Teachers’ perceptions of socio-cultural practices on students’ academic achievement in North Pentecost, Vanuatu


  • Dominique Mahuri Santos East School, Vanuatu
  • Jeremy Dorovolomo University of the South Pacific, Fiji
  • Amton Mwaraksurmes University of the South Pacific, Fiji


This study investigated teachers’ perceptions of sociocultural factors affecting students’ academic achievement in Zone Five North Pentecost, Vanuatu. A qualitative study, it sees its forty-five participants as ‘a culture-sharing group’, documenting their attitudes, perceptions, beliefs and their shared approaches towards sociocultural and classroom practices in relation to students’ academic work. Teachers’ perceptions from both etic and emic perspectives within their cultural and social context, and their meanings and processes were investigated. Based on Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning the argument proposes that learning happens through interaction within the socio-cultural context. All contexts are complex with intertwining systems of collective behaviours and simultaneous interactions with the environment. Diverse sociocultural factors affecting academic achievement were identified including kava as a socio-cultural keystone, religious responsibilities of community members, domestic commitments towards families and wider communities and traditional formalities such as bolololi (Traditional pig-killing ceremony), mateana (funerary ceremonies) and lagiana (marriage). These aspects of daily interactions among Zone Five communities influenced the relationship between teaching and learning pedagogies. Despite setbacks to learning, teachers suggested the urgent need for a culturally inclusive curriculum to assist students to acquire important communal values, understand their spiritual and cultural phenomena, live sustainably with their environment and maintain a healthy life while adhering to the virtues of citizenship and governance.

Author Biography

Jeremy Dorovolomo, University of the South Pacific, Fiji

Associate Professor, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji.