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Development assistance in the Pacific

Pacific regional – education


This page gives an overview of Australia's work in the Pacific education sector, under Pillar 2 (Stability) and Pillar 3 (Economic Recovery) of Australia's Partnerships for Recovery: Australia's COVID-19 Development Response. It also outlines key related initiatives and summaries of programming and related documents.

Investing in education outcomes for all children and youth across the Pacific has been a long-standing objective of Australia's aid program. Our education investments are guided by the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) which outlines a shared, regional education reform agenda among Pacific regional organisations and national education systems to 2030.

A key focus for Australia's aid program is supporting education and employment pathways for our shared region. Education and training are powerful drivers of economic growth, helping build strong communities, for a peaceful, resilient and prosperous Pacific. Australia invested $247.5 million in 2021-22 in education in the Pacific region.

The regional aid portfolio comprises regional scholarships, investments in regional education institutions, technical support for national education systems, research grants and educational linkages between Australia and the Pacific.

The Australia Awards provide scholarships for students to undertake university study, research and professional development in Australia and the Pacific.

Related initiatives

DFAT bilateral education programs support the implementation of Pacific island country national education plans in predominantly school and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sectors.

Related initiatives

University of the South Pacific (USP) Partnership

$86 million, 2019 to 2025

Australia has been investing in the USP, the region's pre-eminent tertiary organisation, for five decades. USP is a key source of graduates to industry and government in the region, providing the critical workforce for economic development, particularly in areas of new technology and responding to challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, renewable energy, and oceans, which are important to Australia's interests.

Our current partnership is worth $86 million over six years from 2019 to 2025. The partnership provides flexible funding to support implementation of USP's Strategic Plan, including efforts to meet the tertiary education needs of the Pacific.

The partnership also supports the Pacific to implement the PacREF, with a focus on improving the quality of teacher education in the region.

Related links

USP website

Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC)

$251.2 million, 2018 to 2025

The Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) is Australia's largest skills investment in the Pacific and Timor-Leste. It is focused on supporting inclusive skills development and ensuring training meets the needs of Pacific employers. This is achieved through sustained and targeted delivery towards three strategic outcomes:

  1. Graduates have improved employment outcomes
  2. Co-investment in skills training increases
  3. Selected TVET partners demonstrate quality TVET provision.

APTC works in partnership with local and national TVET institutions across ten countries (Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, and Solomon Islands) to deliver skills training. APTC works in coalitions with these institutions and their governments, alongside development partners and other stakeholders to promote TVET systems strengthening at the national and regional level.

APTC delivers Australian qualifications at Certificate II, III, IV and Diploma levels in the Pacific as well as skill sets, short courses and microcredentials. Qualifications are prioritised and delivered in support of each country's skills needs across industry sectors including health and community, agriculture, automotive, manufacturing, construction and electrical, tourism and hospitality.

20,148 people have graduated with full Australian qualifications (2007-2023) with 42% of those graduates female. A majority of those have remained in the region. This does not include the thousands who have benefited from short courses, microcredentials or qualifications delivered by APTC's partner national providers.

APTC graduates are supported to transition to employment to fill critical workforce shortages, earn an income and support regional productivity and growth. 87 per cent of APTC graduates report being employed after training (from surveys conducted between 2018 and 2023). In 2023, Pacific employer satisfaction with APTC graduates was 94 per cent and 92 per cent of Pacific employers were willing to employ another APTC graduate in the future.

A partnership between the Pacific Labour Facility and APTC helps meet Australia's workforce shortages, producing job-ready workers and Australian-qualified graduates in aged care and disability services. It also supports Pacific islanders become work-ready in the meat processing industry.

In 2020, DFAT commissioned a strategic review of APTC to ensure the program was positioned to support the Pacific's economic recovery from COVID-19 through skills development. You can find further information at the link below.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
APTC3 Strategic Review 2021 Review and management response
APTC3 Investment Design Document 2017 Design document
Independent Review 2014 Review

Related links

APTC website

Educational Quality and Assessment Programme (EQAP)

$18 million, 2017 to 2023 (with option to extend for five years)

Implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC), Australia's partnership with EQAP provides technical education services to Pacific education ministries, with a focus on assessment and using data to inform education policies and planning. EQAP administers the Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA), a reliable and comprehensive learning assessment tool, now in its fourth cycle (2012, 2015, 2018, 2021).

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Mid Term Review of the Education Quality Assessment Program Business Plan 2019-2022 2021 Mid term review
Pacific Register of Qualifications and Standards (PRQS): Strategic review report and management response 2017 Review and management response

Related links

EQAP website

Pacific Research Program (PRP)

Phase 1 - $23.25 million, 2017 to 2022

Related links

Phase 1 of the Pacific Research Program (PRP I) undertook high-quality research to inform evidence-based policy-making and program design by the Government of Australia and its partner governments and organisations.

Phase 2 - $20 million, 2022 to 2026

Phase 2 (PRP II) builds on Phase 1 of the program to foster strong partnerships between Australian and Pacific universities, and teach and train the next generation of Pacific researchers. Over the next four years, PRP II will also take forward new and ongoing research in key priority areas of: gender, inclusion and social change; labour mobility and integration; politics, governance and economic resilience; Papua New Guinea (and Bougainville); and security, regionalism and geopolitics. Phase II of the PRP will continue to be delivered by the DPA, Devpol and Lowy Institute consortium.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published Type
Independent Review of the Pacific Research Program and Management Response 2022 Review and management response
Pacific Research Program: Phase 2 Design Document 2022 Design document

Related links

PRP website

* The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is committed to high standards of transparency and accountability in the management of the Australian aid program through publishing information on our website, including policies, plans, results, evaluations and research. Our practice is to publish documents after the partner government and any other partners directly involved in the delivery of the initiative have been consulted. Not all material published on this site is created by the Australian aid program and therefore not all documents reflect our views. In limited circumstances some information may be withheld for reasons including privacy and commercial sensitivity.

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