Commercial Activity in Pacific Education

published 10 October 2019 updated 20 August 2021
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This study collected scoping data to document and understand the extent of privatisation and commercialisation of education in eight Council of Pacific Education (COPE) nations - the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

This scoping research identifies that, like many jurisdictions around the world, COPE nations are embarking on significant reforms to their education sector. Also, like many nations that embark on education reform agendas, the impact and consequences of these reforms often remain hidden. What this report demonstrates is that the reformist zeal that Sahlberg (2011) identified as the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) is impacting schooling in the Pacific Islands, albeit within the unique context of each nation. Sahlberg (2011) identifies six features of education reform principles that have been employed to try and improve the quality of education. Each of these are discussed in relation to the Pacific Islands:

  • Standardisation of and in education
  • An increased focus on literacy and numeracy where skills in reading and mathematics, at the expense of a broad curriculum.
  • Teaching to predetermined results
  • The transfer of innovation from corporate to the educational world where education policy and ideas are borrowed from the private sector
  • The adoption of test-based accountability policies in which school performance and raising student outcomes is linked to accrediting, inspecting and ultimately, rewarding or punishing schools
  • The increased control of schools in which there is a drive to collect data to identify and target low-performing schools.

The report also identifies a number of areas for further research to better understand the elements (and related components) of school provision in the Pacific.