The programme aims to share some of the initiatives and best practices used in education in Japan, which has very high literacy rates and a well-developed education system in both formal and non-formal education.
The Japanese government, represented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), shared its practices, theories and challenges with representatives from Haiti, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Cook Islands.
Tonorio and her colleagues attended lectures, met with Japanese experts and went on field trips to observe formal and non-formal education in the host country.
The educational facilities they visited included community colleges, vocational training centres, elementary schools, special schools, after-school E-learning “cram” schools and the ministries of Education and Labour.
“We travelled to the northern prefectures of Miyagi and Yamagata for a week.
“During these visits we had our own (country) research focus areas and at the end of the course developed an action plan to attempt to improve and grow non-formal education systems into our homelands,” Tonorio, who is a literacy and numeracy support and prison school tutor at CITTI, said. the Cook Island government appeared to be doing more to promote and subsidise a life-long learner population than was the Japanese government.
Both formal and informal education received plenty of support from the Cook Islands government and the Ministry of Education, she added.
For non-formal education, there were plenty of opportunities for non-formal education through CITTI’s hospitality and trade campuses as well as government scholarships and grants for continued education both in and out of the country.
“We are also working in rehabilitation through the literacy and numeracy programme being delivered at the prison school, which is my particular area of work.
“It is a great achievement for such a small population and country.”
Through the programme, Tonorio was able to identify some areas in which the Cook Islands could improve.
These included better communication between government departments and social services in identifying and assisting the out-of-school children and at-risk youth, building and developing relationships between businesses and CITTI to aid recruitment and skills improvement.
Tonorio also identified a need to implement literacy and numeracy E-learning programmes for youth and life-long learners – especially the Prison School Programme and Pathways Awarua programme now being introduced at CITTI.
She said she had returned home with new ideas, a more informed outlook on her work and an enthusiasm to improve and grow non-formal education offered in the Cook Islands.
Tonorio thanked the Japanese government and JICA, the Ministry of Education and the Senior Management Team of CITTI for providing her with a professional development experience.