Strengthening the Capacity of Teachers and Principals

One of the most significant factors in the provision of quality education outcomes in the Pacific is the shortage of certified and qualified teachers and principals.  This has resulted in low achievement levels for students particularly in literacy and numeracy.  Low levels of achievement in turn impact both on the education sector and on the long term future economic development of countries.  UNESCO Office for the Pacific States will be working on Capacity Development for Education for All (CapEFA) programmes in five Pacific Island countries to support the goals of Education for All (EFA) in 2012-2013.

Each of these five countries, Kiribati, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have identified through their national education plans and strategies that improving the quality of their teaching workforce is of utmost importance in order  to contribute towards increasing student achievement. 

Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have determined that the focus of their capacity development will be using the Pacific Professional Standards for School Principals (PPSSP) approved at the FEdMM (Forum Education Ministers Meeting) in Port Vila, Vanuatu, earlier this year.  There will be two workshops in each country.  The first workshop will run in conjunction with the Secretariat for the Pacific Board for Educational Assessment (SPBEA) and local education officials will look at the PPSSP and develop standards for principals that are relevant for each particular country.  This will be followed up with a capacity building workshop with the support of both UNESCO and SPBEA.  In Kiribati the programme will also be supported by AusAID.

Samoa and the Solomon Islands have slightly different priorities.  Samoa has identified the lack of qualified secondary science teachers as a major concern.  The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture is working with the National University of Samoa with support from UNESCO to develop an in-service course for secondary science teachers which will be conducted early in 2013 by lecturers at the National University of Samoa. The in-service will target both teachers’ content knowledge and their pedagogical content knowledge.  Currently the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Department in the Solomon Islands is planning to continue with in-service professional development for teachers in two more provinces with the aim of increasing the number of teachers with certification.  The work in the Solomon Islands will be a continuation of an earlier project supported by JFIT (Japanese Funds in Trust) on strengthening the capacity of education ministries, teacher training institutions, teachers and principals completed in the last biennium.  Lecturers from the School of Education in the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education were trained during this project to provide in-service teacher training for primary school teachers.

Planning has commenced for the first capacity development workshop for principal professional standards in Tuvalu.  In Samoa work has begun on planning for teacher professional development in science.  More in-depth planning and preparation will be underway soon in the other three countries and the next CapEFA article for these five countries will report on progress.

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