Hon. Penisimani Fifita, Tonga's Minister of Education and Training (with garland), the LALI team and School Principals of participating schools.
The findings of a Literacy and Leadership Initiative (LALI) overseen by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tonga Campus-based Institute of Education (IOE) has been presented to Hon. Penisimani ‘Epenisa Fifita, the Minister for Education in Tonga.
They were also presented to H. E. Ms. Tiffany Babington, the New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga at the Lopaukamea Hall at USP’s Tonga Campus on 14 June 2018 by the IOE staff led by Associate Professor Eve Coxon, the Project Director Dr. ‘Ana Maui Taufe‘ulungaki and Dr. Seu’ula Johansson-Fua, Tonga Campus Director.
The Pacific Literacy and School Leadership Programme (PLSLP), which is run in the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands and fifteen (15) Government primary schools in Tonga, was initiated by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and in collaboration with the University of Auckland (UA), IOE and the Ministries of Education.
The 4-year project was designed to improve student literacy learning in primary schools, improve teacher practice in the classroom, improve school leadership practices, and build strong foundations at Ministerial level.
The design-based research method of project delivery meant teachers and principals were given the opportunity to engage with their own data, make their meanings from the data and use it to inform their own school and classroom planning.
Through the LALI programme, student’s literacy achievements improved over time for both boys and girls. Students were able to read and retell in Tongan and in the English language and there were shifts at each time point for both languages, across all class levels and in all the clusters.
The beauty of the project shared by Ms. Heti Veikune, Assistant Lecturer of English at USP Tonga campus is that upon identifying key issues, strategies were developed to improve learning and was implemented in the selected schools.
Through this project, teachers were assisted to utilise a range of instructional strategies which aligns to the students’ needs.
Although it is the final sound of the LALI, the echo of its beat carries on in the students, teachers and Principals who participated in the project in Tonga.
Dr. ‘Ana Taufe‘ulungaki closed the presentation with a challenge to the Ministry of Education in Tonga, that the sustainability of this project lies in their court.
“The groundbreaking achievements of the project need to be sustained and need to be practiced in the rest of the primary schools. Hopefully the sound of the LALI will continue to be heard,” she stated.
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