SPC to test literacy and numeracy levels in Pacific
On World Literacy Day, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community sent out its second major assessment of literacy and numeracy in four years.
On World Literacy Day, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community is sending out its second major assessment of literacy and numeracy in four years.
Dr Michelle Belisle, who is the director of the Educational Quality and Assessment Programme, says the assessment is in English, French and seven other Pacific languages and targeting children in years four and six.
She says the organisation is looking at how to increase the quality of education, and she told Alex Perrottet she hopes the results show progress since the 2012 assessment.
MICHELLE BELISLE: The results at that time were fairly stark, only three in 10 year four and six children were actually meeting basic competencies in literacy and so there was of course a regional response to say that this is something that we really need to work on. And there's been all kinds of efforts over the past several years in terms of improving literacy with students and numeracy across the region and this year we are embarking on a second round of the PILNA - Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment to get a sense of where we are now. But it's not about the assessment itself as much as what do we do with the results? How do we use the information we find to help students to achieve better in literacy?
ALEX PERROTTET: What are the solutions? I guess you're hinting there at the classroom level in terms of how to get children to keep improving and hitting those competency levels?
MB: Right, so that's sort of where our focus is now and certainly if a person had the answer to that question the world would beat a path to their door, because globally it's an issue that students' literacy levels are not as high as they could be and the importance of being able to read and understand and communicate is just critical to the success in a sustainable economy. Now we have 13 countries in the Pacific region who are participating and somewhere over 50,000 students in about 700 or more schools across the region and that will be happening in the next several weeks and we envisage having the results back and available to the countries in early 2016.
AP: What about the provision of resources. What tends to happen, and particularly in the more remote schools in the Pacific, is that there's certainly goodwill but there's just a lack of resources. It might just be books to read and books that are pitched at the level of the students that require them. Is your organisation or other organisations involved in providing the resources to the schools?
MB: So our organisation in particular isn't involved in resource provision in that sense. We are part of the Pacific community and we provide technical support in the area of education and education quality and assessment. Certainly there are a number of organisations across the region, including non-governmental organisations, including the various ministries, including many of the funding partners who are all working in different parts of the education sector towards all different ways of providing support.
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