People and their environment are at the heart of development planning, implementation, decisions, monitoring and reporting carried out in the Pacific. The Pacific Community (SPC) ensures that sustainable development strategies are implemented by the Pacific and prioritises the well-being of the Pacific people.
But how do we ensure that the Pacific reaches the sustainable development goals it has set for its people? How does it ensure that its people are achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty? How does it ensure that it achieves all its goals in the face of climate change and the ongoing impacts of the global pandemic?
The answer is education!
At the global level, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stressed the need for education to be prioritised to accelerate progress in all of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To boost the momentum, the UN Transforming Education Summit (TES), held in September 2022, called for strong global commitments around education that would chart the way to translate these commitments and global/regional initiatives into action.
The September Summit was co-created by a Youth Declaration that affirmed this global momentum in stating that “If we are to survive and thrive in planetary peace and righteous equality, then education is our primary source of hope and resolution.”
Three additional global convenings were organised by UNESCO which focussed on early childhood education, adult learning and higher education. These global convenings were called following issues presented through global statistics published by UNESCO, such as 6 out of 10 children are not able to read and understand a simple story at age 10. The statistics also highlighted that 244 million children and youth were still out of school while the number of young people in employment fell by 34 million in 2020.
To ensure that the Pacific does not echo these global statistics, SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) is supporting the Pacific Island countries (PICs) in strengthening their quality of education at all levels.
In line with this year’s International Day of Education theme, “to invest in people, prioritize education”, EQAP is fulfilling a unique and important role serving as a regional public good in supporting and supplementing regional, subregional and national education systems.
At the primary school level, EQAP conducts the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA) which measures the literacy and numeracy skills of Year 4 and Year 6 students. At the secondary level, EQAP administers the South Pacific Form Seven Certificate that provides accredited courses to Pacific youth as a qualification to enter tertiary studies or secure employment. At the tertiary level, EQAP supports Pacific education systems in the quality assurance, validation and accreditation of their higher education programmes and institutions.
To boost student outcomes, the EQAP team provides sustainable technological solutions by offering a suite of digital tools to help with the administrative management of schools and with the instructional planning and management of student learning.
EQAP’s work is supported by Australia, New Zealand and other development partners to improve education quality as part of the regional education architecture. This regionalism approach elevates education quality as a higher policy and political priority for the Pacific.
Therefore, for this year’s International Day of Education celebrations, EQAP will be showcasing the voices of the Pacific people working to achieve the SDG 4 goals that will pave the way for the region to overcome gender inequality, poverty, the impacts of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and other critical issues affecting Pacific’s wellbeing.