11th FORUM EDUCATION MINISTERS’ MEETING
Republic of Nauru
24 May 2018
Ministers of Education of member countries of the Pacific Islands Forum met for its 11th meeting in the Republic of Nauru on 24 May, 2018 with the theme, “Quality and Relevance”. In attendance were Ministers of Education from the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu; together with representatives from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and Palau. CROP agencies were represented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and The University of the South Pacific (USP). Development Partners included representatives from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Secretariat of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC).
SESSION ONE: OFFICIAL OPENING
- The Reverend Roger Mwareow delivered the opening prayer and the Congregational Church Choir sang a hymn and the Nauru National Anthem.
- The Ministers and participants were warmly welcomed by the Minister for Education for Nauru, Honourable Charmaine Scotty. In her welcome remarks the Minister emphasised that education is a continuous process and one that needs to be prioritised for our children and future generations. Minister Scotty further thanked the Ministers for affording Nauru the opportunity to host the 11th Forum Education Ministers Meeting as it has provided an opportunity for Nauru to showcase their commitment to principles of education as reflected in the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF).
- The meeting was officially opened by the President of Nauru, His Excellency Baron Divavesi Waqa. In his keynote address, the President stated that 2018 is a special year for Nauru, as the hosting of the Forum Education Ministers Meeting coincides with the celebration of Nauru’s 50th independence anniversary. The President emphasised that the strength and core of any nation are its families and stressed the importance of education, values and culture in providing stability and shaping the future of any nation. The President further highlighted the importance of the Forum Education Ministers’ Meeting (FEdMM) and the critical role of Education Ministers in shaping future policies and direction of education at the regional and national level.
- On behalf of the meeting participants, the Director (Policy) of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), Mr Paki Ormsby, thanked His Excellency President Waqa, Minister Scotty, and Reverend Mwareow for their presence and participation in the Opening Ceremony of the 11th Forum Education Ministers’ Meeting.
- The closing prayer for the official opening was delivered by Father Vito Kelekele.
- In accordance with FEdMM tradition, Ministers agreed that the Minister for Education Nauru, Hon Charmaine Scotty, as the host, be the Chair for the 11th FEdMM 2018.
- Ministers adopted the meeting’s Programme, Agenda, and proposed working procedures as presented.
SESSION TWO: THE STATUS OF PACIFIC EDUCATION REPORT
- The Education Quality Assessment Programme (EQAP) and UNESCO presented on the Status of Pacific Education Report based on education indicators categorized into the four policy areas of the PacREF: (i) Quality and Relevance, (ii) Learning Pathways, (iii) Student Outcomes and Wellbeing and (iv) Teacher Professionalism.
- Participants discussed the completeness of the data presented with some countries raising issues on the currency and accuracy of their country data and limited analysis. Participants further noted that there needed to be a clearer explanation in the report regarding incomplete data; as well as an indication of data source and year of data collection. Moreover, participants noted that a systematic data collection mechanism needed to be established to ensure countries supply accurate, comparable and current data to inform the regional report.
- Ministers noted the report and the information it provides on the four policy areas of the new PacREF.
SESSION THREE: PRESENTATIONS RELATED TO THE PACIFIC REGIONAL EDUCATION FRAMEWORK’S POLICY AREAS
- Ministers in Session Three of the programme heard four presentations with each presentation focusing on the four policy areas of the new PacREF.
- The papers which informed the individual presentations for Session Three are:
||Quality and Relevance
||PacREF Policy Area 1 – Quality and Relevance
||PacREF Policy Area 2 – Learning Pathways
||Students Outcomes and Well-being
||PacREF Policy Area 3 – Students Outcomes and Well-being
||PacREF Policy Area 4 – Teacher Professionalism
- Policy Area 1: Quality and Relevance
- The presentation by the Director of Education of Palau, Mr Andrew Tabelual, on Policy Area 1 of the PacREF, Quality and Relevance, highlighted the contribution that Outcomes Based Education, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCE) can make to improving quality and relevance in Pacific education.
- In their discussions, Ministers raised the issue of integration of concepts such as ESD and GCE into existing subjects within an integrated and seamless curriculum as a way forward rather than introducing them as new subject areas.
- Ministers also raised the issue of many school dropouts from schools and what the roles of communities and parents should be to ensure that students remain in and complete their schooling. Ministers also discussed whether teachers were sufficiently empowered to manage in different situations.
- noted the intent of outcomes-based education and its direct contribution to improving quality education and learning for students;
- noted the contribution that Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education can make to relevant learning outcomes for students;
- noted the contribution of outcomes based education, Education for Sustainable Development /Global Citizenship Education to both the PacREF and SDG4 Education 2030 targets; and
- encouraged their national education systems and relevant regional and international agencies to explore further the potential of outcomes-based curricula and the integration of Education for Sustainable Development/Global Citizenship Education related activities and approaches, to support the development of education in the region
- Policy Area 2: Learning Pathways
- Ministers deliberated on the presentation by the Secretary for Education of the Cook Islands, Ms Danielle Cochrane, on Policy Area 2 of the PacREF, Learning Pathways focusing on early childhood education, Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) systems, Open Distance and Flexible Learning and use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) as alternative learning pathways.
- Ministers recognized that while ICT is a valuable tool for learning, its cost both in terms of infrastructure, power and telecommunications uses remained high; and suggestions for a regional approach to negotiate for special rates for education were made. Nevertheless, the meeting agreed that the cost of such infrastructure should not lead to exclusion. Concerns were also raised on the impact and use of ICT by students, particularly that mobile phones and social media use was difficult to control. Another issue highlighted by Ministers was the importance of distinguishing between the concept of further education; and higher education programmes in terms of alternative learning pathways.
- recognised the Pasifika Call for Action as a pathway towards school readiness for Pacific children and agreed to convert Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Care and Education (PRC4ECCE) into the Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Development (PRC4ECD), to emphasise the importance of multi-sectoral coordination to ensure children have the best start in life and are able to learn successfully in school;
- noted the importance of linking TVET training to the needs of industry/employers and the value of relevant training and qualifications for economic development;
- noted the work by Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and Pacific Flexible Open Learning and Development (PACFOLD) on the Pacific Open Distance, Flexible Learning Framework; and
- recognised the use of ICT as a mechanism to improve access to education as increasing in the Pacific while closely monitoring the secondary impacts of ICT use on non-educational activities.
- Policy Area 3: Student Outcomes and Wellbeing
- Ministers heard a presentation by the Under-Secretary Education of the Solomon Islands Ambrose Malefoasi on Policy Area 3 of the PacREF, Students Outcomes and Wellbeing. The presentation focused on students’ outcomes as measured through the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA) test.
- In their deliberations, Ministers suggested that consideration also be given to extending PILNA to the lower grades so as to monitor student outcomes at the early grades. In terms of student wellbeing, Ministers also raised concerns about the challenges students face outside schools as an important consideration when considering student wellbeing. Ministers suggested aligning the title and content of the paper more closely to that of the presentation.
- recognized the place of research to support innovative, context specific and high-quality evidence-based programmes to inform effective implementation of the PacREF;
- supported the expansion and strengthening of PILNA to include lower secondary assessment and its links to national assessments of literacy and numeracy;
- noted that papers on this policy area concentrate on student outcomes as formal consideration of broader wellbeing is a relatively new concept;
- requested the inclusion of broader literacies including but not limited to financial literacy, digital literacy, self-literacy, culture and physical literacy
- Policy Area 4: Teacher Professionalism
- Ministers considered the presentation by the Director of Education of Palau, Mr. Andrew Tabelual on Policy Area 4 of the PacREF, Teacher Professionalism and noted the need for teachers to have increased exposure to both local and global experiences in their professional development. Concerns were raised that teachers in the region were expected to not only manage classroom discipline but also increasingly large classes as well as students with special educational needs and multi-age classes which should be addressed.
- Ministers also noted that there were a range of national teacher training institutions in the region outside of USP such as in Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to name a few, which should also be consulted in terms of improving teacher professional development and training within the implementation of the PacREF.
- supported the establishment of a regional learning hub, with an initial focus on literacy and numeracy, to develop and disseminate pedagogy that is contextualized for the Pacific;
- supported the revitalization of school leadership programmes to reflect knowledge and best practice;
- supported efforts to ensure that high-quality contextualized teacher education is available throughout the Pacific; and
- committed to a system of regional teacher standards and professional competencies to better ensure quality learning
SESSION FOUR: PRESENTATION OF THE PACIFIC REGIONAL EDUCATION FRAMEWORK (PacREF)
- Ministers considered the draft Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF), 2018-2030 outlining a regional programme of strategies and activities in four key policy areas in education designed to assist Pacific education systems to raise the quality of education, learner’s outcomes, and to produce graduates who are able to contribute economically and socially to national sustainable development. Ministers noted the need to maintain national jurisdiction while ensuring regional cooperation.
- In their deliberations, Ministers noted the proposed governance and management structure for the PacREF using existing structures such as the CROP Human Resources Development Working Group (HRD WG), Pacific Heads of Education Systems (PHES) and Forum Education Ministers’ Meeting (FEdMM) and the linkages between them and to their roles in the management and implementation of the PacREF.
- noted the potential contribution of the PacREF to improving the quality of Pacific education and learning outcomes for all young Pacific islanders;
- discussed the endorsement of the PacREF until further discussion in the Ministers’ retreat (refer to retreat report)
Report from Officials’ Retreat
- The Officials’ met to discuss a range of matters relating to the PacREF implementation. The Officials concurred on the priorities of Phase 1. They identified regional/sub-regional approaches as the most appropriate for programmes relating to common definitions, standards and teacher training. South-south collaboration was particularly useful in areas of classroom practice and policy development. Officials encouraged the development of a regional approach to supporting south-south collaboration.
- The Ministers held their Retreat at the Menen Hotel, Nauru. At the retreat, Ministers endorsed in principle the PacREF and directed that the following issues be addressed when finalising the PacREF:
- Ministers directed that FEdMM to be held every two years preceding USP Council meeting, in order to monitor the successful implementation of PacREF with the intention of considering and reviewing priorities in the fourth year;
- Ministers also directed that in recognition of the existence of other tertiary institutions in the region, the CROP Human Resources Development Working Group (HRD WG) adopt a more inclusive approach; and engage more closely with national institutions in the effective coordination of the PacREF;
- Going forward both French Polynesia and New Caledonia as full members of the Forum, be consulted on the further development and implementation of the PacREF particularly in recognition of the range of educational systems that exist in the region;
- Ministers directed officials to discuss with USP to ensure non-USP member countries are not left out in discussions and implementation of the PacREF.
- In taking forward the above directives from Ministers the Forum Secretariat as facilitator of the development of the PacREF will discuss the above issues with the USP and also to develop a process of consultation with French Polynesia and New Caledonia moving forward and these will be reflected in the revision to the PacREF document. In line with directions from Ministers, the Forum Secretariat would also develop a terms of reference for the governance structure for the PacREF to be circulated with the final version of the PacREF for clearance by Ministers.
Release of papers
- Ministers agreed to the release of meeting papers as recommended. However, due to incomplete data for the paper PIFS(18) FEdMM.03 Status of Pacific Education Report would be held from release.
- In line with the governance structure of the PacREF, Ministers agreed for the USP to organise the next FEdMM preceding the USP Council Meeting, in accordance with the directives from Ministers.
- The Minister of Education for Vanuatu thanked the Minister of Education for the Republic of Nauru for hosting and chairing the meeting. He further thanked the Government and people of Nauru for their hospitality and on behalf of Ministers expressed appreciation to the CROP agencies and development partners for their continued support to the education of the children of the Pacific.
- The Australian delegation expressed their support to the PacREF and noted that Australia had aligned its investment in education through regional organisations such as USP and EQAP and key investments such as APTC in support of the PacREF agenda. Australia additionally commented on their support for the PHES process and country ownership in the PacREF.
- The Policy Director of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr. Paki Ormsby, thanked UNESCO and the Governments of Australia and New Zealand for their ongoing financial support to the FEdMM mechanism. He also thanked the Government of Nauru and in particular the Minister of Education, the Permanent Secretary and staff of the Ministry and the USP Director for their organisation. The Policy Director acknowledged all the Ministers present and thanked them for their time, contribution and commitment.
- Hon Minister Scotty thanked her Ministerial colleagues for their time in attending the meeting. Minister Scotty thanked the partners New Zealand and Australia, the CROP agencies, supporting institutes and PIFS for supporting the organisation of the meeting. Minister Scotty acknowledged the work of the staff of her Ministry and the Nauru USP Campus in the organisation of the meeting.