fbpx 45052-001: Quality Primary Education in the North Pacific | Asian Development Bank

Regional: Quality Primary Education in the North Pacific

Sovereign (Public) Project | 45052-001 Status: Closed

The proposed regional TA is consistent with ADB's Pacific Approach 2010-2014, which specifies education as an operational priority. The sector is one of the 5 focus areas of the ADB's Strategy 2020. The TA will support the northern Pacific countries to introduce EGLA and individualized learning and assessment approaches in reading and numeracy as a sustainable tool for improving learning outcomes, contributing to other development works funded by other partners.

Project Details

Project Officer
Thonden, Chimi Pacific Department Request for information
  • Regional
  • Technical Assistance
  • Education
Project Name Quality Primary Education in the North Pacific
Project Number 45052-001
Country Regional
Micronesia, Federated States of
Marshall Islands
Project Status Closed
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 8066-REG: Quality Primary Education in the North Pacific
Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction US$ 1.35 million
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Gender Equity and Mainstreaming
Governance and capacity development
Sector / Subsector

Education / Education sector development

Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Some gender elements
Description The proposed regional TA is consistent with ADB's Pacific Approach 2010-2014, which specifies education as an operational priority. The sector is one of the 5 focus areas of the ADB's Strategy 2020. The TA will support the northern Pacific countries to introduce EGLA and individualized learning and assessment approaches in reading and numeracy as a sustainable tool for improving learning outcomes, contributing to other development works funded by other partners.
Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

Over the past decade, the United Nations' Education for All campaign and the Millennium Development Goals have focused their attention on educational achievements. This attention has led to measurable success. On the whole, Pacific island countries (PICs) have made significant progress toward universal access to primary education. However, almost all PICs have identified that student learning outcomes still lag significantly behind improvements in access to schooling (ADB, 2007). Evidence from most PICs that participate in international assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) indicates that Pacific students are greatly under-represented in the high achieving groups in literacy and mathematics assessments. Nearly one third of students in PICs could only complete the simplest reading tasks that PISA measures, compared with only 9% of European students. Similarly, for mathematics, nearly one third of students in PICs performed at the lowest levels in the PISA assessment.

Challenges with learning in many schools - whether in PICs or in high income countries - often begin during the first year of a child's schooling. The failure of children to acquire basic skills in literacy and numeracy in the early grades leads to increased grade repetition and dropouts, and ultimately reduced life-chances and social skills. Yet few developing countries, including PICs, give priority to measuring how well children are acquiring reading and mathematics skills in the early grades. Many countries develop national assessments in an attempt to measure learning outcomes against nationally defined standards (UNESCO, 2007) , but nearly all national and international assessments are paper-and-pencil tests administered to students in grade 3 and above. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), the Ministry of Education began using the Marshall Islands Standardized Achievement Test (MISAT), but MISAT is only intended to measure the learning outcomes against students who are above grade 3. Because these tests assume that students can read and write, it is not always possible to distinguish between students who score poorly because they lack the knowledge tested by the assessments, or because they lack basic reading and comprehension skills.

Countries in the Pacific region have made some advances in terms of systematic assessment of student performance, although more progress is needed. Most PICs have conducted at least one national student assessment since 2000, but the scientific reliability and validity of these assessments is said to vary greatly (UNESCO, 2007). Ministries of education in most PICs lack the experience and expertise to carry out rigorous assessments of learning outcomes. In September 2010, representatives from the 11 Ministries of Education in PICs met in Papua New Guinea and agreed to support a new learning assessment tool at early grades in primary education. The early grade learning assessment (EGLA), which includes both literacy (EGRA) and numeracy (EGMA), has been referred as a preferred assessment tool. Three PICs have already begun implementing EGRA in partnership with the World Bank while several others have considered starting a pilot EGLA (EGRA) in 2011. EGLA is a simplified assessment tool that could report on the foundation levels of student learning, including an assessment of the first steps students take in learning to read, recognizing letters of the alphabet, reading simple words, and understanding simple mathematics. The initiative was started in Africa in partnership with US Agency for International Development (USAID).

EGLA will support the PICs to begin the process of measuring, in a systematic way, how well primary school pupils in lower grades are acquiring literacy and numeracy, and ultimately spur more effective efforts to improve performance in this core skill. In Tonga, EGLA is integrated as part of primary school curricula and learning materials and teaching strategies are tailored according to each student's learning achievement. Based on the successful outcomes of Tongan EGLA, many PICs have now expressed interest in replicating EGLA in their countries.

During discussions in the September 2010 meeting, two northern Pacific countries signaled their intention to introduce EGLA in their countries. The proposal was also discussed with other development partners and agreed that all PICs should follow the Tonga model, to the extent possible, as a successful example in order to set common parameters for future regional comparisons. The PICs have also agreed to work closely with the Asia South Pacific Board for Educational Assessment (ASPBEA) which has been supporting the literacy survey in the region.

The proposed TA supports RMI, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau to initiate EGLA at grades 2 and 5 of selected primary schools. The objective is to help the target countries begin the process of measuring, in a systematic way, how well children in the early grades of primary are acquiring reading and mathematical skills, and ultimately spur more effective efforts to improve performance in this core learning skill. The TA will replicate Tonga's integrated approach to EGLA in the above three northern Pacific countries. To strengthen the linkage between learning assessment and learning method, the TA will also support improved teaching techniques and learning approaches in reading and numeracy, adopting a methodology of individualized learning and assessment based on repetition, accuracy and speed. This approach has been successfully trialed in more than 46 countries including India, Indonesia, and Vietnam and has a proven track record. Individualized learning and assessment methodology providers have existing operations in the Pacific region through their operation centers in Australia and New Zealand.

The TA is proposed to be funded by Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR). ADB will work closely with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteers who already have significant experience in this area as a result of their role as school teachers in the three countries. To the extent possible, EGLA core strategy will be aligned with other development partners who are supporting EGLA elsewhere in the region. This will promote further regional consistency and efforts to monitor the learning outcomes in primary education.

Impact Improved access to quality education for primary school students in the FSM and the RMI
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome Participating governments integrate learning and assessment approaches promoted under EGLA in nine schools
Progress Toward Outcome Both FSM and RMI are integrating learning and assessment in 13 schools. More important, both FSM and RMI are considering institutionalizing EGLA within their national assessment system for grades 3 and 5.
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

1. Pilot schools implement EGLA

2. Develop individualized and group learning approaches

3. Integration of EGLA with the EMIS considered

4. EGLA data regional comparison and replication nationwide

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

1. EGLA piloted in 13 schools in 2 countries. This activity has been completed.

2. 163 teachers trained in in 13 schools in 2 countries in November 2013. Approximately 50 principals, specialists and teachers trained in May/June 2014. This activity has been completed.

3. EMIS and EGLA integration feasibility completed in RMI; will be considered in FSM in conjunction with NDOE and MCREL. This activity has been completed.

4. EGLA data being finalized for 3 regional education forum in June-July 2015. These are: (i) Pacific Islands Bilingual Bicultural Association (PIBBA) Conference in Kosrae, FSM on June 23 - 25 will have 250 people from the North Pacific (RMI, FSM states, Palau, Guam, CNMI) where the RETA will showcase the value of bilingual assessment as seen through the EGLA experience; (ii) Pacific Education Conference (PEC) in Majuro, RMI on July 27 - 31 with 800 in attendance from US-affiliated Pacific islands such as CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, and also Hawaii, US, and development partners. The Micronesian Teacher Education Conference (MTEC) is being convened in July 7-9 in Pohnpei, FSM will also have state presentations on the EGLA experience. This activity has been completed.

Geographical Location Regional
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design The TA is expected to assist the governments and other key stakeholders in the development of an implementation strategy for the early grade learning assessment (EGLA) and individualized learning and assessment approaches in reading and numeracy , including a road map with indicative timeline and scope with work. The TA will support the government in completing an analysis that will form the basis of this strategy. The TA team will help ADB and the governments with any other assignments in addition to the terms of reference below, as may be reasonably expected within their scope of work.
During Project Implementation ADB will be the executing agency of the TA, responsible for all recruitment of consultants and procurements in close consultation with the host governments. The MOEs of FSM, Palau and RMI will be the implementing agencies. Each MOE will identify a responsible officer for coordination of the outputs with consultants. Training and workshops will be implemented and administrated by the consultants. Implementing units of the MOEs will work closely with existing volunteers from the JICA at primary schools to coordinate and monitoring the outputs 1-3 in each country.
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services The proceeds of the TA will be disbursed in accordance with ADB's Technical Assistance Disbursement Handbook. The TA will require total of 66 person-months of consultants (42 person-months of international and 24 person-months of national): (i) team leader for 12 person-months, (ii) EGLA experts in literacy and numeracy for 10 person-months; (iii) education data management experts for 10 months; (iv) education quality specialist for 10 months; and (iv) 24 person-months of national consultants in education statistics and data management specialist for 6 months; pool of consultants for 18 months. The consultants will be engaged individually by ADB in accordance with ADB's Guidelines on the Use of Consultants (2010, as amended from time to time).
Procurement Procurement will follow ADB's Procurement Guidelines (2010, as amended from time to time). Some of the consultants will work on an intermittent basis or will be recruited later on responding to government requirements and the progress made during the implementation.
Responsible ADB Officer Thonden, Chimi
Responsible ADB Department Pacific Department
Responsible ADB Division Urban, Social Development & Public Management Division, PARD
Executing Agencies
Asian Development Bank
6 ADB Avenue,
Mandaluyong City 1550, Philippines
Concept Clearance 08 Aug 2011
Fact Finding 17 Aug 2011 to 26 Aug 2012
Approval 29 Mar 2012
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 24 Sep 2015

TA 8066-REG

Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
29 Mar 2012 - 29 Mar 2012 30 Apr 2014 31 Jul 2015 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
0.00 1,350,000.00 300,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1,650,000.00 29 Mar 2012 1,139,930.52

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