Mediating global reforms locally: A study of the enabling conditions for active learning in a Maldivian island school



Small states, Maldives, education reform, active learning, design principles, school leadership


This paper explores active learning reform in the small state of the Maldives. Acknowledging the implementation challenges of active learning approaches globally, the study explored the policy-practice intersection, by examining the experiences of one island school and its approach to promoting active learning pedagogy. The school was selected for its proactive approach to adopting innovation. Within the overarching methodology of design-based research, a study of the context was undertaken to investigate the enabling conditions for reform. Drawing on Bronfrenbrenner’s (1979) ecological framework this paper considers factors within the school and island context that played an enabling role in the implementation of active learning.  Data were collected through interviews from key stakeholders within the school.  The findings identified the following key features in developing a change-welcoming school: the role of school leadership in leading change; the importance of parent-school collaboration; the school’s proactive approach to managing existing resources; and the critical role of leading teachers in providing classroom-based support. These were converted into design principles, an output of DBR, that are intended as guidelines for others implementing similar reforms in related contexts.