Pacific Education Ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) process and will continue to secure future funding for the programme.
The ministers agreed that the PacREF programme is an important regional initiative and will ensure that resources are directed accordingly to maximise returns and produce student-centered results.
They made the commitment during the inaugural Conference for Pacific Education Ministers (CPEM) 2023, held in Auckland, New Zealand, last week.
The CPEM provided an opportunity for ministers to hear from diverse voices, sharing nuanced needs and solutions on effective ways to Empower Education for all Pacific peoples.
Pacific Education Ministers also identified key education issues in the region during the conference. They agreed to collectively work together to address these concerns through their national systems with support from regional agencies and education partners.
Key issues identified during the CPEM and agreed upon are:
• Indigenous Knowledge, Culture and Language: Ministers agreed that indigenous knowledge, culture and language should be embedded in curriculum development, teacher training programs and delivery.
• Teacher Quality: Ministers committed to increasing support to programs that ensure the quality of teachers in the region and providing the opportunity for sharing best practices through exchange programs.
• Climate Change and Resilience: Ministers agreed to strengthen climate literacy and resilience.
• Gender Responsive Education policies: Ministers agreed to promote and empower women in leadership roles.
• Early Childhood Education: Ministers agreed to the centrality of early childhood learning and development.
• Data Integrity and Sovereignty: Ministers endorsed the need and accessibility for quality data to support regional and national initiatives.
They also expressed the need to promote cyber safety and ensure cyber security measures are in place. A sub-committee chaired by USP will further investigate and report at the next Pacific Heads of Education Systems (PHES) meeting.
• Student Inclusiveness: Ministers are committed to ensuring that education is available to all learners irrespective of their challenges.
• Labour Mobility: Ministers continued to recognise the importance of labour mobility schemes, noting that the brain-drain has been exacerbated, resulting in the need to strengthen local training providers.
• National Education Financing: Ministers recognised the importance of securing adequate funding from their national budget processes and sought clarity on appropriate thresholds for their national context. Ministers referred this matter to PHES.
• Technical Vocational Education Training, including Sports Development: Ministers agreed to the importance of developing skills and student pathways to create opportunities that meet learner aspirations and abilities.
• 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent: Ministers strongly endorsed the linkages between education and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
In a press conference, Honourable Jan Tinetti, Chair of the Conference for Pacific Education Ministers, shared the need for greater efforts towards enhancing education in the Pacific.
“We need to do more to strengthen how we collate, analyse and disseminate education data to place at the centre of our efforts; strengthening data sovereignty, ownership and security,” she said
“We need to do more to increase investment in early childhood education, particularly how we better embed the important role of families and communities in all stages of the child’s learning and development”.
“We recognised that the commitment to empowering education for Pacific peoples calls for higher level affirmation and support,” Hon Tinetti added.
The implementing agencies for PacREF are the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) – Educational Quality & Assessment Programme (EQAP), The University of the South Pacific – Pacific TAFE, Institute of Education (IOE), Discipline of Education (DOE), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC). The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) is a regional partner to the PacREF.
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) provide direct funding to the programme.