JFIT Teacher Training in the Pacific
Improving the quality of education in the Pacific through strengthening capacity of Education Ministries, Teacher Training Institutions, Teachers and Principals.
UNESCO Office for the Pacific States (UNESCO Apia) has been undertaking teacher and principal training programmes since 2004 with the support of Japanese Funds-in-Trust (JFIT) and development partners, the Secretariat of the Pacific Board for Educational Assessment (SPBEA), UNICEF and AusAID. Teachers were one of the three priority themes which were identified as the building blocks for achieving Education for All (EFA) and the education-related MDGs most needed by UNESCO’s Member States. Kiribati, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were selected to be part of one of the JFIT funded programmes in the region in 2010-2011. All of them, with the exception of Nauru, were classified as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and all of them faced significant challenges in raising the effectiveness of their education workforce. Their national governments have placed importance on the development of a quality education system but geographical difficulties, migration to main centres, limited resources and heavy dependency on external aid for quality improvement in education make the task challenging.
Nationally collected data in each of the five countries pointed to high percentages of untrained teachers. As a general indicator countries tended to consider that having ‘certificated teachers’ equates with ‘competent teachers’ but there is no specific evidence to support this. UNESCO and development partners were asked to develop a set of training modules for teachers and teacher educators in the region that could be adapted to meet individual country needs as well as developing professional standards for both teachers and principals to support performance appraisal systems.
The main focus for the five above countries in the last biennium was a series of three or four intensive workshops, working through Ministries of Education and teacher training institutions to improve the competencies of teachers. The key to sustainability is the involvement of both the Ministries and the teacher training institutions staff development programmes and incorporating the teacher professional modules into national in-service programmes.