The 2010-15 National Strategic Plan mentions distance and flexible education but does not define it. Similarly, the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan, which sets the direction for the education sector for six years, mentions virtual education without defining it.
The 2016-22 Education Plan aims to build the capacity of the Tokelau people, however, it does not mention the terms education technology, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) or distance education. The 1995 Constitution as well does not explicitly enshrine the right to education or mention the role of non-state actors in education.
Constitution and laws: The 1995 Constitution does not explicitly mention the right to education but the importance of education is highlighted in the preamble. There is no reference to ICT in the constitution. Moreover, there is neither an education law nor an ICT Act.
Policies, plans and strategies: While an ICT in education policy, plan or strategy has not been developed yet, the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan includes within its objectives, expanding access to and use of ICT for enhancing learning at all levels. Similarly, the 2010-15 National Strategic Plan mentions distance and flexible education as part of its overall strategy to improve telecommunications in the country. Different strategies to work towards this goal are listed, such as measuring the impact of computer-assisted programmes, improving infrastructure in schools, providing professional development for teachers and improving the coordination and activities of relevant stakeholders. A digital strategy for the use of ICT to improve learning aims to be developed but has not been published yet.
As part of the Pacific Islands region, Tokelau adheres to regional education frameworks such as the 2018-2030 Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF). It is a regional policy guide that was endorsed at the Forum Education Minister Meeting (FEdMM) in 2018, specifically designed for 15 Pacific Island country members. PacREF is characterized by its focus and responsiveness to demands, aiming to strengthen the region's ability to deliver education services of high quality. It encompasses a comprehensive and long-term policy agenda with specific objectives, which include identifying common challenges, devising solutions to address those challenges, enhancing student outcomes and well-being with the help of ICT and bolstering the capacity of Pacific educational institutions among others.
As a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand, the Ministry of Education has developed the 2020-2030 Action Plan for Pacific Education covering the Pacific realm countries of Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands. It discusses the development of culturally and linguistically appropriate digital resources for learners of these communities. The 2021 Tokelau Four-Year Plan developed by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade states that Tokelau’s digital education strategies will be developed in collaboration with New Zealand’s education sector.
Digital competency frameworks: As part of the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan, it is envisioned that all 3 schools in Tokelau will offer the New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement at levels 1 and 2. While policies and strategies stress the importance of developing digital skills among learners and teachers, there are no national digital competency frameworks.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Due to its remote geographic location, Tokelau did not suffer from the Covid-19 pandemic. In December 2022 and May 2023, a few first cases of Covid-19 in the community were reported. However, as part of the Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (PICTs), Tokelau received emergency assistance from international organisations such as UNDP. For example, UNDP’s COVID-19 Response Fund helped create a COVID-19 multimedia awareness campaign in Tokelau that entailed the production and distribution of information and educational communication materials on COVID-19 preparedness, response, and prevention among other activities. Another separate UNDP project, the Strengthening COVID-19 Preparedness, Response, and Recovery in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau, is funding the implementation of a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment for Tokelau. There were no changes made to the countries’ education policies. In early March 2020, the General Fono (GF) of Tokelau representing the legislative power endorsed the Tokelau National Preventative and Preparedness Plan Towards Coronavirus 2020. However, it does not include guidelines related to the education sector.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2010-15 National Strategic Plan envisioned improving the share of renewable energy to meet the country’s renewable energy needs. The 2004 Tokelau National Energy Policy and Strategic Action Planning (NEPSAP) envisions Tokelau becoming self-reliant in energy with a combination of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. As of now, most of Tokelau’s energy needs are met by imported petroleum supply.
Computers and devices: Based on New Zealand’s review of the education sector conducted in 2014, access to computers was generally lacking in all 3 schools in Tokelau. After conducting an ICT appraisal of schools’ hardware and software situation, the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan aims to provide hardware devices for students of all three schools. Teachers will be provided with laptops to improve their confidence in using digital student management systems and other digital technologies for teaching.
In 2009-2010, the One Laptop Per Child Initiative was planned to be introduced in Tokelau. However, it is not clear whether the project was implemented.
Internet connectivity: The 2016-2020 National Strategic Plan, which has an infrastructure development focus, aims to improve telecommunications in terms of connectivity, accessibility and reliability. A cost-effective and reliable mobile network is also one of its strategic goals. To improve access to and use of ICT in learning, the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan targets increasing internet connectivity and bandwidth to enable schools to operate an effective and reliable ICT system. Goal 4 of the 2021 Tokelau Four-Year Plan developed by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also aims to improve internet connectivity in Tokelau.
The Telecommunications Tokelau Corporation or TELETOK, is the local and only telecommunications company of Tokelau Island. It is part of the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA). This government-owned corporation provides fixed and wireless services to the three atolls of Tokelau: Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan aims to improve distance online learning opportunities by providing schools with options to associate themselves with the Te Kura Correspondence School or the Open Polytechnic. To improve the knowledge of the Tokelau language and culture, the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan aims to deliver e-books with embedded audio for online learning which are available online and offline.
The 2010-15 National Strategic Plan aims to improve the country's telecommunications software for providing facilities such as video-conferencing and distance education in the country. The 2020-2030 Action Plan for Pacific Education in its Covid-19 response plan included the translation and distribution of key education materials in 10 Pacific languages. Cultural stories and legends from the Pacific culture are digitised and available online. Tokelauans studying in surrounding regions who moved back to the territory during the Covid-19 continued learning via online means. Tokelau did not issue any guidelines regarding distance education during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For providing higher education, the University of the South Pacific (USP) has a campus located in Atafu. USP is governed by its council. Most students take courses through distance and flexible learning modes.
As part of its goal to develop and improve the national curriculum, the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan emphasizes expanding access to and use of ICT for enhancing learning at all levels. The 2010-15 National Strategic Plan envisioned providing Information and Communications Technology training courses for all internet users. Similarly, Policy Area 3 of the 2018-2030 Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) envisions improving the capacity of learners in information and digital literacy. The 2006–10 Tokelau National Curriculum Policy Framework discusses the need to develop learners’ competencies in using modern technology to be able to adapt to life outside of Tokelau. Computer studies is a subject of study in the curriculum at the secondary school level. Science is taught from primary through secondary school levels. The 2020-2030 Action Plan for Pacific Education aims to improve the uptake of STEM subjects among learners. Tokelau’s curriculum was reviewed in 2021 to develop a revised curriculum that reflects how digital technology can be integrated into different curriculum areas. Digital learning outcomes are to be included in the revised curriculum document.
A Tokelau Language Certificate for Teachers will be developed as per the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan. The certificate will establish teachers’ capacities for using multimedia technologies in teaching. As part of its goal to develop and improve the national curriculum by expanding access to and use of ICT for enhancing learning at all levels, professional development activities will be provided to Principals and senior teachers. IT education specialists will work with teachers to develop their understanding of new technologies and support them in updating their digital pedagogy. School leaders will also be provided with training on using different aspects of the Electronic School Management Systems.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Tokelau’s Telecommunications Tokelau Corporation or TELETOK, is part of the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA) which issues recommendations on cybersecurity and safety. For example, it provides guidelines on upholding privacy and keeping personal information online in a secure way.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
There is no legal or policy framework for cyberbullying or online abuse.
As part of the 2004 devolution arrangements between Tokelau and New Zealand, responsibility for the management, governance and resourcing of education in Tokelau was devolved to the Taupulega (village council) on each atoll. The Department of Education serves as the lead advisor to the government on the education system. The department works with villages and schools individually to define the curriculum. The Tokelau school system consists of three schools: Tialeniu School, in Fakaofo, Matiti School in Nukunonu and the Matauala School in Atafu. As Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand, its Ministry of Education plays a key role in Tokelau’s education system by improving the quality of education at all levels through strengthening structures, systems and operations and by providing overseas development assistance.
According to the 2020-2025 Tokelau Education Strategic Plan, each school will assign a teacher as the coordinator to oversee the school’s online learning programme and support students with their online learning.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) plays a key role both as a higher education provider and a regional integration organisation. It is a member of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP), and the lead agency for both the Human Resource Development (HRD) and the Information Communications Technologies (ICT) Working Groups. It also serves as the implementation partner for the 2018-2030 Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF).
The laws, policies, and plans of the country do not mention the main responsibilities of schools in technology integration, including the use of digital devices such as mobile phones or tablets.