Photo: From left: Charlotte Darlow, New Zealand High Commissioner, Sophie Temby, DFAT Counsellor (Australia Department of Foreign Affairs after presenting the drua artefact to Lati Bergmans, Vanuatu's Director-General (Education). A scroll is attached to the drua, and is symbolic of the PILNA findings that will be shared with the 15 Pacific education systems that participated in PILNA 2021.
The Pacific Community (SPC) launched the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA) 2021 report on 8 September, demonstrating the Pacific’s commitment to improving its literacy and numeracy achievement; a regional goal shared by many stakeholders.
The PILNA 2021 Report can be accessed here: https://pilna.eqap.spc.int/
First administered by SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) in 2012 as a one-time assessment, PILNA has transitioned into a long-term regional assessment that is administered with design and implementation support from EQAP’s technical partner, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Children are assessed at the Year 4 and Year 6 levels of education in the 15 PILNA participating countries from across the Pacific.
Despite the varied impacts of COVID-19 and natural disasters on the Pacific island countries, a majority of the 952 participating schools completed the administration of the assessment within a five-week window that started in November 2021. Fiji, being one of the hardest hit COVID-19 countries in the region, completed the administration of the assessment following the easing of restrictions in the first quarter of 2022.
EQAP’s Director, Michelle Belisle highlighted the role of the assessment and explained that “PILNA does more than just measure reading, writing and numeracy proficiency. The wealth of contextual information collected from students, teachers, school leaders and education systems gives stakeholders rich information about the teaching and learning environments that underpin the results.”
At the Year 4 level, overall findings of PILNA 2021 show that across the region, on average, year four students are not meeting minimum expected proficiency levels in reading but are exceeding minimum expected proficiency levels in numeracy. Expected levels of performance have not yet been established for writing but the average writing performance score is increasing.
The results for the Year 6 level show that on average, students are exceeding the minimum expected proficiency level in numeracy and are meeting the minimum expected proficiency level in reading. As with Year 4, expected levels of performance have not yet been established for writing but the average writing performance was about the same as in 2018.
This regional assessment captures Pacific students’ grasp of foundational literacy and numeracy skills that are vital for learning growth and active participation in society. The assessment also provides Pacific students with opportunities to provide information about their learning experiences through contextual questionnaires.
Responses to the contextual questionnaires for the 2021 PILNA report suggest that response disruptions to education in the region remain physical in nature, indicating that countries are not yet ready to cope with remote learning.
“We have a long-standing relationship with EQAP, and we are proud to have partnered once again with countries in the Pacific to support the collection of PILNA results,” says Elizabeth Cassity, Senior Research Fellow in the Education and Development team at ACER. “These results provide an evidence base to improve the quality of education across the region, and are a powerful tool for all stakeholders invested in education in the Pacific as we speed towards 2030.”
PILNA results reporting has transitioned from a printed report distributed in the previous cycles to a digital version this year to make information easily accessible to all stakeholders and to allow users to easily dig deeper into data relevant to their fields.
The new approach aims to allow users to actively control data retrieval and display, enabling and encouraging greater data exploration rather than just passive consumption of information. This interactive approach is in response to the feedback received in the previous cycles.
The assessment falls under EQAP’s list of activities, specifically under the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF), and is funded by the governments of Australia and New Zealand.
The PILNA participating countries includes; Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Following the launch of the report, country specific reports will be presented to the participating nations via in-country meetings with the aim to allow individual countries to be fully aware of the findings of the assessment and help in improving the teaching and learning experience across the region.
For more information about PILNA, visit EQAP’s website here: https://eqap.spc.int/PILNA
Sonal Aujla, Communications and Visibility Officer, SPC | E: [email protected]
Fiona Collie, Senior Advisor, Media and Communications, ACER | [email protected]
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The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organisation in the region, owned and governed by its 27 member countries and territories. www.spc.int
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