The Pacific eLearning Observatory (PELO) research project at USP was set up to monitor the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) in secondary and tertiary education in the 12 USP member nations.

The objective is to provide a needs analysis with quantitative and analytic information for stakeholders, including educators, policy-makers, and the Distance & Flexible Support Centre at USP to aid them in their strategic planning and service delivery.

The research tracks development indicators from the 12 USP member nations including:

• Infrastructure development, including equipment installation
• Internet access and network penetration
• Government capacity-building projects
• Curriculum revisions relating to ICT in schools
• Teacher training and professional development programmes
• Policies related to ICT
• Stakeholder networking
• Financing

The Survey on ICT in Education in the South Pacific has been completed.
The survey asked 60 ICT and education experts across the region for their opinions on ICT in education, ICT and Internet access levels, its current status in the Pacific, the perceived challenges to growth, and recent developments.

The PELO site contains brief country reports for 11 of the 12 countries being studied.

Here you’ll find some key facts and figures emerging from the September 2007 PELO survey of 60 experts on ICT in Education in the Pacific region. The results are also discussed in more detail in this full paper (PDF, 200k).

Pacific eLearnng Observatory
Survey of ICT in Education in the South Pacific

Results, Sep 2007

1. Demographics

Origin and number of responses (total, 60)

Cook Islands  3
Federated States of Micronesia  5
Fiji  12
Kiribati  2
Marshall Islands  3
Nauru  2
Niue  3
Northern Marianas  1
Palau  2
Papua New Guinea  3
Samoa  5
Solomon Islands  10
Tokelau  1
Tonga  3
Tuvalu  1
Vanuatu  3

Respondents’ job titles
27 government-related policy developers or administrators in education and training;
19 IT professionals engaged in education or training,
14 were engaged with academia, schools or other educational institutions.

Respondents’ IT skill level:
Intermediate (n = 30; 50%)
Novice (n = 11; 18.3%)
Expert (n = 9; 15%),
Advanced (n = 10; 16.6%).

37 were from men and 23 from women.

2. Perceptions of ICT in education

“Educational ICT would be beneficial for students the Pacific,”
All 60 respondents (100%) agreed with the statement.

“How well integrated is ICT into your country’s curriculum?”
23.3% not at all,
61.6% partially,
15% well adapted.

“How would you rate your country’s educational system’s overall effectiveness on a scale of 1-10?” responses were normally distributed, with no respondents claiming a top rating:

Rating: Number of responses
1: 1
2: 3
3: 4
4: 10
5: 17
6: 10
7: 6
8: 5
9: 3
10: 0

“Is ICT currently used in the teacher training programme in your country?”
11.6% didn’t know
35% said no, it wasn’t,
48.3% said ICT was used in teacher training.

“Characterise the effectiveness of your countries’ teacher training programme with respect to ICT awareness and ICT support.”
33.3% said it as “failing”,
58.3% said it was “adequate”,
one person said it was “excellent”.
Four did not answer.

When asked how ICT can be best used in education, respondents voted for three from a list of eight options.

1.    Training, capacity building 47 (78.33 %)
2.    Localised content development 30 (50.00 %)
3.    Create new learning materials 21 (35.00 %)
4.    School ‘e-twinning’ Partnering 20 (33.33 %)
5.    Public-private partnerships 19 (31.67 %)
6.    Locating curriculum software 17 (28.33 %)
7.    Form network of national experts 16 (26.67 %)
8.    Collective management 7 (11.67 %)

(Total number of votes (n=60))

Respondents were asked:

“Would schools in your country benefit from having a school-wide ICT network?”
96.6% said yes
1.6% said no
one did not answer.

“Would schools in your country benefit from a nation-wide ICT network?”
96.6% said yes
1.6% said no
one did not answer.

“Would schools in your country benefit from a Pacific region-wide ICT network?”
86.6% said yes
5% said no
6.6% said they didn’t know
one did not answer.

The One Laptop Per Child project:
73.3% agreed that the OLPC initiative would be beneficial for students in the Pacific
23.3% said maybe.
No participants disagreed
two participants did not answer.

3. Access to ICT, computers and the Internet: ‘guestimates’

“How much PC and Web access do students, teachers and trainee teachers have in rural and urban areas? How much web access does the general population have?”

•    Primary and secondary students and in particular, rural teachers have the lowest access.
•    Urban students and teachers have better access to ICT than their rural counterparts;
•    Tertiary students, teacher trainees, and urban teachers have greater access to ICT;

*17% of the population has access to the Internet.

User Groups:           % Value (maximum mean estimate)

Rural primary Web:     >2
Rural primary PC:     >4
Urban primary Web:     7
Rural secondary Web:     7
Rural secondary PC:    11
Urban primary PC:    12
Rural teachers Web:    13
Urban secondary PC:    26
Urban secondary Web:    16
Rural teachers PC:        29
Urban teachers Web:    43
Trainee teacher Web:    52
Tertiary student Web:    59
Urban teachers PC:    62
Trainee teacher PC:    66
Tertiary student PC:    74

4. What is the role of ICT in the curriculum?

Respondents were asked to provide their opinion as to what role ICT should play in their country’s school curriculum.

Responses were: “priority one area,” “should be an enabling mechanism,” it is “core,” “crucial,” “pivotal,” it should play an “immense role,” a “leading role,” a “very dynamic role,” it should be an “integral part,” and a “driving force” in the curriculum. One respondent was “not sure” what role ICT should play in their country’s school curriculum.

Respondents overall indicated that:
•    ICT should be central to the curriculum, both as a subject and as a tool for learning and teaching.
•    Use of ICT is perceived as vital for information literacy across all subject areas
•    ICT is important for delivery of learning, especially for tertiary (distance-based) studies, and in rural areas.
•    ICT can be used for classroom instruction, research, teacher and student presentations, for extending skills.
•    Improved assessment and learning support are also perceived as supported by ICT.
•    Using ICT should develop and share digital curriculum materials that are localised to Pacific contexts.

5. Priority areas for educational ICT development

Respondents were asked to describe their perceived priority areas for educational ICT development in their country. The most common themes were
•    Benefits for (distance) education as well as health, government and the NGO sector,
•    Need to train skilled staff.
•    Developing ICT skills and capacity, and training trainers who will stay in the country and not emigrate.
•    Overcoming rural barriers to education using ICT
•    Cheaper, faster, more ubiquitous, environmentally-sound (wireless, solar-powered) ICT infrastructure.

6. Top three ICT challenges in education

The ten most common perceived challenges were:
1.    Lack of adequate financing;
2.    Lack of skilled personnel;
3.    Poor access to infrastructure and ICT equipment;
4.    Low awareness about the benefits of ICT;
5.    Ineffective secondary infrastructures such as electricity, roads and related services;
6.    Low connectivity speeds and inadequate networks;
7.    Difficulties in maintaining and repairing broken equipment;
8.    Lack of integration of ICT into the curriculum and outdated curricula;
9.    Lack of “ICT culture”: and,
10.    Lack of trust and suspiciousness about ICT.

7. Current educational ICT initiatives in ‘your’ country

The following types of projects were cited most frequently:
•    Establishing an educational ICT working group or similar team of experts to draft policy directions to govt;
•    Collecting data about the needs for educational ICT through stakeholder consultations;
•    Testing new pilot projects, curriculum developments or community/school services;
•    Initiating ICT training programs or schemes for teachers, IT professionals or the community;
•    Reviewing the curriculum to determine how best to incorporate or update the use of ICT;
•    Reviewing legislation relating to telecommunication services and access impacting education;
•    Building (remote/rural) ICT centres for improved school/community access to email, internet, tel/fax svcs;
•    Implementing schools databases such as an educational management information system;
•    Upgrading existing ICT infrastructures; and,
•    Developing schools ‘portals’ (such as intranets or standard websites) to access learning materials.

8. Strategies for educational ICT development
Respondents were asked to identify the most important strategies that could help further development in ICT in education.

a.Improved planning, and policy
Respondents consistently emphasised the strategic importance of designing and developing a workable ICT implementation plan.

b.Review and develop Legislation
Related to planning and policy, over 20 respondents emphasised the need to develop and review legislation that may be hindering ICT development in education.

c.Enhanced training and capacity building
Most respondents emphasised the importance of ICT training at all educational levels that would lead to overall capacity development and improvement in distance education access.

d.New curriculum development
Another area of strategic importance raised consistently by respondents concerned the integration of ICT into the curriculum.

e.Increased access to ICT
Respondents cited several strategies to improve access to ICT, especially for distance-based students and learners in rural areas.

f.Reduce costs
The high costs of access and equipment were cited by many respondents as a key hindrance to educational ICT development.

g.Sustainable development of ICT
Ten respondents discussed the importance of sustainable and environmentally sound practices.

The results are discussed in more detail in this full paper (PDF, 200k).

The following common obstacles, trends and recommendations were noted during the research on ICT in education in the Pacific nations.

Common obstacles:

• High Costs: Equipment, Telecom rates
• Inadequate human resources
• Emigration of trained personnel
• Outdated curricula
• Hardware, infrastructure: sourcing & development
• Lack of incentives for schools and teachers, lack of job security
• Lack of awareness, uncertainty about role of ICT in curriculum
• Lack of software, collaborative platforms
• Lack of government vision, excessive beaurocracy
• Speed of change – pressure to upgrade, maintain and sustain initiatives
• Geographical isolation, wide dispersal of populations
• Evolution model: ICT in admin -> ICT in curriculum -> ICT in learning culture


• Increase in delivery and demand for distance/flexible learning services
• Growing role of lifelong learning, multi-purpose online community centers
• Marrying old & new technology (eg. radio browsing, eco-friendly, low cost tech)


• Offer incentives and Training Opportunities for teachers, personnel
• Encourage Champion teachers with rewards and incentives
• Save costs through collective planning, management
• National policies should align eLearning pedagogy & ICT practise
• Explore approaches to circumvent Telcos/monopolies
• Encourage local, district, regional coordination and experience sharing
• Develop national and regional SchoolNets to support, encourage online schools
• Support new teachers entering the system to gain ICT schools
• Encourage more Pilot Projects with clear medium and long-term goals
• Bring national senior, middle management in MoEs together to share experience
• Identify appropriate tools, software, common interoperable platforms
• Encourage and educate on FOSS
• Form broad public-private partnerships with specific ICT4D goals
• Education system data: Monitor, measure, evaluate -> chart progress
• Conduct detailed needs analysis and research on impact of ICT
• Design benchmarks for progress
• Improve community involvement in ICT in schools
• Provide scholarships for rural teacher trainees to receive high quality ICT training
• Develop local content: build on authentic values and local culture

Click on a country to browse PELO findings for it (all files are in PDF, 122K):

The information in these country briefs is based on conversations and interviews with experts, site visits, and desk research conducted by the University of the South Pacific’s Pacific eLearning Observatory drawing from the following sources:

Brandjes, D. (2002). School Networking in the Pacific Island States: An environmental scan and plan for the establishment of Schoolnets for the Pacific Island States. COL, Vancouver.

Farell, F. & Wachholz, C. (2003). UNESCO Meta-survey on the Use of Technologies in Education. UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education. Bangkok.

Loxley, W., Julien, P. (2004). ICT in Education & Training in Asia and the Pacific. ADB.

Williams, E (2005). ICT in Secondary Education in the Pacific Region:Status, Trends and Prospects. Edited by ICT Capacity Building at USP Project. USP, Suva.

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