Members of EQAP's governing board, the Pacific Board for Educational Quality, and representatives from EQAP's development partners at the board's annual meeting in 2019. ©Irene Manarae/SPC
FOR the intrinsic values of formal schooling to be fully realised by the Pacific's people, a robust education system is vital. Its robustness is dependent on every part of the education system. From a curriculum's relevance and quality, a teacher's competency to teach and instil a joy for learning, effective school leadership, and to an enabling school environment.
All these make for a robust or quality education system. Add this to a supportive and responsive family network and the resultant learning experience is one every Pacific child needs and deserves. This is the ultimate goal of the Educational Quality and Assessment Programme, the Pacific Community's education programme.
The programme, better known by its acronym EQAP, is the region's technical support organisation on education. It is mandated to work with all SPC member countries to support their efforts to build a robust education system. To date, it works with 15 of SPC's 26 member countries. A wide range of support is rendered to these systems, upon their requests. This includes intervention strategies to tackle learning disparities in literacy and numeracy, curriculum quality, web-based solutions for learning and teaching, and computer programming to ensure purpose-driven information management systems.
EQAP was first known as the South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment. As shown in the timeline below, SPBEA was established in 1980. Its primary role was to assist the Pacific region and its member countries develop assessment procedures towards their national or regional certificates. After a little more than 30 years, the member countries developed their own national Form 6 qualifications programme. By then SPBEA's work had expanded beyond assessments.
In 2010 the entity joined the Pacific Community and, after an independent review, its name was changed to the Committee Secretariat of the Pacific Board for Educational Quality (SPBEQ). A governing body, the Pacific Board for Educational Quality, was also set up and is one of three sub-committees of the Pacific Community's governing committee, the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA). About two years later, SPBEQ relocated from Suva's central business district to SPC's regional Luke Street campus in Nabua. This was symbolic of the intent to transition SPBEQ into the Pacific Community's education programme. It was at this point that it adopted its present moniker, the Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP).