People connections in the Pacific
New initiatives in Australia’s education partnerships in the Pacific
The expansion of Australia's education linkages with the Pacific builds on Australia's long-standing interests in regional education and human development to support economic growth and reduce poverty. These new initiatives complement existing education programs under the aid program and other flagship Australian programs such as Australia Awards and the New Colombo Plan.
Pacific Secondary School Scholarships Program
As part of further expanding Australia's education links with the Pacific, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would deepen educational links with the region.
This included a new package of scholarships to support more Pacific students to study at secondary school in Australia. Due to COVID-19 and related travel restrictions the process for awarding scholarships under the Pacific Secondary School Scholarships Program (PSSSP) has been temporarily paused.
Australia–Pacific BRIDGE School Partnerships Program
Under the Pacific Step-up, the Government introduced the successful international BRIDGE schools partnership program into the Pacific. Australia then further deepened educational links by extending the Australia-Pacific BRIDGE School Partnerships program to further develop relationships between Australian and Pacific teachers, support collaboration and intercultural learning, and facilitate exchanges between teachers on education best practice.
In 2020, the program met the challenge of COVID-19 by pivoting to deliver its engagement, teaching and learning exclusively online, focussing on improved digital connectivity to maintain and build partner educator engagement and skills. The program plans to resume its Australia-Pacific teacher visits and exchanges component in 2021 once travel restrictions are lifted.
Science Circus Pacific
The innovative Science Circus Pacific program (SCP) aims to establish sustainable, Pacific-led science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education and communication programs, and in the longer term to launch the Pacific's first interactive science centres, targeted at students, teachers and their communities.
SCP is successfully delivering a program to promote innovative STEM education to secondary and primary teachers and students in Fiji and Samoa, and plans to expand its program further across the Pacific.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, SCP pivoted to a strong social media and digital focus to deliver its capacity building, education and engagement activities – maintaining strong people-to-people links – after regional travel bans made it necessary to suspend its Pacific in-country visits program. SCP will resume visits to the Pacific in 2021 after travel bans are lifted.