Education in Nauru

Nauru is a south Pacific island with a population of approximately 10,000. Roughly 1000 of these people are detainees – refugees who have attempted to reach Australia or New Zealand by boat. While education in Nauru is mandatory and provided by the government, the educational experience for Nauruan children and the children of detainees is very different. Below are 10 things to know about education in Nauru.

  1. Primary, secondary and tertiary education are compulsory in Nauru; children who are citizens of the Republic spend an average of nine years in school.
  2. Nauru boasts an exemplary literacy rate of 95.3 percent.
  3. The Nauru federal government gears its education system toward creating productive citizens suited to take advantage of specialized training outside of Nauru.
  4. According to the national government of Nauru, “training and educating the People of Nauru is the Government of Nauru and the Department of Education’s priority to prepare and equip Nauru’s future generations.” However, as few as 15 percent of asylum seekers’ and refugees’ children in Nauru go to community schools because of physical harassment and bullying.
  5. Nauru has 11 community schools, including three elementary and two secondary schools (Nauru Secondary School and Nauru College). The Able/Disable Centre is open for children with special needs. Education at these schools is free.
  6. Located in Aiwo District, Nauru is the Nauru Campus of the University of the South Pacific (USP). USP started teaching distance courses in the 1970s and established a local campus in 1987.
  7. Missionary Philip Delaporte established the first public schools, teaching boys and girls to read and write in the Nauru language. In 1923, the joint administration of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand made education required and established an English language curriculum.
  8. Overcrowding is an issue at the local schools. Senior male Nauruan classes contain as many as 50 students.
  9. The federal government closed the refugee and asylum seeker education program run by Save the Children in 2015, despite a nearly 90 percent attendance rate. Presently, refugee children must attend local schools.
  10. The Regional Processing Center converted the onsite school into an office, a gym and a leisure area for detention center staff.

Despite putting into place the means for free public education, the Nauruan government must improve conditions for detainee children and refugee youth. Without ensuring the safety of these students, improving the system of education in Nauru will not be a successful venture.

Heather Hopkins

Photo: Flickr