On 26 May 2020, COL held consultations with Focal Points from the Pacific as part of the development of its new strategic plan (2021-2027). Representatives from Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu joined the meeting and shared their national priorities.
The virtual meeting was chaired by Professor Asha Kanwar, COL President and CEO, who noted that due to the deeper learning crisis, wider digital divide and mounting unemployment caused by COVID-19, the priorities have changed.
The impact of COVID-19 in the region was high on the discussion agenda. Although the Pacific has not faced the same intensity of challenges as other regions, the impact on education and training at all levels has been significant. Participants from the smaller island countries particularly appreciated the technical advice and support they have recently received from COL.
Key regional priorities were discussed at the meeting, and capacity building for teachers at all levels emerged as the top one. This was due to the fact that transition to the use of multiple delivery modes has now become a critical requirement for learning.
Other key issues include skill development for youth employability and building resilient educational systems in the context of pandemics and climate change. Improvement of the infrastructure and increase in access to online learning platforms, as well as delivery through standard communication channels, such as radio and television, were also mentioned as key priorities.
The COL Focal Points from the Caribbean region met in St Lucia in January 2020, and COL hosted a virtual meeting for Africa and the Mediterranean in April. The series will continue in June 2020 with online consultations for Asia.