Professor Govind Lingam (M) is flanked by Dr Michelle Belisle, Director (EQAP) and Ms Niki Abrishamian, with staff of the SOEd at USP’s Laucala campus.
A meeting to pave the way forward for education in the Region was held at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus between the School of Education (SOEd), Educational Quality & Assessment Programme (EQAP) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on 29 March, 2017.
Dr Michelle Belisle, Director (EQAP) and Ms Niki Abrishamian, Chief of Education in the Pacific Islands, UNICEF met with staff of the SOEd led by Professor Govind Lingam, the Head of School.
“It was the first time for all of us to meet and discuss ways forward for education in our Region,” Professor Lingam said.
He thanked Dr Michelle and Ms Niki for accepting the invitation to have a talanoa with the staff on education in the Region, with particular emphasis on 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 EQAP 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 region and the type of projects her organisation is engaged in for the benefit of the Pacific region.
She highlighted that EQAP is particularly interested in education assessment and quality improvement which is driven by two core models, namely evidence of student learning and evidence-based decision making.
This she stated, 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 the evaluation of literacy and numeracy practices in the Pacific.
These practices she said, are a mix of the positive and negative, however, the ultimate goal is to see authentic, Pacific-focused and contextualised practices leading to quality improvements. Dr Michelle further highlighted how they are looking 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 she added, 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 the education of their children at the earliest age possible.
She further stated that they have developed a Pacific-based Teacher Code of Ethics and two targeted areas 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. The sharing of evidence based on research gave insight to challenges faced in improving education. It was agreed that there is a 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 acknowledging the contributions, Professor Lingam confirmed that, ‘more sessions would be organised in future to strengthen our partnership and work towards promoting the provision of quality education in the Region’.
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