2018 FEdMM: Pacific Regional Education Framework Discussion Paper on Policy Area 4 – Teacher Professionalism in the Pacific


Yaren, Republic of Nauru

24 May 2018






Summary of Issue


This paper prepared by the University of the South Pacific (USP) discusses issues of equity and access in teacher development, and its impact on the quality of education. Three key challenges stem from these issues:

(i)   ensuring that pedagogy is appropriately tailored to the Pacific student;

(ii)  developing and sustaining effective educational leadership at the school level; and

(iii) coordinating teachers’ education, ongoing teacher development and the application of professional standards/teacher competencies to help ensure teacher quality.

The greatest concern in Pacific education, and in teacher development in particular, is the issue of quality. While Pacific education systems have improved their effectiveness, challenges remain region wide. Key among these challenges are:

  • Ensuring that pedagogy is appropriately tailored to the Pacific student. The challenges faced in improving learning outcomes, the relevance and quality of curriculum and the application of assessment to learning are fundamentally issues related that can be partially addressed by improving teacher pedagogy. The skills and qualities that Pacific children of the 21st Century will need are not always adequately reflected in the school curriculum, nor is those children’s’ learning appropriately assessed and the knowledge gained from those assessments applied to classroom pedagogy.


  • Developing and sustaining effective leadership at school level. Teachers do not work in isolation, they work within a school environment embedded in a community and they are supported by an established educational infrastructure. However, gaps continue to exist between national education policies and practice in school or training centres.


  • Coordinating teachers’ education, ongoing teacher development and the application of professional standards/teacher competencies to help ensure teacher quality. The need for regional mechanisms to monitor the teachers is linked to the deployment of qualified teachers across the Pacific. Teacher mobility has both negative and positive impacts on teacher supply and demand at the national level. Efforts to professionalise teachers requires a review of teacher policies at all levels in all subsectors.

The focus of the paper

  1. The focus of the paper is on relevant pedagogy, associated ICT, improved school and educational leadership, strengthened collaboration between national teacher education institutes and regional support for validation of teacher qualifications/competencies


  1. The paper highlights issues of equity, access and quality as it pertains to teacher professional standards and teacher development. The results of the 2015 PILNA highlight several issues of equity and access to schooling of varying quality. The 2015 PILNA results indicate that girls outperformed boys in both literacy and numeracy: girls outperformed boys in all domains of literacy as well as in numeracy; and there were more girls than boys in the higher proficiency level for both Year 4 and Year 6 in literacy and numeracy.


  1. The results also showed that students of non-government schools outperformed students of government schools in literacy. The performance in numeracy of students in government and non-government schools varied between year levels in 2015 (PILNA 2015, SPC).


  1. These two results alone challenge us to extend our thinking on issues relating to pedagogy, including how teachers teach literacy and numeracy in the classroom, on gender and on equity and access to quality instruction in our classrooms.


  1. The results of the 2015 PILNA 2015 in relation to the variance between government and non-government schools suggest that we should consider issues of resourcing, and leadership and administration in the two systems and that we additional insight into the processes and structures that support access to education.


  1. It is also important to note that while USP is the regional entity that provides teacher education, there are an increasing number of national teacher education institutions, including: Solomon Islands National University (SINU), Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education (VITE), Fiji National University, University of Fiji, Tonga Institute of Education, National University of Samoa, Kiribati Teacher’s College and College of the Marshall Islands and institutions in Papua New Guinea. In addition, there are other education providers in the region that offer teacher education programs, including Universities in Australia and New Zealand. It is within this expanding provider context that we should consider the value of regional mechanisms to influence teacher professionalism.

Possible activities at the USP School of Education

  1. In supporting the objectives and strategies of Teacher Development, Standards and Professionalism, USP’s School of Education (SOE) can:


  • conduct research and development that is focused on targeted interventions;


  • conduct training that includes school based professional development and learning;


  • conduct Leadership development at multiple levels; and


  • perform regional coordination and collaboration of national teacher education institutions


  1. The USP will be looking to collaborate with EQAP in the formulation of relevant and contextualised benchmarks and regional standards. Further, USP will be looking to collaborate with UNICEF on ECCE teacher development and with UNESCO on relevant research projects that can inform the development of Teacher Professionalism.

Some Results

  1. Below are results from activities conducted by the USP School of Education:


  • 30 students cohorts have graduated with initial teacher education qualifications such as in Vanuatu;


  • 40 graduates with upgraded teaching qualifications in the Marshall Islands;


  • 120 mid-career teachers across the region successfully completed postgraduate qualifications in education (in Fiji, Vanuatu and Kiribati). Another 120 will complete courses in December 2018);
  • 36 students from Cook Islands, Niue and Nauru have completed the Professional Certificate in Education Policy and Planning. The Professional Certificate in Education and Policy has now been reviewed and there are plans to improve the program; and


  • An expected 120 school leaders will graduate with the Graduate Certificate in School Leadership from Solomon Islands September 2018. A further 80 school leaders from the Republic of the Marshall Islands are expected to enrol in the Graduate Certificate in School Leadership by August, 2018.

University of the South Pacific

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