Early Years Learning Workshop Opens in Tonga

October 25, 2016

Workshop to support children’s school readiness and reading improvement.

NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA, October 25, 2016 – A regional training workshop to support school readiness and reading for Pacific children and teachers has kicked off today in Nuku’alofa with opening remarks from Mr. Claude Tupou, Education CEO at the Ministry of Education and Training.

This is the second regional training workshop in as many years and falls under the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning (PEARL) Program. Over 50 participants are taking part in the workshop, representing eight Pacific Island countries as well as development partners, and practitioners.

“Investments in the early years of children’s lives and in the first grades of their education are among the most important actions governments can take,” said the Honourable Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of Tonga and Minister of Education and Training. “An important component of PEARL is the sharing of our experiences…to improve the design of interventions on school readiness and reading improvement. It is a privilege for Tonga to be the place for this important event.”

The four-day workshop will look at case studies from around the world including Mexico, Tuvalu, Tonga and Kenya to provide insights and learning opportunities for governments wanting to improve the foundations of children’s learning experience. A field trip to pilot programs carrying out low-cost, community, play-based activity groups and to schools implementing an instructional reading program, will also enable participants to learn from activities already underway in Tonga.

From conception to age 5, young children develop the foundations for language, thought and learning processes, as well as movement and coordination. Taking a holistic approach, PEARL is working with families and communities to create an environment to help children reach their full development potential. The program is also supporting teachers to incorporate new teaching methods for reading, fluency and comprehension in the Tongan language.

“Early childhood experiences can make big differences to education outcomes for children,” said Harry Patrinos, Education Practice Manager at the World Bank. “Through the PEARL Program we’re piloting a range of new teaching and learning methods and are seeing big improvements in learning outcomes. This workshop will help us to share those lessons and learn from others, so we all go away with new techniques and better practices.”

PEARL, a World Bank-led project funded through the Global Partnership for Education, is now in its third year of operation, with initial results in Tonga indicating the pilot projects are improving teaching practices and reading outcomes for students. The project is also supporting surveys on school readiness and early grade reading in Samoa, Kiribati and Tuvalu, with results providing governments with data to inform policy and program choices, as well as regional knowledge-sharing events such as this week’s workshop. 

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