French and English-speaking graduates during the graduation ceremony at Emalus Campus.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Education (SOED) made history with the first cohort of eleven (11) French-speaking students graduating with a Graduate Certificate in Education delivered in French during the graduation ceremony at the Emalus Campus in Vanuatu on 1 December 2017.
The Graduate Certificate in Education, comprising eight (8) courses, were converted into the French language and all courses were delivered entirely in French.
Professor Govinda Lingam, Head of the SOED said the programme was launched in 2015 in Vanuatu in response to the demand for French teachers. French is an official language in Vanuatu, alongside English, and about forty per cent (40 %) of secondary schools teach all their subjects in French.
“It was thus a natural requirement from the Government of Vanuatu, through its Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), for USP to provide teacher training in French. An agreement was signed between USP and the Vanuatu MoET in 2013to provide training for senior secondary school teachers who had no teaching qualification,” he explained.
“This endeavor is part of a larger project within USP’s SOED Untrained Teachers Project as most of the Pacific countries are moving towards regulating the licensing of teachers and as such formal teaching qualifications is becoming mandatory,” Professor Lingam stated.
He said, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Niue and Fiji are the other countries in the project, but the case of Vanuatu is rather unique given the two languages of instruction that is, English and French in its education system.
SOED rose to the challenge by translating the eight Education courses into French. A French Programme Coordinator, Ms Daniela was appointed in 2014 and delivery of courses commenced in 2015 with an initial cohort of students funded by the Vanuatu MoET.
The students he noted, are in fact all in-service teachers and the programme was tailored to their needs, with mixed modes of delivery, to allow them to fulfil their teaching responsibilities and study at the same time.
“Thus the programme took two years to complete and the first cohort graduated with a Certificat post-Licence en Sciences de l’éducation (the French name for Graduate Certificate in Education) on 1 December 2017 in Port Vila,” he said.
Professor Lingam stated that the graduation was noted as a historic moment by the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, in his graduation speech.
“For the first time in history, USP is offering a programme in both English and French, with the same course content, learning outcomes and assessments, but in two different languages,” he said.
Twenty-five (25) English-speaking teachers received their Graduate Certificate in Education the same day.
Professor Lingam commended the education staff at Emalus Campus, Ms Daniela and Dr Amtom and the graduating students for working hard which contributed towards this milestone achievement for USP and Vanuatu MoET.
A second cohort is underway and expected to graduate in December 2019.
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