Early childhood education in Tuvalu will get a $US14 million-dollar boost from the World Bank.
This is after the bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a grant for a new literacy project to support all schoolchildren.
The bank said Tuvalu was one of the smallest, most remote and climate change vulnerable countries in the world.
And while there was near universal access to basic education, the quality of schooling was impacted by low literacy exacerbated by under-developed curriculum and a lack of instructional materials particularly in Gana Tuvalu.
The bank said The Tuvalu Learning Project sought to address these issues by improving the readiness of children entering first grade and improving the reading skills of all students.
The project would provide teacher training for Early Childhood Care and Education Centres and weekly playgroups.
Public awareness programs and community outreach on the importance of early childhood stimulation, nutrition and health would also be delivered through radio and community meetings.
The project includes the nation-wide rollout of the Tuvalu Reading Program, which supports students in the early grades to learn to read in Gana Tuvalu through an explicit instruction teaching methodology and locally developed reading materials.
To ensure children in higher grades were not left behind, school enrichment activities would also be developed, including internet connectivity in all outer island schools to facilitate online learning and communications.
“School readiness and early reading skills are crucial stepping-stones for a child’s cognitive development, future learning, and human capital formation,” said the World Bank’s Michel Kerf.
“We are very pleased to be working with the Government of Tuvalu on this important project to support their vision to improve learning outcomes for children throughout the country.”
Research, policy reviews and student assessments will also be rolled out to understand education system weaknesses, strengthen education evidence and improve education management.
The project has been designed to complement education assistance provided by other development partners, including Australia, UNICEF and the Pacific Community.
The project builds on earlier work from the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning programme funded by the Global Partnership for Education and implemented by the World Bank from 2014-2019.
Based on the findings from this, the government developed a Tuvalu Early Education Roadmap (2019-2023) which shaped the design of the Tuvalu Learning Project.
“The Tuvalu Learning Project reflects the strategy of the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports to provide the key foundational skills students need in order to develop into the productive citizens that will lead our country in the future,” said the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Timi Melei.
The project is expected to benefit over 10,000 people, including children in Tuvalu enrolled in early childhood care, primary and secondary schools.