COOK ISLANDS TEACHERS' COLLEGE, SOLOMON ISLANDS TEACHERS'
COLLEGE AND NASINU TEACHERS' COLLEGE AND THE DIPLOMA IN
EDUCATION PROGRAMME AT THE UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH
Fellow at the Institute of Education, USP
Introduction: While a Fellow at the USP Institute of Education during
Semester II, 1977, I visited the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands and very
briefly the Republic of Nauru.
While my principal objective was to study the 'Education' programmes at the
various Teachers' Colleges, I was also able to establish strong links with the
various Teachers' Colleges and the USP Institute of Education, and it is
sincerely hoped that the links will strengthen and grow.
PROGRAMME STRUCTURE AT THE COLLEGES.
COOK ISLANDS TEACHERS' COLLEGE:
The students undertake a three year course at the end of which they are
awarded the Cook Islands Teachers' College Certificate. The Cook Islands
Trained Teachers' Certificate is awarded after satisfactory completion of a
prabationary*year in the schools. During 1977 the roll of the College was as
1st year students — 15
2nd year students — 31
Total - 46
There were no 3rd year students in 1977. The principal aim of the College is to
develop teachers who are well trained in the theory and practice of teaching,
and who have a flexible approach to their task so that they can adapt to
changing methods and conditions, ever conscious of the evolutionary process
of education, and of their role as catalysts in this process.
THE SOLOMON ISLANDS TEACHERS' COLLEGE:
This college offers a two year course and the students are awarded the
Solomon Islands Teachers' Certificate at the end of two years. The Solomon
Islands Trained Teachers' Certificate is awarded after successful completion of
a two year probationary period. During 1977 the roll was:
1st year students — 60
2nd year students — 58
Total — 118
The main aim of the College is to train teachers who are proficient in both the
theory and practice of teaching and who are able to adjust to the changes in
THE NASINU TEACHERS' COLLEGE, FIJI:
The College offers a two year programme at the end of which students are
awarded the Primary Schools Teachers' Certificate. These teachers are
absorbed in the Government's teaching fraternity. During 1977, the roll of the
1st year students — 128
2nd year students — 121
Total — 249
In addition to offering the two year programme, the College offers a one year
programme for the untrained (licensed) teachers who have been teaching for a
number of years. In 1977, these students numbered 105.
The College also offers in-service courses each year for serving teachers in the
following one-year programmes:
Phys. Ed., Music & Art & Craft (PEMAC)
After successfully completing the one year course the teachers are appointed
to secondary schools to teach the above respective subjects.
THE USP DIPLOMA IN EDUCATION COURSE:
This is a three year programme which prepares teachers for Junior Secondary
Schools in the South Pacific Region, the primary aim of which is to prepare
teachers who are knowledge.able in at least two curriculum areas and who
have the instructional skills and competencies necessary to teach Forms I —
IV (possibly to Form V) in both rural and urban South Pacific schools.
The general aims in the 'Education' programme are as follows:
—To develop within the students an inderstanding and appreciation of the
developmental characteristics of Cook Island children which include cognitive,
physiological and social aspects of developments.
—To make students aware of effective teaching techniques, understand the
importance and appropriateness of these, and develop the skills necessary
for effective teaching techniques.
—To present to the students various theories of learning that are relevant for
—To help students understand the concept of 'education' and the historical
and present day aspects of the concept.
The content of the course is as follows:
Year 1 — What is 'Education'?
— Cook Islands Education
— Other contemporary Education systems
— Introduction to Child Development
— Techniques of teaching
— Child Development (The Primary Child) physiological, psychological,
social and emotional growth
— Jean Piaget — his theory and Cook Islands children
— Learning theories — how do we learn?
— Great educators of the past
Year 2 — Education & Society — contemporary issues
— Language development (psychological and practical
— The Curriculum (methodology and rationale)
— Testing in school: Uses and abuses
— Statistics in Education
— Heredity vs. Environment
— Adolescent Development
Year 3 - (For 1978 3rd yr. st.)
— Education in Cook Islands
— Principles of Learning
— Adolescent Development
— Concept formation
— Remembering & Forgetting
— Personality Development
— Theories of Intelligence
— Methods of Planning and Organisation
— Meeting individual differences
— Use of teaching aids
— Teacher and community
— Teachers as professionals
THE SOLOMON ISLANDS:
The general aims in the education programme are similar to those of the Cook
Islands Teachers' College. The content is as follows:
Part 1 - CHILDREN
Unit 1 Thinking about Psychology
2 Why do children behave as they do?
3 Growing up — physical development
4 Growing up — personality development
5 Growing up — mental development
Part II - LEARNING
Unit 6 How do children learn — Part 1
7 How do children learn — Part 2
8 How can I help children to understand?
Part III - SCHOOLS
Unit 8 Why do we go to school?
9 Organising an educational system
10 Custom education
11 The beginning of school education
12 The New Policy
Solomons Education Policy
13 Education in some other developing countries
14 A community study
NASINU TEACHERS' COLLEGE, FIJI:
The Education programme aims at:
1.1 the development of competence in classroom practices, the
encouragement of positive attitudes to the teaching profession
and an understanding of the children whom the students will
1.2 examing the role of the teacher within Fiji's educational context.
The following content forms the education programme at the College:
Year 1 — Teaching Strategies — nature and importance of lesson prepara-
tion; the relation of objectives to lesson content and procedure;
motivation and interest; students' involvement, self and pupil
— Child Growth and Development
— Audio-visual aids
Year 2 — Teaching Strategies — advanced teaching techniques; simulation;
micro-teaching; multiple/group teaching.
— Assessment — prediction, diagnosis, ranking, performance;
types of tests — advantages and disadvantages.
— Curriculum construction — types of curriculum; programming
within a subject.
— Team teaching — characteristics, advantages / disadvantages.
USP DIPLOMA IN EDUCATION PROGRAMME
The Education Course content is as follows:
Year 1 — Child Development
— Education and Society
Year 2 — Classroom Learning and Curriculum Studies
Year 3 — Contemporary Educational Issues in the South Pacific
— Educational Evaluation
— Selected studies in Leisure and Community.
• • • •
In many ways the 'Education' programmes at the three Colleges and the USP
Diploma Course are similar. For example the Child Development Course
appears quite early in the programmes and the course in Contemporary Edu-
cational issues is offered towards the end. Many topics in the content of
the course are similar although the terms may differ in some cases.
All the Colleges while involving key lectures, make use of seminar/discussion
groups, practical workshops, observations including demonstration lessons
and peer and microteaching activities. In the Diploma in Education programme
at USP, Peer Tutorial system is also used. A large percentage of the 1st year
USP students feel that 'Peer Tutorial' is one of the best features of the
methodology issued in the Education programme.
In all the three Colleges and at USP, the students' assessment is progressive
in nature involving assignments, essays, observations, exercises, research,
etc. and there are also examinations at the end of the year in the case of the three
Colleges and at the end of each semester in the case of USP.
At Solomon Islands Teachers' College about 20 teachers are working with
the staff of the College on Curriculum development for Primary schools in the
Solomons. Apart from working on the theory of curriculum development the
teachers are also writing new and relevant materials in different subject areas,
helped and guided by a tutor especially appointed for the curriculum development
area. I was impressed with the progress made.
At the Cook Islands Teachers' College a similar setup was envisaged.
Unfortunately, only two teachers are involved in curriculum development
work assisted by a tutor appointed in that area. Obviously, with only two
teachers not much progress has been made.
In Fiji, there is a Curriculum Development Unit with adequate staff working in
different subject areas. Teachers in schools also play very important roles in
curriculum development work in Fiji. Apart from being on different
Committees in different subject areas, they help in trialling new materials and
in evaluating the relevancy of the different units.
School experience is an integral part of the education course and a very
important part of the entire teacher training programme.
The major objective of teacher training is to produce teachers who are well
trained and competent in both the theory and practice of teaching. During the
school experience programme students are given the opportunity to develop
the necessary skills and techniques as classroom teachers.
At the Cook Islands Teachers' College (in 1977), the 1st Year Students had a
total of 8 weeks School Experience, the 2nd Year Students, a total of 12
weeks. Recently the staff decided that during the 1st year, the School
Experience programmes be extended by four weeks and that all students
spend up to 50% of their College course in schools.
At the Solomon Islands Teachers' College, the 1st Year Students have a total
of 7 weeks School Experience, the 2nd Year Students a total of 15 weeks.
In the Solomon Islands approximately 50% of the teacl.ers in the primary
schools are untrained. About 60 Second Year Students at the College are sent
to the primary schools mainly in the outlying islands to replace 60 untrained
teachers who attend the College for 12 weeks during the entire second term.
These teachers are certificated after a year of probation. Personally, I am not
certain about the wisdom of sending 2nd Year Students to the outlying islands
and supervised by the Administrators; however, this is one way in which the
Government of the Solomon Islands is attempting to overcome the shortage
of trained teachers.
At the Nasinu Teachers' College, before posting, the students observe
children at work, class organisation, observe demonstrations by staff, study
class sessions on video tapes.
During the two-year course, there are four Teaching Experience Postings of 3
weeks, 4 weeks, 4 weeks and 5 weeks respectively, totalling 16 weeks.
The 3-year Diploma in Education Programme at USP has the following School
Year 1 — Short visits for observation and research assignments related to
the Education Courses.
Year 2— Semester 1 — Half day (Thursdays) visits for work related to
Education courses e.g. microteaching and small group teaching
in upper primary classes. Observations in Secondary Schools.
Semester 2 — 3 week block practice in Secondary Schools.
Year 3 — Semester 1 — 4 week full-time 'School and Community' project
in a rural school.
Semester 2 — Half day (Fridays) per week followed by 4 week
The Diploma in Education students who are being prepared to teach in the
lower forms of Secondary Schools opt for either the Arts subjects or the
Science subjects which they teach after graduating after a 3 year course at USP.
School Experience Organisation:
In all the three Teachers' Colleges the students are given different primary
school classes in their different school experiences. Child study is also
undertaken by the students while they are in schools and the students are
involved with children in a practical way.
At the Cook Islands Teachers' College each lecturer supervises, guides and
assesses about 4 to 5 students during each session. Moreover, the Principal
and the Vice-Principal attempt to visit all the students while they are in
different schools. Twelve schools in Rarotonga are used for the School
At the Solomon Islands Teachers' College each lecturer has about the same
number of students to supervise as in the Cooks. The Principal and the Vice-
Principal also endeavour to see as many students and as often as possible.
Eight schools on the island of Guadalcanal, in the radius of 10 miles of the
Teachers' College are used for the school experience programme.
At the Nasinu Teachers' College each lecturer has the responsibility of
supervising, on the average 5-6 students during each session. If a super-
visor wishes to give an A, D or E grade to a student, the grade has to be
confirmed by a Zone Supervisor or the Principal Supervisor, who almost
invariably is the Head of Education of the College.
The students doing the Diploma in Education programme at USP are observed
by a general supervisor and also by a subject tutor either in Arts or Science.
The Cook Islands Teachers' College students travel to their schools since all
of them live off the College Campus. The students at both Solomon Islands
Teachers' College and Nasinu Teachers' College travel by bus or if the
distance is not great, walk to their respective schools.
At Nasinu Teachers' College students not performing satisfactorily during the
School Experience programme are given added periods to improve their
performance. Should they fail their final school experience they are not certifi-
cated and are asked to teach in schools in the following year ranging from 4 to
12 weeks duration. If they do satisfactory work they are then certificated.
Both in the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands the students are given a
Teachers Certificate after a year in schools after finishing the course at the
College and only when doing satisfactory work at their respective schools.
I prepared a questionnaire to evaluate the School Experience Programme.
Details of the evaluation are given in a separate paper. I hope the results will
help us all to have a fresh look at our school experience programmes.
Major Educational Problems:
A common problem faced by all the three countries is that of communication.
Because of the scattered nature of the islands many schools in the outlying
areas are not visited often enough by the advisors and the officials of the
Ministry of Education. Transport is found to be difficult especially where water
transport is necessary.
Allied to the above problem is that of despatching text books and other school
materials very much needed by the pupils especially where pupils hardly have
any access to reading materials and who almost entirely depend on the text
books sent by the Ministry of Education.
At the Teachers' Colleges in the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands there
is a great range in the academic qualifications of the students doing the
courses there. The intake varies from Form 2 students to Form 5 students.
At Nasinu Teachers' College and USP, however, a very high percentage of the
students have done Form 6 work. Both at Cook Islands Teachers' College and
Solomon Island Teachers' College the lecturers have to spend a lot of time
with individual students and the lecturers have to base their teaching at the
students' level especially when the English language level of the students is
not very high.
A major problem faced by the Cook Islands and which is uncommon to Fiji and
Solomons is that Cook Islanders, having automatic N.Z. citizenship can leave
for N.Z. at any time they wish. It is not uncommon to find good teachers and
teacher-trainees leaving for New Zealand when the country is in dire need of
This takes us to another major problem in education encountered not only by
the Cook Islands but also by Solomon Islands and Fiji; it is that of shortage of
trained teachers in all the three countries. All the three countries are making
all efforts to overcome this problem. In Fiji another Teachers' College opened
in Lautoka in 1977 where 120 licensed teachers are being trained.
Nasinu Teachers' College has had 105 licensed teachers in 1977 and they will
all add to the list of already trained teachers. Cook Islands Teachers' College
has increased its intake at the College recently and the Solomon Islands
Teachers' College is running a course in the 2nd term of each year for
untrained teachers in the hope that in the next five to eight years the problem
will be alleviated if not entirely solved.
Pidgin English is rather prevalent in the Solomon Islands and many teachers
resort to Pidgin English while teaching even in class 4 upwards. Because of the
grammatical structure of Pidgin the transfer is apparent in the oral and written
English not only of the pupils but also of the teachers. In a few cases I
observed that the student teachers of the College taught in Pidgin English in
the lower classes but the pupils knew only their own dialects. Since the
student teachers did not have the knowledge of the particular dialects they
experienced problems in communication. This problem is not faced either by
Fiji or Cook Island teachers for vernacular is the medium of instruction for the
first three/four years and English after that.
One of the biggest problems faced by all the three countries is the
expectation on the part of the parents. Almost invariably the parents expect
their children to obtain white collar jobs after they have gone through the
school system. In reality, there are very few white collar jobs in the three
countries and, for that matter, in the other South Pacific countries.
Another problem prevalent in the Solomons and the Cooks, as seen by the
teachers of the two countries, is lack of continuity and progression in the
primary school course. For example, in the Cooks, classes 1 and 2 use one type
of maths text book, classes 3 and 4 another, and classes 5 and 6 yet another
type. In the Solomons, for example, work books in maths are sent to the
teachers but quite a number of them are not acquainted with the content and
the methodology. This, to some extent, is also true of Fiji.
For far too long the curriculum used in the schools in all three countries has
been, to a large degree, irrelevant. In all three countries educationists have
been only recently appraising and evaluating the curriculum taught in the
English has been given top priority in all the three countries and consequently
the vernacular languages have suffered. In fact in the Cooks, Cook Island
Maori has suffered as a language and in Fiji, both Fijian and Hindustani have
suffered. This has gone to the extent whereby people are forgetting their own
culture — traditions and customs. Again, educationists are having a very
serious look at this aspect of education and are coming up with many ideas of
re-introducing the cultural aspect in the education system.
Apparently, quite a number of educational problems faced by one country are
also encountered by the others in the South Pacific.
The aims, content, and methods in the 'education courses' in the three
different Teachers' Colleges are very similar. This is also true of the Diploma
in Education programme at USP. The big difference, of course, is in the
academic background of the students entering Teachers' College in Fiji as
compared with those entering the Solomon Islands and Cook Islands
In concluding I must say that I was most impressed with the agricultural
programme carried out by the Cook Islands Teachers' College. The College
vegetable gardens are exemplary and many farmers come to the College
seeking advice on successful vegetable gardening. The students have
developed a sense of responsibility, organising ability and knowledge and skill
to help their economy, especially by exporting various vegetables to New
When most Pacific islands are so dependent on agriculture for its food and
economy, what is more sensible and relevant than getting not only students at
the College, but in all the institutions and schools, to grow more food for self-
reliance and a healthy economy. Perhaps Nasinu Teachers' College could give
serious thought to this important aspect and include it in its programme at
• • •