Learning Passport brings innovation to education in Kiribati

Reaching children with access to quality education

Sawa Iwakuni
Betangnga Nantei, 12, smiles with a mobile phone showing his favorite science lesson on Learning Passport
23 December 2021

While the remote island country of Kiribati is currently COVID-free, the Ministry of Education, with support from UNICEF, has been working to ensure that learning can continue even in the case of future school closures.

In order to ensure no child is left behind during school closures, the Ministry of Education has strengthened multiple elements of the education system to ensure home-based learning can be accessed by all. This includes the development of Kiribati Learning Passport, a digital learning platform accessible both online and offline, delivered through UNICEF support and powered by Microsoft Community Training. It aims to provide continuous access to quality education regardless of internet connectivity for children no matter where they live.

In Kiribati, Learning Passport stores locally developed video lessons and quizzes for selected subjects, as well as global supplementary resources. UNICEF collaborated with the Ministry of Education to develop Learning Passport and provided technical and financial support, trained teachers and created high-quality video lessons.

Learning Passport was officially launched on 3 September 2021. During the launch, Ministry of Education officials demonstrated Learning Passport to the public and sample video lessons were shown. Students who had already used Learning Passport shared their excitement about it, and new users were supported in registering for the platform on their mobile phones.

Twelve-year-old student Betangnga from Bikinibeu village in South Tarawa downloaded the video lessons that have been uploaded to Learning Passport while sitting in his family’s traditional open hut, called kiakia, facing the picture-perfect emerald green lagoon. While internet speed in Bikinibeu can be slow, he waits patiently for the lessons to appear and knows that once they are downloaded, he will be able to access them whenever he wants without waiting.

Betangnga learnt about the Learning Passport through a school outreach campaign initiated by the officers of the Ministry of Education and through an SMS message that was circulated to all mobile phone holders across Kiribati. “I wanted to see the content in Learning Passport, so I decided to register,” Betangnga says.

Did he like Learning Passport? Yes!  “If you have Learning Passport, the lessons are always with you” says Betangnga happily. “We can’t repeat or pause the lessons in the classroom at school, but with Learning Passport we can do that.”

While students cannot ask questions in real time during the video lessons, Betangnga’s uncle was able to assist him with learning when he had questions. “My uncle helped me a lot in explaining and working out the math and science problems,” Betangnga says. In Kiribati, it is common for extended families to live together in the same compound, making it easier for students to get support in the learning process from adult household members.

Betangnga wants to become a medical doctor in the future so that he can help sick people. He works hard at math and science so that one day he can make his dream come true. He is especially keen on learning science and he quickly completed all of the science lessons available on the Learning Passport.

“I enjoyed the lesson on the human digestive system because the video showed a detailed illustration of organs and their functions. The teacher’s explanation of that lesson was very clear” says Betangnga. He adds proudly, “I got 80 out of 100 on the quiz on human digestive system!”

The Ministry of Education is now developing additional lessons and quizzes for Learning Passport based on the local curriculum. In addition to launching Learning Passport, the Ministry of Education has also strengthened its remote learning system, training teachers to design and support home learning and through development of radio-based learning. This mix of modalities was selected based on MICS-EAGLE data which highlighted access to radios and other devices. As teachers are core to the learning experience for all students, they need the right tools to support remote and hybrid learning, including for those students with and without devices at home. So far, over 900 people across Kiribati have registered for Learning Passport and that number continues to grow every day.

UNICEF Pacific would like to thank the Global Partnership for Education and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) for their financial contribution to COVID-19 response in education in Kiribati