

(i) a search for policy on ECD;

(ii) restructuring and qualitative improvements in the primary and secondary schooling;

(iii) reform of curriculum and teacher education;

and coordination of the non-formal education sector by the METT.

Concurrently, the government is acknowledging the question of collaboration amongst the key education providers in the country - the Government, Church organizations and the non-governmental organizations, in its developmental efforts. In the meantime, the Medium Strategic Plans remain the blueprint and the main vehicle for communicating Government’s plans on educational matters to the public and to its own Ministries.

These targets have been followed since 1995 and implementation is continuing.

3.EFA decision making and management

It appears that over the years Kiribati has moved towards greater centralization decision making on educational matters. It has, for example, only minimally used the officially established Education Committee; the last reported meeting being in 1987 (Sector Review, 1992). This is all the more significant when one notes that historically educational provision in the country has been a result of shared responsibility between the Government, the churches and more recently, other non-governmental organizations. This state of affairs to some extent is now being rectified through more efforts towards formulating long-term policies and plans, and updating the current legislation, i.e. Education Ordinance, 1977.

4.Cooperation in EFA

The collaboration between the Government and the non-government organizations has resulted in the pooling together of scarce resources in order to provide the school-age population with a reasonable level of access to education in the both urban and rural areas. Presently the Government looks after all primary schools. However, non-governmental organisations continue to lead at the secondary level. There are thirteen secondary schools of which three are government run.

However, with the limited economic capacity of the Government, there is a need to further mobilize all available resources not only for maintaining the present level of educational opportunities but also for bringing about urgent changes in the quality of formal and non-formal education.

The expected leadership from the Government, in particular from its senior officers, is at present very restricted due mainly to a very small establishment at this crucial management level. A Permanent Secretary and a small team of education officers are fully stretched with the routine tasks of maintaining the status quo. It needs to be stressed firmly that an enhanced capacity at the Ministry of Education in terms of human resources is vitally important at this stage of educational development in Kiribati. The level of cooperation amongst the various education providers would receive a boost once the Ministry establishes a high professional profile for itself through visibly strong leadership in all educational matters.

Other agencies that have cooperated with the Government include non-governmental organizations, United Nation bodies and the United States Peace Corp.

5.0 Investment in EFA since 1990

METT’s Recurrent Budget Relating to Basic Education For 1997-1999















Early Childhood Education
















Junior Secondary Schools
















METT’s Total Budget












Gov’t Total Budget













The figure relating to the Pre-School is included under ‘Support to Non Formal, Tertiary and Higher Education’. It is difficult to segregate the amounts relating to Pre-School activities only. However, it normally attracts about 10% of the total provision for Support to Non Formal and Higher Education budget. Provisions for this Output for the three years are $238239, $275755 and 493470 respectively.

The Government expenditure on education since 1988 has been constant at 7% of the national expenditure, rising to just over 8% in 1994 onwards.

Based on data for the years 1980-1990, the primary division has received 40% of the education budget. The trend continues.

Aid donors play an important role in education in Kiribati. According to the Sector Review (1992), estimated donor spending during 1993-1994 was in the vicinity of A$3.8 million of which 52.4% went for training, 15.9% for technical assistance, 8.5% for instructional materials and 23.2% for buildings and equipment. Aid funds per student were expended in the ratio of 1:26:994 for primary, secondary and tertiary levels respectively.

Other major external investments include funding from:

World Health Organization’s Health Promoting Schools, UNICEF Pre-school Project, UNFPA In-School Population Project, UNESCO Basic Education Life Skills Project, PEACE CORPS/Kiribati Education Project, AUDAID In-Country Training Project, AUSAID Education Sector Program, JAPAN Secondary School Classroom Project, NZODA Teacher Education Quality Improvement Project, UNITED STATES Humanitarian Primary School Classroom Project, UNESCO Regional Youth Project.

The internal investment or programs contributing to the EFA efforts represent an array of educational development activities through various governments and non-governments agencies that include the following:

Ministry of Education, Training and Technology programs and efforts;

Universal Primary and Junior secondary schooling, Expansion of senior secondary schooling, Diversification and increasing number of vocational programs, Institutionalizing pre-school, Junior secondary teacher training programs, Expansion and upgrading of primary teachers training program, Increasing teacher’s support services, Up grading the qualification of teacher educators, Promotion of language curriculum, Development of community support, Up grading and development of school facilities

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