|The South Pacific Islands|
I appreciated Makena's comment about rejecting what has been declared "true" as the prevailing dogma. As Descarte was bold in his day, we should model his forethought in regard to education. I also thought about Ashley's comment on the public policy and legislative issues necessary to implement changes in US public education. In considering these, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Namulau’ulu Gaugau Tavana. Dr. Tavana is a native of Samoa, and was instrumental in designing and implementing a new educational system for the nation of Samoa. Instead of adhering to the British (or European) system, at which many Samoan youth experienced defeat (and like Tonga, originally instituted because of their ties with New Zealand), Samoa embraced a new system which allowed direct input into curriculum standards and formation from village and district representation. In this system, native Samoans, elected from village chiefs and commoners, had a representative voice, along with business and government leaders, in determining what type of education would allow for the sanctity of cultural customs and mores combined with foundational core classes and life skills, thus benefiting all students. It was policy change from the ground up.
Whereas the old system, taught in many instances by native teachers, but administered through New Zealand testing by “palangi” (whites) unfamiliar with the culture and intimidating to the native students, resulting in poor performance on standardized tests, the new system allowed for a wide range of achievement in not only core academics, but also what we might consider a trade school curriculum such as business, carpentry, metal work, home economics, and native agricultural skills.
As a native Samoan who grew up under the restraints of the old system, Dr. Tavana is one of the few native youth who achieved enough success to continue his education abroad. His life goal has been to increase the opportunities for success for the youth of his country by preserving the best of Samoa while fitting them to take their place without fear anywhere their dreams lead them.