2018 FEdMM: Pacific Regional Education Framework Panel Discussion Policy Area 1, Quality and Relevance


Yaren, Republic of Nauru

24 May 2018





The paper highlights issues related to Policy Area 1 of the PacREF. The paper has been jointly developed by SPC/EQAP and UNESCO providing Ministers with strategies to improve quality and relevance in education systems in the Pacific.
Summary of Issue
This paper summarises key issues in relation to quality and relevance including:

  • Outcomes–based Curriculum: to ensure that curriculum and assessment are focused on the skills and knowledge that are relevant for students while at the same time supporting teachers in maintaining and improving the quality of the education being delivered; and
  • Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCE): in order to remain relevant, Pacific education needs to integrate global issues and priorities such as climate change and disaster risk management.

For education systems to remain relevant and to prepare students adequately for life in a fast-changing world, they need to pay greater attention to the quality and relevance of the curriculum and how it is delivered by teachers. Most Pacific island countries have managed to achieve high rates of access to primary and secondary levels of education as measured through the education for all (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals and targets. However, the same cannot be said of the quality of student learning outcomes. Although literacy and numeracy levels as measured through the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA) show some positive change between the results of 2012 and 2015, they are not as convincing as would be.

  1. Together with quality, the question of relevance has also emerged as an important consideration in Pacific education. The quality and relevance of the education a Pacific learner receives has become a matter of priority. For the Pacific it means acknowledging our special context and the opportunities and challenges that this provides. However, as we consider our specific context, we must not forget that our young people are very much part of an ever-increasing globalised world.


  1. Therefore, the outcomes of education in the 21st century need to be more than knowledge acquisition, learners must also acquire relevant skills, values and attitudes. Skills for employment, analytical skills to make good decisions, values and attitudes for good citizenship and to ensure that our individual communities are sustainable and peaceful.


  1. The standard academic curriculum needs to be reviewed and from a different starting point than transmission of accepted academic knowledge to one based on skills for development, both individual and collective.

An Outcomes-based Education (OBE) Approach

  1. Outcomes-based education is a way to ensure that curriculum and assessment are focused on the skills and knowledge that are relevant for students and at the same time supporting teachers in maintaining and improving the quality of the education being delivered.


  1. Although all countries have curricula that are nationally endorsed and are meant to guide teaching and learning, it has become increasingly evident that they are written in terms of objectives and goals, which are very difficult to measure accurately, if at all. Outcomes-based education has been adopted at many levels across many Pacific Island education systems and is providing a well-supported method of clearly articulating existing curricula in ways that support high quality teaching, improved student learning and accurate tracking of student progress.


  1. Public awareness is critical in understanding the importance of an education system that focusses on student learning and assessment towards some set goals or outcomes as this is different from the way parents and communities have understood education in the past. Teachers need to be fully cognisant of what the outcomes-based approach to education is, its characteristics, the teaching pedagogy involved, the need to differentiate lessons to meet the outcomes, and most importantly, the role of effective and timely feedback to ensure higher success for all students in the OBE.

Integrating Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

  1. ESD originated from a focus on environmental science and climate change education. Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management are still a central part of the platform. In the Pacific however, the scope and focus of ESD has shifted to a cultural rather than environmental starting point and includes concepts such as traditional knowledge, indigenous language, culture and the arts as well as the more accepted areas of science and social sciences.


  1. It is an area of learning that integrates objectives of a diverse curricula areas. An Education for Sustainable Development programme delivered in its entirety would also deliver other more traditional curriculum but from a different perspective. The Decade for ESD finished in 2014. A Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD continues to scale up this work particularly by a reorientation of curriculum and learning, and by supporting all agendas that promote sustainable development.

Integrating Global Citizenship Education (GCE)

  1. GCE can be defined as “any educational effort that aims to provide the skills, knowledge, and experiences and to encourage the behaviours, attitudes, and values that allow young persons to be agents of long-term, positive changes in their societies”


  1. GCE develops in learners the values, attitudes and behaviours that support responsible global citizenship enabling them to assume active roles in building for peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure societies. Such skills include creativity and innovation.


  1. Global Citizenship Education addresses three domains of learning: the cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural.
  • Cognitive: knowledge and thinking skills necessary to better understand the world and the individuals environment and relationship with it;


  • Socio-emotional: values, attitudes and social skills that enable learners to live together with others respectfully and peacefully. It provides learners with a sense of belonging to a common humanity, sharing values and responsibilities, demonstrating empathy, solidarity and respect for differences and diversity;


  • Behavioural: self-management and responsibility, work ethic, practical application and commitment.


  1. Like ESD, GCE is not a separate curriculum area and can and should be delivered by integrating its principles into existing subjects in education.

Outcomes Based Education, ESD, GCE and their Contribution to the PacREF

  1. Curriculum review that works towards a set of clearly defined, measurable specific learning outcomes at each year level of education will provide insight into possible challenges for students, the relevance of the curriculum content and point to areas in which the quality can be improved through targeted approaches to teaching and learning. Such targeted approaches should, in turn, lead to improved learning outcomes for students. With a focus on the quality of programmes and delivery, the impact on student outcomes will contribute across all the goals of SDG 4 and particularly those goals pertaining to formal education.


  1. Collectively, ESD and GCE provide learning programmes with points of entry relevant to the lives of students and their communities. They provide teachers with an integrated platform from which to plan and deliver curricula in a way that provides flexibility in terms of learning levels and styles and places the student at the centre of the learning. It shifts teaching from transmission to construction. Jointly, they make considerable contribution towards achieving Target 4.7 of the  Sustainable  Development Goals (SDG 4 on Education), which calls on countries to “ensure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.


  1. Many education systems in the Pacific have engaged with developing an outcomes-based approach and integrating ESD and GCE over recent years through teacher workshops, resource development, piloting programmes and engaging students in extra curricula work. Upscaling of this work will significantly enhance the contribution it can make and make sustainable change to approaches in curriculum integration and teacher practice.


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