Coffey, A Tetra Tech Company, is supporting Kiribati’s future development by improving access to relevant and quality education for the country’s children.

Kiribati, a remote, archipelagic micro-state in the Pacific Ocean, faces growing demographic, economic, social, and environmental concerns, including a rapidly increasing population and high unemployment. In addition, the country is affected by water, sanitation, and climate challenges due to its low-lying and tropical geography. Kiribati’s scattered islands and numerous communal groups present logistical barriers for implementing a country-wide education system, and limited, geographically dispersed building resources limit school construction projects.

The Kiribati government is focused on building the country’s future by providing quality education for all children, in turn developing a qualified and skilled domestic workforce. Tetra Tech is managing the Kiribati Education Improvement Program (KEIP), phases I through III, on behalf of the Australian Government to ensure young I-Kiribati complete their basic education with the necessary knowledge and skills to contribute to a productive and resilient Kiribati community. The program aims to improve learning outcomes for basic education for I-Kiribati girls and boys, including children with disabilities, and provide support to the Ministry of Education (MoE) to effectively plan, resource, and manage priority education sector activities.

Sub-standard, unsafe, and unhygienic infrastructure impacts the accessibility, delivery, and quality of education in schools and undermines learning outcomes for children. An environment where children—including children with disabilities—are physically and emotionally safe, have access to basic facilities, and have the resources they need is essential for learning. To ensure the local communities are provided with safe, hygienic schools, KEIP supports building new classrooms and refurbishing existing classrooms; upgrading water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities; implementing a school maintenance schedule; and supporting community outreach that keeps local residents informed and engaged throughout the progress.

Through KEIP, Tetra Tech is improving school infrastructure by applying the innovative KitSet school building model, which uses pre-fabricated modules purposely designed for Kiribati’s tropical conditions and logistical constraints. This sustainable model involves importing materials to Kiribati, where pre-fabricated sections of the school are assembled and transported to the school site. The materials and design provide a structurally sound, airy, well-lit, and secure environment. Because KitSet schools are elevated from the ground, they are less susceptible to flooding, which is particularly important given the environmental risks in Kiribati.

In 2018 KEIP completed the first phase of the War Memorial Primary School in South Tawara new and upgraded school infrastructure project, which includes two new blocks of classrooms containing a total of 18 classrooms and a new WASH facility with 13 flush toilets, including a disabled-access toilet. The next project phase will include renovating two existing blocks of classrooms containing 16 classrooms, a restroom block containing nine toilets including one disabled-access toilet, and a shower room; installing 16 water tanks with a total of 45,000 liter potable water capacity; and completing a new well for non-potable water supply.

Tetra Tech also focused on improving schools’ curricula and leadership. We provided capacity building and advisory services to MoE to improve professional development for teachers and school leadership. In 2018 we assessed curricula and provided recommendations for reforming local curricula for grades one to seven, focusing on early-grade reading and math. To ensure that testing also is being standardized across schools, we assisted MoE with collecting data, benchmarking, and evaluating results of national exams. We also supported Kiribati’s only pre-service and in-service teachers’ college—Kiribati Teacher College (KTC)—to improve the rigor and quality of academic programs and the teachers who implement them.

We are working with KTC to improve the teachers’ English skills and help them adopt English as a Second Language teaching principles in the classroom. Tetra Tech produced the revised KTC Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages (TESOL) and English language program guidelines and delivered an extended English language and TESOL program to primary teachers in South Tarawa and four outer islands.

Part of our efforts through KEIP include supporting inclusive education. In addition to modifying school buildings to accommodate all children, including those with disabilities, KEIP is helping MoE mainstream children into its regular classes. Specifically, we are helping improve the national education management system operation (KEMIS) with hardware and software support, including expanding the functions of KEMIS to include information on children with disabilities, assisting with various platforms for online KTC courses, and testing the use of digital tablets in the classroom. Tetra Tech also identified model inclusion schools and developed a teacher assistant program in support of the MoE’s inclusive education policy.

The KEIP project team has developed and rolled out a new year seven curriculum, including syllabus documents, teacher subject guides, and student learning resources; produced an assessment and certification framework for the new Junior Secondary School curriculum; and completed a review of the year one through six curricula, looking specifically at improving literacy and numeracy skills. Through KEIP, 96 percent of primary school teachers now attend a professional development workshop or coaching session, and we designed an instructional leadership program for all leaders of MoE schools. We also revised the pre-service teacher training course at KTC to align with the requirements of the Pacific Qualification Framework.

Through KEIP, the Australian Government and Tetra Tech are helping young I-Kiribati finish basic education with the knowledge and skills to contribute to a productive and resilient Kiribati community.