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Nadi, Fiji – The Australian and New Zealand governments, together with the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), have formalised a €12.8 million commitment with the Pacific Community (SPC) towards education in the Pacific region. This commitments extends to 2023.

The Australian government has committed €9.8 million ($AUD 15.5 million) over five years and the New Zealand government has committed €2.9 million ($NZD 5 million) for the next three years. This funding, as well as a technical partnership with ACER, puts SPC in a solid position to serve educational needs in the region.

The partnership will directly contribute to the 6 education outcome areas that were identified by SPC and its partners as priorities for the Pacific: raising student achievement in literacy and numeracy; improving teachers’ and principals’ accountabilities; benchmarking factors contributing to educational quality; increasing the education system’s capacity to use high quality data; strengthening national accreditation and assessment systems; and providing high quality programmatic technical services and policy advice.

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Successful delivery of capacity building and support to education systems, particularly in the Pacific, requires addressing both technical solutions and political challenges. To that end, the Pacific Community (SPC) is currently reinforcing its support to education statistical capacity in the region, The inherently political nature of educational systems sometimes results in difficulties in terms of using data for decision-making. Progress in educational outcomes is more achievable when we consider the intersection of what is both politically possible and technically sound.

Thirteen individuals from four Pacific Island ministries of education are participating in a five-day sub-regional workshop this week to examine the role of education data and the demand for such data to be used in data-informed decision-making in Pacific Island education systems. The Pacific Community, with the support of the Australian Government (DFAT), is working in collaboration with the University of Alberta and participants from Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tuvalu, from 14-18 August in Nadi, Fiji.

The workshop will be an opportunity for SPC to dialogue with national experts and following the workshop participants along with SPC EQAP staff will undertake interviews with some of their senior policy makers and decision makers in their government ministries. In particular, the exercise aims to depict the challenges (political, technical, capacity or cultural barriers) to effective use of data to improve practise and any incentives and motivations around data use for the countries participating in the study. The findings from these interviews then will feed into formulating a set of key indicators of data use which may be used by countries to inform further action and share best practises within the region.

Kiribati Education Ministry officials have recently been trained by the Pacific Community (SPC) to use tablets for collecting data that would inform the education sector’s performance.

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Media contacts:
Scott Pontifex, SPC Education Management Information’s Systems Team Leader, [email protected]
Solo Matthewsella, SPC Public Relations Assistant, [email protected] or +679 9360 903

In this blog, the Pacific Community’s Education Quality and Assessment Program explain the way they support governments from across the region in producing national education monitoring reports, and how improved data collection and analysis at the national level is essential for responding to challenges in education. The unique Pacific region is made up of tens of thousands of islands, scattered over an area equivalent to 15% of the globe’s surface, and home to 11.4 million people of which almost three quarters live in one country, Papua New Guinea. Despite their cultural and linguistic diversity, the Pacific Island countries and territories that are members of the Pacific Community share several challenges in their efforts to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include small but growing populations, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, excessive dependence on international trade and fragile environments.

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Vanuatu’s education ministry has successfully integrated the Pacific Community’s cloud-based assessment management module into its information system, an upgrade that is expected to boost the efficient processing of exam results. Yesterday, the ministry launched its revamped data management system, commonly referred to as Open VEMIS (Vanuatu Education Management and Information System).

SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) assisted with the revamp by helping to integrate its own system’s assessment module into Open VEMIS. The integration means the ministry will now be able to process, store and manage its students’ assessment and exam results all in one place.

EQAP director Dr Michelle Belisle says this latest achievement reflects Vanuatu’s commitment to transform its education system so that it better serves its people.

“This is an achievement that Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) should be very proud of,” she says.

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