The Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga Honourable Siaosi Sovaleni (in garland) with FSTE’s outreach team and Tonga Campus staff.
For the first time ever, The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) will be providing face-to-face science programmes at USP’s Tonga Campus from January 2017.
USP in collaboration with the Government of Tonga and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are providing funding opportunities and easier accessibility to higher education in science.
The programme selection is made up of Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology; Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (with Biology emphasis). The Science Teachers Accelerated Programme (STAP) with Biology and Chemistry majors also make it into the selection list.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, Honourable Siaosi Sovaleni stressed the importance of science in Tonga and has encouraged students and parents to take full advantage of the new initiative made possible through the new tripartite partnership.
The Tongan Government has made available an education loan scheme with a low one per cent (1%) interest for its people.
This also provides a great opportunity for the teachers to join the Science Teachers Accelerated Programme (STAP) with Biology and Chemistry majors and upgrade their qualifications (from Diploma/Certificate to a Bachelor’s degree).
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided ten (10) scholarships to students to undertake Bachelor of Science in Marine Science and another ten (10) scholarships for Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science (Biology emphasis).
In August 2016, staff from Laucala Campus travelled to Tonga to create awareness on the proposed programmes that they will be offering from next year. In a meeting with tertiary institutions in Tonga, the USP delegates discussed ways in which the University could serve Tongan institutions and align their courses to provide pathways for their graduates to take further studies at USP.
Dr Bibhya Sharma, FSTE’s Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching said this new initiative is positioned to address a number of different priority areas of USP’s Strategic Plan (2013-2018).
“Amongst others, Regional and Community Engagement is one priority area directly implied in this project,” Dr Sharma said.
He added that taking science to the region indicates more science graduates in the Pacific and hence collectively and collaboratively addressing the critical issues pertaining to the region such as disaster management, climate change, digital divide, renewable energy and entrepreneurship. “Therefore, mobilising a societal change, reducing the dependence on expertise from outside, creating more job and building sustainable-based economies in the Pacific region,” Dr Sharma highlighted.
To make sure students are well prepared for this new academic journey, the student learning support team from FSTE will be running a two-week preparatory workshop from 9 to 20 January 2017 at the Tonga Campus.
One of the major highlights of the learning support from the Faculty is the free distribution of tablets to the Tongan cohort. The tablet will enable students’ timely access to course materials, assessment and a platform to interact with the peers, mentors and lecturers. The students will also be attending hands-on training sessions covering the right use of tablets, and how these devices can be used in the light of new pedagogies.
The tablets will be sponsored by USP through the initiative of the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, Professor Rajesh Chandra.
FSTE has received more than one hundred and thirty (130) applications from students in Tonga to join this ambitious three-year programme which will be delivered at their home turf.
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