A new initiative to build inclusive education practices into Nauruan classrooms is underway, led by the University of New England (UNE) School of Education in collaboration with the Nauruan Government.
Associate Professor Pep Serow, Project Leader of Pacific Education and Development initiatives, and Research Coordinator for UNE’s School of Education, says the $680,000 project, signed this month, builds on UNE’s role in writing the first inclusive education policy for the Nauruan Government, which was ratified in 2018.
“This new project means we can now help teachers put the theory of the inclusive education policy into practice through a series of workshops and classroom support in Nauruan schools over a period of two years,” she says.
Inclusive education – supporting all students’ individual needs – is the latest in a range of initiatives by the Nauruan Government ensuring teachers can be educated on the island, rather than abroad, and stay to teach local children, helping to maintain the island’s culture.
“Over the past eight years UNE has supported Nauru in making many progressive changes to the delivery of education, starting with developing the first Nauruan teaching curriculum and assessment strategy. The focus for the next two years is local teacher education and catering to individual student needs.
“This project, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade via the Nauruan Government, is about building local teaching capacity to benefit all school students in Nauru,” Pep says.
“Teachers will develop skills to work with students with a range of needs in their classrooms, and they’ll learn to differentiate their teaching to meet student learning needs with a focus on literacy and numeracy. The workshops address expertise in screening and assessing students and the development of individualised learning plans.”
The first round of teacher workshops are currently taking place, delivered by University of Newcastle inclusive education expert Angela Page.
One inclusive education specialist from UNE will also be on the island for eight weeks of every school term until the end of 2020, and a further two UNE education staff will provide professional development workshops throughout the two-year program.
Pep says the focus of 2019 workshops is equipping Prep to Year 5 teachers with the inclusive education training. Workshops in 2020 will focus on workshops for teachers of Year 6 to Year 12 students.
The project also includes collecting data on the impact and effectiveness of inclusive education procedures in Nauruan teaching and schools as a result of the workshops and in-school mentoring.
Image: Nauruan UNE education students at work in the UNE learning centre, Nauru.