LEAP, standing for ‘Leadership Education Authority Project’, recently featured in local newspaper Solomon Star. The sentiment of the article was not only a glowing report of LEAP, but it also included a call from participating schools to see the programme both extended and broadened to other schools in the Solomon Islands.
Funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the programme is implemented by UniServices’ Future Learning Solutions and led by programme manager Irene Paulsen on behalf of the consortium including the University of South Pacific Institute of Education and the Fellowship of Faithful Mentors. LEAP’s overall purpose is to help schools improve students’ opportunities to learn literacy, through strengthening the work of Provincial Education Authorities (PEA) and school leadership.
Irene explains: “The best thing about LEAP is that the programme has provided opportunity for Solomon Islanders to engage at various levels of its delivery, from design level to management and implementation. Solomon Islander teachers, school leaders and Education Authorities see the programme as their own because they see locals participating in it and they are very willing to support it. The methodologies for engagement, delivery and monitoring are relevant to the cultural context and so stakeholders are able to understand the purpose and outcomes of the programme clearer and better.”
UniServices Director Strategic Growth – CABLE, Jeffery Nikoia, agrees and adds that over 90% of project personnel are Solomon Islanders. “The newspaper article is one of many testaments that this programme has captured the hearts and the minds of those who are participating and is effective in raising literacy achievement in a Solomon Island specific way.”
Head Teacher of participating school LUNGA, Emillian Papasa, said in the Solomon Star: “We want to thank the LEAP program because through that program we are more open-minded to what our roles are and now we are able to do our work effectively… I wish to see the program extended for a few more years because its benefits are phenomenal.”
Emillian would also like to see LEAP expanded so schools in other provinces can benefit in the same way. Running since May 2017, it has already been extended twice, with the latest extension taking support for LEAP through to December 2020. It currently works with 85 schools in six provinces – Guadalcanal, Central, Isabel, Malaita, Rennell-Bellona and Temotu.
Irene explains that although the programme is due to end in December, there has already been a lot of embedding work going on now to integrate the learnings from LEAP into the relevant Government Ministry, Education Authorities (EAs) and schools so that these become sustainable and are spread out to other schools and EAs in the Solomon Islands.
Jeffery says the positive feedback and appetite to embrace LEAP ongoing is a testament to the effectiveness of the design-based research approach which places the Education Authorities and schools at the centre of co-designing a programme best suited to their needs.
“We thank the New Zealand Government for giving the Government and people of Solomon Islands an opportunity to improve literacy outcomes for our children,” says Irene.