New Status Report on Early Childhood Education Launched


Nadi, Fiji 12 March 2024 – Government heads of education systems from 15 Pacific Island countries, together with UNICEF and as part of the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) partnership, launched a new Status Report on Pacific Early Childhood Education Systems in the region at a four-day conference in Nadi, Fiji, yesterday.

Speaking at the conference’s opening, Tuvalu’s CEO of Education and Chair of PacREF, Dr Tufoua Panapa, said the launch of the Status Report highlighted the commitment to transparency, accountability and shared learning.

“Together, we will craft a Pacific regional call to action that resonates with the unique settings of our region, ensuring that no child is left behind,” said Dr Panapa. “This conference will serve as a platform to capture our regional and national visions and priorities for ECE under PacREF.”

Over the next four days, the ECE country focal points in education will dissect the findings of the new status report and share their successes and lessons learned.

The discussions from the conference will enable the CEOs and permanent secretaries to work with their governments to address the gaps and create better early childhood learning for children in the region.

This will be supported by forming an early-learning taskforce responsible for providing leadership on early childhood education to Pacific governments and stakeholders.

Speaking at the report’s launch, UNICEF Pacific Deputy Representative, Ms Roshni Basu, emphasised the importance of strong and resilient ECE systems that extend from robust policies to increased investments in quality and contextualised early childhood teaching and learning in classrooms and communities.

“Early childhood education is vital to ensure that every child has the opportunity to begin with a strong foundation on the path of learning and education,” said Ms Basu.

“It is imperative that strategies aiming to improve learning outcomes and skills development focus on the criticality of investments in early childhood.”

In 2017, UNICEF, in partnership with the then Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Care and Education (PRC4ECCE), compiled the first Pacific ECCE Status Report, which highlighted critical national efforts of 15 Pacific Island countries needed to secure the best development of young children for ECE.

Now, seven years after that report, the status report highlights progress and new achievements and challenges.

These achievements include improved overall access to ECE and improved attention to ECE in education legislation.

The report was developed under the guidance of ECE focal points from each of the 15 countries that have benefitted from support from partners under the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF).
Country representatives and regional partners have again come together at the ECE conference this week to discuss what has been done to support the full realisation of ECE, the challenges faced, and plan changes needed to make further progress on ECE.

Meanwhile, PacREF Coordinator, Mr Filipe Jitoko, said regional heads of education understand the importance of ECE in a child’s learning journey. The four-day workshop accelerated this progress further.

“PacREF is delighted to see the strides towards ensuring every child has access to ECE. However, there are challenges which governments face in this endeavour, and we are here to find solutions to these obstacles as one Pacific family,” said Mr Jitoko.

The 15 Pacific Island Countries leading the Report and the Conference are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. UNICEF is hosting the conference as part of the PacREF Partnership.

The conference will end on Friday with the formation of an Early Learning Taskforce responsible for providing leadership on early childhood education to Pacific governments and stakeholders.

About PacREF:
The Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) is a ground-breaking regional initiative designed to support Pacific developing member countries in addressing their ongoing challenges to improving the quality of education; 15 Pacific Island Countries are active members of PacREF.

Educational improvements will be achieved through enhanced regionalism and mutually beneficial partnerships with regional institutions that focus on the education priorities agreed to by the member countries.

For more information about PacREF, visit


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