COVID-19 response

Allocation: US$0.75 million

Years: 2020-2022

Grant agent: UNICEF

Key documents:

The US$750,000 COVID-19 grant supports:

  • the implementation of the Samoa Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
  • delivery of distance learning using different modalities (online, TV, radio, print), including procurement of laptops for teachers and radios for vulnerable households
  • emergency planning and hygiene supplies for schools as well as teacher training on psychosocial support
  • system resilience through development of guidelines and best practice in distance learning
  • special attention to students from low socioeconomic background, living in remote locations and with special needs

Even though there have been no COVID-19 cases in Samoa and schools have been fully open since June, the Samoan government made preemptive plans in case of school closure, like schools distributing packages to students equivalent to 2 months of school workload. The government has also made available educational television and radio broadcasting shows.

In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Samoa received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education in developing resources for remote learning and the preparation of a learning platform.

Education in Samoa

Regional strategy: PacREF

In 2018, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Education Ministers, in which Samoa participates, adopted the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) 2018-2030: Moving Towards Education 2030. PacREF outlines a transformative and sustainable regional education agenda aligned with global agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4, and Education 2030: Incheon Declaration on Education for All Framework for Action.

The 12-year framework promotes equitable access to high quality education by all Pacific Islanders with a view to enable their countries to effectively deal with the development challenges facing the Pacific region. The framework also encourages inclusivity and opportunities for equal access to informal, primary, secondary and tertiary education and training. It focuses particularly on education quality and the importance of working cooperatively in the region and beyond.

While Pacific countries integrate what they consider as the relevant parts of the PacREF Program into their national education policies, programs and practices, the Framework also provides a means for identifying and understanding similarities and differences across the region. It offers organizing mechanisms for sector planning, reporting and collaboration, and give development partners with an understanding of where the region’s resourcing priorities lie.

The PacREF has 4 key policy areas to maximize gains in student learning outcomes and well-being:

  1. Quality and relevance: Provide all learners with a safe and supportive environment, within which they are offered high quality learning opportunities that are meaningful, valuable, inclusive and future-focused.
  2. Learning pathway: Provide all learners equal access to multiple and seamless pathways and modalities of learning that will allow them to meet their full potential.
  3. Student outcomes and wellbeing: Make sure all learners acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attributes to enable them to contribute to their families, communities and to nation building.
  4. The teaching profession: Support and empower teachers through opportunities for continuous development, shared understanding and accountability.

PacREF is divided into three 4-year phases to facilitate in-depth program review by the education ministers.

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Latest grant

Students sitting on the grass during the official opening ceremony of the Safata College’s newly constructed multistory classroom block in Samoa – February 2018. Credit: US Embassy In New Zealand/Flickr

Students sitting on the grass during the official opening ceremony of the Safata College’s newly constructed multistory classroom block in Samoa – February 2018.

CREDIT: US Embassy In New Zealand/Flickr
Development objective: Equitably raise the quality of schooling and student learning outcomes across the Pacific region.
Allocation: US$14,997,510
Years: 2021-2024
Grant agent: ADB
Utilization: US$0

This first regional grant of US$14.9 million covers six countries: Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu. It supports the PacREF Program implementation, which is also supported by the New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade the PacREF implementing agencies and other development partners. The GPE grant covers 85% of the total costs of the PacREF program.

The program will produce an integrated set of regional goods, services and standards that are:

  • (i) tested and contextualized to reflect the prevailing circumstances in each participating country’s education system, and
  • (ii) subsequently embedded in those systems as routine practices.

The program has four components (the PacREF key policy areas):

  1. Increase the quality and relevance of education at all levels by providing all learners with a safe and supportive environment with high-quality, meaningful, valuable, inclusive, and forward-looking learning opportunities. This will consist of:
    • identifying and agreeing on a definition of non-cognitive skills
    • assessing the needs based on the status of the quality of learning environments
    • establishing quality assurance frameworks for school learning environments.
  2. Ensure that learners’ needs are met by giving them access to a broad range of programs, delivery modalities and seamless pathways to allow them to fulfill their maximum potential. This includes:
    • developing guidelines for quality early childhood education, tools for governance, management, quality assurance and financing
    • establishing a framework, tools and processes for home-to-school transition
    • setting up a framework for identifying learning pathways from early childhood education to adulthood
    • creating a Pacific skills portal and organizing a Pacific skills dialogue and summit.
  3. Make sure all learners achieve their maximum potential by acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, values and attributes to enable them to successfully contribute to their families, communities, and nation. This implies:
    • improving literacy and numeracy instruction through Waka Learning Hub used by in-service teachers
    • establishing a Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (primary)
    • aligning lower secondary assessment with SDG 4.1.1
  1. Support and empower teachers through opportunities for continuous development, shared understanding and accountability. This aims at developing competent, qualified, and certified teachers and school leaders who are fully supported, engaged, effective and committed to their students by:
    • setting up teacher competency standards
    • instituting accreditation and recognition of teacher education programs
    • establishing standards and qualifications in school leadership
    • creating a framework for continuous professional development.

Implementing agencies will provide technical support for the development and implementation of these tools and services, while countries are expected to make the best use of them to improve their national education systems, as well as enhance Pacific regionalism.

The grant complements the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) existing technical assistance project.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Utilization Grant agent
Program implementation 2021-2024 14,997,510 ** 0 ADB
COVID-19 2020-2022 750,000 667,279 UNICEF
Sector plan development 2017-2018 195,102 * 195,102 ADB
Program development 2020-2021 389,875 * 389,875 ADB
  Total 16,332,487 1,252,256  
Data last updated: May 26, 2023

** This is a regional grant for Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

* The program development grant is a regional grant for Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga. The sector plan development grant covers the Pacific region.

As part of its investment in civil society advocacy and social accountability efforts, GPE’s Education Out Loud fund is supporting the Samoa Education Network (SEN) for the 2019-2021 period. This builds on 11 years of Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) support to national education coalitions for their engagement in education sector policy dialogue.

Last updated May 29, 2021