The Teacher Demand and Supply in Tonga, 2012-2021 report had been completed and was prepared by Dr Paul Bennell, a Senior Partner in Knowledge and Skills for Development, United Kingdom and Dr Masasso Paunga of Institute of Education, USP. This study examines the current and future supply and demand of teachers at primary and secondary schools in Tonga over the period 2012 to 2021. The three main objectives of the study are: to provide overview of the teaching force in primary and secondary schools, to estimate the number of trained primary and secondary teachers required over the next 10 years and to provide estimates of the cost of any additional teaching posts that will be required.
Key Findings from the Teacher Demand and Supply Report:
⇒ Primary School Teachers: According to the data for 2011, a total of 767 teachers were employed at 126 primary and 70% were women. The average number of teachers at each primary school is 2.7 with around half of schools have fewer than six teachers. Nearly all teachers are qualified and around onehalf of primary school teachers have less than 10 years of experience.
⇒ Secondary School Teachers: According to the data for 2011, there were 32 high schools and 23 middle and side schools. 15 secondary schools are of the government and 40 are of church schools with the total enrolments of 14,838. There were 986 teachers employed at secondary schools and 5 schools employed around onethird of all teachers. Fifty eight percent of secondary school teachers are women. Seventy percent of middle/side schools and onethird of high schools have less than 100 students. Eighty five percent to government secondary school teachers are trained but only 63% of church teachers.
⇒ Teacher Utilisation: The student-teacher ratio (STR) of 25:1 for primary school is in line with internationally recommended staffing norms for primary schools in developing countries. There is no prescribed STR for secondary schools but the current STR is 15:1. The teaching load norm for secondary schools is around 25-26 periods out of a total of 30 periods per week and actual teaching hours average 20 hours in government high schools.
⇒ Enrolment projections: The enrolment simulations are based on two scenarios: status quo, where all the key current enrolment and efficiency parameters remain unchanged and the Government of Tonga (GOT)'s Universal Basic Education (UBE) target where all children aged 14 to 18 are enrolled in full-time education and training by 2021.
⇒ Primary education: Nearly all children in Tonga complete six years of primary education. The projected UBE target enrolments are considerably lower than the status quo scenario enrolments because of the lower admission (gross intake) rate, and, in particular, the assumed reductions in repetition rates by 2021.
⇒ Junior secondary education (Form 1-5): For lower secondary education (Forms 1-5), projected target UBE enrolments are quite similar to projected status quo scenario enrolments, mainly because the assumed lower repetition and drop-out rates under the UBE target scenaruon roughly cancel each other out with respect to their impact on future enrolment. Over the next 10 years, for bothe scenarios, lower secondary enrolments will increase by around 12% from 12,000 to 13,500.
⇒ Senior secondary education (Form 6 and 7): Projected enrolments for upper secondary schooling (Forms 6 and 7) remain largely unchanged under the status quo enrolment scenario. By contrast, under the UBE target scenario, projected enrolment rate increases for senior secondary education are very largely mainly because of the assumed sizeable increase in transition rates and reductions in drop-out rates. Under this scenario, total enrolment is projected to double from 2,500 in 2011 to 5,000 by 2021. The affordability of such an expansion is, therefore a major issue.
⇒ Teaching post requirements: In addition to projected enrolments, the other major set of determinants of future teacher demand is how teachers are utilized in schools. The key ratio that underpins teaching staffing in both primary and secondary schools is the STR. This has two components, namely teaching load and class size. The Ministry of Education and Training (MET) has no specific objectives with regard to class or STRs in primary and secondary schools.
⇒ Primary education: Based on the current STR of 25:1, an additional 28 primary school teaching posts will be needed for the status quo enrolment scenario between 2012 and 2016 and only 1 for the target UBE scenario. The corresponding figures for the 5-year period 2017 to 2021 are -32 and -62.
⇒ Secondary education: Teaching loads for secondary teachers in Tonga compare quite favourably with those in other developing countries. It hass been assumed, therefore, that the teaching load norm of 25-26 periods for secondary school teachers remains unchanged. Teaching post requirements projections for secondary schooling are based on a class size norm of 30, a teaching week of 30 periods and a teaching norm of 25 periods per week.
The current STR for secondary education is 15:1. Assuming that this continues to be the de facto staffing norm for secondary education over the next 10 years, then, under the UBE target scenario, an average of 21 additional teaching posts will be required for lower secondary education (Forms 1-5) each year between 2012 and 2016 and an average of six fewer posts each year during these two periods. For secondary schools as a whole, under the UBE target enrolment scenario, an average of around 25 new posts a year would need to be created during the next 10 years compared to only 10 for the status quo enrolment scenario.
⇒ Teacher recruitment target: Teacher demad has two components, namely the net additional teacher posts that are required, and replacements for teachers who have left permanently. Overall attrition among government teachers was 3% in 2011. Whereas total recruitment needs for primary school teachers are not dramatically different between the two enrolment scenarios, for secondary school teachers, they are substantially higher under the target UBE enrolment scenario.
It is difficult to make precise projections of future demand for secondary school teachers according to subject specialization. However, the report presents estimates on the basis of the current pattern of student electives in Forms 3-7.
Planning teacher supply over the next 10-15 years would include an overview of current enrolment and expected graduates from the Tonga Institute of Education (TIOE) and other key aspects and expected graduates from the Tonga Institute of Education (TIOE) and other key aspects of its staffing and funding. Enrolments targets for pre-service teacher training are then presented. It is proposed that the last output of diplomates will be in 2016 and that, thereafter, sole reliance is placed on B.Ed. training for both primary and secondary teacher recruitment.
⇒ Primary education: During 2012 to 2014, the numbers of primary education, diploma graduates from TIOE will be relatively fixed. Assuming a completion rate of 85%, around 90 students will have successfully graduated by the end of 2014. Under the status quo enrolment scenario, another 80 diplomates will be needed in 2015 and 2016 and under the target UBE scenario, another 50 diplomates. Between 2017 and 2021, 100 and 125 B.Ed. graduates will need to be trained under each scenario respectively.
⇒ Secondary education: A total of 180 secondary education diplomats will be needed under the status quo scenario between 2012 and 2016 and 350 for the UBE target scenario. Between 2017 and 2021, 220 and 305 B.Ed. graduates will be needed for each scenario respectively.
⇒ Untrained teachers and diploma upgrading: There are around 20 untrained primary school and 300 untrained secondary school teachers who still need to obtain the basic teaching certificate at TIOE. In order, therefore, for all teachers to be qualified by the end of 2015, the two upgrading certificate courses at TIOE will need to have combined average intake of around 110 teachers over the next three years. The costs of replacement teachers will also need to be budgeted for in order to avoid undue disruption in schools while these teachers are away.
There are almost 1,000 diploma teachers (525 primary and 440 secondary). Already, around 100 teachers are enrolled on B.Ed., post-graduate diploma in education (PGDDE) and masters courses at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Tonga Campus. It is recommended that Ministry of Education and Training (MET) (if necessary with the support of its development partners) prove financial assistance (in particular course fees, textbooks and other course materials, and transport and accommodation costs in order to attend courses at the campus during vacations) for up to 200 diploma teachers to be enrolled on B.Ed, courses at any one time. At least half of these students should be primary school teachers and priority should be given to teachers outside of Tongatapu, especially those who are working on remote islands.
⇒ Cost projections: This study presents costs estimates for the additional teaching posts between 2012 and 2021. Given the projected reductions in the number of primary school teacher posts over the next 10 years under both planning scenarios, considerable salary savings could be achieved. By contrast, the addtional salary costs of funding the very considerable increase in secondary school teaching posts are sizeable-amounting to over TOP 3 million for both government and church schools over the next 10 years.
⇒ Next steps: It is important to stress that this study should be seen as only the initial step in what should be an ongoing process to establish robust estimates of long to medium term teacher requirements and the planning of teacher education with regard to both its quantitative and qualitative aspects. Further discussions of the report's main findings and recommendations, both within MET and between MET and its key stakeholders, (in particular the church education directors) are, therefore, clearly needed. While MET is not in a position to ensure full and immediate compliance with any new staffing norms at church schools, it should encourage the church education agencies to adopt these norms in the interests of improved resource efficiency and education outcomes. There may also be some scope for MET to provide additional teacher salary subsidies or other financial incentives to schools that do meet the staffing norms. As is discussed at some length in the report, reforming teacher education in Tonga should be a top priority for MET and its partners. Another important step could, therefore, be the establishment of a high level task force, which would be tasked with developing a long-term strategy for teacher education in the country based on a clear vision of the teaching profession over the next 20 to 30 years.
Dr. Paul Bennell at Havelu Primary School
ALL REPORTS ARE AVAILABLE FROM IOE UPON REQUEST.