Australia's Pacific regional education program focuses on those aspects of Pacific education systems that benefit most from a regional approach. Australia supports key education programs and partnerships designed to improve education system performance and ensure that Pacific Islander men, women, boys and girls can develop the skills they need to lead a productive life, promoting economic growth and enabling mobility of skills and qualifications.
In the Pacific, many students leave school without adequate basic literacy, numeracy and life skills. With the region struggling to improve economic growth in line with population growth, there is an imperative for Pacific Island countries to provide quality education and skills training suited to labour market demands.
Australia's regional education program complements bilateral efforts to address the Pacific's economic growth challenge and reduce poverty. A new regional sector investment plan is guiding DFAT’s implementation of aid policy frameworks for education in the Pacific at the regional level and improved alignment of education, skills development and labour market needs.
Key objectives include:
- improving the collection, analysis and use of region-wide education system information to inform decision making
- improving efficiency, sustainability, coherence and standards in the delivery of post-secondary qualifications, and
- increasing the numbers of students who gain international standard post-secondary qualifications in areas of labour market demand.
Australia-Pacific Technical College Stage II
Up to $240.6 million, 2011-2018
The Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) enrols adult students from 14 Pacific countries at campuses in Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands and offers targeted training in other Pacific Island Countries according to industry demand. More than 10,000 Pacific Islanders have benefited from this training since 2007, obtaining internationally recognised Australian technical and vocational education and training (TVET) qualifications in high-demand sectors, including automotive, manufacturing, construction, electrical, tourism, hospitality, education, management, and health and community services.
An independent evaluation of APTC conducted in 2014 highlighted that APTC has generated extensive goodwill among stakeholders. The review outlined that throughout Stages I and II, APTC has achieved a high completion rate and helped raise the quality standards in the wider TVET system in the Pacific through partnerships with national TVET institutions and provision of tertiary teaching and training qualifications. Employment results are strong with 95.4 per cent of graduates being employed and 90 per cent of employers reporting that APTC graduates achieved significant technical, personal and professional development through APTC training.
DFAT and APTC will work with employers to identify their needs to tailor job skill programs through regional technical and vocational and tertiary institutions. DFAT will also work with Australian agencies to discuss how more graduates can gain access to the Australian employment market.
DFAT has completed the design for the third phase of APTC, to be called the Australia Pacific Training Coalition and has approached the market through AusTender (www.tenders.gov.au) for a new managing contractor to implement the third phase from 1 July 2018.
University of the South Pacific Partnership 2014-2018
$70 million, 2014-2019
The University of the South Pacific (USP) was established in 1968 and provides quality, internationally-recognised higher education qualifications. USP produces quality graduates for the Pacific workforce, many of whom are in positions of influence in the region today. USP also provides research and policy advice which is Pacific-focused and relevant to addressing constraints to development and growth to its 12 member governments (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu). The USP-Government of Australia Partnership is aligned with the USP Strategic Plan 2013–2018 and is focused on achieving improved outcomes in Learning and Teaching, Research, Information and Communication Technology, and Regional Engagement. USP has more than 27,000 students studying at its 14 campuses and 11 centres. DFAT is designing the next phase of support to commence in early 2019.
Partnership with Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP)
$2.13 million, 2016-2018
EQAP is the regional institution mandated to improve education quality in the Pacific. Situated in the Pacific Community (SPC), EQAP provides a range of services to member countries such as regional assessments of literacy and numeracy, and support to national education assessments and education management information systems. Australia is a long-term partner of EQAP, and provides funding towards implementation of EQAP’s Business Plan.