The Untrained Teachers Project

The Untrained Teachers Project (UTP) is a partnership initiative between The University of the South Pacific (USP) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The project is integrated within the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education’s (FALE) School of Education at USP.

The project commenced in early 2013 with the countries of Vanuatu and Kiribati signing MoU’s to work collaboratively with USP to support fast-tracking the training for their untrained senior secondary school teacher workforce.

A full-time Project Coordinator commenced in early 2014 and with two other project personnel there have been a number of significant achievements in a short period of time. These include:

  • Coordination of 8 flexi school courses in Kiribati with 125 teachers undertaking courses in the Diploma of Teaching (Secondary);
  • 5 of the 8 courses in the Graduate Certificate in Education (GCED) have been translated to French to facilitate delivery to the Francophone teachers in Vanuatu;
  • Vanuatu government has approved significant recurrent funding to support the tuition fees for untrained senior secondary teachers undertaking USP courses in the GCED programme;
  • Commencement of ED course delivery in French for Francophone teachers in Vanuatu; · Kiribati government, and church education authorities have supported tuition fees for untrained teachers undertaking courses in the Diploma of Teaching (Secondary) and the GCED;
  • Networks with the Ministry of Education, schools, provincial offices and church authorities have been established in Vanuatu to support the first delivery of UTP targeted courses in 2015;
  • Networks in Kiribati with the key stakeholders have been strengthened and enhanced through development of sustainable practices to support training for untrained teachers.

The Untrained Teachers Project (UTP) is strongly aligned with the mission and objectives of the USP School of Education, in particular to provide programmes of excellence for professed teachers through in-service education. The project equally aligns with the objectives of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education with a focus on ensuring that the services provided are responsive to both the individual needs of students and their communities as well as the developmental needs of their countries.

Untrained teachers in many Pacific Island Nations are an important student cohort as these countries move towards regulating the licensing of teachers who have obtained formal teaching qualifications. Although the UTP targets teachers in the countries of Kiribati and Vanuatu, all untrained teachers in every Pacific Island country are a focus student cohort for the School of Education. The integration of this project within the SOE operations has built a platform of sustainability which will ensure that the needs of these practicing teachers across the region are continually addressed. This work aligns with national objectives of the Pacific Island Nations to raise the quality of education.

Innovation through expansion of in-country untrained teacher programmes

Through the region, significant numbers of untrained teachers continue to be employed within the Pacific country classrooms. The University is currently delivering in-country untrained teacher projects at the request of the governments of Kiribati, Solomon Islands and more recently, Niue. We are also in discussions with the Ministry of Education in Fiji to provide educational preparation for the 2,000 untrained teachers in Fiji. These programmes, developed in consultation with the various governments, are tailored to the specific needs of each country and aim to provide quality professional educational preparation whilst reducing costs for member countries compared to those associated with traditional pre-service educational preparation programmes. Cohorts are established and both academic and logistical support are provided to students using a cohort educational preparation model of in-country delivery. This programme design has proven success  in supporting timely and cost-efficient delivery of quality outcomes.  This approach is student-centred and also aims to build a sustainable professional network of teachers through communities of practice in collaboration with University-based teacher educators.

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