A Boost for Early Learning and Literacy in Tuvalu

US$14 million Tuvalu Learning Project to focus on early childhood care and education, improvement of reading skills, and strengthened teacher capacity

WASHINGTON DC, June 5, 2020 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$14 million International Development Association grant to support early education and literacy through a new project in Tuvalu. The project will support all schoolchildren in Tuvalu by ensuring that education in the early years establishes a strong foundation for learning through local language literacy, community and parental engagement and strengthened teaching at the preschool through secondary levels.

Tuvalu is one of the smallest, most remote and climate-change vulnerable countries in the world. The atoll nation faces challenges related to distance to markets, a lack of access to services and limited employment opportunities. While there is near universal access to basic education, the quality of schooling is impacted by low literacy which is exacerbated by under-developed curriculums and a lack of instructional materials, particularly in the local language (Gana Tuvalu).

The Tuvalu Learning Project seeks to address these issues by improving the readiness of children entering first grade and improving the reading skills of all students. Through the project, Early Childhood Care and Education Centers will receive teacher training and weekly playgroups. Public awareness programs and community outreach on the importance of early childhood stimulation, nutrition and health will also be delivered through radio and community meetings.

The project includes the nationwide 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 are not left behind, school enrichment activities will 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. 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” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

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 (PEARL) program funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and implemented by the World Bank from 2014-2019. Based on the findings from this program, 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 Hon. Timi Melei, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports.

The project is expected to benefit over 10,000 people, including all children in Tuvalu enrolled in early childhood care, primary and secondary schools. Education Department staff, parents, caregivers and community members are expected to benefit from the project through community awareness campaigns and education training and capacity building activities.

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