Thursday, August 2, 3:30-4:00, SUB Ballroom B, Theme: Profession

The remote Pacific Island nation of Nauru is the smallest republic in the world. It is a tropical island with an area of 21 square kilometres (8.1 square miles) and a population of approximately 11,350 residents. It sits 61 kilometres south of the equator and is 4 hours flying time north east of Australia. Throughout the 1970 and 80s, royalties from phosphate mining on the island resulted in Nauru experiencing an extremely high per capita income, however, education was largely neglected and when funds from mining declined, the education system in Nauru was suffering from a lack of local teachers with the shortfall being made up by expatriate teacher mainly from Fiji. To address this, in 2012 the Nauru Government called for tenders to establish teacher education program and the University of New England was awarded the Nauru Teacher Education Project. The project involves on-line study with support from two on-island tutors and is unique to small island states. It allows students, of whom many are female with large families, to study without leaving the island. Implemented in 2013, it has been running successfully in often-difficult circumstances and to date 33 students have graduated with an Associate Degree in Education (Pacific Focus) in primary and secondary education. Upon graduation these teachers entered the school system but a number have opted to continue studying part-time for a full BEd. This presentation outlines the project conceptualisation and establishment and reports on a significant amount of associated research that informs its ongoing implementation.