Bolstering the Pacific’s monitoring of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 4 focussing on Education

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Launch of the Status of Pacific Education Report (SOPER) 2022

The Pacific Community (SPC) launched the Status of Pacific Education Report (SOPER) 2022, on 25 May in Fiji, which contains internationally comparable education statistics and monitors the region’s education progress towards the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP) partnered with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics (UIS) to ensure that internationally comparable education data from Pacific Island countries were available and used for regional monitoring and policy dialogues.

The indicators used to compile SOPER directly contributed to the monitoring and reporting of SDG 4 focussing on education.

EQAP’s Director, Dr Michelle Belisle, emphasised that “EQAP remains committed to working with UNESCO, UIS and member countries to strengthen data systems and the utilization of data for policy and planning across the Pacific”. “Through SOPER, the Pacific is able to advance its education progress to the global discussions led by UNESCO,” she added.

The SOPER 2022 is the second comprehensive report of a planned series of information papers on the status of Pacific education to be produced biennially by EQAP as part of the monitoring of the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) 2018–2030.

PacREF is the Pacific’s 12-year education roadmap that outlines the region’s education and training priorities and strategies. EQAP not only leads the monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) efforts of the PacREF programme but also has aligned its mandate set out by member countries with PacREF priorities.

The partnership between UIS and EQAP to produce SOPER also aims to equip Pacific Island countries to publish timely and regular high-quality education data for decision-makers at all levels to use proactively.

The Director of Education Administration of Palau, Raynold Mechol, explained that “The data provided in the report gives us a picture of areas of strengths as well as gaps that we need to focus on. There are parts of the report where Palau didn’t have any data and so that gives us an area where to help make sure that we provide all the relevant data so that Palau’s report could be complete. This will allow us to compare reports with other countries in the region as well as for reporting SDG 4 goals and other important international conventions”.

The UIS/EQAP partnership has been funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) since 2019. This funding agreement has supported the progress of the partnership’s activities around the UIS questionnaire completion and submission and the production of the 2020 and 2022 Status of Pacific Education Reports.

The SOPER launch noted positive feedback from key speakers from DFAT and UNESCO.

DFAT’s Senior Programme Manager, Natasha Verma, stressed that “Australia is very pleased to have supported this work through our ongoing partnership with EQAP alongside New Zealand. This is yet another example of the practical ways Australia and New Zealand are able to support our Pacific family”.

On a similar note, Nisha, the Director of the Office and UNESCO Representative to the Pacific States,  expressed to the attendees at the SOPER launch that “The Status of Pacific Education Report is a critical step forward in understanding the education sector needs in the region as well as providing the building block to go beyond PILNA (Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment). PILNA remains important but the Pacific needs to go one step forward and in this regard, the report is quite significant”.

SOPER is part of a series that is primarily designed to provide the region’s education ministers, their senior executives, and the region’s development partners with regular overviews of progress as it relates to education in the region, alongside emerging issues and challenges that are common to most, if not all, Pacific countries.

The 2022 report was endorsed by the Conference of Pacific Education Ministers (CPEM) in March 2023. Link to SOPER 2022: Status of Pacific Education Report 2022

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