Senior Education Adviser for the Access to Quality Education Programme (AQEP), Dr. Priscilla Puamau delivering her keynote address during the 39th Pacific Circle Consortium (PCC) Conference at the Great Council of Chiefs complex.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) hosted the 39th Pacific Circle Consortium (PCC) Conference at the Great Council of Chiefs complex in Suva from 2 - 4 July.
Over 120 delegates gathered at the conference representing twelve countries including Japan, Taiwan, United States of America, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Northern Mariana Islands, Samoa, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Fiji.
The three-day event included 70 concurrent sessions and two keynote addresses. Senior Education Adviser for the Access to Quality Education Programme (AQEP) Dr. Priscilla Puamau presented the Neil Baumgart Lecture on the first day of the conference speaking on AQEP, a flagship education bilateral programme sponsored by the Australian Government to improve access to and delivery of quality education in Fiji. The second keynote address was delivered by Professor Konai Helu Thaman, Professor of Pacific Education at USP and UNESCO Chair in Teacher Education and Culture.
The conference theme, Mapping 21st Eduscapes: Global Conversations on Quality Education, Teacher Education & Sustainability provided the opportunity for delegates to engage in conversations about quality education, teacher education, citizenship education and education for sustainability in line with the ongoing PCC emphasis on:
• Developing a greater understanding of global citizenship in a changing and diverse world taking into account local conceptions of and indigenous ideas about being, belonging and becoming active citizens of the 21st century;
• Analysing curriculum development and innovations, and pedagogical considerations and influences in education around the Pacific Rim;
• Examining the impact of change on teacher education and teacher preparedness for education in a changing world;
• Sharing educational research findings and experiences; and
• Networking with educators and researchers.
In her keynote address, Dr Puamau said AQEP is making a significant difference to students, teachers, schools and their communities with 22 per cent of all Fijian primary and secondary schools benefiting from the initiative. This comprised roughly over 42, 000 students across the country. She said that improved access for children from poor communities with a reduction in disparities based on location, disability and gender is one of two end of programme outcomes that AQEP hopes to achieve, the second programme outcome being quality.
Delegates at the 39th Pacific Circle Consortium (PCC) Conference at the Great Council of Chiefs complex.
In the second keynote address, Professor Thaman discussed the notion of quality education in Pacific Island contexts arguing for quality teaching in Pacific higher education that included cultural competence as a desired attribute of all teaching personnel. She reiterated the importance of integrating Pacific Knowledge and Value Systems in the curriculum of teacher education and said that higher education institutions needed to be mindful of the heavy emphasis on Western cultural values and beliefs that underpins formal education. Professor Thaman stressed that higher education graduates play an important role in sustainable development in their home countries and presented the view that they, among other attributes, need to be creative problem solvers and culturally competent citizens.
The PCC was established in 1977 as an initiative in international co-operation between educational research and development institutions in the Pacific Region initially drawn from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
Conference conveners Dr. Cresantia Frances Koya Vaka’uta, Associate Dean Research & Internationalisation at FALE, Dr. Ledua Waqailiti and Vulori Sarai of the School of Education, said they were extremely pleased with the outcomes of the conference. They were especially humbled to receive accolades at the conference closing from PCC representative Associate Professor Carol Mutch of the University of Auckland who declared the 39th PCC-USP event to have been the best PCC Conference ever hosted.
Dr. Koya Vaka’uta said this was high praise for the University given that the PCC conference has been hosted in 10 locations over the past 39 years including Australia, Canada, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Samoa, Taiwan and the United States. She attributed the success to the hard working team behind the scenes, the support of sponsors and the University. She also made mention of the special appearance of the National University of Samoa’s (NUS) Fiji Tour Performing Arts group which performed at the closing function. The 35 student member NUS group was led by NUS VC and President, Professor Fui Le’apai Tu’ua ‘Īlaoa Asofou So’o and Head of Teacher Education, Vui Fa'apōpō Tupolo-Taua'anae who were in attendance at the PCC Conference.
The event concluded with the Peter Brice Award which was presented to Professor Konai Helu Thaman, in recognition for a lifetime of service to quality and relevance in education and research in the Pacific region.
At the 39th PCC AGM held on July 3, 2015, Dr. Koya Vaka’uta was welcomed in as the in-coming PCC Chair, a position she will hold for the next two years.
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