Education in Tonga
- Education institutions
- Tonga – Education Sector Study (2003)
- Strategic Plan for Education in Tonga (2003-13)
- Tonga Education Policy Framework (2004-19)
- Improve equitable access and quality of universal basic education up to Year 8
- Improve access and quality of post-basic education
- Improve the administration of education and training.
- Students’ outcomes at all levels, especially in literacy and numeracy, in the early years of basic education
- Teachers’ competencies at all levels, which include both preand in-service professional development
- Teaching and learning environments, which include teaching and learning resources, equipment, and physical facilities
Minister of Education, Hon. Dr ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki
Tonga’s Vision for Education is: ‘The people of Tonga will achieve excellence in education that is unique to Tonga.’ The mission of the education sector is: ‘To provide equitable, accessible, relevant, and sustainable quality education for all Tongans that will enable Tonga to develop and become a learning and knowledge society.’
Therefore, over the last ten years Tonga has embarked on an ambitious educational reform programme, which began with the development of a series of planning documents:
All of these were aligned to Tonga’s Strategic Development Plan 8 (2006-10), the Pacific Education Development Framework (2009-15), the Education for All Goals, and the Millennium Development Goals.
The education development programme that emerged from these documents was the Tonga Education Support Program (TESP).The main goals of TESP I were to:
The Ministry has developed a new Tonga Education Lakalaka 1 Policy Framework (2013-2017), which has become TESP II.
Australia has donated AUD$10.5 million and NZD$9 million to fund TESP II for the next three years. TESP II focuses on three key policy areas:
From these programmes and activities, the ministry expects to achieve at least 99 per cent access to, participation in, and 99 per cent retention and completion rate at UBE level, and that all students at the end of Form 7 or Year 15 of compulsory education (age four to 18) will have achieved the minimal requirements for the core attributes of the Tongan school leaver and that they will leave school with some meaningful qualification.
As with all reforms and plans, they are only as good as the capabilities of those who implement them. The LakalakaPolicy Framework is only a tool to guide the ministry in performing its core functions and responsibilities. The ministry, in theorising education, its vision and mission, processes and outcomes, uses the LakalakaFramework to aid it in this exercise. It sets the context in which education occurs, the purposes for which it is performed, the processes that are used, the performers, the resources they need and the operational matters that must be considered to achieve excellence in the dance, which will generate mafana and malie, the transforming qualities of education, that can leave a legacy of excellence.
The Lakalaka is a symbol of excellence, and this is the vision for education in Tonga.
1. The Lakalaka is one of Tonga’s major art forms, consisting of poetry that is sung and accompanied by dance. Its importance and uniqueness was recognised by UNESCO in 2003 when the Tongan Lakalaka was declared a ‘Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’. It is the only Pacific performing art that has been recognised as a masterpiece
Joined Commonwealth: 1970
Population: 105,000 (2012)
GDP p.c. growth: 1.7% p.a. 1990–2012
UN HDI 2012: World ranking 95
Net primary enrolment: 89.9 (2012)
Adult literacy: 99.4% (2011)
Tonga’s public spending on education accounts for approximately 5 per cent of GDP.
The Ministry of Education oversees the education system and the Education Act of 1974 enables it to set aims, syllabi, examinations and teaching methods. The main parts of education administration are the Curriculum Development Unit and the Examination Unit.
There are nine years of compulsory education starting at the age of six. Primary school comprises six years and secondary six, with cycles of four and two years. More than 95 per cent of primary students attend state schools, while about 90 per cent of secondary students attend church schools. Some 90 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2005). The school year starts in February.
Tonga is a partner in the regional University of the South Pacific, which has its main campus in Suva, Fiji, and a campus at ‘Atele, about 7 km from Nuku’alofa, where some 1,400 students are enrolled each semester for preliminary, foundation and degree courses, using the university’s distance-learning facilities. Literacy among people aged 15-24 is 99.4 per cent (2011).
University of the South Pacific: www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=usp_tonga_campus