Complex times and needs for locals: Strengthening (local) education systems through education research and development in Oceania

David Taufui Mikato Fa'avae


Researching and theorizing the local in education is often a contested space linked to deficit views of indigenous people by “others”. Certainly, the intention to research the local was a consistent concern linked to colonization in the Pacific. The use of the term “local” assumes the disempowering of the knowledge and worldviews of Indigenous people to the moana-Oceania. Indigenous academics have contributed to decolonization discourse linked to disrupting Western research ideals and practice and my fatongia (obligation and responsibility) in this paper is to specifically share and highlight my experiences as a fellow for the University of the South Pacific (USP) Institute of Education (IOE), whose regional purpose is to support and strengthen the education systems within the region through education research and development.

Within the postcolonial Pacific context, the complex roles and responsibilities of local educators and researchers continues to infiltrate one’s views and assumptions of who education is for, and whose purpose it serves. In this paper, I highlight IOE’s role as a regional institution focused on privileging Local and Indigenous knowledges as strengths and working together with regional and international agencies to support and strengthen local education systems in Oceania. Although Pacific professionals continue to perpetuate out-dated colonial systems, including education, I argue that there is an existing body of work and expertise by local people on the rise who are seeking to disrupt the out-dated colonial systems that have greater impetus on the mobilizing of indigenous knowledge and research in the moana.


Local and indigenous knowledge; Oceania; development; education research; Institute of Education; strengthening

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