Allocation: US$0.75 million
Grant agent: Save The Children
The US$750,000 COVID-19 grant supports:
- Developing home-schooling guides for early childhood, primary and lower secondary students
- Preparing audio lessons for pre-primary and primary students and video lessons for lower secondary students to complement home-schooling packages
- Developing home-based learning and guidance for parents
- Training teachers on delivering new modes of distance learning
- Developing policies and procedures to manage emergency response, disaster risk reduction and resilience building
In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Tonga received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education in planning its response to the coronavirus pandemic, in particular to develop distance learning programs.
Education in Tonga
Regional strategy: PacREF
In 2018, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat’s Education Ministers, in which Tonga 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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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):
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
** 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.
Education sector progress
The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Tonga.
Primary completion rate
Lower secondary completion rate
Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age
Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age
Pre-primary gross enrollment rate
Gender parity index for out-of-school rate
Public expenditure on education as share of GDP
Students/trained teacher ratio
Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.