Equipping teachers to improve the region’s literacy standards

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SPC celebrating the International Day of Education 2024

The Pacific Community (SPC), in partnership with the Ministry of Education Fiji and the Teachers to Leaders (T2L) team, launched the PILNA TV videos during the International Day of Education celebrations on 24 January 2024.

The videos were created to equip teachers at the primary school level with techniques to improve their ability to teach reading comprehension in their classrooms. The PILNA TV videos can be accessed here.

In the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA) 2021 cycle, which was conducted by SPC’s Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP), challenges were identified in the areas of reading comprehension across the region. This meant that students at the primary school level couldn’t properly read and understand the texts that were part of their syllabus.

The PILNA TV videos will now act as a bridge between the issues identified in the PILNA 2021 cycle analysis and the literacy levels the region wants to achieve that align with the global Sustainable Development Goal 4 targets.

Torika Taoi, the Team Leader of EQAP’s Large Scale Assessment team, explained that “The PILNA analysis identified that our students need extra support in the area of reading comprehension. To achieve the best outcomes in reading comprehension, the teacher must include orientation, vocabulary and comprehension lessons with each text”.

Taoi added that at the Year 4 level, students are not, on average, meeting the minimum expected reading performance level in the region. At the Year 4 and Year 6 levels, 43% and 53% of students met the minimum expected reading performance standards, respectively, in 2021.

Lessons on the orientation of the text and a study of vocabulary provide students with a better chance of successfully answering comprehension questions.

Ms Selina Kuruleca, the Permanent Secretary of Fiji’s Ministry of Education

Selina Kuruleca, the Permanent Secretary of Fiji’s Ministry of Education and the event’s chief guest articulated the importance of reading, “Read for 30 minutes/day, every day for the rest of your life. Read from in-utero to death. Read by yourself, as a family, as a community. Read in vernacular, read in English. Read for fun and for study. Read to comprehend and read to grow.”

The PILNA TV videos reflect on the innovative ways the region is equipping itself to respond to the challenges that are being brought forward by the Pacific’s changing contexts. Improving education will not only help the region overcome the impacts of climate change but also make the Pacific more resilient.

Mark McKelson, Director of T2L Education, highlighted that “Our objective was to create video resources to build teacher capacity in the teaching of reading comprehension.  We worked with teachers in Fiji and used local picture storybooks to focus on the reading comprehension skills students need to improve their performance.  By using video and developing the website, our hope is teachers will have easier access to high-quality professional learning and mirror the teaching practices in their classrooms”. 

The launch of the PILNA TV videos complemented the theme of this year’s International Day of Education, “Learning for lasting peace”, and is part of the education priorities that the Pacific’s education leaders have identified.

The PILNA TV videos will be disseminated across the region ahead of the next cycle of the PILNA administration, which is scheduled for 2025.

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