On the 21st and 22nd of June, local organisation Kolisen Blong Leftemap Edukesen (KOBLE) led a two-day workshop to launch the new Gender, Age, Place of Residence, Socio-economic Status, Ethnicity, Disability Plus (GAPSED+) framework for equity and inclusion in education.

GAPSED+ was developed by the South Pacific Education Coalitions, which KOBLE are a member of to address the gaps that continue to exist in access to equitable, quality education.

The GAPSED+ framework highlights the inclusion areas of Gender, Age, Place, Socio- Economic Status, Ethnicity, Disability and Others to bring awareness and action for groups often marginalised in education settings.

So far, the framework has been launched in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, with other South Pacific nations planning its roll out.

Hosted at the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), the workshop brought together a diverse range of participants from regional and urban areas; different levels of schools, training centres, and INGOs; a variety of ages and genders; and some participants with a disability.

Principal of Erakor Bilingual School, Polinda Emele, said she found the workshop to be a valuable and insightful learning experience.

“Learning about the framework was eye-opening for everyone.

“We now have a way to make all of the students feel welcome and included,” Mrs. Emele said.

The workshop also provided practical ideas and goals for implementation. “Most of the principals here will try and implement it in our schools,” Mrs. Emele said.

“We’re listening and then we’re trying to think about ways we can apply it.

“For example, there’s a part in school policy where we can have it added. We’re learning a lot.”

Mrs. Emele also emphasised the applications of the framework go beyond education. “The main goal is schools, but we can also use it at home, teach it to relatives and use it in the community,” she said.

Lisa Toa, Training Manager at Pacific Vocational Training Centre also attended the workshop.

Toa found the collaborative nature of the workshop and activities insightful saying, “hearing everyone’s views and what they’re going through was like wow this is actually what they’re going through in our communities.

Talking about the GAPSED+ framework Miss Toa said, “It’s a really good framework. “The workshop has really put things into perspective.

“When you have workshops like this happen it helps paint a picture of what we can expect in the community.

“At the end of the day we want to make sure that education is inclusive to all.

“We have a long way to go and it’s going to be di cult but there is opportunity to grow this framework in Vanuatu and we definitely need it in our communities as well as schools,” she said.

The Training Manager wants to encourage citizens to speak about diversity and inclusion in their homes and said, “in society and between friends we don’t speak about inclusivity so it’s quite di cult to come out from that shell especially in the Pacific.

“We’re stuck in this way where we don’t talk about it, but we have to talk about it to create ac on and change in our communities,” Miss Toa said.

KOBLE thanked the Ministry of Education and Training for providing their conference room to host the event.

The KOBLE is a not-for-profit association of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) established in 2017 by six local CSOs.

It is dedicated to the advancement of educational opportunities for all Vanuatu citizens, especially those from disadvantaged groups.