A new study to explore the teaching practices of English Language teachers at the Kiribati Teachers College, the country’s only teacher training institution, has begun.
The study, which was jointly designed by Kiribati’s Ministry of Education and the Pacific Community (SPC), aims to improve the ability of English language teachers to effectively teach the literacy skills that students need.
The ministry’s Policy, Planning, Research and Development Division (PPRD) and SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP), have started implementing the data collection phase of the research at the college. Kiribati’s Permanent Secretary for Education Roreti Eritai said this research effort was just one of several research partnerships the ministry is committing to complete this year.
“Education research, toward improving the quality of teaching and learning processes and the country’s education services, is an investment for the future,” she said.
SPC’s Education Research and Policy Team Leader Michael Noa held similar sentiments.
“The joint research will seek to understand the challenges and opportunities in the language support programme at the college, from the academic staff as well as the students’ perspectives," said Noa.
English is Kiribati’s official language. For I-Kiribati, like many other Pacific islands people, speaking the English language is a challenge. Recent studies show that the country’s school leavers are unable to meet the minimum English literacy proficiency level. These studies include large scale assessments, like the national Standardised Test of Achievement in Kiribati (STAKI) and the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessments (PILNA).
“We envisage that the findings of this new research will contribute towards informing changes and strengthening the knowledge, policy, and practice of the college’s teacher education programmes,” said Noa.
The project is funded by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) under its Innovation Funding Programme. EQAP’s technical partner, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), is also supporting the research which aligns with the Kiribati Education Sector Strategic Plan’s (ESSP) in improving the quality of teacher graduates and bilingual service delivery.
“The findings will be used to engage wider stakeholder consultations to discuss opportunities in identifying and addressing the needs of the education sector in Kiribati,” said Noa.
The College is Kiribati’s only institute for training primary and junior secondary school teachers. It runs a three-year advanced diploma programme that includes two mandatory English language courses for the first two years.