A strategy that aims to strengthen the role of Pacific culture in and through all levels of education is a step closer to completion after a group of specialists met recently to examine it.
Last week (26 May 2009), a group made up of representatives from a number of regional culture and education institutions and agencies met at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC’s) offices in Suva, Fiji Islands, to comment on the draft strategy. The draft strategy is an outcome of the efforts of the Council of Pacific Arts (CPA)* Working Group on Culture and Education, and particularly its Chair, Dr Uiliami Fukofuka of Tonga, in collaboration with SPC’s Human Development Adviser for Culture Elise Huffer.
The initiative, which contributes to the Pacific Plan’s objective of improved education and training and to SPC’s focus on the development of human resources, evolved early last year following the 21st meeting of CPA. It is part of a concerted effort to strengthen the role of CPA through active participation in the development of the region’s culture sector.
In addition to CPA and SPC representatives, participants at last week’s meeting included representatives from the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific, the Pacific Islands Museum Association, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the University of the South Pacific, Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of basic Education (PRIDE), Pacific Association of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and the Pacific Arts Alliance.
The draft strategy focuses on three main areas. The first area relates to improving transmission of cultural values, ethics, skills and knowledge at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as through technical and vocational education and training.
The second area focuses on strengthening the cultural sector by promoting existing cultural institutions through professional development opportunities for cultural workers and producers and through higher tertiary level education in areas such as archaeology, Pacific studies, anthropology, linguistics and indigenous studies.
The third area relates to establishing a regional network between the culture and education sectors to improve integration efforts across all levels through better collaboration.
Dr Huffer says the draft strategy is still in its early stages. ‘The meeting served to examine the suggestions and practical measures listed in the draft with key partners. The strategy will now be refined and circulated among those partners, with a view to defining tasks and roles for the future.’
The draft strategy is designed to complement the Pacific Education Development Framework, which outlines a Pacific vision of education agreed to by Forum Education Ministers in March 2009.
It will also become part of the Regional Cultural Strategy which is currently being developed by CPA and SPC. The aim of the Regional Cultural Strategy, which is an objective of the Pacific Plan, will be to maintain and strengthen Pacific cultural identity.
The draft culture and education strategy is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.
*The Council of Pacific Arts is a regional body which oversees the promotion of culture in the Pacific. It comprises the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories that are members of SPC, with the addition of Hawaii, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Norfolk Island, and the founding members, Australia and New Zealand.
For more information please contact Elise Huffer, SPC Human Development Adviser (Culture) by phone: +687 26 50 65 or email:
or Tione Chinula, Human Development Programme Advocacy and Communications Officer by phone: +687 26 01 57 or email: