The long-awaited culmination of the Tonga Education Support Activity (TESA) project, which commenced in mid-2019, was celebrated with the launch and luva of the TESA numeracy resources to the Tonga Ministry of Education and Training yesterday.
The launch was made possible through a collaborative effort between the Institute of Education and the esteemed donor partner, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT).
This event marked a significant milestone in the TESA project’s journey, emphasizing its commitment to supporting Tongan primary school teachers and principals through comprehensive resource development in the areas of literacy, numeracy, and school leadership.
In her welcoming address, delivered on behalf of the Director of the Institute of Education, Dr Seu’ula Johansson-Fua, Institute of Education’s Fellow in Literacy and Curriculum, ‘Ana Heti Veikune extended a warm welcome to the esteemed guests, expressing gratitude for their participation in the significant milestone achieved through the Tonga Education Support Activity (TESA).
Acknowledging the challenges faced during the project’s journey, she highlighted the collective effort and determination that had gone into the design, development, and contextualization of the resources, making them more accessible and beneficial for both teachers and students.
“Today is also a celebration of the best ways to engage in education in the development space – co-design, co-delivery, collaboration and sharing,” Mrs Veikune said.
In a notable address, the First Secretary for Development and the NZHC, Ms Olivia Philpott, highlighted how critical Education was to every single one of Tonga’s aspirations for the future of health, good governance, economic growth, rule of law and resilience to the impacts of climate change.
“Across the Pacific region, the extent of learning loss following the impacts of COVID-19 and school shutdowns is still being understood.
“To its credit, TESA continued right through this period, including a shutdown at the end of 2019 due to the measles epidemic, two months of COVID shutdown, and another month of shutdown following the eruption and tsunami.
“TESA, by keeping literacy and numeracy at the forefront of teachers’ minds during this time potentially may have lessened this impact in Tonga,” she said.
“The strategies for teachers to use with their students when they were not in school, and to get them back on track when they returned to school, have clearly paid off.”
She added a significant contributing factor to this success could be attributed to the comprehensive approach adopted by TESA, which not only involved the provision of resources and innovative teaching methodologies to captivate student interest but also prioritized the professional development of teachers.
Closing the event, IoE’s Fellow in Research and Mathematics, Teukava Finau, extended appreciation to those present at the event.
“The resources that we are viewing today and luva to the MET will be distributed to all the primary schools, including mission primary schools, at the begining of next year. We are hoping and expecting that these resources will help our teachers and students in the classroom,” Dr Teukava said.
Present at the event were notable figures including Mr ‘Isikeli Oko, Chief Executive Officer of the Tongan Ministry of Education & Training (MET), and MsOlivia Philpott, the First Secretary of the New Zealand High Commission, Acting Campus Director (Tonga), Ms Ána Nukuao Feíloaki, Dr Pip Arnold of Tui Tuia Learning Circle, University of Auckland, New Zealand, education officers from MET, Principals of government primary schools and non-government education systems, and the staff members of the Institute of Education.