FORUM EDUCATION MINISTERS MEETING
Yaren, Republic of Nauru
24 May 2018
SESSION THREE: PAPER 2
PACIFIC REGIONAL EDUCATION FRAMEWORK
POLICY AREA TWO: LEARNING PATHWAYS
Summary of Key Issues
The purpose of this paper is to outline issues related to learning pathways (Policy area 2 in the PacREF), including:
(i) Improving access to early childhood education as an effective pathway to school readiness and thereby improving the opportunity for success in formal schooling;
(ii) Labour market analysis as a driver to building robust, sustainable and effective TVET systems as alternative learning pathways to better meet student learning needs; and,
(iii) Use of ICT for equitable access to alternative learning pathways.
Learning pathways refers to the access to education and training provided to learners to help ensure that they can meaningfully engage in and benefit from the range of programmes within the education system so that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Alternate learning pathways provide learners with choices at certain decision points in their education. Key among learning pathways is the initial access through early childhood education, as they prepare to enter formal schooling and be successful learners.
- There is Pacific specific evidence on the impact of the early years on later school success: A UNICEF-commissioned study on the relationship of attendance in an Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme and academic performance in Year 4, revealed that ECCE attendance positively correlates with higher achievement in literacy and students are more likely to have achieved a higher level of proficiency for both literacy and numeracy when they had attended an ECCE programme.
- As parents and children look forward to formal schooling when the child reaches official school entry age, the opportunity to attend an early childhood centre to prepare them for school is critical. As students begin their educational journey, they should be provided a pathway that significantly helps them to prepare to meet their potential. Similarly, having alternate pathways at later stages of a person’s education provide the student with options that better match their aspirations and skills and improve their employability as well developing an appetite for life-long learning.
Developing evidence-based Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) systems as a learning pathway
- The need to understand and respond to the critical linkages between labour market/industry needs and appropriate training cannot be over emphasized, if students are to be provided with learning opportunities relevant to their future. Ensuring that demand and supply are clearly linked is very important. Furthermore, it is counter-productive to invest training dollars in skills development if there is not an employment outcome and/or articulation into a necessary higher level training programme. The ability to gather, share and use labour market research to inform the planning of educational program delivery is essential if the Pacific is to effectively and efficiently provide secondary and tertiary education and TVET that is relevant and of value to employers.
- The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) has supported the development of seamless pathways for students which offer first and second-chance training opportunities, use diverse training models and produce work-ready graduates and which have been implemented in a number of regional countries such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. These alternate pathway training models could be further explored, contextualized and replicated in other Pacific countries.
Use of Open Distance Flexible Learning Systems for greater access to learning pathways
- The Pacific Open Distance Flexible Learning Framework (PODFLF) developed by the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning and Development (PACFOLD) is responding to SDG 4, “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, and is an outcome under the PacREF focusing on human resource capacity building in the Pacific, through Open Distance Flexible Learning systems. Since the establishment of ODFL in the Pacific, through the University of the South Pacific in 1972, ODFL has successfully educated Pacific Islanders many of which have gone on to achieve their employment goals and develop sustainable livelihoods, contributing to their country’s social, economic and political development.
- The continuous evolution of ICT services and adoption of new technology by Pacific Island Countries is evidence of how effective technologies can be assimilated in business practice. Education is no exception in integrating, enhancing, leveraging and strengthening practices with ICT. Information is knowledge, knowledge empowers society, and empowerment underpins social and economic prosperity. PODFLF supports educators and policy makers’ capacity building in using ICT tools in the teaching and learning to achieve better outcomes by making quality education accessible, affordable and equitable.
- Specific to the policy area of the PacREF on Learning Pathways, the activities listed below, are intended to support students achieve their full potential within education systems in the Pacific:
- Early Childhood Development
- Promoting ECD in the Pacific by supporting PRC4ECCE with the aim to enhance coordination and increase collaboration across sectors, increasingly focus time, and resources in ECCE subsector system-building initiatives including data collection and strengthen ECCE-related legislation and policies to institutionalize pre-primary education and professionalize the ECCE workforce.
- Development of the TVET Sub-sector:
- Further analysis of TVET systems, including the capacity to deliver quality TVET outcomes to students (including policies, systems, staffing, financial and other resources), links to industry, and the extent to which the region’s TVET providers meet accepted international educational standards;
- Initiating relevant learning pathways, both to TVET and from TVET from other studies, as well as across TVET provides in the region for APTC and other TVET providers with regional and local institutions and undertaking analysis of the degree to which joint training can be effectively planned and delivered using different delivery models;
- Accessing data and working with individual country’s to assess labour market needs and identifying how learning pathways may enhance opportunities for labour mobility and achieve high levels of employment outcomes; and,
- Working in coalitions to develop a training profile which includes courses and skill sets that will enhance the opportunity for Pacific Island citizens to obtain employment in high demand areas, either regionally or internationally
- Delivering Learning Pathways through ICT
- Improving demand driven access to Higher Education focused on achieving program completion;
- Encouraging second chance education for school dropouts and push-outs;
- Producing a better skilled and inclusive workforce through increased access and uptake of demand driven school-based training (SBT) programmes deliberately aiming to reduce unemployment; and,
- Achieving an enterprise culture (need examples) in the long run through increased access to Small Medium Enterprise (SME) training programmes offered through open distance flexible learning systems
9. The following challenges may need to be considered to successfully implement the activities identified above:
- The improvement of TVET services can be enhanced by a process for mutual recognition for graduates by Pacific countries. There may also be a need for a regional approach to decide where to best locate programmes which have high demand but have low employment numbers.
- TVET systems that deliver high quality outcomes will need to be adequately funded at the national level and through regional initiatives.
- Embracing change in conventional pedagogy by using Open Distance Flexible Learning.
- Connectivity – while some countries are connected to Optic Fibre cable, access in the more remote areas and islands remains limited.
- To translate the commitment of Pacific island countries and territories to the Pasifika Call for Action into concrete action is highly resource intensive and requires additional funding for the Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Development Secretariat as well as the national multi-sectoral coordination mechanism to effectively implement their mandate.
 Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) (2017, June). Analysis of the PILNA Data to Identify any Correlation Between Attendance in ECCE Programmes and Performance in Literacy and Numeracy Outcomes in Grade 4 Students. Unpublished report commissioned by UNICEF.
UNICEF/APTC/USP Pacific TAFE