COVID-19 changed learning environment, Prime Minister states at UN meet

21 September 2022

New York –A shift in education and learning environment, needed to ensure continuity, had to be implemented by the Ministry of Education here in Tonga because of COVID-19, the Honourable Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku told the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Transforming Education.

The Hon Hu’akavameiliku delivered Tonga’s Statement at the Transforming Education Summit held at the UN General Assembly Hall on September 19.

Key points from Prime Minister’s statement included:

  • COVID-19 and recovery of education and learning: COVID lockdowns fundamentally shiftedthe learning environment, Tonga needed to be creative to ensure continuity in learning and education. The pandemic and subsequent Ha’apai volcanic eruption aftermath brought to the forefront the importance of reliable connectivity and access to technologies in an island nation setting. The Honourable Prime Minister highlighted the psycho-social support extended to teachers and students to help cope with the double impact of a pandemic and a major disaster the country experienced.
  • The need to future proof education: Transformative, future oriented education implies of course focus on future skills needed but also how family structures are evolving, how the community evolves and, what this means for both the role of teachers and for student participation. Tonga is proud to be one of only four countries globally to have taken part in the Leaving No One Behind assessment using its latest census. Tonga pays special attention to having a balance between the technical aspects of teaching and, social, cultural and spiritual values and qualities underpinning education.
  • Financing our common good: Education: Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku also recognized and welcomed the opportunity this international summit provides to once again reiterate our collective call to put education at the front and center of an inclusive and sustainable development and thus development financing.

The Honourable Prime Minister called on the United Nations system to engage with greater cohesion and coordination. He welcomed the ongoing engagement with other member countries to share and learn from each others’ respective efforts to transform education for the benefit of our people and all our collective futures.