Education for a Vocation or Society ? The Dialectic of Modern and Customary Epistemologies in Solomon Islands

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Journal Article
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Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies
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Walters, Peter
Benavides, Adrian
Lyons, Kristen

Rural Training Centres (RTCs) in the Solomon Islands are community-based initiatives that offer vocational education to men and women. Since the 1960s, RTCs have grown to become an organised movement of 47 centres present almost in every province. Based on learnings from fieldwork in three RTCs, we explore the centres’ training model, and the dialectic between indigenous and Western schooling traditions that converge at some points and deviate at others. We argue that the idiosyncratic features of the RTC learning experience can support the acquisition of skills like independent and critical thinking; important for communities to collectively shape their own development. Our research shows nonetheless that increasing influence from external actors is forcing RTCs into a more Westernised study-for-employment model of vocational education. A shift too far in this direction could significantly hinder the potential of these institutions to foster students capable of addressing Solomon Islands' urgent and unique livelihood and environmental challenges.

Western education, rural training, Solomon Islands, indigenous epistemology, vocational education
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
CC BY 4.0