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Part I Descriptive Section

Description of review process:

The report is a collective work done by the Education Department with associated Government, non-Government and the public agencies. The 1994 10 year plan was initiated by a public forum, ‘Education for Nauru Now and Beyond 2000". This was followed by a review by public forum in 1997 "Nauru Education for the 21st Century and subsequently by the National Economic and Development Summit held on the 24th to the 26th of February 1999. Goals and strategies have been put in place for 5 years to allow for the changing face and place of education.

Government and education departments [vocational training, trade and industry, youth affairs, health, justice department] NGO’s, the public and private sector, media, parents and students all have input into the report process.

UNESCO - Apia assisted by providing Mrs. Celia Barelle to help me with the preparation of this report, which is acknowledged with gratitude. The same goes to UNESCO - Apia who organised two Pacific EFA workshops, which enabled the report to be finalized and ready for presentation.

Several points were raised in discussions in public forums about how the education system is expected to respond by gearing its programmes to prepare its citizens to cope with the changing economic and social conditions of the country.


Nauru is an island Republic located 60km south of the equator. Its nearest neighbor is Banaba (Ocean Island) in the Republic of Kiribati, about 330km to the east. Its other bordering-neighbors are Marshall Islands to the north and Solomon Islands to the south. Its total land area is 21.square kilometers. It is 6 km in length and 4 km in width.

Nauru’s population is approximately 11,280 of which 8,280 are indigenous Nauruans and the remaining 3,000 non-Nauruans.

Over 80 years of phosphate mining caused about two thirds of the island to become uninhabitable. Dwellings are mainly on the coastal fringe as the central plateau has been badly affected by the mining.

Phosphate mining is the major industry, which the economy largely depends on. However, smaller and alternative industries are developing into more prominence, such as Fisheries, now that the phosphate is close to depletion.

Education is compulsory for children from six to fifteen years of age (Year 1 to Year 10). The formal education system has two Early Childhood levels, namely, Pre-school and Preparatory School, with Early Childhood Play School, which is more or less an informal level for three year olds. The next level is the Primary level for six years, fromYear one to Year six. Secondary is next for four years and two non-compulsory levels of Year 11 and Year 12. Formal tertiary education is done off-island.

Table 1. Human Development & Economic Indicators

Human Development & Economic Indicators

Social Indicators  
Total population (mid-1999) estimate 11,280
Nauruan population 8,280
Non-Nauruan population 3000
Average population density,- estimated 535per kmē
Total fertility rate 1992 – 1995 4.4%
Infant mortality rate, 1991 – 1993 12.5%
Life expectancy at birth, Nauruan population, 1991 – 1993





57.6 years

(53.4 years)

(61.2 years)

Economic Indicators

+GDP per capita, 1998 US$3450
+Labour in formal employment 56%
+Women as % formal employment 41%
*Expenditure on Education as % GDP 10.72%
*Expenditure on Health as % GDP 9.56%

Source:1999 Pacific Human Development Report, UNDP

+ 1999 Nauru Population Profile, SPC

* Derived by Bureau of Statistics Nauru from ADB statistics

At the time of the Jomtien Conference in 1990 the Government of Nauru was not a member of UNESCO and had a fragmented system of education.

In line with community aspirations and national objectives and needs the National Education Policy was, and remains:

To provide opportunities for all Nauruans to gain knowledge and skills to contribute constructively to the community and economic development of Nauru. To contribute to the Nauruan society, identity and pride based on a foundation of obedience to God; respect for each other; loyalty to the State, its President and [traditional] leaders.

In 1994 the Department of Education, in consultation with the public and other Government departments/agencies, through a public seminar on the theme of "Education for Nauru Now and Beyond 2000"set the broad direction of Nauru for the next ten years to give a quality Nauruan Education System from which all Nauruan children may:-

– gain knowledge of skills so that they may contribute productively to the community and the economic development of the country, and

  • contribute to the preservation of Nauruan society, Nauruan identity and pride.

This report aims to assess the effectiveness of the stated 10- year plan, viewing the implementation of the initiatives stated, whether by the public or private sector, in and out of school. To the forefront must be the requirements and needs of education in this ever changing, technological and complex world.

1 EFA Goals and Targets

To achieve these objectives, the Education System on Nauru is committed to life long education with particular emphasis on:

1.1 Early Childhood Education

1.1.1 To provide up to 2 years of Early Childhood Education.

This goal was chosen to enable students have a head start to their primary education ensuring better standards.

1.1.2 To facilitate growth in all areas of the child’s development-socially, emotionally, physically, cognitively and culturally.

This goal is included as part of the universally accepted education goal.

1.1.3 To support the quality of family life, respecting the uniqueness of each family’s composition and cultural background.

This goal was chosen to promote family values and recognise and respect the multicultural background of modern Nauruan families, which is quickly changing the racial and ethnic make-up of families brought about by intermarriages between Nauruans and other nationalities. Nauru also has a huge percentage of its population of other races who reside in Nauru as expatriate workers.

1.1.4 To provide a meeting ground for parents and families where people feel acceptance, understanding and support.

This goal was chosen to highlight the importance of Early Childhood Centres and infant schools as friendly meeting places for everyone.

1.1.5 To advocate for Early Childhood Education and encourage the wider community to become involved in this process.

This goal was chosen to get the parents and those in the community to be actively involved because of the lack of interest in children’s education.

1.1.6 To review and strengthen the professional performance of teachers and curriculum in the Early Childhood area.

It had been identified that the standard of literacy, numeracy and education in general in Nauru is lower than other island countries in the region. So their needs to be a commitment to the improving professional performance of teachers and curriculum at that level so that a reasonable and comparable standard is set as early as possible in a child’s life.

1.2 Primary

1.2.1 To develop a national education policy with an agreed 'statement of purpose' for Nauruan education and to define and document a 'Nauruan' education system which has the national interest and well being of the citizens as its main priorities.

This goal is set in response to the need to update and develop the education system including the primary level, not only that it is relevant but also serves the changing needs and those of the future.

1.2.2 To move toward a single teaching service committed to equal opportunities for all Nauruan young people to have quality education.

This goal is to ensure that all schools on the island, including private, are provided out of a single service with common teaching conditions and set standards.

1.2.3 To develop common curricula in the core subjects and a Nauruan assessment and award system that has credibility and respect with employers and the community.

This goal seeks to address the issue of a fragmented school based curriculum which has proven difficult to maintain due to high turn over rate of teachers. Furthermore, it attempts to unify the standard of education making it possible for a national certificate and award system to be put in place.

1.2.4 To review the Primary curriculum.

There was a desire for a review of subject relevance with regard to national, cultural, social and economic needs.

1.2.5 To review scope and sequence for all core subjects at all levels of the education system.

The primary schools curriculum needs to be updated and made relevant to Nauru’s needs and situation.

1.3 Learning Achievement and Outcomes

1.3.1 To provide 3 years of Junior and 3 years of Senior Primary schooling; 3 years of Junior and up to 3 years of Senior (including technical and vocational education) Secondary schooling.

This goal was set to emphasise formal stages of educational attainment in sectors.

1.3.2 To provide a common curriculum in key learning areas.

This goal was to enable a common curriculum for all schools on the island which students can follow as being universal (national).

1.3.3 To provide an assessment (examination) and award system of a uniform type for all schools in the country.

This goal was set to enable students to be commonly assessed at various points in their primary and secondary education with certificates awarded to mark their achievements.

1.3.4 To uphold and implement a bilingual system of education in which the Nauruan language is the National Language, though (at the same time) the English language is not to be neglected.

This goal was set to strengthen and ensure the survival of the Nauruan language and that it was believed that Nauruans, being more comfortable with their own language, would understand and perform better in their studies.

1.3.5 To offer selective scholarship opportunities in secondary education for those who are capable and qualified to undertake such study.

This goal was set to ensure that students given scholarships have achieved in school and are capable of succeeding.

1.3.6 To provide the professional support to the secondary schools and equipping them with better qualified and experienced teachers.

This goal recognizes the need to improve the standards at secondary level by ensuring that better qualified and experienced teachers are recruited, and increasing the professional support.

1.3.7 To provide student appraisal systems by recognising exceptional achievement and to encourage underachievers through awards and rewards.

This goal is set in the hope that students would be encouraged to perform better and achieve..

1.4 Adult Literacy

No specific EFA goals were set for adult literacy. The emphasis has been on the development of quality learning at all levels of Nauru’s education systems in order to promote adult literacy.

It has been a concern that literacy and numeracy standards are generally low among students on average. This problem has been observed to escalate as students move up through the year levels. It is generally believed that because students do not have a firm foundation in their education from infant and primary school they fall further and further behind each year as they move up. The factors that are causing this problem are complicated and cannot be attributed to a single cause. This literacy trend that is prevalent in schools normally is carried over to the adult population. Although illiteracy is not a problem for Nauru it is the level of literacy that is a concern.

1.4.1 To utilise the expertise of the Institute of Education at the University of the South Pacific with its Basic Education and Literacy Support programme in raising levels of literacy in the infant and primary schools.

Even though this goal is targeted at the school level it is hoped that in the longer run it would have a positive effect on the secondary schools and later the adult population.

1.4.2 To ensure that all students are literate in English and Nauruan.

1.5 Educational Training and Skills

1.5.1 To commit to a human resource development programme that aims to provide quality education with Nauruan personnel in key teaching and management positions.

This goal is set in response to the need to localise key teaching and management positions in the education department and to ensure that appointees are qualified to occupy the positions.

1.5.2 To review the courses and curriculum currently available at the Nauru Vocational Training Centre (NVTC).

The courses at the Nauru Vocational Training Centre have not been reviewed formally to assess their relevancy and appropriateness in this age of technology.

1.5.3 To expand the variety of courses and subjects on offer at the Nauru Vocational Training Centre.

Because of the changing economic conditions and the government’s wish to strengthen the private sector it is necessary for Nauru Vocational Training Centre to expand the variety of coursse to provide for other trades and careers.

1.5.4 For Nauru Vocational Training Centre to work in collaboration with the University of the South Pacific Extension Centre to fully utilize the courses offered there and to complement its own.

As part of the previous goal it has been identified that because of NVTC’s limited resources and personnel, it is necessary to look to the bigger institution, the University of the South Pacific Extension Centre, for relevant courses that could be used to supplement and complement NVTC’s own courses.

1.5.5 To provide pre-vocational, vocational and technical training and life skills courses.

This general goal refers to and includes all levels of the education system to gearing their courses to prepare the students for vocational and technical training and life after formal schooling.

1.5.6 To build both efficiency and flexibility into the education system so that it will meet the changing human and economic needs of Nauru.

This goal is set to ensure that the education system is sensitive to the economic conditions and trends.

1.5.7 To introduce a course in Business and Enterprise that will allow students gain business skills to run their own private businesses.

This specifically addresses the need to provide business and enterprise training for students. The aim in to equip them with the necessary skills to undertake their own private businesses rather than depending on the government for employment.

1.6 Education for Better Living

1.6.1 To promote healthy lifestyles through school programmes and activities.

Government’s desire to have a healthy population requires an early preparation of future citizens and that is to have them educated and trained at an early age.

1.6.2 To promote sports and recreational activities for students and young people.

It is important that people are trained into positive behaviours that will keep them fit and at the same time enjoy sports and recreational activities. There is a need for Nauruans to be active in competitive sports.

1.6.3 To introduce in the Science Curriculum an Environment Education component.

Environment education is an appropriate inclusion as part of the science curriculum as Nauru is an environment disaster with the negative effect of the prolonged phosphate mining on the island.

1.6.4 To introduce prevention and corrective measures to offset the adverse social effects of modernisation.

It has been identified that the speed at which new things are introduced and absorbed by the young people has caused certain social problems and there is need for immediate correction.

1.6.5 The introduction of special educational and youth activities to enrich the school system and target young people at risk from unemployment or lack of a life direction.

Generally, students and youth potentially at risk from unemployment and lack of life direction need to be handled carefully with interesting and less academic subjects, which are equally educationally enriching as well.

2 EFA Strategy and/or Plan of Action

It needs to be understood that Nauru is a small population of 11,280 souls, where everything that happens is universally known. The achievement of the EFA goals and strategies occur from the initiative and good will of many agencies, official and voluntary, mainly under the auspices of the Department of Education. Public Seminars in 1994, 1997 and 1999 have formulated policy and reviewed strategy. Copies of the seminar findings and recommendations were distributed to all agencies and throughout the community.

2.1 Early Childhood Education

Community awareness of the value of Early Childhood Education by developing and fostering positive relationships with other services in the communication.

All early childhood play centres and schools to set up Parents and Citizens Associations to participate in the institutions’ activities as well as providing inputs in some decisions.

Encouraging parents to feel a part of their child’s early development by becoming involved with the centre in any way they feel comfortable.

All staff have an understanding of Child Development, Preschool, Early Childhood Education and skill in teaching at the level, through taking part in training, qualification upgrading, in-service training, workshop programs.

Include basic life skills and values as a component of the ECE curriculum.

Promote equal opportunity, regardless of sex or race.

2.2 Primary

To enable a review of the primary curriculum it was planned that a taskforce comprising teachers and professional staff of the Department of Education would be set up.

With regard to common assessment and award systems it was planned that the Department of Education would work with the South Pacific Board of Educational Assessment (SPBEA) to help design and develop an assessment system that would work for Nauru. A certificate is to be inaugurated

To ensure that a single teaching service is achieved, government would be expected to negotiate with the Catholic school, the only private school on the island, which employs its own teachers but with heavy government subsidy on their salaries, to unify the teaching service.

The National Economic and Development Summit (NEDS) saw the need:

2.3 Learning Achievements and Outcomes

Basic learning needs have been identified. There is a need for:

Facilities for a Special Education programme to teach students with special needs, a handicap or a talent.

The setting up of a learning and caring centre for the disabled and handicapped members of the community.

University of the South Pacific will be used to train specialist teachers for the above.

An employment and business opportunity centre to be established with a purpose of providing services in counseling, guiding, and channeling job seekers and business men and women toward prospective employment opportunities and business prospects, respectively.

Nauru needs to promote learning if it is to develop itself to a standard comparable to the rest of the region, or the world for that matter. It needs to develop a learning culture, which is not evident at the moment. We have not quite developed in our society this way of life. Motivation seems to be a significant factor for this problem. This indeed will be a mammoth task of reconditioning the whole society, but it is possible. The problem may be tackled by breaking down shyness barriers using promotion and publicising technics. NGOs may be utilised as partners in tackling the problem.

2.4 Adult Literacy

Conduct evening classes for the general public in reading and writing skills.

Collaborative effort by government, University of the South Pacific and other agencies in organizing and conducting short courses such as English, reading and writing classes.

Re-establish a public library to enable the public access to library books that would assist in book and literary promotion. This would also serve as a recreational activity for some people.

2.5 Educational Training Skills

The need has been identified to work in collaboration with the University of the South Pacific Centre and Non-Government Organizations in organizing and facilitating formal and non-formal educational and training courses and workshops. These are aimed at re-skilling, skill strengthening and learning of new and currently appropriate skills for the retrenched, the disabled/handicapped and those hoping to change or improve career prospects, or those who are opportunity-prospecting either in employment or business.

In order to prepare for the post phosphate era and the master rehabilitation plan, skilled manpower is needed.

NVTC is to expand its courses to cater for the skills that would be needed for the rehabilitation programme, which would require mechanics to civil engineers with reasonable level of skill.

The NEDS Summit saw the need:

To educate and train the nation’s manpower to a standard of skills that is comparable and recognised internationally.

To promote and facilitate post-secondary and tertiary education and training for employment and enterprise.

Eleven teachers graduated with degrees in January 1995 bringing to a close the RMIT Teacher Upgrade Programme. A teacher-training programme in conjunction with the USP commenced in February 1995 and additional inputs have been made to upgrade staff qualifications and performance.

2.6 Education for Better Living

Preliminary work on a 5 year development plan has been undertaken.

The Youth Affairs section expanded its role into special interest workshops and programmes. A sport recreation activities officer was appointed and a more comprehensive sport and recreational activity programme was introduced. The Nauru Vocational Training Centre was established to develop and deliver a wide range of vocational training opportunities.

Vocational Studies is to become an important component of the Senior Secondary curriculum.

Promoting Healthy Schools Programme.

All schools to be health promoting. As part of the promotion, Health is to be taught as a subject at all levels and to be an examinable subject.

3 EFA Decision-making and Management

There was no specific body set up for the follow up of the EFA goals and strategies as those who had experienced the decision making process in 1994/5 are still closely aligned with all the progress being made and the situation is self monitored. This self-monitoring culminated in the public forums held in 1997 and again in February of this year which enabled all groups and individuals to make submissions with regard to national policy.

By default, the responsibility of decision-making and management of EFA falls back on the Department of Education.

4 Cooperation In EFA

The government is the major provider of education and training but recently there has been a notable increase of involvement from other agencies and organizations, local and abroad based. The activities are often cooperative in nature with programmes, technical and financial assistance.

Basic and general education and training services are provided and financed by the government. The community as a whole has an input into the goals and strategies. In addition, the government receives assistance from various other countries and agencies, NZODA, UNESCO, AusAID, and JICA and NGO’s.

4.1 Multilateral Organisations

With Nauru recently becoming a member of UNESCO it saw a number of new initiatives with huge benefits gained from projects and training workshops.

Such projects as Associated Schools Project (ASP) which involves selected schools and UNEVOC, which Nauru recently became part of, and is increasing its activities of assistance to the vocation training centre.

UNESCO assists with country Participation Programmes (PP) for improvement and maintenance of culture, technology, communication and education. It also organises training workshops for education and culture, which we are currently benefiting from.

Other organisations have contributed and are continuing to contribute to education and training. WHO has contributed immensely by organising and conducting training workshops on health promotion and several projects for the improvement of quality of life for the people. It was also instrumental in assisting with the healthy island programme, which vision was embodied in the Yanuca Declaration (1995). Born out of this is the Health Promoting Schools project with all Nauruan schools participanting.

Commonwealth Secretariat has contributed with organising a series of development programmes working directly with the young people through the Youth Affairs division.

4.2 Bilateral Organisation

Other cooperative efforts in EFA are specific organisations which have arranged bilateral agreements with Nauru for certain projects and education and training programmes and schemes to be undertaken and conducted.

AusAID, NZODA, JICA currently assist in capacity building, with direct programmes and various other indirect assistance through third parties, which usually are recognised by, and are already associated with, with government departments in specific projects.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) also assists with some projects aimed at capacity building in areas of agriculture and other social and economic self-sustainable activities. The most important cooperation is the RON-ROC Housing project to commence soon which will help ease the prevalent housing problem.

4.3 Regional Institutions

There are other organisations and institutions that are regionally based which are just as important and valuable partners as the bigger ones in the effort towards capacity building and EFA.

South Pacific Board of Educational Assessment (SPBEA) contributes with assessment administration as well as certification. It also offers advisory and consultancy services to the department.

USP and its various institutes also deal directly with affiliated government departments with education and training and other social and economic development projects.

SPC and the Forum Secretariat are also involved in organising capacity building workshops and sponsoring specific projects on education, HRD, youth and environment.

Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisation (PIANGO) is also involved in organising and conducting workshops to educate and train grass-root people through their respective organisations.

4.4 Community Involvement

Local organisations and interest groups also organise and conduct various educational and training activities for the all age groups.

Their participation is together with the general public and government in a series of public seminars to review and determine Nauru’s direction for Education and other important social activities.

Table 2



Target Group



Seminar Education for Nauru Community 10 Year Plan
1997 Seminar Nauru Ed for the 21stC Community Progress of 10Yr plan + revision
1999 Seminar Nat Ec & Dev Summit Community Revision of above

Annexes 1.2.3


Source: Department of Education, Nauru

5.3 Investment in EFA

5.1 Government

The government is the major investor in educational activities, particularly the formal sectors of education, Pre-school to Year 12. Government is also responsible for vocational training, teacher training and nursing training. Because of the lack of local tertiary institutions scholarships are awarded for overseas studies.

There are other institutions and organisations that sponsor specific education and training activities for various purposes on island and off-island. These organisations are local as well as based overseas..

Annual budgetary provisions are made to finance formal and some non-formal educational and training activities. Even though the allocation for education over the last seven years shows an irregular trend, its share of the national budget was more or less predictable. It share of the national budget is making a gradual increase. Of course it is difficult to get any trend at this stage while the country is undergoing economic reform.

The table and graph over show budget allocations over the last seven years, financial year 92/93 to 98/99. Please, note that the figures are approved allocations only and not actual expenditures.

Figure 1

Source: Department of Education, Nauru

Nauru, in recent years, has committed between 6% and 8% of its budget to education. Of this 6 to 8% one third has been directed to scholarship students (overseas). It is proposed that by the year 2000 [as part of the commitment to Human Resource Development] Nauru will target 25% of its recurrent budget allocated to education and training, of which not more than 10% is directed towards overseas scholarship expenses.

For financial year 1997-1998 the budget allocation is 5,928,600 of which Early Childhood Education gained 18.7%, Primary Education gained 30.5%, Secondary Education with 30.8% and Post Secondary Education with 13% and the remaining 7% went to the Education Central Administration. It should be noted that the share for Secondary Education and Post Secondary Education was boosted by allocations for scholarship for secondary students and tertiary as well as teacher training which have been included in calculations of those sectors concerned. Overseas scholarships are offered for study in Australia and some in Fiji.

Allocation to education does not quite give us the real expenditure that was incurred out of the budget. Actual expenditure is sometimes less and this is due to various problems encountered such as difficulty in securing funds.

Public expenditure in education

The actual expenditure over the last ten years is indicated in the tables below.

Table 3







Source: Department of Education

The chart below shows the share by which each education sector is allotted.

Figure 2


Source: Department of Education

The $5,884,300 budget request for the 1998-99 financial year reflects the economic difficulties that Nauru is experiencing.

5.2 Development Partners

Other than the government, organisations via bilateral or multilateral agreement do invest in some form of education and training for Nauruans.

AusAID is the major investor in education through its scholarship schemes and sponsorship of specific capacity building programmes. Others include JICA, UNESCO, WHO, SPC and the Pacific Forum.

There are other sponsorship funds available for utilisation, which Nauru can still gain access too.

5.3 NGOs

There are some NGOs that sponsor specific education and training programmes. The Teaching the Pacific Forum project (TTPF) which assists in teacher training for History and Social Science and in developing a pacific history textbook. This funded by the Sakagawa Foundation of Japan.

Other NGO sponsorship comes from various other sources from abroad such as PIANGO and the local version NIANGO.

Church and some special interest groups also contribute in some way or another by sponsoring some educational and programmes or related activities

5.4 Private Sector

Very little activity coming from the private sector with regard to investment in education and training as this sector is very small and still being developed by government as part of its privatisation programme. There are, however, small fragmented contribution in way of small sponsorship of achievements of students and schools as part of their assistance in the form of promotion.

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