Informal Session: Education and Empowerment: Decolonising Schooling in Oceania
Organizers: Debra McDougall and Rachel Emerine Hicks
We had a lively conversation in this informal session at Hilo with 14 participants. One key question was whether or not it actually makes sense to talk about “decolonisation” within the context of schooling. As Melanie Anae recalled the thinking of the Polynesian Panthers in the late 1970s: “why decolonise education when we can decolonise the country?” The word “decolonisation” does not have a stable meaning across the diverse political contexts of the Pacific, from independent nation states, settler-states, and regions still under colonial rule. Another valuable part of the session was hearing how colleagues seek to create a “Pacific-infused learning environment” (to quote Rafai, Qaolo-Qiolevu, and Stephens) that allows students to embrace their Pacific identities and set aside feelings of inadequacy. Visual arts, music, and performance seems to play a central role in may of these successful pedagogies. A distinct set of themes emerged from papers on secondary education, particularly in the Western part of the Pacific, where individuals and communities invest significant time and energy into schooling, often without the hoped-for return in employment or social mobility.
Some participants in this session have been involved in earlier ASAO informal and working sessions on Schooling in the Pacific and had papers from those sessions under review at the time of our 2020 meeting in Hilo. This year’s reframed informal session has opened up new directions in conversations about schooling and education in and about the Pacific. Nine attendees prepared short talks: Melanie Anae (U Auckland); Michelle Ladwig William (U Auckland); Rosarine Rafai, Jiokapeci Qalo-Qiolevu, and Maca Stephens (Oceania Centre, University of the South Pacific); David Troolin (SIL); Jenny Munro (U Queensland); Debra McDougall (U Melbourne); Rachel Emerine Hicks (UCSD). Other participants included Lorena Gibson, Alison Jablonko, Eleanor Kleiber, Kate Riley, Rev Alec Toleafoa, and Hiagi Wesley.
For more information please contact Debra McDougall at <firstname.lastname@example.org>