Schooling in the Pacific Islands. Colonies in Transition by R. Murray Thomas

By R. Murray Thomas

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There was never any intention that the schools should serve merely to reproduce the values, beliefs, and lifestyles of the societies in which they were placed: in fact, their explicit intention was the opposite . . Governments by and large were content to support the missions in their work, for their aims of pacification, civilization, and native development were equally served by the mission schools. " Governments tended to see this in terms of spreading the practices of the exchange economy through the territories, while missions were perhaps more likely to see development as raising the standard of living in the village (Smith and Guthrie 1980: 7).

Colonization and Schooling in Oceania 27 Each chapter begins with a description of geographic and demographic factors that influence the nature of schooling — the number of islands and their locations, population size and distribution, ethnic and social-class patterns, religion, economic conditions, and forms of governance. Not only is the present-day state of these factors described, but their historical backgrounds are traced as well. With this introductory sketch of social characteristics as a foundation, each author then describes the purposes and roles of the schools, the structure and size of the schooling enterprise, the administrative organization and finance, curricula and teaching methods, and school personnel and their training.

The concern of the late 1970s and early 1980s for raising school achievement standards would seem to indicate a dominant concern for the requirements of the modern urban sector, but the situation is much more complex than that. McKinnon (1976) has identified five major approaches — loosely called stages — of curriculum development in Papua New Guinea. The imitative stage occurred when missions and governments transplanted curricula from their countries of origin. Prior to the 1950s there were no effective national syllabuses, and education was controlled by a number of different bodies, often small and highly dispersed.

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