Partnering in educational improvement
A successful talanoa Session was held at the School of Education (SOED) with Educational Quality & Assessment Programme (EQAP) Director, Dr Michelle Belisle, and UNICEF, Chief of Education in the Pacific Islands, Niki Abrishamian on Wednesday, 29th March 2017. This was the first time SOEd, EQAP and UNICEF have met to discuss a way forward for education in the Region.
Professor Lingam thanked Dr Michelle and Ms Niki for accepting the invitation to have a talanoa with the staff on education in the Region particularly teacher quality. Professor Lingam said, “this is another grand opportunity for the School of Education and other relevant line agencies in the Pacific region like EAQP and UNICEF to network, collaborate and consult with each other to foster quality and improvement in education in the Pacific region”.
Dr Michelle spoke about the work of EQAP in the Pacific region and the kind of projects her organization is engaged in for the benefit of the Pacific region. She highlighted that EQAP is particularly interested in education assessment and quality improvement. This is driven by two core models: (a) evidence of student learning, and (a) evidence based decision making. This is in fact a paradigm shift where previous work was based on assessment practices in the Pacific alone. Within the scope of this paradigm shift, EQAP is engaged in evaluation of literacy and numeracy practices in the Pacific. These practices are a mix of the positive and negative, however, the ultimate goal is to see authentic and Pacific focused and contextualized practices lead to quality improvements. Dr Michelle highlighted how they are looking seriously into the correlation between language proficiency and teacher competency, which would ultimately lead to qualitative improvement in education in the Region.
Ms Niki spoke about the ‘Rights of All Children’ to have access to quality education in the Pacific region. She explained that UNICEF’s work is centered on the core universal principles of Human Rights and the Rights of the Child. UNICEF’s work involves promoting quality education at the early childhood level. Whilst the Pacific region is grappling with Early Childhood Education in terms of quality, parents and other stakeholders are now aware of and are promoting education of their children at the earliest age possible. She further said that they have developed a Pacific-based Teacher Code of Ethics and two areas of target are teacher absenteeism and effective classroom management. Continuous school based teacher professional education based on identified needs is also being conducted in schools in selected countries in the Region.
The SOED staff then had an opportunity to talanoa with the two professionals in regards to their work at USP and how these organisations can collaborate and improve education in the Region. The sharing of evidence based on research gave insight to challenges faced in improving education. The group agreed on the need to promote language and culture in the teaching and learning process.
Dr Michelle and Ms Niki thanked the School for providing them an opportunity to mingle and share their work experiences with the staff. This platform provided an opportunity for EQAP, UNICEF and SOED to collaborate and work together in research, publication and professional development. In thanking everyone Professor Lingam said, ‘more sessions would be organized in future to strengthen our partnership and work towards promoting quality educational provision in the Region’.