Continuity and change: Education policy and historiography of education in Western Samoa

Auva’a, Tololima Leifi (2003) Continuity and change: Education policy and historiography of education in Western Samoa. Masters (Research) thesis, James Cook University.

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Abstract

This thesis explores the theme of continuity and change in Western Samoan education. It does so by looking at recent policy documents and at accounts of the history of education in Western Samoa written over more than a century. It compares the treatments of continuity and change in the policy documents and in the histories to show the extent to which both reflect a similar view of the place of continuity and change in Western Samoan culture and education. The study documents and analyses current education policies and strategies in Western Samoa through the two key documents which outline the broad policy directions for education and the strategies for achieving them, respectively, supplemented by Department of Education Annual Reports. It outlines the process of redeveloping policies from early to mid-1990s and the general character of the policies as a whole, and looks more closely at statements of the purposes of education, curriculum and pedagogy, and outcomes of the policies in terms of the distribution of educational provision and participation in education. Throughout, these policies are shown to reflect concern with both the maintenance of traditional Samoa culture – the fa’aSamoa – and the need to change to adapt to the demands of a modern global economy. It also examines a range of historical accounts of Western Samoa and, in particular, the history of education through four periods of development: traditional society, the missionary period, colonial rule, and early independent Western Samoa. It uses three types of account: accounts that are written in, or close to the periods to which they refer, such as missionary accounts of Western Samoan society and education in what is identified as the missionary period; late twentieth century histories of Western Samoa; and historical overviews used to frame late twentieth century official reports. The analysis of these accounts focuses on the purposes of education in different periods, curriculum and pedagogy, and the outcomes of education, again in terms of the distribution of educational provision and participation in education. It analyses these histories in terms of continuity and change, and argues that such histories suggest that Western Samoan history has always been characterised by a balance between continuity and change: the fa’aSamoa has adapted to changing circumstances in ways that have allowed it to maintain core values, but resisted changes that would threaten those core values. Finally, the thesis compares the understandings of the ways in which continuity and change have been balanced as suggested in the histories with those to be found in the policy documents. It argues that throughout its history, Western Samoa has maintained the strength of its indigenous tradition and cultural values. At the same time, since the arrival of the missionaries, it has selectively welcomed and adopted western practices and values, simultaneously adapting itself to them, and them to its own traditional practices and values. Current policies appear to continue this tradition of selective adaptation to change while continuing to maintain core values of the fa’aSamaoa. This suggests that the policies are well calculated both to hold the support of the Western Samoan people, and to enable Western Samoa to holds its place in the global community.

Item ID: 378
Item Type: Thesis (Masters (Research))
Keywords: Education policy, Historiography of education, Western Samoa
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2006
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION @ 0%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology @ 0%
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