Wind in the sails or captain of the Va'a? : the influence of the global education agenda in the Samoan education system : a research project presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of International Development at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The aim of this research was to explore the influence of an international education agenda, particularly through the Education for All goals and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2, on the education system of Samoa. The findings of the research indicate that the priorities of the Samoan education policy are closely related to this second Millennium Development Goal, in particular with regards to access to education. Samoan education policies also relate to the emerging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when addressing educational quality. The emphasis on international goals is problematic as these goals do not take into consideration the context or culture-specific needs of the country, but rather reflect a combination of various underlying theories such as rights-based approaches and economic theories. The involvement of donors in the education system of Samoa was found to be strongly influenced by MDG 2. It also became evident that donors give priority to their own interests and their funding can easily change as priorities in development shift. This research has also found that there is an indigenous education agenda being constructed by rich academic discussions about the goals and purpose of education in the Pacific. These discussions are reinforced by selected regional initiatives, such as the Re-thinking Education Initiative and the Pacific Regional Initiative for the Delivery of basic Education (PRIDE). Pacific education experts point out the importance of education being culturally relevant, as the current system is perceived as an alien force, and describe how, by its nature, the education system imposes incompatible values on the children of the Pacific. The Samoan education system was found to set its own course, while also incorporating international goals, donor priorities, the national level priorities and ideas presented by Pacific authors on education.