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PART II - Analytic Sections (Covering the decade 1990 - 1999)

6. Progress towards goals and targets

Through the commitments the Government has made to international conventions and declarations, in particular those outlined below; the Government has also recognized the following national goals in relation to education.

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Kiribati ratified the CRC on 12 December 1995, thereby making a commitment to the child’s right to education. Article 28 of CRC establishes that right. Education is recognized to be essential for all children. The article stresses the right must be achieved on the basis of equal opportunity". This in summary includes:

International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)

Kiribati endorsed the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in September 1994. As such, the Government pledged:

Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development

Kiribati was a signatory to 1995 Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and thereby, pledged their commitment to the rights and goals relating to education that are contained in this declaration. In summary these are:

6.1 Early Childhood Development

With the establishment of a Non-Formal Section in the METT in 1993, ECD has only lately come directly under the government’s focus. A policy on ECD is being developed jointly by this section of METT and the non-governmental organizations, which have so far played a major role in introducing and sustaining the ECD initiative in the country. The METT identified the Early Childhood Development as one of principal aspects of EFA that had seen significant progress in recent years but one which has had a minimal intervention by the Government.

Early Childhood Development saw a dramatic increase in the number of centers and pupils between 1990 and 1995 as indicated below (Table 1).

 

1990

1995 1999 (estimate)

 

Centers

Children

Centers

Children

Centers

Children

URBAN

5

100

33

636

95

1800

RURAL

Nil

Nil

106

2000

150

2500

Table 1: 1990, 1995 Pre-School Enrolment.

Source: Ministry of Education, Training and Technology, Tarawa

Though still in infancy, the success story in ECD in Kiribati during its initial stages is one of collaboration between UNICEF, the University of the South Pacific (USP), local women organizations, parents and the education authorities (METT). UNICEF is unequivocally credited with the leadership in the ECD initiative in Kiribati by all concerned.

The METT has focused on training pre-school teachers during the past two years and since 1996 is offering a one year certificate course at KTC. Assisted through external funding, a four-year project (1992-1995) has trained twenty teachers from South Tarawa and the following outer islands: Kuria, Aranuka, Nonouti, Tabiteuea North and South, Beru and Abemama. Since then a series of workshop for pre school teachers had been conducted on all the outer islands mainly in the Gilbert group A national Pre-School conference was also successfully held which attracted twenty participants from the outer islands and fifty from South Tarawa. The project activities has helped promote an awareness of the importance of Early Childhood Development and as a result created a conducive environment for increased parental and community support and commitment to it. This year 1999, an education team comprised METT’s officials, KTC lectures and BELS resource persons including a pre-school trainer are visiting Christmas island in the remote line group to conduct series of workshops.

 

Roll

No 3-5yr

%

Makin

70

210

33.3

Butaritari

120

435

27.5

Marakei

20

285

7.0

Abaiang

40

477

8.3

Tarawa

1000

3810

26.3

Maiana

206

195

105.0

Kuria

20

108

18.5

Abemama

140

298

47.0

Arorae

40

96

41.6

Line Is

125

450

27.7

Aranuka

92

96

95.8

Nonouti

n.a

n.a

n.a

Tab North

140

334

41.9

Tab South

40

119

33.1

Nikunau

90

190

47.3

Beru

120

210

57.1

Onotoa

180

180

100.0

Tamana

20

37

114.6

Banaba

n.a

n.a

n.a

Table 2: Pre-school Enrolment Ratios by Island, 1990, Kiribati

Source: Ministry of Training and Technology, Tarawa

Based on the 1990 figures, one notes considerable variation in access across the islands (Table 2). While three islands have 100% enrolment ratios, there is a wide range between 95.8% to only 7% in the other islands. This is indicative of the early stages of development of Early Childhood Development in Kiribati.

Early Childhood Development in Kiribati also illustrates how the recipients of outside assistance are able to integrate and creatively adapt the skills and the intellectual resources made available to them in order to meet their needs, cutting freely across the formal and the non-formal education divide as the situation warrants. The METT in this case has very successfully combined resources gained from the University of the South Pacific’s Continuing Education and the BELS program to promote community support for both Early Childhood Development and primary education.

6.2 Primary Education

The primary school structure of classes 1 to 7, followed by senior primary classes 8 and 9 in some schools, has been followed up until now. However, the system is being re-structured in line with the 1992 Sector Review, which will see classes 1-6 as primary, followed by a three-year Junior Secondary, comprising forms 1-3. ). The resultant targets of the 1992 therefore have led to the implementation of the following;

(i) a restructuring of primary education system,

(ii) Improved quality of training provided at KTC through: General upgrading of professional qualifications of KTC lectures, increasing intake of students, strengthening capacity at KTC, formalizing pre school teachers training course, enhancing the output and quality of curriculum resource materials, developing suitable curriculum guidelines for parents to assist their children at home, improving existing teachers’ resource units and establishing new ones in the outer islands.

Recognizing the need to upgrade the pre-service and in-service education facilities and programs, Kiribati had in the recent years invited consultants to review this area (Singh, 1993; Dow et.al., 1995). These reviews have highlighted the need for urgent changes in the organizational and professional aspects of teacher education in the country. The 1995 consultants presented a fairly bleak picture.

Our estimate of the state of pre-service teacher education at Tarawa Teachers College is that it is probably at its lowest ebb in its forty-year history. Staff development has been almost non-existent and staff morale is critically low, much of the curriculum inappropriate for the I-Kiribati situation, teaching equipment and resources are inadequate, students appear to be underachieving, and most of the facilities are in need of repair or refurbishment. The aim of this project is to turn this state of affairs around so that in three years time TTC is well on its way to becoming a significant teacher education center in the Pacific region (page 2).

While one detects an element of ‘salesmanship’ in the above statement, nonetheless, it rings true and seems to be reflective of other areas as well, especially primary and ECD (1992 Education Sector Review). This has also contributed to the intervention of the current Teacher Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP) It also encouraged the government to institute affirmative action regarding gender equity in its staff review and raised the minimum entry requirement to PSSC by 1997 and the gradual upgrading of all its teacher training programs towards a Diploma in Education by 2002

The TEQIP has included support for organizational developments, curriculum development and resource provision for KTC and additional miscellaneous inputs for education in Kiribati. Staff development and organizational developments have been delivered through short term consultancies, work attachments and study support. These programs are part of the total effort of the government of Kiribati to revitalize the KTC and expanding the curriculum reform initiative to meet the needs of primary schools.

Historically, the provision of education in the country has evolved through a partnership, sometimes uncomfortable, between the government and the church organizations. While the church organizations were key providers of primary education during the colonial period, the government gradually took the lead and eventually control of all primary schools by 1990. Today the church organizations are concentrating on pre-school, secondary and the non-formal sub-sectors. Referring to this anticipated role by the church organizations, the Third Development Plan (1976) pointed out that -

pressure for secondary school places is likely to fall on the Mission and Church schools. Necessary assistance in the form of staff, facilities and education materials should be given to enable them to meet demand

(DP 3).

The BELS’ Contribution

Within the last 30 months of its operation, the BELS program has been able to provide in-service education to primary teachers in the eleven Pacific Island countries in the areas of classroom skills, literacy education and community support for education. It has also introduced and trained personnel in the Ministries of Education in the areas of Educational management and Information Systems, assessment and monitoring of education standards. An UNESCO computer software, EMIS and a regional literacy/numeracy test instrument, PILL tests, serve as essential resource for the above topics. On a more smaller scale, the program also uses Agricultural Education as a focal point for promoting curriculum development in the area of life skills education in the formal school system.

Kiribati has found BELS objectives merging well with it own goals of upgrading the skills of primary teachers in mathematics, language education and assessment. It has integrated components of BELS program into its teachers’ college and the non-formal education action plan.

Kiribati has benefited in adapting the BELS program in complimenting its national needs and priorities. Though there are certain amount of ‘slippage’ in meeting the planned commitments. BELS have contributed positively in this regard. However, the general endorsement of its capacity to accommodate Kiribati special needs and yet keep to its general objectives is evident from the continued support it is receiving from the government of Kiribati.

The BELS program recognizes Kiribati feature education systems that arise from its small size and the scattered nature of its islands. The situation in Kiribati illustrate the impact of smallness of this country in its operation in education - difficulties in reaching all schools due to inadequate means of transport and high costs, relative isolation of rural teachers and communities, and limited prospects for attaining economies of scale in producing textbooks and reading materials, especially in indigenous languages. Furthermore, in small states such as Kiribati, educational personnel are called upon to shoulder multiple roles. This places special demands on their professional skills, time and energy and inevitably results in limiting the areas of need that can be adequately dealt with at one time.

In this regard, regional programs such as BELS provide Kiribati with an opportunity to overcome isolation, attain a certain degree of economies of scale and benefit from specialist expertise and donor funding assistance, coordinated within the framework of a specified educational project. It must also be pointed out that there is a strong movement in Kiribati generally towards an emphasis on indigenous language, culture and values in education. The recent formulation of a bilingual policy in its medium term strategy is an example. It is hoped that the approach will foster greater community involvement and promote self-esteem among the school children with a positive impact on their learning achievement.

Kiribati is therefore profiting from fruitful collaboration between the government and non-government agencies and external institutions in promoting EFA goals.

Progress in primary education over the last five years has been steady. Beginning in 1990 the Government has followed a policy of primary school consolidation in rural areas in order to achieve economies of scale and reduce multi-class teaching. This has resulted in a reduction of the number of primary schools from 112 in 1989 to 92 in 1995 to 86 in 1999. The reduction has, however, only marginally affected the teacher-pupil ratio, which continues to be in the range of 29.2 to 31.3 between the 1990 - 1998 period.?

The net enrolment ratio for the 6-14 age group for 1990 was 81.1% and that for 1995 is 82.24%. and 1998 is ??% This is a slight improvement for this age group but it continues to show that some 3000 primary school children do not get to schools for reasons believed to be quite varied and hardly documented. The METT officials believe that the enforcement of the compulsory education regulation is now receiving more attention by the Island Councils and that the situation is likely to improve considerably in future.

 Year

1990

1991

1992

 Age

5

6

7

8

5

6

7

8

5

6

7

8

 Total

2,195

2,258

2,383

 New entrants by age

328

1,714

138

15

293

1,819

132

14

266

1,975

129

13

 Ratio %

15

78

6

1

13

80.5

5.8

0.6

11.1

82.8

5.4

0.7

 Year

1993

1994

1995

 Age

5

6

7

8

5

6

7

8

5

6

7

8

 Total

2,195

2,258

2,614

 New Entrants by Age

244

1.929

125

11

223

2,186

115

9

204

2,294

110

6

Ratio %

11

83

5

1

8.8

86.3

4.5

0.4

7.8

87.7

4.2

0.3

 Year

1996

1997

1998

 Age

5

6

7

8

5

6

7

8

5

6

7

8

 Total

2266

2360

2491

 New Entrants by Age

237

1979

5

45

184

1917

172

87

254

2004

190

43

Ratio %

10

87

0.1

0.2

7

81

7

3

10

80

0.7

0.2

Table 3: New Entrants to Class, Kiribati

Source: Ministry of Training and Technology, Tarawa

There is an increase of almost 10% in the number of 6 years olds entering class one today compared to the 1990 enrolment (Table 3). Interestingly, this also shows that more children are entering class one at the stipulated correct age of six and there is a corresponding decrease in both overage and underage entry at this point. Although not investigated, it seems likely that the decrease in the five year group entering class one is mainly due to the recent expansion of Early Childhood Development facilities in the country.

 

Urban

Rural

Total

Adult Population (1990)

Ratio%

27,580

38

44,346

62

71,926

100

Class 1-8

Ratio %

-

-

12

100

12

100

class 1-9

Ratio %

13

16.2

67

83.8

80

100

Total

Ratio %

13

14

79

86

92

100

 

Urban

Rural

Total

Adult Population (1995)

Ratio%

28118

36

49167

64

77658

100

Class 1-8

Ratio %

-

-

21

100

21

100

class 1-9

Ratio %

18

17.3

62

82.7

75

100

Total

Ratio %

18

13.5

83

86.5

96

100

 

 

Urban

Rural

Total

Adult Population (1998)

Ratio%

30036

36

52522

64

82558

100

Class 1-8

Ratio %

-

-

18

100

18

100

class 1-9

Ratio %

19

23.7

61

76.3

80

100

Total

Ratio %

19

19.4

79

80.6

98

100

Table 4: Rural - Urban Primary Schools and Adult Population, Kiribati

Source: Ministry of Education, Training and Technology, Tarawa.



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