Department of Education


The Tokelau Department of Education has a mission to raise educational achievement, promote equality of opportunity and outcomes for all students and to improve the quality of education services delivery.

Core Functions

The role of the Department of Education changed with the devolution of the management, resourcing and governance of schools to each village in July 2004. Today, the Department's role is that of lead advisor to the government on the education system. It does this through setting of national standards and establishing monitoring systems to evaluate the achievement of such; provides national planning, administrative support, education policy advice, managing and operating the Government of Tokelau Scholarships Scheme, coordinating national policy and activities and liaising with and managing relationships with New Zealand and other international organisations and donors specifically related to the education sector.

Developments since the change in the role of the Department of Education

  1. National Curriculum Policy Framework (2006-2010) developed to provide guidance to Department and schools with policies in the areas of curriculum, discipline, structure of school day and so on; refer to the National Curriculum Policy Framework 2006 (pdf, 310 kB)
  2. National curruculum statements for Tokelau language, English, Mathematics, Social Science and Science from ECE to Year 11;
  3. Government of Tokelau Scholarships Policy, 2006;
  4. Strengthening of Tokelau USP Campus (located on Atafu) with establishment of USP Centres on Nukunonu and Fakaofo, supported by a Coordinator for each. USP Centre administered by the Department of Education through MOU with USP, 2007;
  5. Regular provision of professional development for teachers at the national and school-based levels focused on areas of need;
  6. Department of Education Corporate Plan 1 July 2005 - 30 June 2008; Education Sector Strategic Plan 1 July 2008 - 30 June 2014 (draft); Department of Education Corporate Plan 1 July 2010 - 30 June 2015;
  7. Senior Secondary Education Programme established with Year 12 in each school in 2008 and Year 13 in each school in 2009;
  8. Developed transition courses for Year 12, which allows students who do not meet the pre-requisites to staircase into USP Foundation courses;
  9. Year 11 external examinations system formalised (aligned directly to National Curriculum) with moderated exams in all subject area in 2009;
  10. Internal assessment components to Year 11 courses formally introduced and implemented in 2010;


The provision of education on Tokelau presents many challenges, most of which are related to the fact that Tokelau is isolated and transport and telecomunication services are unreliable. Like many other nations in the Pacific region, Tokelau faces a shortage of qualified and experienced teaching staff and the majority of teachers do not have any qualifications. The Department of Education hopes to address this with on-atoll pre-service teacher training DFL courses being made available for teachers from 2011. Effective school leadership through good management and governance structures and processes will also assist to improve student achievement. Regular principal professional development and assitance to Taupulega in their governance role is an area of focus which the department is taking responsibility for. The overall aim of these efforts is to improve the provision of schooling at the village level for all students.

Schools on Tokelau 

There are three schools on Tokelau - one on each atoll:

  • Tialeniu School on Fakaofo - Principal is Mr Livi Mativa;
  • Matiti School on Nukunonu - Principal is Mrs Malia Niu Koloi;
  • Matuala School on Atafu - Principal is Mr Timo Simi

All schools offer education from ECE to Year 13 and National Curriculum is offered up to Year 11 and locally developed Transition courses and USP Foundation courses are offered for Year 12 and 13. The total student population across the three schools is just over 400.