The Kingdom of Tonga is a small state of the Commonwealth made up of 176 islands with a population of about 105,000. 


School-age Population by Education Level1









Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Secondary Education
for the school year ending 20151









Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Tertiary Education1









Percentage of female teachers in 1




Secondary (2015)





1. UNESCO Institute for Statistics Data Centre, retrieved in March 2020


Literacy rate (2011)1




Adult (15+) literacy rate


Adult (15+) literacy rate



Economic Activity (2010)1




Adult (15+) economic activity


Adult (15+) economic activity



Political Decision Making (2014)1


Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament



Life expectancy (2012)1









1. COL gender country profile April 2015 


14.4 105.8
Fixed-telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1 Mobile-cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1



2.9 62.7
Fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1 Mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants1



40.5 41.2
Households with a computer (%)1 Individuals using the internet (%)1



1. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ICT Eye Country profile, retrieved in March 2020



COL’s work in Tonga is primarily in the areas of Lifelong Learning for Farmers, technology-enabled learning, technical and vocational skills development, and tertiary education through the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth.

Knowledge Management and Technology

  • Following Cyclone Gita, COL deployed 25 Aptus devices and 250 high-quality tablet computers in Tonga in 2018. The cyclone destroyed power grids and schools, causing a disruption in teaching schedules. It also affected routine teaching in some schools and forced children to take classes in tents.

Learn more about Aptus.

Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F)

  • L3F is being implemented in partnership with the Tonga Business Enterprise Centre (TBEC), a facility of Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. L3F was initiated in Tonga for the first time with guidance from the National Reserve Bank of Tonga, with the pilot phase being directed toward building TBEC’s capacity in the development and delivery of multimedia-based open and distance learning (ODL) courses. The pilot phase of the initiative reached 200 learners; the aim is to replicate it throughout Tonga.
  • With COL’s support, TBEC brought together nine partners to support L3F, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Local Government, civil society organisations, exporters and ICT service providers. The organisation developed a financial literacy course in both print-based and mobile phone-based formats. The print-based course is reaching 202 learners (40 per cent women), while the mobile phone-based course is being delivered to at least 100 participants via text messages. The unique aspect of L3F in Tonga is that it has attracted young people (ages 20–49) on a wide scale and may therefore provide a model for sharing with other Commonwealth regions that are still struggling to attract youths to agriculture.

Learn more about the Lifelong Learning for Farmers initiative.

Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development

  • COL and the University of the South Pacific work collaboratively in supporting the Pacific Centre for Flexible and Open Learning for Development (PACFOLD), a regional centre for capacity building in open and distance learning (ODL) in the Pacific. The centre’s priorities include: advocacy and capacity building for flexible and open learning for sustainable development; the development of regional and national policies on open, distance and flexible learning; and research on flexible and open learning.
  • In 2017, the online community PACFOLD Learn was launched and PACFOLD offered its online course on Flexible Skills Development, with participants from across the region.
  • COL and USP launched a new MOOC titled “Understanding the Blue Economy” in 2017, which was developed through VUSSC. The course will be of particular interest to small island states and was made available to learners globally.
  • Another recent MOOC, Climate Change and Pacific Islands, offered by USP in partnership with COL and UNESCO, attracted more than 1,500 learners. Approximately 70 per cent of the participants were from countries in the Pacific.

Learn more about the Pacific Centre for Open and Flexible Learning for Development.

Technical and Vocational Skills Development

  • The Vice President of COL visited Tonga in 2016, and from that visit, key areas were identified where COL could assist in Tonga, including: i) building capacity in OER and developing courses in OER; ii) supporting the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) in developing a policy framework for OER; and iii) strengthening eLearning, particularly the capability to use Moodle.
  • As a result, a workshop was organised in collaboration with MOET to build capacity and develop a national OER policy for Tonga. The COL Adviser on OER conducted a workshop in Nuku’alofa on Strategic OER Implementation, at the Tonga Institute of Education (TIOE) and the Tonga Institute of Higher Education (TIHE), in collaboration with MOET. In all, 34 full-time teachers, including senior management from TIOE and TIHE, participated in the workshop.
  • The Pacific regional workshop on OER course design was held in Fiji in 2017. Nine Pacific countries, including Tonga, were represented. The workshop was used as a successful field test of the new 12-part video course on Instructional Video Production and the new Creating and Repurposing OER Using FOSS: A How-To Guide for Teachers and Learners, developed by the Open University of Sri Lanka.
  • Under the Strategic OER Implementation in Tonga project, 20 teachers from TIOE and TIHE were trained in developing and delivering OER-based online courses. These life skills courses will be offered to students of TIOE and TIHE, preparing them for higher studies and employment in Tonga, Australia and New Zealand.
  • In 2017, a hands-on workshop was conducted at TIHE where the course development teams from the two institutions developed approximately 60–70 per cent of the course materials to be delivered online. The four courses are now set up on Moodle and are being finalised for delivery. The next phase of the project concentrates on delivering the courses and skilling the teachers in assessing learning outcomes.

Learn more about the Technical and Vocational Skills Development initiative.

Technology-Enabled Learning

  • In 2017, one teacher from Tonga participated in the TEL MOOC offered in COL’s TEL MOOC course, and in 2016, participants from Tonga joined COL and USP for a week-long workshop on eLearning pedagogies and materials development using ODL and OER at USP.

Learn more about the Technology-Enabled Learning initiative.

Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth

  • Tonga continues to be a member of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC). Initiated by and built with the support of ministers of education of developing small states of the Commonwealth, VUSSC supports the collaborative development and sharing of open educational resources (OER) to promote learning for sustainable development.

Learn more about the VUSSC initiative.


Partnerships are fundamental to COL’s work. Strategic partnerships allow COL to broaden its reach and engage at global, regional and national levels, while implementation partners support COL’s work in communities and institutions across Commonwealth Member States. Partners include multilateral organisations, regional bodies, national governments, government agencies, foundations, civil society organisations, public and private (not-for-profit) institutions and the private sector.

COL's partners in Tonga include:

  •  Ministry of Education and Training
  •  Tonga Business Enterprise Centre