PacREF partnership releases report
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Government heads of education meet with UNICEF for PacREF partnership

Government heads of education meet with UNICEF for PacREF partnership

by Freya Lucas

March 13, 2024

Government heads of education systems from 15 Pacific Island countries, together with UNICEF as part of the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) partnership, launched a new Status Report on Pacific Early Childhood Education Systems in the region at a four-day conference in Nadi, Fiji, which began earlier this week. 


Dr. Tufoua Panapa, Tuvalu’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Education, and Chair of PacREF said the launch of the Status Report underscored the commitment to transparency, accountability and shared learning.


“Together we will craft a Pacific regional call to action that resonates with the unique settings of our region ensuring that no child is left behind,” Dr. Panapa said. “This conference will serve as a platform to capture our regional and national visions and priorities for Early Childhood Education under PacREF.”


Over the next four days, the CEOs and Permanent Secretaries of education will be dissecting the findings of the new Status Report and sharing their successes and lessons learnt with each other. 


The discussions from the conference will enable the CEOs and Permanent Secretaries to work with their governments to address the gaps and create better early childhood learning for children in the region.


This will be supported by the formation of an early-learning taskforce responsible for providing leadership on early childhood education (ECE) to Pacific governments and stakeholders.


“Early childhood education is vital to ensure that every child has the opportunity to begin with a strong foundation on the path of learning and education,” UNICEF Pacific’s Deputy Representative, Ms. Roshni Basu said, emphasizing the importance of strong and resilient ECE systems that extend from robust policies to increased investments in quality and contextualised early childhood teaching and learning in classrooms as well as communities.


“It is imperative that strategies aiming to improve learning outcomes and skills development focus on the criticality of investments in early childhood,” she said.


In 2017, UNICEF, in partnership with the then Pacific Regional Council for Early Childhood Care and Education (PRC4ECCE), compiled the first Pacific ECCE Status Report, which highlighted critical national efforts of 15 Pacific Island countries needed to secure the best development of young children for ECE.


Now, seven years after that report, the Status Report highlights progress, as well as new achievements and challenges. Some of these achievements include improved overall access and attention to ECE in education legislation.


The report was developed under the guidance of ECE focal points from each of the 15 countries and has benefitted from support from partners under the PacREF. Country representatives and regional partners have again come together at the ECE conference this week to discuss what has been done to support the full realization of ECE, the challenges faced, as well as plan changes needed to make further progress on ECE.


Meanwhile, PacREF Coordinator, Mr. Filipe Jitoko, said regional heads of education understand the importance of ECE in a child’s learning journey and the four-day workshop has accelerated this progress further.


“PacREF is delighted to see the strides towards ensuring every child has access to ECE. However, there are challenges which governments face in this endeavour, and we are here to find solutions to these obstacles as one Pacific family,” Mr. Jitoko  said.


The 15 Pacific Island Countries leading the Report and the Conference are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.


For more information about PacREF visit

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