|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
Part III Prospects
11 Policy Directions for the Future Way Forward
In line with community aspirations and national needs expressed at the recent public forum, otherwise known as the National Economic and Development Summit held on the 24th to the 26th of February 1999, the Department of Education has redirected its focus and is in the process of redefining its area of focus with attention to points of concern raised in discussions.
The education system is expected to respond by gearing its programmes that will prepare its citizens to cope with the changing economic and social conditions of the country.
At the National Economic and Development Summit held in February of this year the point was stressed that Nauru could no longer live on the overseas investments from the days of phosphate mining. There will consequently be drastic changes to consumption levels, individual and community attitudes and the way of life of most Nauruans. It was also stated that there is no cultural background for private enterprise in Nauru so training and exposure to commercial experience is needed to equip suitable Nauruans for a business career in competition with foreign owned enterprises. Nauru has yet to show that it can come to grips with the problem of adjusting to reality after many years of prosperity. Education will be required to assist the community to come to terms with this adjustment.
Unemployment, breakdown of family life and juvenile delinquency are closely linked. People may be unemployed because they do not want to work or because they cannot find work. Both apply to Nauru and both have to be tackled in a healthy society. Attitudes to work have to change through education and training and jobs have to be created in genuinely productive activities in a more diversified economy. Nauruan culture and society is under strain in transition to an uncertain future and those most at risk are the young, who, with the changing attitudes of the day do not have the full understanding of their cultural heritage to support them.
At the summit the following vision for education was presented:
The education sector assumes higher priority for the Government. All Nauruans are literate in Nauruan and English and computer literate in an age of technology. Schools are properly equipped and maintained. Parents and teachers collaborate effectively towards education for all. Vocational educational and USP equips young Nauruans for worthwhile employment and enterprise. Locally acquired qualifications are recognised locally and abroad. Computer literacy is widespread
During the summit the following issues were discussed which resulted in a number of findings which will have to be addressed in the ongoing policies for the next five years.
It was found that the education system is failing to produce Nauruans competent to deal with the future. There is a lack of continuity, relevance and culturally appropriate curriculum which all combine to contribute to academic failure, loss of identity and sense of purpose.
Schools and training facilities are dilapidated and poorly equipped. There is a need for the Education Department to provide a more responsive, economic and productive service to schools and programmes.
Significant numbers of Nauruans are illiterate in English and have a poor command of Nauruan.
Collaboration between teachers and parents is intermittent. There is over-reliance on a Government to provide education for children that lacks the sufficient human and financial resources to deliver it. A combination of shared vision, better management and collaboration and more effective mobilisation of public resources can correct this. A concerted effort is required by all concerned, inclusive of the Governments higher prioritisation of the education sector.
Teachers have a great responsibility for young people and need to see themselves as professionals, taking pride in their work. Regular assessment of teachers, with upgrade training wherever necessary, can help to raise standards.
A sound careers development programme, decent working and study conditions and qualifications based structures are important to motivate both teachers and students. A concern was expressed about the student retention rate.
Parents need to enhance their respect and support for teachers and provide greater voluntary help to schools, both individually and on a community basis. Parents and Citizens Associations should be strengthened. Parents must encourage their children to attend school and do homework
The University of the South Pacific is a valuable source of distance leaning, study facilities and contact with other countries and institutions. Nauru needs to encourage further development and expansion of the centers physical and human capabilities.
Adult and community education should play a major role in raising skill levels and strengthening national and personal self-respect.
Training and education opportunities offered by Naurus development partners should be utilised as much as possible.
There needs to be a concerted effort in promoting and encouraging greater participation in ongoing education and training for all, not just children and young people but the older members of the community as well as those who lack basic education or have a disability. Cooperative effort between community interest groups and government departments and agencies, especially, Education Department and the Youth Affair Department need to be strengthened to facilitate life long education and training for all.
The above must be taken into consideration when the policy directions for the future are formulated. However past goals and strategies must also be continued to be put in to place as the failure to implement some of these previous goals has led to the concern expressed as to the direction of the Nauruan Community.
If Nauru is serious about getting the country back into proper economic alignment once more, then investment in education needs to be a priority. It must be acknowledged that education and training is an important vehicle in providing the future leadership, industry and achievement of the nation. The Department of Education is the means by which the future progress of Nauru can be assured. As the service slogan carried on the letter-head openly and proudly promotes, Department of Education - "Preparing Nauru for Tomorrow". To this end, the department intends to devote its effort and money in preparing Naurus future citizens for the betterment of the nation.
Efforts of the department will be heavily centred on promoting, foremost, its national education system from Early Childhood to Tertiary level. The recurrent budget is reflective of this concept. It shows a shift in budget allocation, indicating a constant increase in funds per student capita for the local education system with a decrease in Scholarships for School and Trade..
The government should aim at making formal education from 5 to 18 years compulsory, that is education from Prep to Year 12. This will ensure students are fully educated to a higher level that is at of current. This will also ensure that students get fully prepared for tertiary or technical and vocational training.
Non-formal education and training need to be provided for the illiterate as well as semi-illiterate. Efforts and performances would need to be recognised by an official award and certificate system that is recognised by employers.
Nauruan Education System
Numerous research papers on the effects of schooling indicate quite consistently that the school a student attends makes a difference to that students educational attainment. The type of school is a significant contributing factor. Therefore, it is of vital importance that our schools are fully equipped with the proper facilities, equipment, resources and, of course, quality teachers.
Increase in Student Population:
Student population continues to rise, at all schools and levels, stretching the already limited resources and facilities. Over crowding in schools and classes will eventually affect student performances. This situation should not be allowed to continue in its current trend. The department is in the business of creating and maintaining environments in which learning is maximised, and it is doing everything possible to ensure this philosophy is applied.
Congestion in Schools:
Schools are bursting at the seams with increasing retention rates of Year one students in the infant schools. Yaren and Aiwo schools are both suffering heavy congestion in addition to accommodating Denig students. In time the construction of the new Denig primary school will be a solution to the problem of increasing school population and conjestion.
There is difficulty in securing land sites for new schools so therefore no provision for new schools can be considered. The department will, however, continue to search for alternative sites for future schools.
The other option on which the Department is currently working is the full utilisation of Kayser College. This co-operative work between Kayser College and the department is aimed at attracting Catholic students in Government schools back to Kayser, easing crowding in Government schools.
It is acknowledged that there will need to be incentives in order to attract students back to Kayser. Therefore the level of professional and resource assistance to the college will need to be increased to make the school an attractive proposition.. Both Kayser and the department will issue the invitation to Catholic parents to have their children re-enrolled at Kayser.
Promoting a Learning Culture
Nauru does not have a learning culture. This way of life has not yet been developed in the society. Motivation seems to be a significant factor for this. The department recognises the mammoth task of reconditioning the whole society, but it is not a too ambitious idea. The department hopes to tackle this problem by breaking down shyness barriers using promotion and publicising techniques.
The curriculum must be geared towards the changing economic, social conditions and needs of the country, as well as coping with living through the Post Phosphate, and Rehabilitation eras. At the same time it must prepare Naurus citizens to be effective contributors to the economic and social development of the nation.
The learning of the Nauruan language, history and culture must be emphasized in the curriculum at all year levels in addition to the teaching of accepted values, attitudes and the promotion of good morals and ethics.
Here is a need to introduce a Police Education Program as part of the Social Studies curriculum, to help promote law enforcement and law obedience among students, hence, greater appreciation and respect for the law and police.
The hope for career counselling and guidance to students has not quite been realized but it is important to strive for this now that it has become more difficult to get a job from the public service. Students need to be assessing their options very carefully.
It is necessary to work in collaboration with the University of the South Pacific Centre and Non-Government Organisations. Organising and facilitating formal and non-formal educational and training courses and workshops for 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.
To provide facilities for a Special Education programme to teach students with special needs either with a handicap or talent.
To set up a learning and caring centre for the disabled and handicapped students.
It is acknowledged that there is a need for the education system to contribute to the preservation of the identity of Nauruan culture by having language, culture and tradition as part of the formal school programme. The research of Nauruan culture should be initiated by the Education Department in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism so that information and icons can be collected for permanent record.
The education system and its administration is moving towards 3/4 localisation rate. Wherever possible, appropriately trained and qualified Nauruan personnel are recruited to key positions within the department. Although most key positions are held in acting capacities only, Nauruans are nonetheless gaining enough experience and confidence in the carrying out of their duties. An employment and business opportunity centre should be established with the purpose of providing services in counselling, guiding, and channelling job seekers and business men and women toward prospective employment opportunities and business prospects, respectively.
There has been a slight shift of the supply of contracted teachers employed by the department. A drop in the number of Australian teachers recruited with more recruitment from Fiji is the trend. The area of recruitment should be diversified to ensure variety and standards are maintained. The secondary schools will continue to rely on ex-patriot teachers well into the next millennium because of the specialized subject areas that are taught at that level. Qualified local teachers from the primary section will be given an option to cconsider becoming secondary teachers. They will need to do in-service training and upgrades through the USP Extension Center or by taking training overseas, eventually.
The quality of education will depend on the quality of the personnel employed to teach and develop the young people of the nation. While considerable effort has been made in recent years, there has to be an on-going commitment to have Nauruan teaching staff gain the qualifications and experience for the future development and strengthening of the education system. The strategy requires training in specialist areas, local training in general areas and the professional development of all education staff.
Overseas teacher training is still necessary even with the set up of the Nauru Teacher Training Center. Studies will be undertaken at institutions in the region or in some exceptional cases where specialist training is required, at a suitable Australian institution.
It is the intention to take a number of initiatives in the professional areas to address existing and emerging needs on Nauru. These initiatives will begin to address the community concern at the level of youth unemployment, standards in Nauruan schools, cultural deprivation, early
childhood education, the need to have improved supervision and inspection of schools and individual programmes and the needs of children with physical and/or mental impairment.
The department has a certain level of obligation to address educational and training needs of youth, without venturing further than that so as not to duplicate the work of the Youth Affairs Section. Youth preparation shall begin at secondary school level and finish at the Vocational Training Centre with specific projects.
Vocational Studies will become, once more, an important component of the Senior Secondary curriculum. Financial resources are sought to establish a suitable vocational training centre to replace the industrial arts rooms allocated to the Nauru Olympic Committee.
It is necessary to support existing activities regarding standards of literacy and numeracy which must be improved and strengthened. Work on the improvement of the curriculum is to be supported with resources and professional assistance drawn locally or from overseas. There is a need to maintain comprehensive and well-stocked libraries in all primary, secondary and post-secondary schools and centers. Schools are to be provided with the necessary plant, equipment, furniture and stores.
School reviews/inspections are needed to ensure that teachers meet their obligations in attendance and performance.
Nauru will be looking for future goals and strategies to be economic-health sensitive and to be able to provide urgent basic requirements for the department to operate effectively. The department aims to continue running positive programs to raise the standard of education and vocational awareness in Nauru into the next millennium.