INDEPENDENT NEWS

NZ to provide $9m support for Pacific education

Published: Wed 5 Sep 2018 03:23 PM
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister
MP for Mt Albert
5 September 2018
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today announced a $9 million package to make it easier for Pacific students to access education.
“Pacific governments face significant challenges in delivering joined-up education services over a vast geographic area,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“This initiative will leverage high-speed internet connectivity to ensure more Pacific students have access to high quality education and learning opportunities.”
At the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru, Jacinda Ardern announced the package, which includes a $5m project to support teachers to deliver an interactive e-learning science curriculum for year 10 students in Samoa, Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Solomon Islands.
“Pacific Island countries want to lift the quality of science education without needing physical access to laboratories. New Zealand’s experience in this area will be a useful contribution to these partnerships.”
As part of the package, Jacinda Ardern has also announced a partnership with the University of the South Pacific and the Commonwealth of Learning to expand open, distance and flexible learning opportunities at secondary and tertiary levels.
“We are pleased to be able to draw on the considerable expertise of the University of the South Pacific and the Commonwealth of Learning to increase access to high quality secondary and tertiary education in the Pacific.”
Background
Getting equitable access to education is a challenge for Pacific Island governments. New Zealand is pleased to be able to work with them to explore new ways of delivering education. New Zealand has already made substantial investments in connectivity and we want to be sure that these investments are delivering results for Pacific Islanders. This work is an exciting opportunity to support more people to access high quality education. We know that not everybody in the Pacific will be connected to the internet so we are developing models that can be used offline as well. We want to support as many people as possible to access high quality education.
The $5 million e-learning for science project will develop a suite of interactive e-learning resources that will allow non-specialist teachers to deliver the year 10 science curriculum. A training programme for teachers and school leaders will sit alongside it to support them to be able to use the resources effectively in the classroom. We will also be providing support to participating governments, where necessary, on appropriate devices, networking arrangements and policy considerations to ensure successful delivery of this work. The project will be starting in four countries (Samoa, Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Solomon Islands) but we are developing a model that can be easily tailored and scaled up for other countries to gain access once we know it works.
Open, distance and flexible learning (ODFL) provides opportunities for more people across the Pacific to access high quality education and learning, regardless of their location, situation or background. USP and Commonwealth of Learning (COL) both have a long history of achievement in the Pacific in the areas of ODFL. The three partners are already working together in other ways and we want to bring this together and grow it to better support Pacific Island countries to deliver on their education outcomes. We recognise that there are other people doing great work too and we want to build on what is already under way. We are in the early stages of this partnership and want to better understand from Pacific Island countries where they see this work being most valuable. We expect to come to countries to seek their input into where our support could be best targeted in the next few months.
ends

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