Improving education in Nauru, one teacher at a time.

Published 12 September 2014

NauruNauru Island locals are taking advantage of a new teacher-training program delivered by the University of New England, which aims to increase the number of locally trained teachers.

The Nauru Teacher Education Project is the first time UNE has provided an Associate Degree in Teaching, with a Pacific focus to Nauruan locals.

Mother of six, Taraina Notte has spent the last 16 years as a stay-at-home mum on Nauru Island.

“I decided to go back to school to study for an Associate Degree in Teaching at UNE because I was really interested in childhood development.”

“It is busy trying to raise six children between the ages of three and 15 but I’m loving the challenge,” Taraina Notte said.

UNE Senior Lecturer in Education, Dr Pep Serow said Nauru has struggled for many years to fill teaching positions locally, leading to a heavy reliance on overseas educators.

“We are now moving to change that by improving the qualifications of 30 of Nauru’s pre-service and inservice teachers and by encouraging Nauruan high school students to become teachers,” Dr Serow said.

22-year old Niga Haulangi had a passion for maths and physics at school that eventually drew him back to the books a few years later.

“I was working on cargo ships as a shipping agent but I really wanted to become a teacher.  At high school I did a lot of peer teaching in maths and physics and wanted to continue with it.”

Dr Serow says by educating locals to become teachers, Nauru will reduce the high cost of bringing in overseas educators, who often only come for one or two years.

“At the moment they don’t have enough teacher role models who are Nauruan. The last thing Nauru needs is for young people to just think we get teachers from elsewhere.”

“This is not new problem. Aboriginal students in Australia face similar issues when they don’t have Aboriginal teachers as role models and mentors. We could learn a lot from what the Nauruan people are attempting to do in Education.”

Dr Serow says two UNE academics are permanently based on Nauru Island to provide face-to-face support as part of the project.

“This is the first time an international provider has designed a specific course which allows Pacific Island students to stay within their own community for the majority of their training while getting an internationally accredited degree with intensive long-term face-to-face support.”

“Next year, we will have 20 Nauruan UNE students visit Australia for one month where they will work alongside Australian teachers in the classroom,” Dr Serow said.

The first students will graduate in 2016.