Teachers in Kiribati well prepared for future school closures

In Kiribati, a UNICEF-supported teacher training programme is being delivered to prepare teachers for future school closures.

Sawa Iwakuni
Ririere Kenneth, a teacher of Grade 4 at War Memorial Primary School in South Tarawa, Kiribati, with her student.
05 October 2021

COVID-19 has caused widespread disruption to children’s learning around the world. In the remote islands of Kiribati, schools closed in March last year after the Government of Kiribati declared a State of Health Emergency. Schools closed again for a short period in May this year, although currently they are all open.

While schools were closed, not only did children miss out on their learning, teachers were also not prepared to deliver remote learning.

Grade 4 teacher, Ririere Kenneth, recently attended a UNICEF-supported teacher training programme targeted at primary and secondary teachers in South Tarawa. The pilot programme focused on building the capacity of teachers so they can support their students’ learning and wellbeing to minimize the learning loss, should schools close again.

Ririere, who teaches at the War Memorial Primary School in South Tarawa said she found the training useful. “Now I know what to do as a teacher when schools are closed due to COVID-19.”

The training was conducted in a mixed modality of face-to-face sessions led by a trained facilitator and self-learning. The training focused on the roles and responsibilities of teachers during school closures, how to communicate and engage parents, support students’ physical and mental wellbeing, develop tasks and worksheets for students, monitor, assess and provide feedback, and support students’ learning.

Reflecting on the training, Ririere says “The training enhanced my knowledge of remote teaching. It taught me a lot of new things, like the use of effective technologies, tips for communicating with parents and it gave me ideas such as the introduction of a drop box at school where students can submit their assignments”.

Ririere, like many of the highly motivated teachers who participated in the training, always completed the activities in the self-learning modules before the face-to-face session led by the facilitator. During the self-learning period, she worked on the modules by herself at home and exchanged ideas with her colleagues at school.

“Sharing the answers from the activities with colleagues and getting feedback from them strengthened my understanding and enhanced peer-learning opportunities”.


“When the schools were temporarily closed due to COVID-19, I didn’t know anything about teaching remotely. So, I could not provide any support to my students at that time”.

Now she has completed all the training modules on remote support for students’ learning and wellbeing.

“If the schools close again, I will be well-prepared” says Ririere proudly. “I will prepare and distribute worksheets for my students, and I will set up a drop box so they can submit their worksheets. I will also share full details about remote teaching with their parents”.

Ririere has already started practicing the knowledge and skills, which she gained through the training.

“I started collecting parents’ mobile numbers as recommended in the training, although many parents in South Tarawa still don’t have mobile phones. Last week, one of my students was absent so I called his parents and discussed the activities we did at school so his parents could assist him at home. They really appreciated this”. “Through the training, I also learned some new songs and activities which I’ve introduced to my students. They love them!”


520 teachers (259 at primary and 261 at secondary level) have now been trained on remote support in 13 primary and 10 secondary schools in South Tarawa. 80% of the teachers have completed all the modules.

The results of pre and post self-assessment of the training were encouraging and showed an increase in confidence levels in all the modules.

Based on feedback from the trainers and participating teachers, the training will be reviewed. It will then be scaled and rolled out nationwide so that all teachers in Kiribati will be prepared for future school closures and every child will be supported by teachers while learning at home.


UNICEF Pacific would like to thank New Zealand National Committee and Global Partnership for Education for their financial contribution to its Education Programme.