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Rethinking Pacific Education Symposium

16th December, 2011

A regional symposium that brought together Pacific educators, researchers, scholars, leaders and emerging leaders to reflect on the past decade (2001 – 2011) of Pacific Education as well as to envision the future concluded at the University of the South Pacific on 8 December, 2011.
Held at the Laucala Campus, the symposium was organised as one of the activities marking ‘a decade of rethinking Pacific education.’

The Rethinking Pacific Education Initiative for and by Pacific Peoples (RPEIPP) started in 2001 when a group of Pacific academics and educators began to explore issues relating to Pacific education, specifically formal education. They highlighted the need for Pacific people to critically rethink various developments in Pacific education.

The founders of the movement were Professor Konai Helu Thaman from USP, Tonga’s Minister for Education, Women and Culture, Honourable Dr Ana Mau Taufe'ulungkai and Associate Professor, Kabini Sanga from the University of Victoria in New Zealand.

Professor Thaman explained that discussions in the symposium looked at the challenges faced by Pacific education and educators over the past decade. Some of the major ongoing challenges in the region have been the high number of dropout of students from schools, access to education for rural and remote areas, dependence on foreign intellectual and financial resources, as well as the need for sustainable education and development.
According to Professor Thaman, new challenges have emerged including education for a sustainable future and the smart use of ICT in teaching and learning. She emphasised that the future lies in the extent to which technology is embraced by educators and how it is used for learning, teaching and sharing of educational resources.

“Rather than looking at ICT as a threat, we should use it as a tool to further our aim in ensuring that what we do whether its learning or research is embedded in our Pacific cultures and values,” she added.

Professor Thaman was also adamant that foreign ideas and values need to be carefully interrogated before they are adopted or adapted.
“We have to think seriously about embedding our research, our learning and teaching in peoples’ cultures and values. This will make formal education more sustainable for the future,” she pointed out.

While highlighting USP’s role in education, Professor Thaman said that the University has had a significant role in the human resource development in the Pacific region, although it now needs to more seriously consider embedding Pacific values and knowledge in its curriculum and research activities.

The four-day symposium was jointly hosted by the USP’s Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE), Oceania Institute for Education, and the University of Victoria.

Further information about the symposium is available on


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