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Vol.13 No.4
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VOLUME 13 NUMBER 4 Special Issue

Table of Contents
Does Body Awareness Influence Visual Spatial Intelligence? .......................................................................................... 1
Sandra Kaltner and Petra Jansen

The Digital World of Education in Mauritius: Adapting the Mauritian Education System with the Pace of
Technology ........................................................................................................................................................................... 14
Leena Subrun and Veerunjaysingh Subrun

Human Capacity Development of Igala Youths in Higher Institution in Igala land for Skill Acquisition and
Empowerment ...................................................................................................................................................................... 20
Joy U ETUBI

e-Learning: Challenges and Solutions A Case Study .................................................................................................... 33


Ashis K. Pani, M. Srimannarayana and R.K. Premarajan

Provision of Quality Education Mauritius in Quest of Quality Education ................................................................... 41


Veerunjaysingh Subrun and Leena Subrun

Effects of a One-Hour Creative Dance Training on Mental Rotation Performance in Primary School Aged
Children ................................................................................................................................................................................. 49
Petra Jansen and Stefanie Richter

On the Way to Phronesis: Delving into Stories of School Based Experiences of Pre-Service Teachers .................... 58
Swaleha Beebeejaun-Roojee and Nathalie Congo-Poottaren

School Leaders as Progress Makers: Opening a New Vista for School Leadership in Mauritius ............................. 69
Nathalie Congo-Poottaren and Swaleha Beebeejaun-Rojee

Exploring the potentials of Intercultural Education in sustaining Social Cohesion in Small Island Developing
States ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 81
Jabeen Bibi Soobratty
1

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 1-13, October 2015

Does Body Awareness Influence Visual Spatial


Intelligence?

Sandra Kaltner and Petra Jansen


University of Regensburg
Institute of Sport Science
University Street 31
93053 Regensburg, Germany

Abstract. The embodiment approach suggests that processes in the body


influence cognitive performance. Due to this in the present study,
female patients with high body awareness-elite athletes and patients
with Anorexia Nervosa- as well as healthy controls performed a mental
rotation task with different kinds of stimuli. Mental rotation is the
ability to imagine objects from different perspectives. The results show
that both experimental groups revealed a better mental rotation
performance than the control group in form of faster reaction times. This
result is independent of the kind of stimuli, i.e., if the mental rotation
requires the transformation of the self (egocentric) or the object (object-
based). We further found that BMI and IQ correlated with reaction time.
Because there was no difference between the elite athletes (positive body
awareness) compared to the patients with Anorexia Nervosa (negative
body awareness) the results suggest that any occupation with the body
relates to visual spatial intelligence. This result is discussed regarding its
importance in the educational context.

Keywords: Mental Rotation; Anorexia Nervosa; Embodiment; Elite


Athletes.

Introduction

The embodied cognition approach claims that many cognitive processes


that were formerly defined as purely cognitive are also deeply rooted in body-
related experiences with the environment (Wilson, 2002). The main issue of the
present study is to investigate the embodied nature of a specific cognitive ability
called mental rotation in participants from whom we know that they are deeply
occupied with their body, elite athletes as well as patients with Anorexia
Nervosa. More specifically, we focused on two transformation types in mental
rotation, object-based and egocentric transformations. In contrast to object-based
transformations, egocentric transformations require the representation of the
own body to solve the task. Consequently, participants who are occupied with
their body due to training or during restricted eating to lose weight, should

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show a better egocentric mental rotation performance compared to object-based


ones. It has to be investigated, if there is a difference between participants who
have a positive picture of their body (elite athletes) or those who show a
negative one.

Mental rotation

Mental rotation is a specific visuo-spatial ability. This involves the


process of imagining how a two- or three-dimensional object would look if
rotated away from its original upright orientation (Shepard & Metzler, 1971). In
a classic chronometric mental rotation test two stimuli are presented
simultaneously on a screen. In most cases, the left stimulus is presented in an
upright position and participants have to decide as fast and accurately as
possible if the rotated right stimulus is the same object, that means non-mirrored
version or if it is not the same, i.e., a mirror-reversed version, of the left stimulus.
Thereby angular disparities are systematically varied and reaction times and
accuracy rate are assessed as dependent variables.
In mental rotation two different types of mental transformations are
contrasted: object-based and egocentric transformations (Zacks, Mires, Tversky,
& Hazeltine, 2000). In an object-based transformation the observers position
remains fixed, in an egocentric transformation tasks participants are asked to
mentally change their own perspective. That means that they have to imagine
rotating their own body in order to make a decision (Devlin & Wilson, 2010).
That is, there are two different reference frames: In contrast to object-based
transformations where objects must be judged in relation to each other, the
reference frame in egocentric transformations is the own body. Each
transformation type depends on the type of judgment that has to be made: In the
case of an object-based transformation two images are typically presented next
to each other. In this case participants are asked to perform a same-different
judgment. An egocentric transformation is often evoked by the presentation of a
single human stimulus, for example a human figure raising one arm (left or
right) appearing at varying orientations. The participant has to decide which
arm is outstretched, thus resulting in a left-right judgment (Steggemann,
Engbert, & Weigelt, 2011). However, according to Amorim, Isableu, and Jarraya
(2006) not only the type of the judgment, but also the stimulus type induces
spatial transformations.
Evidence from behavioral data confirms the view that object-based and
egocentric transformations are implemented by two different processing
systems. Regarding response time patterns, the typical increase of response
times with increasing angular disparity is more evident in object-based
transformation tasks than in egocentric ones (Jola & Mast, 2005). Moreover,
Zacks, Mires, Tversky and Hazeltine (2002) did not observe any relationship
between mental rotation time and angular disparity in a left-right mental
rotation task.

Embodiment of mental rotation

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According to Wilson (2002) the embodied cognition approach implies


that many cognitive processes that were originally thought to be purely
cognitive seem to have a motor component. That is, the use of motor processes
facilitates the solving of cognitive problems (Jeannerod, 2003). In the case of
mental rotation there is evidence that motor processes play an important role.
Based on several findings using human bodies as stimulus material it was
shown that the mental transformation shares the same temporal and kinematic
properties with actual body transformations (Parsons, 1987, 1994; Shepard &
Metzler, 1971). In other words, mental rotation of body parts is performed
through the observers simulation of rotational movements (Parsons, 1994).
Shepard and Metzler (1971) interpreted the linear increase of reaction times as a
hint that the process of mentally rotating an object is analogous to the manual
rotation of an object. This assumption was supported by the work of Wexler,
Kosslyn, and Berthoz (1998) and Wohlschlger (2001).
There is plentiful literature that egocentric transformations are embodied
to a higher extent than object-based transformations (Gallese, 2003, 2005; Kessler
& Rutherford, 2010; Kessler & Thomson, 2010; Lorey et al., 2009), which might
be due to the fact that egocentric transformations depend more on the
representation of the own body than object-based transformations.

Embodiment of mental rotation in participants with higher body awareness


Until now, there are only studies, which investigate an improved mental
rotation performance with elite athletes. The definition of an elite athlete is very
difficult (Swann, Moran, & Piggott, 2015); in the present study we define athletes
as persons who train around 4 times a week. Jansen and Lehmann (2013) found
that gymnasts show a better mental rotation performance than people who do
not do any sports or play soccer. But not only elite athletes but also normal sport
students show a better mental rotation performance than for examples
educational students (Pietsch & Jansen, 2012). Furthermore, a study revealed that
elite athletes who completed daily practice of a combat sport (fencing, judo, and
wrestling) showed a higher mental rotation performance than elite runners
(Moreau, Mansay-Dannay, Clerc, & Guerrien, 2011). It is suggested that the
enhanced motor activity improves the mental rotation process. But there is also
another possible explanation. This is the occupation with the body, which comes
along with heightened body awareness. Through this the embodiment of
cognitive processes is facilitated.
Another subgroup who seems to have higher body awareness are
patients with Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia Nervosa is a serious somatic and
psychic illness that affects 0.5-1.0 women during their lifetime (Ludson, Hirpi,
Pope, & Kessler, 2007). Patients with Anorexia Nervosa have a BMI below 19.
Because the patients feel fatter than they are, they refuse to eat. One of the major
clinical symptoms is the occupation with the body, the dissatisfaction with the
body and the distortions in body image perception (Garfinkel, Moldofsky,
Garner, Stanger, & Coscins, 1978). Concerning the cognitive functions of patients
with Anorexia Nervosa, the results are diverse. On the one side, it was shown
that patients with Anorexia Nervosa scored higher in a visual search paradigm
than healthy controls (Southgate, Tchanturia, & Treasure, 2008). On the other
side it was shown that patients with Anorexia Nervosa showed impaired

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4

executive functions (Weider, Indredavik, Lydersen, & Hestad, 2015). Up to now,


there is no study, which investigates the mental rotation performance in patients
with Anorexia Nervosa.

Goal of the present study

It is the main goal of this study to investigate the performance in an


object based and egocentric mental rotation task with participants with different
body awareness. We assume that elite athletes as well as patients with Anorexia
Nervosa, who both have a lower BMI than the normal control group, are more
occupied with the body than control subjects. Due to the theoretical background
the following hypotheses could be established:

1. Elite athletes show a better mental rotation performance than the control
group either due to their motor activity or their positive body awareness.
2. Patients with Anorexia Nervosa show a worse mental rotation
performance then the control group due to their negative body
awareness.
3. Furthermore an interaction with the type of stimuli is expected. It is
assumed that participants with a higher body awareness show a better
mental rotation performance with egocentric compared to objectbased
transformations.

Methods
Participants. Fifty-six females between 16 and 30 years of age participated in the
study. There were 19 elite athletes (mean age: 22.84, SD = 2.61), 20 patients with
Anorexia Nervosa (AN; mean age: 22.50, SD= = 4.49) and 17 healthy control
women (mean age: 22.88, SD = 2.50). In this study, Elite athletes were defined by
at least 4 sport units per week and the patients with Anorexia Nervosa
participated in a therapeutic programme for eating disorders. The elite athletes
differed with 4.78 sport units per week significantly from the patients with AN
and the control women, see Table 1. However, it should be noted that the sports
behaviour of the patients with AN was limited and controlled by the therapists.
The groups did not differ in their age, but in the IQ and the BMI as noted in
Table 1. The IQ was measured with the Number Connection Test, ZVT
(Zahlenverbindungstest, ZVT; Oswald & Roth, 1987) by measuring cognitive
speed. This test consists of four sheets of paper. On each sheet, the numbers 1 to
90 are presented in a mixed order in a matrix of 9 rows and 10 columns. The
participants had to use a pen to connect the numbers as fast as possible in
ascending order. The number of correctly connected numbers was analyzed for
each participant.
ZVT-scores were converted into IQ values. The correlation between the
ZVT and standard IQ tests is about r = .60 to .80 (Vernon, 1993). The ZVT is the
equivalent to the Trail Making Test A (Reitan, 1956). The test administration,

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5

including instructions and practice matrices, takes about 20 minutes. The BMI,
which was calculated for each female, is defined as the body mass [kg] divided
by the square of the body height [m]. Participants were recruited through
advertisements in the local newspapers and at the campus. The patients with
Anorexia nervosa were recruited by contacting a therapeutic centre for eating
disorders. All participants gave informed consent for participation according to
the declaration of Helsinki.

Table 1: Univariate F-tests for the factor group (Mean RT and SD) concerning age,
IQ, BMI and sport units.

Group
Elite athletes Patients with AN Control group
M SD M SD M SD F p p2

Age 22.84 2.61 22.50 4.49 22.88 2.50 0.05 .950 .00

IQ 122.74 12.64 110.15 11.28 106.76 14.00 69.73 .001 .24

BMI 20.98 1.74 18.08 2.09 22.69 3.28 8.22 < .001 .40

Sport units 4.79 0.37 1.40 1.69 0.53 0.72 25.28 < .001 .49

Apparatus and Stimuli

Mental rotation test (see also Jansen & Kaltner, 2014)


For the mental rotation task, the experiment was run on a laptop with a
17 monitor located approximately 60 cm in front of the participant. The test was
adapted from the work of Steggemann et al. (2011). There were three different
experimental stimuli, 1) frontal view of two female people with either the left or
the right arm extended (body figure object based: BFO), 2) front and back view
of one female person with either the left or right arm extended (body figure
egocentric: BFE), and 3) the letters R and F, see Figure 1.

1) 2) 3)

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Figure 1: Examples of the three different stimuli, 1) body figures object based (BFO),
2) letters, and 3) body figures egocentric (BFE)

In the letter and BFO condition two drawings of the same kind of stimuli
were presented simultaneously with an angular disparity of 0, 45, 90, 135 or
180. The right stimulus was rotated compared to the left stimulus, the so called
comparison figure. Half of the trials were pairs of identical objects and half
were mirror-reversed images. The letters were black and the human figures
were wearing black clothes. Contrary to the letter and BFO condition in the BFE
condition only one figure was presented in the rotation angles mentioned above.
This figure raised either the left or right arm. All stimuli were rotated in the
picture plan.

Procedure

The individual test sessions lasted about 60 minutes in total. They took
place in a laboratory at the University of Regensburg or at the therapeutic centre
for eating disorders (TCE) in Munich. Instructions of the mental rotation tests
were standardized. In the BFO and letter conditions participants had to decide
as quickly and as accurately as possible if the stimuli were either the same that
means not mirror-reversed, or different, which means mirror-reversed to the
comparison stimulus (shown on the left side). Participants had to press the left
mouse button (left-click) when the two stimuli were same and the right mouse
button (right-click) when the two stimuli were different. When the stimuli
from the BFE condition were presented, participants had to decide if the figure
raised the right or the left arm. Participants had to press the left mouse button
(left-click) when the figure raised the left arm and the right mouse button (right-
click) when the right arm was raised.

Each trial began with a fixation cross for 1 second. After that, the pair of
stimuli appeared and stayed on the screen until participants answered. Feedback
was given for 500ms after each trial: In the case of a correct response a +
appeared in the centre of the screen and in the case of an incorrect response a -
appeared. The next trial began 1500ms thereafter. Each type of stimulus was
presented in a separated block which was preceded by eight practice trials.
There were 80 trials in each of the three blocks (without practice trials). After
every ten trials within each block a pause of 15 seconds was given before the
next ten trials were administered. The next block started after a break of around
one minute. The presentation of the three blocks was randomized.

Each participant performed 3 blocks of 80 experimental trials, resulting in


240 trials: 3 stimulus types (BFE vs. BFO vs. objects) * 2 trial types (same vs.
different) * 5 angular disparities (0, 45, 90, 135 or 180) * 4 repetitions of each
combination. In each block the order of the presentation of the stimuli was
randomized.

Statistical analysis

Two repeated measure analyses of variance were conducted with


stimulus type (BFO, letters, BFE), group (elite athletes, control group,

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patients with Anorexia Nervosa) and angular disparity (0, 45, 90, 135, 180)
as factors and reaction time (RT) and accuracy rate as dependent
measurements.

A correlation as well as a regression analysis was conducted between the


performance in the mental rotation task and the IQ and BMI. However, this was
done only for the reaction/response times because a group effect was found for
this dependent variable only (see below).

Results

Mental rotation: reaction time (RT)

The analysis of variance showed a main effect for the factors stimulus
type, F(2,106) = 16.41, p < .001, p2= .24, angular disparity, F(4,212) = 316,329,
p < .001, p2= .856, and group, F(2,53) = 5.88, p < .01, p2= .182. Furthermore
there were significant interactions between the factors group and angular
disparity, F(8, 212) = 3.85, p < .001, p2= .127, as well as an interaction between
stimulus type and angular disparity, F(8, 424) = 6.29, p < .001, p2 = .106.
The interaction between group and angular disparity is displayed in
Figure 2. It shows that the three groups did not differ at an angular disparity of
0, but with all other angular disparities. Multiple t-tests with a Bonferroni
corrected significance level were performed. They showed that at an angular
disparity of 45 both the patients with AN (M=836.88ms, SD= 125.65),
t(35)=2.681, p=.011, and the elite athletes (M=813.36ms, SD=210.03), t(34)=-2.404,
p=.022, differed from the control group (M=970.54ms, SD=175.93), whereas elite
athletes and patients with AN did not differ significantly, t(37)=-.416, p=.680. For
an angular disparity of 90, the reaction times of elite athletes (M=897.36ms,
SD=226.22) and the patients with AN (M=919.11ms, SD=140.60) differed from
the ones of the control group (M=1132.56ms; SD=278.01), t(34)=-2.798, p=.008,
and t(35)=-3.015, p=.005. Concerning the angular disparity of 135, compared to
the control group (M=1071.43ms; SD= 168.59), there was a significant difference
between both the patients with AN (M=1288.44ms; SD=271.34), t(35)=-2.296,
p=.005, and the elite athletes (M=1053.01ms; SD=294.25), t(34)=-2.486, p=.018,
whereas patients with AN and elite athletes did not differ, t(37)=-.241, p=.811. At
an angular disparity of 180 there was only a significant difference between elite
athletes (M=1372.99ms; SD= 329.45) and the control group (M=1767.84ms, SD=
436.35), t(34)=-3.084, p=.004. There was no difference between the performance
of the elite athletes and the patients with AN (M=1563.42ms; SD=223.95),
t(37)=.437, p=.935.

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Figure 2: Mean reaction times and standard deviations (error bars) dependent on
group and angular disparity.

The angular disparity*stimulus type-interaction was due to the fact


that there was a significant difference between the reaction time of the following
and previous angular disparity in both object-based conditions (BFO, letters; all
p < .001), whereas in the egocentric transformation the only significant difference
emerged between the angular disparity of 135 and 180, t(55) = -9.060, p < .001.
Because this result is not in the main focus of the study it will not be investigated
further.

Mental rotation: Accuracy

The analysis of variance showed a main effect for the factor angular
disparity, F(4,212) = 29.53, p < .001, p2 = .358, and a significant interaction
between the factors angular disparity and stimulus type, F(8,424) = 2.92, p =
.003, p2 = .052. There were no other significant main effects or interactions. The
interaction between angular disparity and stimulus type was due to the fact
that the decrease of accuracy between 0 and 180 was significantly stronger in
the letter-condition (MDiff=13.39%, SD= 18.59) compared to the BFO-condition
(MDiff=5.15%, SD= 13.07), t(55)=.740, p=.463, and the BFE-condition (MDiff=6.91%,
SD= 12.81), t(55)=.740, p=.463, whereas between the human figure conditions
there was no significant difference regarding this specific response pattern,
t(55)=.740, p=.463. Because this interaction was not in our main focus, it will not
be analyzed further.

Further analysis showed that the overall mean reaction time was not
correlated with the overall accuracy rate (r=-.109, p = .424), but with BMI (r=.266,
p<.05) and IQ (r=-.331, p<.01). A stepwise regression analysis showed that IQ
and BMI explained 17.7% of the variance in the mean reaction time (R = .421),
F(2, 53)=5.71, p= .006), see Table 2.

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Table 2: Final stepwise multiple regression model for the mental rotation performance
in the mean reaction time based on the following predictors: group, BMI and IQ.

Predictor Regression T p
coefficient

Group .135 .902 < .05

IQ -5.191 .327 2.623 < .05

BMI 19.205 .260 2.089 < .05

Discussion

Mental rotation performance in elite athletes and patients with


Anorexia Nervosa
The results of this study show that young adults with high body awareness
show a better mental rotation performance than a group of healthy controls.
Whereas the accuracy did not vary between the different groups, the reaction
time was faster for the elite athletes as well as for the patients with Anorexia
Nervosa than for the controls. This result was independent of the kind of stimuli
and that means also independent of the kind of transformation. This result does
not confirm our third hypothesis. It depended on the angular disparity in that
for a specific angular disparity, either the athletes or the patients or both differed
from the control group. Due to these results and regarding the hypotheses we
can assume that higher body awareness results in an improvement of visual
spatial ability. It did not seem to play a role if this body awareness is positive
like the one of the elite athletes or negative like the one of the patients with
Anorexia Nervosa. Another explanation might be that not body awareness but
ambition is the key factor. Because it is well known that both elite athletes and
patients with Anorexia Nervosa show a higher ambition than healthy control
women, this factor should be controlled in other studies. Our results further
suggest that the IQ plays an important role, which could be expected because
mental rotation is one part of intelligence, namely visual spatial intelligence.
What is interesting is that a lower BMI was related to a better mental rotation
performance, which is in line with a study of Jansen, Schmelter, Kasten and Heil
(2011). This is also in accordance with another study where lower visual-spatial
scores in overweight children were found (Li, Dai, Jackson, & Zhang, 2008).
Children with overweight showed an impaired mental rotation performance
compared to normal weight children.

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One reason for the relation between body weight and cognitive performance
might be that young adults with a lower BMI have a higher sensitivity for
physical activity and that this higher physical activity leads to a better motor
performance. This better motor performance then relates to a higher cognitive
performance (see for example Pietsch & Jansen, 2012). In other words a
decreased motor ability relates to an impaired visual spatial intelligence (Jansen
et al., 2011). But the relation between body weight and motor ability is only one
possible mediator. Another one might be that the weight relates to body esteem
and that this body esteem influences cognitive processes. A third explanation
might be the socio-economic status. Because it is well known that in the
development of overweight the socio-economic status plays an important role
(compare Jansen et al., 2011) this variable might have mediated this results. We
could not exclude this assumption because socio-economic status was not
investigated, but even if it was controlled as in our former study (Jansen et al.,
2011), the relation between body weight and visual-spatial intelligence was
visible.

In further studies concerning the investigation of mental rotation performance in


young adults with higher body awareness other variables have to be controlled:
motor ability, socio-economic status, body- as well as self-esteem. With the
control of these variables a comprehensive picture of the integration of body,
social and cognitive processes could be ventured.

The role of body awareness in the educational context


The study has emphasized the role of body awareness on a specific kind of
intelligence, namely mental rotation performance. What is the importance for
the educational setting? Mental rotation is one key component of intelligence,
which is important for different domains: Mental rotations plays an important
role in problem solving (Geary, Saults, Liu, & Hoard, 2000), and science (Peters,
Chisholm, & Laeng, 1995). The ability to mentally rotate objects is also an ability
needed in creative jobs, engineering, and in medical professions (Hegarty &
Waller, 2005). Furthermore, in one study of Dror, Kosslyn, and Waag (1993) it
was shown that pilots are better at processing mental rotation tasks than non-
pilots. Mental rotation is also a relevant factor in mathematical learning (Hegarty
& Kozhevnikov, 1999). Linn and Petersen (1986) showed that mental rotation is
related to math ability in college students. Reukala (2001) showed that the
performances in a visual-spatial memory and a mental rotation task are related
to mathematical test score. All these studies show the importance of mental
rotation ability for the school setting as well as the professional world. The study
here gives a hint that also body processes and even such simple processes as the
body weight relate to something which is relevant for the school context. It
seems reasonable to assume that the body weight is not only relevant for
emotional factors like self-esteem, but also for cognitive ones.

Although this study is surely limited by several points, it gives a hint that
cognitive processes could not be isolated from other human body and soul.
Mind, soul and body are integrated parts of each individual. To investigate one
part in isolation is sometimes necessary for conducting controlled experiments.

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11

But this study shows that the conclusions that can be drawn are limited. In
practice every human being has to be seen individually, but in his or her
wholeness. This is a high demand for every school- and educational setting, but
is necessary for every system which wants to educate young people for a human
world.

Conclusion

To conclude, this study gives support to the assumption that body awareness
plays a role in cognitive processes. Further studies are needed to investigate this
relation in more detail and make it useful for school context. Regarding future
research directions it would be interesting to find out if this relation contributes
to other cognitive tasks as well as emotional parameters.

Acknowledgment
We are very thankful to Yvonne Steggemann who gave the stimuli to us
and to Roman Wittig, Johanna Hofmeister, Maria Staudigl and Barbara
Drechsler who helped during data acquisition and to Stefanie Richter who
helped in writing the paper.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 14-19, October 2015

The Digital World of Education in Mauritius:


Adapting the Mauritian Education System with
the Pace of Technology

Leena Subrun and Veerunjaysingh Subrun


Port Louis, Mauritius

Abstract. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the


school curriculum. There has been a growing concern about how to
make the Mauritian school equipped with computers so that the future
school leavers are well trained to fit the highly sophisticated digital
world. To cope and compete with the international educational world,
the Mauritian Government has invested massively in the Education
system. The quest for adapting the Mauritian education system to the
ICT world was studied by analyzing the papers published by the
Ministry of Education and Human Resource of Mauritius (MOEHR).
The focus was therefore on the needs of introducing ICT in the
Mauritian education curriculum throughout the school life of a student.
The paper aims to assist educationists to better understand the needs of
technology in imparting a quality education. The study revealed that a
certain level of technology and ICT do exists in the Mauritian education
system. This is due to the caring attitude of each and every government
to enhance the teaching and learning process in the school. But there are
many factors which cause great dissatisfaction as the implementation
and the publication of New Educational Reforms have been the major
concerned. Some recommendations have also been put forward on how
to imbed technology and ICT in the Mauritian education system. The
educational reforms, the devotion, commitment, and contribution to
impart ICT will motivate the government to continue to invest in the
education system.

Keywords: Education, ICT and Technology.

Education
Education can be considered as the key to a successful future of any country.
The report Meeting Basic Learning Needs- A vision for the 1990s on the world
conference on education for all, held at Jomtien in 1990, stated that education
refers to the provision of learning opportunities in a purposeful and organized
manner through various means including, but not limited to school and other

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educational institutions. To glitter in the middle of the Indian Ocean and to be


tagged as the star and key of the Indian Ocean, it is essential for Mauritius to
improve its teaching and learning process through a digitalised Mauritius has
been striving hard to digitalize the education system by embedding system so
that the human resources are well equipped to help to increase the economic
growth of the country. However, the standard of education depends upon the
government as most of the policies are introduced and reframed by them. Well-
organized governments tend to involve the different stake holders in providing
a better education for all. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore the
avenues in providing a better digitalised education to the students who have
embarked unknowingly in the journey of education. Education has been the
priority of the successive governments in Mauritius. Syed Zubair Haider et al
(2015) came forward with the view that education plays a crucial role in the
development of the countrys younger generation to lead a successful life in this
world of dynamic and global competition. Aikaman and Unterhalter (2005)
stated that to educate a nation stays the most important strategy for the progress
of the society all the way through the developing world. This has been in line
with the Mauritian government to educate the nation.

Role of ICT in Learning


Mauritius is a small island which is constantly evolving in the digital world.
ICT is making dynamic changes in our society. It has an effect on our daily life.
Today the digital age has altered the manner individuals communicate,
socialize, try to find help, learn, and get access to information or even play.
Gradually, technology is embedding in the Mauritians culture. Tinio (2002),
declares that the prospective of ICTs is ever-increasing access and improving
bearing and quality of education in the developing countries. Thus, it has
become the responsibility of the government to provide the young learners with
relevant knowledge that will prepare them for life after school. The increasing
use of ICT in our schools is gradually building some major variations in the
teaching and learning process. Mikre (2011) argued that learners using ICT
facilities demonstrate superior knowledge gains than those individuals who do
not make use of. In a study done by Fuchs and Woessmann (2004), an
affirmative relationship was observed between learner attainment and the ease
of use of computers both at the learners home and schools. There is no doubt
that ICT enables self-paced learning. However, it is also true that a simple raise
in ICT provision does not give the assurance in the enhancement of the
educational performance. Moreover, some schools in Mauritius are still facing
difficulty in implementing of ICT in classroom.

ICT in School curriculum


Since last decade, Mauritius has been witnessing a boom in the computerization
process and there has been a craze for the study of computer studies. The
government of Mauritius had to bring changes in its education system in order
to cope with the new trend. ABS (2011) reported that changes were brought in
educational policies which placed more pressures and demands on teachers and
principals. With the implementation of ICT in the Mauritian curriculum, there

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has been a great impact on the educators and the heads of schools. The school
curriculum has to witness a great change and to implement the change the
government policies is being modified. The Education and human resources
strategy plan 2008-2020 stated that the strategy plan is mutable and the
Education and training sector has never been always dynamic. The potential to
mutate the policies has provided the space for inculcating latest technology in
the school curriculum.

Struggle for implementing technology


During the 1980s the Government worked to achieve quality education through
improved instructional materials and teacher training (Armoogum Parsuramen,
2001). The emphasis was more on technology, but it was not define of which
type of technology it is referring to and how it can contribute to the upliftment
of the education system to impart a quality education.
Moreover in 1984 the white paper on Education pointed out that Mauritius main
resource is its people and it is only on their abilities and skills that the nations
future is based. The education helps to build these qualities which are basic to
the development of the country. The expenditure on education was about 4
percent of the GDP and 14 percent of the Total Government Recurrent budget
till the year 1990 (Master Plan, 1997). This proves that since the early 1980s the
government has been investing massively in the education system as Mauritius
did not possess any natural resource and thus they have tried to build up an
educated man power. Today Mauritius is shinning among the African countries
because of its educated man power.
The Master plan, 1997 stated that the curriculum has been broadened to include
more technical-oriented subjects. But the need for PC tablet and computer were
not felt at that time. It is in the year 2008 that the craze for the need of the
introduction of ICT was felt by the government to meet the pace of the rapidly
changing world.

Strive to digitalise the curriculum


The Educational Report Education and Human Resources strategy Plan 2008-
2020(2009) showed that the objective of the MOEHR was slightly modified in
such a way to impart a better education service to the Mauritians by giving
importance to Information and Communication Technology in the school
curriculum. Among many objectives set by the Mauritian Government, one
objective was to maintain an impartial right of entry to all learners to a quality
education by making sure that each and every learners achieve an elevated
levels of attainment in literacy, numeracy, Information and Communications
Technology and such indispensable life Skills as good values, healthy lifestyles
and so forth as the basis for lifelong learning and good citizen.
The MOEHR came with the vision to embed technology in the education system
by equipping the schools with IT facilities by the end of 2010. The aim was to
expose the young learners to modern technology (EHRSP 2008-2020). Moreover
they also plan to train the educators in ICT so that they can disseminate it to the
learners.

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The MOEHR aimed improving the ZEP school, by setting up of computer rooms
with the help of sponsors through the Corporate Social Responsibility
(Education Reform in Action 2008-2014).
In 2010, the ministry of education introduced the National Assessment at the
Form III level and the private colleges joined in the program in 2013. The aim
was to measure the attainment levels of learners in subjects like mathematics,
French, computer studies/ literacy, biology, chemistry and physics.
(Education Reform in Action 2008-2014). Thus, the mission of the government
was to embed the computer studies in the Mauritian school curriculum.
The ministry also aspired to transform schools by integrating different activities
in the national curriculum to create a sense of balance with academic studies, to
unleash the ability of students and to provide them the chance to build up their
hidden talents and their multiple intelligences. Clubs such as the science club,
UNESCO club, integrity club, sports club, IT club, cinematography club, Arts
and craft club, Drama club, Music club, etc have been introduced in the school
curriculum through the activity periods in the school. The activity periods in the
secondary school have been introduced since 2009 and the IT club also flashes as
one of the activity to be carried out. This was another successful attempt of the
government to inculcate the use of IT among the students. The students are thus
groomed to master the technology at an early age.
The Vision of the MOEHR is to exploit Information and Communication
Technologies (ICTs) with the idea to improve the operations and service delivery
of the Education sector with the emphasis of improving quality of the
pedagogical processes as well as to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of
school management. In the quest to promote IT literacy, the ministry has
embarked and invested on a number of ICT projects. The ICT infrastructure has
been improved in the school. Educators have been trained in basic IT so that the
IT literacy can be introduced in the school program. One hundred and twenty
eight public pre-school have been equipped with the computer facilities
(Education Reform in Action 2008-2014). In addition to this, laptops and
projectors also have been provided to all primary school in view to improve the
teaching and learning process.
Since 2011, the ZEP schools have been equipped with WIFI facilities, with the
help of the CSR program where the private sector/companies invest a
percentage of their revenue in the upliftment of the society. The survey report on
the practical implementation of CSR under the new legislation (2011) pointed
out that all companies must compulsorily invest two percent of their profit.
Thus, through the SANKORE Project in 2011 the Mauritian education
curriculum has benefited a lot. The project had the objective to provide an
Education for all through digital empowerment and the use of innovative
technology. The schools were provided with 1615 interactive projectors and
laptops to the Standard IV to standard VI students. This has marked a new
horizon in implementing technology in the Mauritian education system
(Education Reform in Action 2008-2014).
Today all the primary schools possess an ICT laboratory with at least 10
computers and 2 printers and a Scanner. Training sessions of educators have
been carried out to equip the educators to teach and make full use of ICT. In

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addition to it the senior educators, rectors and ICT educators have been trained
to use tablet PC.
An attempt to introduce computer programming has been carried out in five
state secondary schools on the pilot basis in 2013 in view to prepare the learner
to master the digital world. About 26100 tablets PC have been distributed by the
Mauritian Government to the students and educators. SMS E-Register system
has been introduced in 85 state secondary school and 40 private schools.
Moreover, today 19 State Secondary Schools have been equipped with smart
interactive whiteboard and the school library is equipped with access to the
internet facilities to the students (Education Reform in Action 2008-2014).
The Mauritians education ministers of successive Governments have tried to
carry our Educational planning through different educational reports; Master
Plan 1991, White paper 1997, Action Plan 1998, Ending the Rat Race 2001,
Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan 2008-2020,and Education
Reforms in Action 2008-2014. It has been noted that educational reforms have
been the priority of each and every Government. The international agencies are
giving the education sector a major concern, innovative training programs have
been initiated, social scientists are carrying out an intensive research work on the
subject, and as a result a large innovative professional literature is rising. The
Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan 2008-2020 have been able to
implement the vision of the Government of embedding technology in the
curriculum. The success of the attempt may be justified by the election of the
same Government for successive two mandates, thus the minister had ample of
time to implement the Strategy plan 2008-2020.

Recommendation
The need for ICT in education should be reworked so that it can be refurbished
at all level of the school curriculum. The students must compulsorily go for ICT
till Form III and then they have to opt for or drop ICT in upper forms. The ICT
must be made compulsory up to a certain level so that the learners may acquire
sufficient knowledge to apply it in the day to day life and the work place. The
different stakeholders of the education sector need to have a consensus in
providing an equal and fair chance to each and every citizen of Mauritius by
providing a fair access to the digitalized world as only some schools possess the
equipments such as interactive whiteboard, laptops, WIFI connections, printers,
computers, PC Tablet and interactive projectors.
The PC Tablet programs should start from the Form I level and not at SC level as
these students were potential voters for the upcoming elections. The PC Tablet
program should be reviewed and necessary accessories such as WIFI
connections, subject content platform and an interactive platform for students
must be provided along with the PC Tablet so that the educators and as well as
the students can make maximum use of it. The latest technology such as LCD
projectors, printers and scanners must be made available in all classes so that the
educators can deliver judiciously a proper education within the limited time
frame. Finally, the educational report published by the successive Government
must be reframed in such a way that the objective is achieved within the time
frame and more precisely within the laps of the government mandate.

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19

Conclusion
The Government has made a great step by infusing technology in school.
However, the ministry must keep an eye on the schools and must make sure that
the schools make full use of the accessories provided. Moreover, a committee
must be set up to train and evaluate the educators on how effectively the digital
technology is being applied in the teaching and learning process. Given that
education is free for all and the Government adheres to the principle of
providing free education to the learners, therefore all schools must be similarly
well equipped so that a uniform type of education is dispensed in all the
Mauritian schools. Since the last decade tremendous amount of money have
been inserted in Mauritian education system in view of embedding technology
in the school curriculum. Despite many changes in curriculum, many schools are
not making full use of technology. The Mauritian education has succeeded in
embedding a certain level of digital technology but there are much more to
achieve as the digital technology is a dynamic system which keep on evolving
with new features every day.
Moreover, a standardized digital curriculum must be provided in all schools and
they must keep abreast with the innovative changes. The school must properly
disseminate the ICT and technology in view to provide a World Class Quality
Education in the context of globalization. This will enable young Mauritians to
achieve moral, intellectual and physical development to achieve high academic
standards. Thus, finally we can conclude that the Mauritian government is in
quest of imparting a world class digital education and this has been achieved up
to a certain level and yet new avenues must be tapped.

References
ABS (2011), Schools, Australia 2010. Canberra, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Aikaman and Unterhalter (2005). Beyond access: Transforming policy and practice for
gender equality in education. London: Oxford.
Armoogum Parsuramen (2001) Achieving Education for All The experience of Mauritius
Fuchs and Woessmann (2004). Computers and student learning: Bivariate and
multivariate evidence on the availability and use of computers at home and at
school.
Master Plan 1997: Master Plan for Education for the Year 2000: The Mauritian experience
World conference on education for all(1990): Meeting Basic Learning Needs- A vision for
the 1990s.
Mikre, F (2011). The roles of Information Communication Technologies in education
Ministry of Education and Human Resource (2009): Education and Human Resources
Strategy Plan 2008-2020
Ministry of Education and Human Resource (2014): Education reform in action 2008-
2014: Survey report on the practical implementation of CSR under the new
legislation (2011)
Syed Zubair Haider and Azra (2015): Analysing the role of private colleges in
developing the effective education system in pakistan
Tinio, V.L. (2002). ICT in Education: UN development Programme.
White paper(1984). White paper on education, Ministry of Education

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20

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 20-32, October 2015

Human Capacity Development of Igala Youths


in Higher Institution in Igala land for Skill
Acquisition and Empowerment

Joy U ETUBI
Kogi State College of Education
Ankpa, Nigeria

Abstract. Education is the building block of any nation and the greatest
legacy for any individual. Igala is one of the ethnic groups in Nigeria
that has not received much attention from the Federal government in
regard to human capacity development as compared to other ethnic
groups in Nigeria. The Federal Government has not given attention to
the high poverty level of Igalas that has made the needed educational
training of their youths very difficult. Consequently, hundreds of these
youths drop out of school every year and thousands of them take to
socially unacceptable acts in order to survive the hardship of schooling.
The paper discussed the concept of capacity development, overview of
capacity development in selected institutions in other countries, high
poverty level of Igala people as compared to other ethnic group in
Nigeria and capacity development in vocational technical education
with regard to rubber technology in higher institution in Igala land. The
paper suggested among others that the Federal government via the State
Ministry of Education should encourage human capacity development
in tertiary institutions in Igala land by providing funds and
interventions toward human capacity development initiative especially
in rubber technology.

Keyword: Igala intervention, capacity development; higher institution;


rubber technology.

Introduction
Higher educational institutions in Nigeria are tasked with the responsibility of
providing students with knowledge and advanced skills to enhance the
economic growth of individuals and the nation which will invariably promote
the standard of living amongst its people. The Federal government of Nigeria
indicated in the National Policy on Education (2004) that higher education
provides opportunity for students to be trained in different careers. In other
words, for any institution to provide a measurable transformation in training
students in different careers it must ensure quality and standard education,

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21

adopt and maximize rapid technological advancement as is obtained in


developed countries. Such higher institutions should also be geared towards
producing highly skilled human resource that will help to stimulate optimal
performance in government or industry.

Higher institution in Igala land is faced with the challenge of equipping students
with these advanced skills that can address the urgent need for change in
vocational technical education with regards to rubber technology in order to
reduce the high poverty level that is endemic in the land. Experience has shown
that Igala youths are full of potentials that can be harnessed in this area. There is
the need for movement from training painters, bricklayers, auto mechanics
which has not made any recognizable impact on the life of the Igalas to
producing students who can become builders of industries either in mini or
large scale using locally available natural resources where they can become
manufacturer of goods such as rubber and plastics to boost individual and
national economy. This can only be achieved if attention is given to the issue of
capacity development of students in higher institutions in Igala land. It is
worthy of note that Igala land is a fertile ground for the cultivation of rubber
(Heveabrasiliensis) which is the raw material for the making of rubber products.
This is evident in some villages where there is rubber plantation such as
Egabada-Idah, Igoti-agojeju,Oganeaji-Anyigba,Okura, Ofejiji and Dekina.

The fact remains that for any higher institution to operate with an improved
standard, the government where the institution is situated must arise to become
a positive force of transformation. The Nigerian government has not keyed into
the interest and encouragement in capacity development as emphasized in the
commitment seaied in millennium declaration by the United nations in
September 2000 which is the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The
statement therein revealed the urgent need particularly for developing countries
to effectively respond to the current global economic recession that affects two
billion people (Igalas inclusive) living in poverty.

It is without doubt that the Nigerian government has not yet made any tangible
support in the area of capacity development initiative in higher institutions in
Igala land. The worry of this paper therefore is the lack of governments
attention on human capacity development of youths in igala land for skill
acquisition.

This paper is organized under the following sub- heading; the concept of
capacity development, an overview of capacity development in rubber
technology in some selected institutions in other countries, the high poverty
level of the Igala people, and capacity development in vocational technical
education with regard to rubber technology in higher institution (university) in
igala land.

Concept of capacity development


The relevant definition of capacity development in this context is the one put
forward by USAID in the Learning Network on Capacity Development (2015)
and the United Nations development program (2009)

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According to the UNDP (2009), capacity is the ability of individuals or


institutions to make decisions and implement it in an effective and sustainable
manner.

LenCD (2015) maintained that in USAID terms, Human Capacity Development


is approaches, strategies, or methodologies used to change, transform, or
improve performance of an individual, organization, or society. According to
UNDP (2009), Human capacity development is a process through which
individuals, organizations, obtain strength to maintain the capabilities to set and
achieve their own development objectives over time. Food Agricultural
Organization (2004) provided a modified definition for further elaboration in
their revised draft Strategic Framework Document to be; The process by which
individuals, groups, organizations, institutions and societies develop their
abilities both individually and collectively to set and achieve objectives, perform
functions, solve problems and to develop the means and conditions required to
enable this process.

The above definition by the Food and Agricultural Organization (2004) brought
about the recognition of four levels of capacity development- (i) individual, (ii)
organizations (iii) sector/networks and the (iv) broader enabling environment.
To Working Party, the overall capacity is not just the sum of individual,
institution and sector but also includes the process which enables people to
acquire and extend their skills within a conducive environment. FAO reiterates
further that, human capacity development takes place not just within
individuals but between them and the institutions and that/ any initiative
within this context must take a holistic view of the environment in which
individuals operate. Second, capacity development process includes identifying
needs, building knowledge and skills that can be implemented through practice
and experience which leads to sustainable change of an individual. FAO also
opined that capacity development is a two way process through which an
individuals capacity developmental needs, and experience would determine the
content of training offered by the institution.

The Accra Agenda Action (2008) indicated in their report that the three not
independent. In their words, capacity The Accra Agenda Action in their report
illustrated the inter-connectedness of levels of capacity development which was
borrowed from the justice system thus; a well functioning and capable justice
system needs to have skillful and professional judges, prosecutors, attorneys and
court secretaries. Using the above example, the report further illustrated the
three levels thus: the need for good court procedures to be put in place and a
body of law and redress mechanism is at the individual level of capacity
development formal justice system well functioning police force is at the
institutional level and a well functioning police force with a strong value
system based on what is right and wrong as well as on citizenry responsibility is
at the societal level.

Rita (2013) stated that the requirement for capacity development includes: (i)
Teaching and learning; New forms teaching and learning for learners with
good curricula and relations with employing organizations (ii) Student
experience in research and community service; this includes university linkages

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23

and student participation in research. (iii) Quality assurance; policies, structures,


procedures, should meet the internal and external quality standards.(iv) Human
resource and facility; more and qualified staff both academic and supportive
staff,faclilties and infrastructures such as classrooms, libraries, laboratories, ICT-
infrastructure that is needed to support research.(v). Funding; Higher education
institution initiative should include funding research, teaching and learning,
planning and control.

An overview of Capacity development in some selected Institutions in


other countries.
This part of the work attempts to look at human capacity development in higher
institutions in other countries. In specific terms, this overview will be limited to
rubber and plastic technology in these institutions.

A look at capacity development in higher institutions of learning in these


countries will help enhance the understanding of what it should be in higher
institutions in Nigeria and most especially in Igala land. The first Institution is

Madras Institute of Technology Chennai, India

Department of Rubber and Plastic Technology

This Institution has the department of Rubber and Plastic Technology which
offer two year degree programme in Rubber and Plastics Technology that
certify graduates as bachelors in technology ((B.Tech), four year degree
program in Masters. in Rubber Technology (M.Tech) and Ph.D program in the
field of Polymer Science and Technology.

Title Degree Specialization Semester

UG B.Tech Rubber and plastic 8


(Full time) technology
PG M.Tech Rubber technology 4
(Full time)
Research M.S Polymer science
(By research) And technology
(F.T&P.T)

The curriculum of the B. Tech program is shown below.

Semester 1
Code No Course title L T P C
Theory
HS9111 Technical English I 3 1 0 4
MA9111 Mathematics I 3 1 0 4
PH9111 Engineering Physics 3 0 0 3

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CY9111 Engineering Chemistry 3 0 0 3


GE9111 Engineering Graphics 2 0 3 4
GE9112 Fundamentals of Computing 3 0 0 3
Practical
PH9112 Physics Laboratory 0 0 2 1
CY9112 Chemistry Laboratory 0 0 2 1
GE9113 Engineering Practices Laboratory 0 0 3 2
GE9114 Computer Practices Laboratory 0 0 3 2
17 2 13 27
Total

Semester 2
Code No Course title L T P C
Theory
HS 9161 Technical English II 2 0 2 3
MA 9161 Mathematics II 3 1 0 4
PH 9164 Physics of Materials 3 0 0 3
GE 9261 Environmental Science & Engineering 3 0 0 3
GE 9151 Engineering Mechanics 3 1 0 4
PR 9151 Basic Machining Processes 3 0 0 3
RP 9152 Basics of Electrical Engineering 3 0 0 3
Practical
GE 9161 Unix Programming Lab 0 0 4 2
RP 9153 Machining Process Lab. 0 0 3 2
Total 20 2 9 27

Semester 3
Code No Theory L T P C

Theory
MA 9211 Mathematics III 3 1 0 4
AE 9201 Engineering Fluid Mechanics 3 1 0 4
EI 9211 Electronics and Instrumentation 3 0 0 3
RP 9201 Physical and Organic Chemistry 3 0 0 3
AU 9201 Thermodynamics & Thermal Engineering 3 1 0 4
AU 9202 Solid Mechanics 3 1 0 4
Practical
PR 9202 Computer Aided Parts & Assembly Drawing 0 0 3 2
PR 9203 Mechanical Sciences Laboratory 0 0 3 2
Total 18 4 6 26

Semester 4
Code No Theory L T P C

Theory
MA 9262 Numerical Methods 3 1 0 4
PR 9251 Theory of Machines 3 1 0 4
RP 9251 Basics of Polymers 3 0 0 3

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RP 9252 Rubber Materials 3 0 0 3


RP 9253 Fundamentals of Chemical Engg. Operation 3 0 0 3
RP 9254 Polymer Physics 3 0 0 3
Practicals
EI 9261 Electrical and Electronics Engineering Lab 0 0 3 2
RP 9261 Polymer Science Lab 0 0 3 2
Total 18 2 6 24

Semester 5
Code No Theory L T P C
Theory
PR 9303 Machine Design 3 1 0 4
RP 9301 Plastics Materials 4 0 0 4
RP 9302 Rubber Processing and Machinery 3 0 0 3
RP 9303 Rubber Compounding 3 0 0 3
RP 9304 Latex Technology 3 0 0 3
Elective 1 3 0 0 3
Practicals
RP 9305 Rubber Processing Lab 0 0 3 2
RP 9306 Rubber Materials Lab 0 0 3 2
RP 9307 Technical Seminar 0 0 2 1
PR 9306 Computer Aided Design Lab 0 0 3 2
Total 19 1 11 27

Semester 6
Code No Theory L T P C
Theory
RP 9351 Testing of Rubber and Plastics 4 0 0 4
RP 9352 Plastics Processing and Machinery 3 0 0 3
RP 9353 Product Design & Engg. Application of Polymers 4 0 0 4
RP 9354 Polymer Characterization Techniques 3 0 0 3
Elective II 3 0 0 3
Elective III 3 0 0 3
Practical
GE 9371 Communication Skills and Soft Skills Lab 0 0 2 1
RP 9355 Plastics Processing Lab 0 0 3 2
RP 9356 Rubber Testing Lab 0 0 3 2
RP 9357 Design & Drawing of Moulds and Dies Lab 0 0 3 2
Total 20 0 11 27

Semester 7
Code No Theory L T P C
Theory
RP 9401 Polymer Composites 3 0 0 3
RP 9402 Technology of Tyres and Tubes 3 0 0 3
RP 9403 Polymer Recycling 3 0 0 3
Elective IV 3 0 0 3
Elective V 3 0 0 3

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Practical
RP 9404 Design Project 0 0 4 2
RP 9405 Industrial Training * - - - 2
RP 9406 Plastics Testing Lab 0 0 3 2
RP 9407 Comprehension and Seminar 0 0 4 2
Total 15 0 11 23

* Four weeks of training during 6th semester Vacation

Semester 8
Code No Theory L T P C
THEORY
1. Elective VI 3 0 0 3
Practical
1. RP 9451 Project Work - - 12 6
Total 13 0 12 9

List of electives

B. Tech rubber and plastics technology

Code No Course title L T P C


AE 9306 Experimental Stress Analysis 3 0 0 3
AE 9354 Finite Element Method 3 0 0 3
IE 9311 Principles of Management 3 0 0 3
GE 9021 Professional Ethics in Engineering 3 0 0 3
GE 9022 Total Quality Management 3 0 0 3
GE 9023 Fundamentals of Nano Science 3 0 0 3
RP 9021 Adhesives and Surface Coatings 3 0 0 3
RP 9022 Multi phase polymer systems 3 0 0 3
RP 9023 Fibres and Engineering Materials in 3 0 0 3
Polymer Products
RP 9024 Footwear Technology 3 0 0 3
RP 9026 Product Design and Cost Estimation 3 0 0 3
PR 9402 Engineering Management 3 0 0 3
RP 9029 Polymer Components in Automotive Applications 3 0 0 3
RP 9030 Rubber Machinery 3 0 0 3
RP 9031 Plastics Machinery 3 0 0 3
RP 9032 Entrepreneurship Development 3 0 0 3

Ferris State University, USA

The Rubber Engineering Technology program in Ferris State University equip


engineering technology students with a diversified background that includes
advanced coursework in the mixing and testing of rubber compounds for
industry standards, the processing of rubber compounds into finished products,
making of mould design, materials selection and properties. Their Class

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27

activities focus on hands-on learning, using the same type of equipment that is
currently used in industry

The curriculum content includes Mixing and testing rubber compounds for
industry standards and processing these compounds into finished products,
internship for a minimum of 10 weeks each rubber product design, computer-
aided design Manufacturing processes, material formulation Mould
construction, supervision and management Algebra and trigonometry, electrical
and hydraulic controls, chemistry and physics. In this innovative program,
students learn to mix and test rubber compounds for industry standards.

What is rubber?
Rubber is a polymer with the property of elasticity and there are two categories
of rubber; natural rubber obtained from the rubber trees such as
Heveabrasiliensis; and synthetic rubber derived from petrochemicals. Natural
rubber is made from runny, milky white liquid called latex that oozes from
certain plants with a deep cut into the tree. Although there are about 200 plants
in the world that produce latex, over 99 percent of the worlds natural rubber is
made from the latex that comes from three species called heveabrasilliensis,
widely known as rubber tree. Synthetic rubbers are made from chemical using
petrochemicals. This paper concentrates on natural rubber.

Poverty level of the Igala people


According to Sam (2014) the concept of poverty has received the attention of
stakeholders in different disciplines especially during the last two decades. But
because of its complexity and multi-dimensional in nature, it has been difficult
to give a universally acceptable definition of poverty. To him economic seem to
have dominated the literature on poverty in Nigeria. Poverty has been defined
as the inability of an individual or a family to command sufficient resources to
satisfy basic needs. He said this definition has been used for constructing
poverty line values of income or consumption required to purchase the
minimum standard of nutrition and other necessities of life. The World Bank
organization (2011) said that the most commonly used way to measure poverty
is based on income. A person is considered to be poor if his or her income level
falls below some minimum level necessary to meet basic needs. What is
necessary to satisfy basic needs varies across time and societies. Therefore
poverty lines vary in time and place and each country uses lines which are
appropriate to its level of development, societal norm and values The Igala
people are an ethnic group in Kogi state which is located in the North Central
part of Nigeria Igala land is situated East of the River Niger and Benue
confluence in Lokoja, Kogi state of Nigeria with its headquarters in Idah (palace
of the Atta of Igala). The area is approximately between the latitude 7030 and
7040 east which is about an area of 13, 665 square kilometres (Oguagha, 1981). It
is 120 kilometres wide and 160 kilometres long.

Igala is the major ethnic group in kogi state with a population of two million.
They can also be found in Delta, Anambra and Edo state in Nigeria. The Igala
are found east of the river and are bounded o the east by Enugu state, to the

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28

south by Anambra state and the north by benue/Nassarawa state he Igala


language is closely related to the Yoruba and Itsekiri languages (Wikipedia, free
encyclopedia.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/).The major challenge facing the Igala
people is poverty.

Despite the fact that the cost of living in Igala land is relatively low, very few of
the people can boast of good standard of living. Most of the communities lack
basic amenities and infrastructures that most average societies are 13 expected to
have e.g. good schools, hospitals, roads, electricity, water supply etc. It will not
be a surprise to mention here that kogi state has just one university which is
located in Igala land and it still needs further development and upgrade for
optimum performance to meet competitive standard. The area occupied by the
Igala people is part of the most fertile lands in the region and it holds great
potential for economic activities especially agriculture. The land is also endowed
with various mineral resources that if properly harnessed can be of tremendous
economic benefit. In terms of human resources, Igala land witnesses low rate of
infant mortality and Average life expectancy (ALE) in the area is not less than 70
years, this gives it a reasonably large population. In addition to this, most
families in Igala land are large ones due to polygamous marriage, the absence of
epidemics in the area accounts for a healthy population of young people with
potential. Furthermore, Igala land is not susceptible to natural disaster like
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions etc. This is an indication that the land is very
favourable for any form of economic activity. The absence of crisis such as inter-
communal war and terrorist activity in the area makes the environment friendly
for economic and human development. However all these notwithstanding,
more than half of the lgala people are living in poverty despite the natural
endowments upon the land such as rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) which is found
in large quantity in the following villages; Okura, Ofejiji, igoti, Dekina, Egabada-
Idah. To substantiate this claim Abubakar (1990) in Edimeh (2013) stated that the
output of rubber in its market from Igala land in 1905 was 14.5% of the total
value of Nigeria rubber export. Up to 1910 Igala accounted for 70% of the
valuable export in rubber from northern Nigeria.

Today, in Igala land rubber is used mainly for roofing houses for lack of
knowledge of its importance. The rhetoric question that could come to ones
mind is why has Igala land remained at the bottom of the ladder of development
with the presence of such natural resource that can be utilized for the making of
rubber products for the consumption of not only the people of Igala land but the
state and the country at large. Even though the causes of their high poverty level
can be traced to many other factors, it is crucial to note that this natural resource
which if put into use could have alleviated some level of poverty and yet is left
untapped is another contributory factor The people are impoverished, her
youths largely unemployed and engage in menial jobs with crude, obsoletes
tools (carpentry, mechanics, block moulders etc).

Capacity development in vocational technical education with Regard to rubber


technology in higher institutions in Igala land

Technical vocational education is to improve students technological ability and


skill and consequent career development. Afeti (2014) opines that the primary

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29

objective of technical and vocational education and training programmes is the


acquisition of relevant knowledge, practical skills and attitude for gainful
employment in a given trade or occupational area.

Okorocha and Duru (2014) further maintained that graduates from technical and
vocational education are also found in design, construction and operation of
industries including oil, agriculture, forestry, petro-chemicals, mineral and
water resources, electrical power generation and distribution, textile, iron and
steel, automatic and plastics and distribution, textile, iron and steel, automatic
and plastics.

Okorie (2001) stated that some aim of technical education includes; Providing
skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare individuals for employment in
occupation for nation development, Helping young people to develop
occupational competencies for industrial work, Making individuals to uphold
the dignity of labour and right attitudes to real work situations, Inculcating
innovative techniques and necessary skills for employment in the formal sectors
of economy.

Several researches has indicated that one tool for capacity development is
training and it can be the best for targeting the individual level of human
capacity development. But another work by the Capacity for Disaster Reduction
Initiative (2014) shows that it is not enough that training results in participatory
learning but it must be relevant to the need and goal of targeted organization. It
is pertinent to note that training in rubber production in higher institution in
Igala land can be delivered through different methods:

1. Face to face classroom learning- there should be rubber training for skills
acquisition by experts

2. Field trip- students should visit manufacturing companies

3. Internship-this should be done for work experience for acquisition of


professional skills

4. Seminar and workshop- suppliers and consultants should be invited for


seminar and workshop in rubber manufacturing.

Experience has shown that majority of Igala youths that possess technical ability
for practical work graduate from higher institutions with just theoretical
knowledge due to lack of guidance and availability of important areas in
technical courses such as rubber technology.

Human capacity development in technical vocational education with regard to


rubber technology is therefore a necessity for the only university in Igala land
for the following reasons: (i) Train skilled workers in the rubber technology. (ii)
Enhancing individual development through poverty alleviation (iii)
Enhancement of industrial development and economic growth. (iv) Utilization
of the abundant natural resources and (vi) Training competent workforce for the
solution of manufacturers problem of scarcity of staff in the nation.

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30

One essential reason for the advocacy in human capacity development in rubber
technology by this paper is due to its numerous applications in the production of
materials such as: Rubber hose, wires and cable, automobile tires, fuel pump,
vehicle parts, gloves, shoes, balls, belts, rubber bands, adhesives, toys etc.
Rubber Technologist and job prospects New horizons have opened up for those
specializing in rubber technology..

Some of the career possibilities are as follows:

Graduates can work as engineers in a vast number of industries which


produce rubber goods. These include the automobile industry, plastics, toys,
insulation materials, waterproofing wares, medical tubing etc.

Graduates can work in electrical and electronic industries that deal with
rubber application.

Graduates can work in a rubber factory which produces rubber and supplies
it to the electronic industry.

Graduates that are interested in academics can pursue higher studies in


rubber technology and then engage in research and as demand for new
standards of automobile tyres rises, research in this field is becoming quite
lucrative.

Rubber technologists can become one of the following: Test technicians; the duty
is to analyze systems and perform a variety of production tests on equipment
used in production. They work primarily in engineering and quality control
arenas

Production Engineers: The primary duties of a production engineer comprise the


operation and maintenance of product quality and quantity, maintenance of the
environment for health and safety.

Materials Technologist: The duty is to oversee to activities in the warehouse such


as planning and managing the flow of goods into and from organizations.

Quality Control Specialist: Quality control specialist or Quality technicians


ensure that all manufacturing works are completed

For effective training in rubber technology The development of policy by the


federal government of Nigeria and the assistance from the international body
such can enhance the effectiveness of implementation of this programme. The
following arrears of intervention can enhance proper implementation of the
training.

Intervention
1 Staffing: Institutional set-up should consist of professionals with advanced
skills in different aspects of rubber technology.

2. Curriculum: A curriculum should be designed on specialization module in


rubber technology including field based exercise/learning.

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31

3 Facilities: Good infrastructural facilities, learning environment and tools such


as relevant textbooks and training manual should be provided.

4 Rubber plantations: There should be cultivation of rubber in Igala land, giving


attention to plantation close to the university to enhance practical work.

Conclusion
The paper has discussed capacity development in vocational education with
focus on rubber technology. Emphasis was made on higher institution
particularly the university as a place to train and develop competent manpower
in area of rubber technology for employment to alleviate poverty among the
Igala people in Kogi State. Also, the paper made some highlights on the need to
encourage the use of natural resources that are locally available in the
production of rubber materials to avoid waste and economic loss.

Recommendations
1. In view of the skilled labour shortage in this area and with the numerous
applications of rubber, the training of needed manpower in rubber engineering
technology should be given priority by the federal government of Nigeria.

2. Government and university stakeholders should ensure the inclusion of


technical vocational education in higher institution programme where it is not
available for comprehensive training system to produce knowledgeable and skill
manpower in the area of rubber production.

3. Kogi State University in Igala Land should be empowered by Nigeria


government and the international body to provide funds and other
infrastructures to enable it to run technical/ vocational education.

4. University students should be given opportunity for international field trip


exercise to universities in developed countries where rubber are being
manufactured in order to acquire proficiency skills to make them more
competent in the area of rubber production. 5. Students should be given
opportunity for various internship, fellowship programme and field trip (locally
and internationally).

References
Accra Agenda Action (2008). Report on capacity development initiative. Accra Ghana.
Afeti G (2014). The paradigm shift in technical and vocational skills development.
Association for the Development of Education in Africa.
http://www.adeanet.org/portalv2/en/blogs/skilling-africa-the-paradigm-
shift-to- technical-and-vocational-skills-development
Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative CADRI (2014). Capacity Development of the
Vulnerable. http:www.cadri-net/en/area
Chris Woodford. (2015). Rubber.- A simple introduction. Retrieved on 20/07/2015
http://www.explainthatstuff.com/rubber.html

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32

Edime, F.O (2013). British imperialism and the reign of Attah Ameh Oboni: The
Inevitable clash. Paper Presented at the Igala Studies Foundation [IGSA] Annual
Conference. History Department, Kogi State College of Education, Ankpa.
Food Agriculture Organization (2004). Working party on Human Capacity
Development. Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research, Rome.
http://www.fao.org/3/a-y5568e.pdf
Learning Network on Capacity Development (2015). USAID definition of Capacity
Development. http://www.lencd.org/learning/capacity-development
Oguagha, P.A (1981). The history of Igala Kingdom. Available at -
https://profcollinson.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/the-history-of-igala-
kindom/
Okorie J.U (2010). Vocational teachers education, Bauchi: League of Researchers in
Nigeria.
Okorocha, C. N and Duru,F. C.[2014]. Technical and vocational education and training
for industrial development and economic growth. International Journal of
Innovative Resource Education, Technology Education Department, AlvanIkoku
Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
Rita, V.D. (2013). Capacity development in health education institution in developing
countries.? Maastricht school of management-the Maastricht, the Netherlands.
http://www.msm.nl/resources/uploads/2014/02/msm-wp2013-30.pdf Rubber
Engineering Technology Degree at Ferris State University. Available at
http://www.ferris.edu/rubber-engineering-degree.htm
Sam, I. O. (2014). Achieving sustainable poverty reduction and rural development in
nigeria through development strategies. American Journal of Rural
Development 2(1), pp 13-19. Department of Agricultural Technology, Science
and education publishing. Rufus Giwa polytechnic, Ondo state.
United Nations Development Programme (2009). Capacity Development: A UNDP
Primer. Wikipedia the Encylopedia 2015. The Igala people. Avialable
atenwikipedia.org/wiki/igala- people
World Bank Organization (2011). Measuring Poverty on Country level.
http/go.worldbank.org/77LE40.

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33

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 33-40, October 2015

e-Learning: Challenges and Solutions A Case


Study

Ashis K. Pani, M. Srimannarayana and R.K. Premarajan


XLRI, Jamshedpur
Jamshedpur, India

Abstract. The concept Virtual Interactive Learning (VIL) or e-Learning


has evolved significantly over the past few years. VIL represent an
attempt to break away from traditional lecture-style delivery of
education by reaching out and offering education to anyone, anywhere
through online platforms open to all who have Internet access. This
research paper focuses on the initiatives taken by a reputed
management school in India towards conceptualizing and delivering of
management education to working professionals through the VIL mode.
Through an empirical study, the authors have tried to bring out the
various challenges and concerns that the institute faced while running
the VIL Programs over the years. This research is also intended to
highlight the measures taken by the institute to combat the challenges,
to ensure seamless delivery of the programs.

Keywords: e-Learning; web-based learning; online learning; virtual


interactive learning.

Introduction
With advent of technology, e-learning has rapidly grown from being just
another term or concept into a hard reality. It is now available in organizations
in various forms be it online learning, computer-mediated learning, blended
learning, web-based learning, or mobile learning and they all have one thing in
common, i.e. ability to use a device connected to a network. E-Learning is a
concept that helps learners learn from the learning materials from anywhere, at
any time and any liked pace in which they want to learn. It is a form of social
learning, focused at answering the needs of learners. It is a tool supported by
latest technology to make the learning process more flexible, innovative, learner-
centered (Demiray 2010, Ozuorcun & Tabak (2012). It is a special method of
collaborative learning process, conducted online through Internet technology
where the teacher and the student are not required to be present at the same
place at the same time (Yucel 2006). It is becoming popular during various
spheres of life e.g. in higher education, industry and government organizations.
Internet based instructional program uses the technology of World Wide Web to
create a proper learning environment. As the new economy requires more and

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34

more people to learn new knowledge and skills in a timely and effective manner,
the advancement of computer and networking technologies are providing a
diverse means to support learning in a more personalized, flexible, portable, and
on-demand manner (Dongsong et al., 2004). The technology enables the
education providers to update, share and distribute the learning resources.
According to State of the Industry survey conducted by American Society for
Training and Development (ASTD), the percentage of companies using
technology-delivered training increased from 8% in 1999 to 27% in 2004, and
about 75% of the technology-delivered courses in 2004 were online (Sugrue B,
Rivera RJ 2005). Newman and Scurry (2001) identified that over 1,100
institutions of higher education in the United States offer online courses.
Symonds (2003) found that the Army also uses online instruction as a retention
tool, with over 45,000 soldiers in 50 odd countries pursuing advanced degrees
online.

Dimension of e-Learning
The extent of e-learning technology use in course delivery varies widely.
The variations in the configuration of e-Learning offerings can be described
through a number of attributes, as mentioned in below table (Wagner, N.,
Hassanein, K., & Head, M. (2008).

Table: 1 Various Dimensions and attributes of e-Learning.

The Docebo Report (2014) revealed that the worldwide market for self-paced e-
learning reached $35.6 billion in 2011. It also estimated that the revenues should
reach some $51.5 billion by 2016. With the aggregate growth rate of 7.6 per cent,
several world regions seem to have significantly better growth rates. The report
further pointed out that the highest growth rate is in Asia at 17.3 per cent,
followed by Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America at 16.9 per cent, 15.2 per
cent, and 14.6 per cent, respectively.

As far as e-Learning in India is concerned, As reported by India Today on 8th


September, 2014, research indicates that the industry is set to reach $1.29 billion

@2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved


35

by 2018, while some highly optimistic sources claim that the market is much
bigger, sizing up at $40-60 billion by 2018. Regardless, its generally agreed that
with current annual growth rates of 17-20 per cent, the industry is poised for
significant growth. Already, India is a major source of e-Learning content and
development for the world market, thanks to our low-cost and highly educated
workforce in higher education.

The present paper aimed at tracing the evolution of e-Learning initiatives by a


reputed management institute in India for the benefit of working personnel and
to identify issues and challenges in this endeavor.

History of the Institute


XLRI, Xavier School of Management is a leading B-school based in
Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India. XLRI being, India's first management school was
set up by Jesuit priest, Fr. Quinn Enright, S.J in 1949 where management and
trade unions courses were offered, initially. Gradually, a two year full time
program was set up in industrial welfare in 1953. XLRI is acknowledged as the
oldest B-school in the world along with Harvard, Wharton and ESCP by
Economic Times, India 2015. Fr. Enright visualized XLRI to be a partner in the
liberation and development journey of the independent India with a vision of
"renewing the face of the earth". Over the years XLRI has developed its own
identity. The hallmark of this identity is, not to walk on the beaten path but to
strike new routes and not to benchmark but to be benchmarked. This
enterprising and pioneering spirit can be witnessed throughout the history of
XLRI. The programs include a full-time two-year post graduate program in
Business Management, Human Resources Management and Global
Management, General Management (full time) program for fifteen months
(PGDM-GM), doctoral fellow programs (FPM), executive fellow programs
(EFPM) and many executive education programs. XLRI features consistently
among the top business schools of the country. In 2014 XLRI was ranked No. 1
among Private business schools in India by Outlook India, India Today, The
Week and Business Today.

Virtual Interactive Learning Initiatives


XLRI Jamshedpur has been the first-ever Institute in India to have
successfully propelled in the direction of Virtual Interactive Learning, delivery
in 2001-02. Working professionals / executives who cannot come to XLRI
Jamshedpur to learn business and management studies, why cant we go to
them, in their cities to educate them? was the question, that had been answered
in the year 2002, with the inauguration of the first Postgraduate Certificate in
Business Management (PGCBM) batch with 250 students through Hughes
Communication India Ltd, as the technical partner.
Gradually XLRI moved on to offer couple of long duration programs like the
Postgraduate Certificate Program in Human Resource Management (2003),
Postgraduate Certificate Program in Logistics and Supply Chain Management
(2007), Postgraduate Certificate in Sales and Marketing Management (2007) and
Postgraduate Certificate Program in Retail Management (2007).

@2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved


36

1000
800
600
400
200
0

Students for Long Duration Programs


Students for Short Duration Programs

Figure: 1 Enrolled Students over the years.

The one Year Virtual Interactive Learning (VIL) programs are challenging
courses that demand focus and dedication because of the curriculum design and
teaching platform. Professionals with at least two years of work experience post
their full-time graduation (10+2+3 format or equivalent diploma) degrees are
eligible for admission into these programs. Selection is through personal
interviews where academic and professional background along with Statement
of Purpose (SOP) is taken into consideration. The program has been designed to
expose participants to relevant trends and practices in business and
management. In conjunction with its technical partners, XLRI has created a
virtual learning environment, one that allows students from various cities across
India to interact with the faculty, to learn from them, and to gain their quest for
higher education through these long duration programs.

The curriculum and schedules are designed to accommodate working


professionals, with classes being held over the weekends or after regular work
hours. The pedagogy is a mix of case studies, assessments, assignments and
group projects, ensuring that students gain an all-round insight into the subject
at hand. Students are provided with the learning materials, either in the form of
books or e-resources prior to the commencement of the courses. Communication
with the students is through a dedicated Academic Information Systems (AIS)
where relevant details along with examination dates, grades, resources etc. are
updated which intend to ease the life of the students. Classes are held across
cities in India, with students retaining the flexibility of attending classes
wherever they are without hampering their personal and professional life. One
of the technical partner, that is, Hughes Global Education India Limited (HGEIL)
has created 88 classrooms/study centers and the other, Unified Collaboration
Services (UCS) has created 43 classrooms/study centers in different locations
across India.

Campus Component and Graduation Ceremony are the integral parts of the
Programs. Every student has to attend campus classes for five days and imbibe
the culture of the Institute. Certificates are awarded to the students during the
Graduation Ceremony, which is held at the XLRI Campus.

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37

800
600
400
200
0

Figure: 2 Number of Graduates.

Over the years, the careers of around 5000 working professionals have been
shaped and enhanced by the dint of quality learning and knowledge, gained
through this medium. Thirteen years of market dominance, speak volumes
about the acceptability of the programs and reach. The institute keeps on
reviewing and redesigning the course content based on the industry inputs and
participants feedback.

The technical partners played a pivotal role for the successful delivery and
offering of such programs. The technical collaboration over the years grew
stronger in numbers and its services. From HGEIL (2002), to Reliance
Communications (2005), UCS (2014), Tech Mahindra (2015), Talentedge (2015),
NIIT Imperia (2015) and ICICI Direct Center for Financial Learning (2015), all
have outgrown the expectations of the participants. The technical partners have
helped to create an environment that resembles the regular classrooms, with
students able to interact among themselves and with the teaching professors,
asking and answering questions.

The constant up gradation of technologies, have provided the opportunity to cater to the
ever changing need of the students. HGEIL, formerly known as Hughes
Communication India Ltd. (HCIL) is an advanced platform that combines the
critical aspects of verbal and visual communication two-way video and audio
synchronized with rich content, collaboration, discussion groups, application
sharing and live interaction. The communications platform reaches large
numbers of people in real-time. Live sessions become highly intuitive and
effective, as video and rich interactive content are delivered directly to the
desktop of the student. Very small aperture terminal (VSAT) is a
communications technology that enables reliable two-way transmission of data
via satellite. The platform is a scalable application that combines quality video
with two-way audio and data transfer to enable live delivery. It offers live
collaboration tools such as application sharing, whiteboard annotations,
discussion groups, chats and guided browsing.

On the other hand, UCS offers the unique high definition video conference based
technology. The experience, delivered over a 50 HD LED TV provides a simulation of
real time classrooms, unprecedented in the Indian executive education space.

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38

Apart from imparting education through the online/virtual mode, the upgraded
technologies have helped the Institute to deal with the strategic challenge of
participants retention and engagement. The initiatives to engage the
participants towards the program have been enhanced through hosting couple
of contests, celebrating the years of our VIL Journey virtually, interactive
sessions by faculty, alumni and industry experts and through social medium
(Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, You tube).

Time, being the major constraint in todays era, has compelled the corporates
and individuals to go for accelerated programs which demands less time. To
serve this need, we have designed and offered couple of short duration, e-
Management Development Programs (e-MDPs). Initially, a short duration
program was designed and delivered for the employees of Nigeria. To continue
with the legacy of such programs in India, the Institute has designed and
delivered short duration programs in specialized areas and domains such as
Human Resource management, Human Resource Development, Corporate
Finance, and Strategic Management. These short duration programs are run in
collaboration with several technical partners which offer a comprehensive
direct-to-device or direct-to-desktop education suite with real-time interactive
and participative virtual classroom sessions. Its beneficial for the participants as
it offers them flexibility and eases out learning, from anywhere.
Today's dynamic business environment is competitive, far-reaching,
transcending boundaries whilst seamlessly connecting economies across the
globe. Pursuit of excellence in academics, personal values and social concern has
been the goals of XLRI and the students truly share this vision. As a consequence
of the academic rigor at XLRI, it strives to shape thoughtful leaders who will
create value for their organizations and their communities without
compromising on their professional and personal lives.

Issues and Actions


It is true that the institute could run the programs successfully for more than a
decade. However there are certain issues and challenges faced by the Institute in
conducting these programs. They are as follows:
Institute Interface
Residential programs have the advantage to portray and radiate the culture and
heritage of the Institute whereas the virtual /online programs do not get the
scope to portray the culture and heritage for their students to inculcate. To
address this issue, the institute has designed the campus component, where the
students get a chance to visit the campus to get the experience and opportunity
to imbibe in the culture and heritage of the Institute.
Faculty Interface
Unlike residential programs, professors prefer the generic mode for case
discussions over live and corporate specific cases through the virtual mode. The
concern area for the professors is the usage of advanced technology by the
students, in the form of smart phones etc. as recorders where the lectures/
discussions of the professors are recorded /copied, may lead to copyright issues.
To address this issue the Institute stopped using unpublished cases of the
professors concern, and started using licensed cases like HBR to avoid the legal

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39

implications and serve the students with the most sought after cases, for their
better understanding.
Designing the learning content and pedagogy
The traditional form of education has the scope to study students behavior (like
reaction, understanding and acceptability etc.) and design/re-design the
pedagogy and contents whereas for online/virtual education the scope is limited
which intends to reduce the quality of online pedagogy and curriculum. This
issue is addressed through regular participants feedback. Using this input
learning content and pedagogy are reviewed and redesigned.
Interpersonal connect with the students
The culture at XLRI promotes a friendly atmosphere among the professors and
students which is difficult to replicate through the online / virtual mode. To
address this issue, professors and academic and non-academic personnel contact
details are made available to the participants. They can interact with them
through e-mails or phones or forums. The campus visit adds to the idea of
building the rapport among students and professors through one to one
interactions.
Assignments and Tests
Assignments/projects through online mode may tempt the students to indulge
in unfair practices whereas the traditional form of education encourages the
students to work and report the progress made and review periodically. To
address this issue the bars to evaluate the assignments have been raised by the
usage of software named Turnitin to scan assignments which compels the
students to work for the assignments. Third parties are deployed, along with the
installation of proper surveillance cameras to keep a strict check on the way
students are appearing for their assessment tests. Of course, the students
manual clearly defines unfair practices and appropriate punishments.
Dependence on the technology
With online/virtual mode of education, students are bound to depend on
technology which may affect the quality of program delivery. Connectivity,
system failures can be termed as some of the challenges related to technology.
As a remedial measure, the institute migrated from the technology of VSAT for
online education to VC and now to web based technologies which reduces the
challenges to a great extent, if not totally eradicates it. Students facing technical
issues during the sessions are also given the opportunity to avail the archives
(recorded sessions) for their perusal.
Time Management
Online education gives the scope to procrastinate, hence the students can learn
only through proper time management whereas the traditional form of learning
provides very little scope for the students to procrastinate as there is a possibility
of constant follow-up. Scheduling of multiple assessments and assignments at
regular intervals infused the sense of responsibility within the students to work
on deadlines.
Isolation
Virtual mode of education brings in isolation among students as they are
remotely located, taking up sessions and misses the classroom environment and
experience of peer discussions etc. Incorporating compulsion for students to
attend the online sessions by introducing a mandatory component for

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40

attendance [Technology in the form of pop ups at regular intervals along with
tapping the Log in and Log out time of the participants is used to maintain the
attendance logs] and group assignments and projects are introduced to help the
students interact with their peers, and share their experience.
Study materials
Soft copies of the study materials are uploaded in AIS for the benefit of the
participants. In addition to soft copies of the study materials, the participants are
given printed text books. Sending the printed material to all participants across
India on time is a challenge. A long term contract with a courier company
helped in resolving this issue.
Natural calamities
Natural calamities such as like heavy rains affect the quality of online delivery of
the programs. Upgraded the technology from VSAT to Internet based
technologies reduced the concerns to some extent.

Conclusion
Though the Institute took specific actions based on the issues cropped up time to
time, it is always possible that students will have some issues given the large
number of students spread across India. Therefore, it is always desirable to have
a dedicated team of academic and technical personnel with the traits of good
communication, both written and oral, a passion to serve the executive students
with compassion coupled with sincerity and honesty. The timely redressal of
participants grievances would help in the long-term success of the program.

References
Demiray, U. (2010). e-LEARNING practices, Cases on challenges facing e-
learning and national development: Institutional Studies and Practices, VOLUME:
I, Anadolu University, Eskisehir-Turkey.
Demiray, U. (2010). e-LEARNING practices, Cases on challenges facing e-learning and
national development: Institutional Studies and Practices, VOLUME: II,
Anadolu University, Eskisehir-Turkey.
Dongsong, Z., Zhao, J., Lina, Z., & Nunamaker, J. F. (2004). CAN E-LEARNING
REPLACE CLASSROOM LEARNING?. Communications of the ACM, 47(5), 75-79.
http://beforeitsnews.com/ : E-learning: moving toward a self-servicing society by GSS
Infosoft Limited-UK, Parinama Group Company (Monday, June 15, 201).
Newman F, and Scurry J. (2001). Online technology pushes pedagogy to the forefront.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 47, B7B10.
Ozuorcun, N. C., & Tabak, F. (2012). Is M-learning versus E-learning or are they
supporting each other? Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 299 305.
Sugrue B, Rivera RJ. (2005). State of the industry: ASTDs annual review of trends in
workplace learning and performance. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.
Symonds WC. (2003). eArmyU. Business Week, 106.
Wagner, N., Hassanein, K., & Head, M. (2008). Who is responsible for E-Learning
Success in Higher Education? A Stakeholders' Analysis. Educational Technology &
Society, 11 (3), 26-36
Yucel, A. S. (2006). E-learning approach in teacher training. Turkish Online Journal of
Distance Education-TOJDE, 7(4), 123-131.
Retrieved from www://hugheseducation.com
Retrieved from www://xlri.ac.in
Retrieved from http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/future-for-e-learning/1/379729.htm

@2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved


41

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 41-48, October 2015

Provision of Quality Education


Mauritius in Quest of Quality Education

Veerunjaysingh Subrun and Leena Subrun


Port Louis, Mauritius

Abstract. There has been a growing concern about the provision of


quality education in the Mauritian school during the past few decades.
Provision of Quality is a very important factor for the continuing growth
of educational system in Mauritius. This study has been carried out by
studying the different papers published by different Governments
elected in Mauritius through the Ministry of Education and Human
Resource (MOEHR) by the ministers in quest of providing quality
education to the nation. The findings of this study are intended to help
Colleges leaders and the Government to better understand the needs of
Quality and hence maximize their effectiveness and efficiency in
achieving and imparting quality education. The exploration of Quality
education was studied in line with papers published by the Ministry of
Education and Human Resource of Mauritius (MOEHR). The focus was
therefore on the needs of the provision of quality Education and the
effort made by the Government towards imparting a free quality
education to the nation. The study revealed that a certain level of
Quality of education exists in the Mauritian Education System. This is
due to the caring environment and the provision of facilities to enhance
the teaching and learning process in the school. On the other hand, there
are other important factors which cause great dissatisfaction. The
implementation and the publication of New Educational Reforms have
been the major concerned. Some recommendations have been put
forward on how to improve quality and to achieve quality. Recognition
for the value of the published Educational Reforms and the devotion,
commitment, and contribution to the achievement of Quality Education
will positively motivate Education Ministers to stay enthusiastic in
working on the same path of the other educational ministers in quest of
providing a quality education the nation.

Keywords: Education, Quality and Leadership.

Education
Education has been the priority of the successive governments in Mauritius.
Almost all the governments are investing massively in educating their citizens.
Education plays an essential role in the development of the countrys younger

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42

generation to lead a successful life in this world of dynamic and global


competition (syed Zubair Haider et al, 2015). Education can be defined as a
lifelong process during which an individual acquires knowledge, skills and
attitudes (values and the moral dimension of education).

Years after years the Mauritian government has invested massively in the
education sector so as to produce a highly educated nation. The Mauritians
Government is creating the enabling conditions for a high-quality learning
environment that will transform the existence of the students by ensuring their
well-being and livelihood while facilitating their transition to responsible adult
citizenship (Education reform in action). The Special Education Needs and
Inclusive Education in Mauritius of MOEHR 2006 stated that the Government is
committed to leaving no child of our Republic behind and this is shown through
the National Policy and strategy Paper on Special Education Needs. The
Government of Mauritius had a vision to convert Mauritius into an education
hub and today in the year 2015, the vision has been realized with the
implantation of many universities Mauritius. In the venture to change the world
into a better place to live, new ideas have been challenged by the Governments.
Thus the ever fast changing world of education has witnessed major changes.

The MOEHR in 2014 in the report Education reform in action stated that
education helps in coping with adversity and contributes to the common good;
our students need to be imbued with a sense of values, ethics and nationhood,
thus empowering them to adopt the right attitude at the right moment and at the
right place. This proves that the Government is concerned with the future of
education system and they started to ask many pertinent questions about the
future of the education sector. The process of devising new plans in education to
meet the requirement of the job market has turned up to a new tenure called
educational planning. Today, educational leaders and responsible governments
have dedicated themselves to the new thought of moving towards educational
planning. The Mauritians education ministers of successive Governments have
tried to carry our Educational planning through different educational report;
Master Plan 1991, White paper 1997, Action Plan 1998, Ending the Rat Race 2001,

Strategy planning 2008-2020, Education Reforms in Action 2008-2014. The


strategy plan is mutable and the Education and training sector has never been
always dynamic (Education and human resources strategy plan 2008-2020). It
has been noted that educational reforms have been the priority of each and
every Government. The international organizations have marked the education
system as a top priority and thus new training programs have been created.
Social scientists have been searching on this burning issue and as a result a large
variety of literature is now emerging. The concept of leadership in the field of
education has a great importance in the upliftment of the education system
though a quality education which will prepare the citizen of tomorrow to face
new challenges. The different leadership styles of leaders in the education
system has a made their presence feel in the world of education in the provision
of quality education. Many universities in Mauritius and as well as in the
different part of the world are now providing many courses in the field of

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43

educational leadership so as to better equip the educationist to face the new


challenges in the education sector.

The first Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam came with a
vision of free education in 1976; his aim was to educate his people so that they
can progress by facing the new technological world. He was a farsighted person
and an excellent education planner as his strategic planning has brought a lot of
prospect to the present nation. Today Mauritius has witness a considerable
investment of resources, made by the government, on both human and material.
This has in turn resulted in an impressive progress achieved in terms of free
education up to the age of 16. Free textbooks, free transport and even free meals
are being provided in some areas so as to attract children to school. A fairly wide
range of higher education courses at the University of Mauritius and Mauritius
Institute of Education are also being provided to the Mauritians. The
Government aimed to provide an inclusive educational system, starting in the
early years of development, and aimed at responding to the educational needs of
each and every child through a child-centered pedagogical approach and a
flexible and adjusted curriculum that will help each child to develop his or her
potential (Special education needs and inclusive education in Mauritius).

The government has provided sufficient financial support to the education


sector by using tight budgets. The Private and Confessional schools are also
subsidized to a greater part by providing grants, soft-term loans facilities,
equipment, training of educators and by making provision of buildings for the
holding of pre-primary classes (Master Plan 1997). The curriculum in the
Mauritian education system has been broadened to include more technical-
oriented subject so that the people can fit in the highly technological worlds of
today (Master Plan 1997). The government is providing educators and rectors
courses to uplift the education sector. The Pay Research Bureau of Mauritius has
been playing a key role in the upliftment of the education sector. In his last
publication the requirement to be a rector in year 2013 has amended by stating
that a diploma in the field of educational leadership and management is a must
and educators need to have a Post Graduate Certificate in education to be
appointed as educators. In order to be successful Karani, Sharon R. (2011) stated
that Quality Management practices ought to be the integral part of any
organisations strategic management.

Quality
The term quality is a universally used, but, it has a wide range of interpretations.
Even if the term quality is used across the world, it does not have a common
definition since it cannot be describe as it is a dynamic term. The definition of
expression quality depends upon the situation and upon the person who is
using it.

Quality is usually conceived in a qualitative sense where it refers to the relative


quality of an entity. Generally it is used to judge the degree of satisfaction of
similar products and services. Thus, quality is highly subjective term and

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44

sometimes it is confusing since all individuals are different from each other and
it also depends upon the different circumstances.

The concept of quality goes parallel with excellence and it satisfies the standards
and norms. Horine, Hailey and Rubach (1993), pointed that the most crucial
element of quality is fitness for purpose. While, Willis and Taylor (1999),
stated that customer satisfaction is the most crucial element of quality. Fitness of
purpose and customer satisfaction are both considered as the backbone of
quality, they walk hand in hand most of the time.
Since time immemorial the need for quality has always been present. Human
beings have always searched for things of beauty and quality and like to be well
treated.

At the beginning of this new search for quality, quality education was only being
looked at from the managements point of view. The quality of educated people
to be produced for the job market was usually determined by the universities
and the education sector without taking the needs of the job market into account.
The job market did not have lot of choice in some field and they had employed
people with alternative qualifications. But today new courses are being
embedded in the school curriculum so that educated citizens can fit into the job
market. New subjects like travel and tourism, twenty first century science and
recently entrepreneurship have penetrated the secondary school curriculum of
Mauritius.

The educational world has witnessed many drastic changes, throughout the last
few decades. The social changes have a great impact on the whole system of
education. Pisa 2000 pointed out that management strategies are easily amenable
to policy makers to produce the best performance. Thus, more responsibilities
have been added on heads of schools to strive for the provision of a quality
education. The school leaders have to develop and enhance their leadership and
management skills such as delegation, negotiation, team-building and
counselling skills so as to provide quality education to the population at large.
The strategy plan 2008-2020 of MOEHR aims to build a system that ensures a
supply of quality personnel that work collegially with a strong management and
quality assurance system to improve and support learning achievement and
overall development of all learners

Quality Education
The Government of Mauritius is investing massively in the education system as
there has been a growing concern for imparting quality education in Mauritius.
The Education Reform in Action 2008-2014 of the MOEHR is to provide a quality
education for all and a Human Resource Development base to transform
Mauritius into an intelligent nation state in the vanguard of global progress and
innovation. Since 2012 the MOEHR is allocating a monthly per-capita grant of
Rs200 to children of age 4+ and 3+ and about 22360 children attending private
Pre-Primary school are benefiting from the per capita grant yearly (Education
reform in action 2008-2014).

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45

The objective behind the quest for imparting quality education is that education
occupies a fundamental position in the development of decision makers,
professionals and the workforce which the country needs for its new economic
trajectory. Colossal investment and tremendous efforts are being made by the
Government to produce educated people so that they can in return produce
quality products and services to the nation. In view of retaining the children in
pre-school not only free education and free transport are provided but also a
daily meal, school materials and psychological support services are offered
freely by the Mauritian Government (Reform in action 2008-2014). Quality
education will bring a better life (Master Plan, 1991), better prospects and higher
status for everyone. Public and private schools are being called upon to perform
better and to continuously improve and turn into learning organizations. The

Government of Mauritius has invested massively on the extensive program of


extension, renovation and construction of secondary schools so as to increase the
choice of State Secondary Schools given to students in all regions of the Republic
(Ending the rat race, 2001). The schools are becoming under the scrutiny as they
are shifting from the comfortable frame of convention (Aspin et al, 1994) to take
up the challenge of instituting stimulating methods for total quality learning and
teaching: a changing approach. The report Strategic planning 2008-2020 showed
the commitment of carrying out fundamental improvements in the education
system with the idea to provide a World Class Quality Education to facilitate
the employability of the Mauritians in the new sectors of the emerging economy.
The plan of the Government is to impart quality education at all levels, right
from pre-primary through to post-secondary education sub-sectors, and training
sector (Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan 2008-2020). The different
leadership styles are applied in the field of education so as to make schools
perform better and to provide a quality education. Karani, Sharon R. (2011)
concluded that total quality management is an enhancement to the traditional
way of doing business and it is a proven technique to guarantee survival in
world class competition. However, the concept of quality is achieved if the
people are properly trained and if they applied the proper leadership styles in
the day to day circumstances of the school life.

The quest of Quality Education in Mauritius


Mauritius is trying to bring the necessary reforms in the education sector with
the hope to bring superiority and quality education with the view of achieving a
World Class Quality Education. At the International Symposium on Education
in 1989 held in Mauritius, the need for excellence was raised among the main
concepts of the conference. Thus the Master Plan for education was published in
1991 under the aegis of the Ministry of Education to impart a better education to
the citizen of Mauritius. The report Quality Initiatives 2006 was launched in
January 2006 by the MOEHR and the Minister of Education declared the
fundamental concepts of quality education and excellence, thus
communicating the main agenda of the government towards the
implementation of the goal of excellence.

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46

The Pay Research Bureau report in 2008 recommended for the setting up of a
New Quality Assurance Division and Inspection Division at the MOEHR for the
educational sector to cater for Quality Education in the Mauritian educational
Sector. The aims of these Divisions are to ensure quality audit of human
resources, curriculum, infrastructure and equipment thus ensuring quality in
education at large. The Mauritian Government aimed to provide an equitable
access to quality education, by ensuring that all learners attain high levels of
achievement in Literacy, Numeracy, Information, and Communications
Technology and such essential Life Skills as sound human values, healthy
lifestyle and so forth as the basis for lifelong learning and good citizenship
(strategy plan 2008-2020, 2009). The ultimate vision is to transform Mauritius
into a highly intelligent island, a hub of knowledge which will serve the Region.
Furthermore, it will act as a Centre of Higher Learning and Excellence by
constructing an innovative and knowledgeable Human Resource base so that
Mauritius can adapt with the rapidly changing world for a sustainable national
development.

In the venture of achieving a World Class Quality Education, the Mauritian


schools are transforming the main vision of the Government into action. The
stakeholders must share the same view about quality and must work toward the
same goal.

Reflection on the education system


During the past few years, in order to increase the percentage of Higher School
Certificate holders, the MOEHR under the aegis of the Government of Mauritius
has cropped up with new criteria for the admission of students to Higher School
Certificate. The minimum requirement for admission to Lower six was four
credits but it has been amended to three credits at first attempt or two credits at
second attempt at the Cambridge School Certificate to be admitted to Lower Six.
Thus, this proves that the Mauritian Education system is moving towards mass
education and not quality education. The barriers have been lowered so that
many students have access to education at the Higher School Certificate level
and finally they can be admitted to the universities. This strategy of the
Government is contributing towards mass education but the cost of mass
education is that the standards of the Mauritian education system are being
lowered. This means that the Government has derailed from its mission and
vision of imparting quality education as it is not in line with the mission and
vision of the MOEHR.

The Mauritian Government has always believed that the only key to success is to
educate his people. Thus the unending investment on the Mauritian education
system has made Mauritius to shine among the African countries and even
among some European countries. Recently in 2014 the previous Government
came forward with the idea to modernize the education system by introducing
e-learning through PC tablet. The present Government is walking in the same
pathway to provide each and every student of form five a tablet. This is a new
era of modernisation in the Mauritian education system.

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47

Today the present Government is laying more emphasis in the planning and
introducing the concept of nine years schooling in the Mauritian education
system. The nine years schooling aims at eradicating the stress of CPE exam. The
Government aims to retain the students in the system till they attain the basis
education to fit the job market and thus the child will be better equipped to face
the future world. The education system will then guide them toward either the
vocational system or the main stream. But this report is still under the scrutiny
and construction of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource.
The Quality Assurance Division Team has been recommended by the PRB 2008
and it has been set up by the MOEHR to monitor and improve teaching in the
State Secondary School.

Quality Circles (QC) (senior management Team)


To achieve quality, the creation of a Quality circle is a must in the schools. The
Quality Circles (QC) is a management method, adopted from the Japanese
industry and is now being applied to the education sector (Freed et al, 2000). The
Quality circles consist of a small group of persons who discuss problems
associated with the institution, seek solutions and try to implement these
solutions so as to eliminate problems. The QC functions similarly as the Senior
Management Team. They are responsible to devise strategies to find solutions to
problems. The QC must comprise of H.O.D, teachers and management (Rector),
thus there will be the participation of the employee in the decision making
process. Better solutions will be found while consulting the QC because people
concerning the problem at the grass root level will participate in the decision
making process.

Recommendation
The term quality education needs to be well redefined by the MOEHR. The
different stakeholders of the education sector need to have a consensus on the
definition of the term quality since it can be interpreted in different ways.
The different standards for the provision of quality education must be
standardised by the MOEHR so that all the stake holders abide to the
standardisation. The Quality Assurance Division of the MOEHR must check and
take necessary actions so that the colleges abide to the standardisation in the
provision of quality education. New educational leaders must be formed so that
the educational system develops new avenues in the education system.
Moreover the leaders of school must be formed by the government.
Realisable reports must be published because the future government may not
work in line with the present government. Thus the law must be amended in
such a way that the report published must be to a certain percentage. Moreover
the report must be SMART-Specific, Measurable, Achievable, and Realistic
within a Time frame. The time frame must be within the mandate of the present
Government.

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48

Conclusion
The Government must ensure that all schools adopt and work in line with the
mission and vision statement of the MOEHR. They must try to provide a World
Class Quality Education and Education For All, which is the vision and mission
of the MOEHR. The term quality education must be well defined and
standardized so that all schools can keep abreast with the innovative changes
and use proper leadership skills to provide a World Class Quality Education in
the context of globalization to enable young Mauritians to achieve moral,
intellectual and physical development to achieve high academic standards. To
achieve this goal, a sound atmosphere of leadership and management must
prevail in the schools. Steenkamp (1998) stated that a good school culture
enhances the quality of work-life for school teachers and other stakeholders as it
provides a safe working environment, fair supervision of the rector,
participation in decision making processes, opportunities for advancement,
growth and cooperation. The educational report published by the successive
Government must be reframed in such a way that the objective is achieved
within the time frame.

References
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somecurrent problems. London: Cassell
Evelyn Chiyevo Garwe, The effect of institutional leadership of higher education
provision
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Implementing the Quality principles in Higher education, Jossey Bass, san Francisco,
CA.
Horine, JE; Hailey, WA and Rubach, L(1993): Transforming schools quality. Quality
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Karani, Sharon R. (2011): Effects of Total Quality Management implementation on
business performance in service institutions: A case of Kenya Wildlife Services
Master Plan 1997: Master Plan for Education for the Year 2000: The Mauritian experience
Ministry of Education and Human Resource (2001): Ending the rat race in the primary
education and breaking the admission bottleneck at secondary level
Ministry of Education and Human Resource (2006): Special Education Needs and
inclusive Education in Mauritius
Ministry of Education and Human Resource (2009): Education and Human Resources
Strategy Plan 2008-2020
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Pisa (2000),School factors related to quality and equity
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Steenkamp RJ (1998): A quantun leap needed for quality protection. Pretoria: Van Schaik
Syed Zubair Haider and Azra (2015): Analysing the role of private colleges in
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Willis, Th and Taylor, AJ 1999: Total Quality Management. Vol 10, No.7

2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


49

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 49-57, October 2015

Effects of a One-Hour Creative Dance Training


on Mental Rotation Performance in Primary
School Aged Children

Petra Jansen and Stefanie Richter


University of Regensburg
Institute of Sport Science
Universitystreet 31
93053 Regensburg, Germany

Abstract. The study presented here investigated the influence of one-


hour creative dance training on the spatial ability of mental rotation.
Two groups of first and second graders solved a paper-pencil mental
rotation test. Afterwards, one group received one lesson of creative
dance training while the other group attended the regular physical
education lesson. At the end of the short training period all children
solved the mental rotation test again. The results show that the dance-
training group improved their mental rotation performance more than
the physical education group. This study expands our further studies
where we have shown that five weeks of creative dance training
enhances mental rotation performance (Jansen, Kellner, & Rieder, 2013).
Further studies have to be conducted which investigate the short-term
effects of different kinds of physical activity on different cognitive
functions and their relation to academic performance.

Keywords: mental rotation; school-aged children; motor performance;


creative dance; regular sports class.

Introduction
Western society is changing. Children spent more time using media and sitting
in front of a computer or TV screen. Those western culturally conditioned
positions lead to a decrease of energy (Peper, 2012). One might assume that due
to the reduced time of movement, motor abilities get worse over time. Besides,
the pressure gets higher to perform well in school to receive good jobs in later
life. Thus, both motor and cognitive performance should be promoted to
counteract frequent and long sedentary activities and foster academic
achievement. The present study concentrates on the effect of a specific motor
activity, i.e., creative dance training, on a specific cognitive ability, i.e., mental
rotation. It expands our former study where we have shown that a creative

2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


50

dance training over five weeks ameliorates mental rotation performance (Jansen,
Kellner, & Rieder, 2013).

Mental rotation is defined as the ability to rotate quickly and accurately two-
and three-dimensional figures in imagination (Voyer et al., 1995, p. 25). It plays
an important role in science and some work contexts, for example air traffic and
pilots (Dror, Kosslyn, & Waag, 1993), but also in education, for instance
mathematics (Hegarty & Kozhehvnikov, 1999). Furthermore, it was shown that
the mental rotation performance in second graders correlates with the maths
grade (Blchel, Lehmann, Kellner, & Jansen, 2013). According to this it seems
promising to look for methods to improve mental rotation performance. One of
these methods is physical activity or motor performance:

Existing studies investigating this relation differ in their methodology


concerning the age of the participants (adults or children), methodology design
(correlational, quasi-experimental, experimental designs) and the kind of motor
training. Here, only the studies with children are presented. In two correlational
studies it was shown that motor abilities and mental rotation performance do
correlate even if intelligence was controlled (Jansen & Heil, 2010), but that this
correlation diminished if working memory measurements were considered
(Lehmann, Quaiser-Pohl, & Jansen, 2014). In studies with quasi-experimental
designs, it was investigated whether children who show motor disabilities or a
weak motor performance reveal an impaired mental rotation performance. This
assumption was confirmed in studies with children with spina bifida
(Wiedenbauer & Jansen-Osmann, 2007) and overweight children (Jansen,
Schmelter, Kasten, & Heil, 2011). Children with spina bifida have an incomplete
closure of the embryonic neural tube during the first month of embryonic
development, which leads to a paralysis and loss of sensation below the spinal
cord defect.

The severity of the symptoms depends on the defects location. Therefore,


children with spina bifida can only move with the help of crutches or a
wheelchair. Being overweight, which is determined by the Body Mass Index
according to reference data, leads to impaired motor performance (Graf et al.,
2004). Given the association between motor performance and mental rotation, it
is not surprising to find impairments in mental rotation performance in
overweight children (Jansen et al. 2010). Thus, it seems reasonable to assume
that children with overweight suffer from mental rotation impairment.
Experimental designs with children are rare. The few existing studies are
interference- as well as training studies. Frick, Daum, Walser and Mast (2009)
showed that motor performance interferes with mental rotation performance for
younger children of 5 and 8 years. In training studies, it has been shown, that the
mental rotation performance could be improved by one single lesson of manual
rotation training (Wiedenbauer & Jansen-Osmann, 2008). Two groups of ten-
year old children received one-hour computer training. In the experimental
group, manual rotation training was performed (rotation of objects on a
computer screen with the help of a joystick). The control group executed non-
spatial computer training, i.e., a knowledge test for children. The improvement

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51

in the mental rotation performance from the pre- to the posttest was much
higher for the manual rotation group than for the control group. This result was
confirmed in training studies with children who learned to juggle over a period
of three months (Jansen, Lange, & Heil, 2011) and with children who received a
two weeks coordinative training designed for the school context (Blchel et al.,
2013).

Up to now there is only one study, which investigates the effect of creative dance
training on mental rotation performance. The results show that five weeks of
creative dance training improve mental rotation. This result is in line with
studies with adults who show the beneficial effect of dance on cognitive
performance (Coubard, Duretz, Lefebvre, Lapalus, & Ferrufino, 2011;
Kattenstroth, Kolankowska, Kalisch, & Dinse, 2010) or other kinds of visual-
spatial skills (Keinnen, Hetland, & Winner, 2000). The relevant factor
underlying this positive effect is that in dance training, orientation in space and
spatial awareness-two of the main cognitive abilitiesare trained (Blsing &
Schack, 2012).

Beside the positive effect of motor activity on mental rotation there are a lot of
studies showing a benefit of a single intervention of motor activity, especially
aerobic exercise, on executive functions (Best, 2010). Best has reviewed studies,
which differentiated between a single bout of an aerobic and complex exercise
intervention with cognitive engagement (ball games) on the one side and studies
with aerobic exercise only. The effect was smaller with less complex forms of
aerobic exercise. These results provide a hint that a complex activity like creative
dance enhances complex cognitive functions like mental rotation after one single
bout of exercise only. Until now this was not investigated for the mental rotation
performance in school-aged children, which is the goal of this study and an
extension of the previously mentioned study (Jansen, Kellner, & Rieder, 2013).

Material and Methods

Participants
Sixty-four first and second grade pupils (30 girls and 34 boys) participated in
this study. The children were between 6 and 9 years old (mean age: 7.09 years,
SD = 0.73) and were recruited from a primary school in Bavaria, Germany.
Because the children were tested in their school context, two classes (35 children)
received a creative dance lesson. Two other classes (29 children) were assigned
to the control group (CG), and took part in the regular physical education at
school. Parents were informed and gave their written consent. Data was
collected anonymously. The experiment was conducted according to the
guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki.

Measures
Mental rotation performance was tested with the picture mental rotation test.
The Picture Mental Rotations Test (PMRT, Neuburger, Jansen, Heil, & Quaiser-
Pohl, 2011) is a paper pencil mental rotation test with animal pictures as stimuli.
Each row has one target item on the left side and four comparison items on the

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52

right side. Two of the four items on the right side were identical (non-mirrored)
but picture plane rotated versions of the target item on the left side (45, 90,
135, or 225 rotated compared to target item). The other two items were
mirrored versions (see Figure 1). The childrens task was to cross out the two
correct items on the right side. There was a time limit of two minutes. There
were two items provided as examples and two more items for practice before the
test began. Rotation performance was defined as the number of correctly solved
items in the PMRT.

Figure 1: Example item of the picture mental rotation test.

Intervention
Creative dance training was taught in one single session of one hour. In the
training, children got the possibility to express oneself by moving in accordance
to the music instead of just reacting and repeating formerly learned moves. The
session started with a short warm-up phase by trying to wake up sleeping
limbs, i.e. shaking their limbs at their own choice. After this a short story was
narrated about the wind blowing and becoming a hurricane. Several other
elements followed. For example, children had to imagine wearing a crown on
their head and balancing through the room, or they were taught some rotational
movements. At the end of the lesson children were narrated a story of a
bewitched garden where strange things happen. All children were prompted to
move according to this story. The lesson ended with a short relaxing phase. The
theme of the physical education lesson was throwing and catching. To make it
comparable to the creative dance lesson regarding the fun factor, the children
got different tasks where they had to hit small buckets with the ball, or hit
different objects on a cabinet. At the end of the lesson a ball game with two
teams was established.

Procedure
Children were tested with the PMRT in their classroom during regular school
time. Training started immediately after fulfilling the PMRT. The experimental
group received the dance training; the control group took part in the regular
physical education lessons. The mental rotation performance of all children was
tested again immediately after the training.

Analysis
An analysis of variance was conducted with the dependent variable mental
rotation difference which was defined as the difference between the pre- and
posttest in mental rotation performance (value of posttest values of pretest).
The independent variable was the factor group (experimental group, control
group). Furthermore, to find out if groups initially differed in their mental
rotation performance, a univariate analysis of variance was calculated with
group as independent and pretest PMRT-scores as dependent variable.

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53

Results
Effect of training on mental rotation performance

There was a significant main effect of group [F(1,61)=5.14, p<.05, partial eta2
=.08] on the difference score in mental rotation, which was higher for the
children in the experimental group (EG) compared to the children in the control
group (CG; EG: M=3.00, SD=2.02; CG: M= 1.79, SD=1.87). The EG (M=3.17,
SD=3.60) and the CG (M=5.10, SD=4.33) did not significantly differ in their
mental rotation performance in the pre-test [F(1,62)=3.79, p=.056]. However, the
difference favoring the control group failed to reach significance only barely. To
find out if initial performance in the PMRT was associated with the degree of
improvement after training, we calculated a correlation between the pre-test-
score and the difference score, which did not reach significance (r=.117, n.s.).
Figure 2 illustrates the mean changes from pre- to posttest in the experimental
and control group.

Figure 1: Mean changes in PMRT-score from pre- to posttest and standard errors of the
mean in the experimental and control group.

Because of the well-documented gender differences in the psychometrical


mental rotation performance even in children (Neuburger et al., 2011), the
analysis above was again conducted with gender and group as a independent
variables. The results showed that gender did not influence the mental rotation
difference [F(1,60) =2.51, n.s.].

Discussion
The results of the present experiment showed that mental rotation performance
could be improved by a single physical education lesson and a single creative
dance-training lesson. The improvement was higher for the creative dance
training compared to physical education lesson. Children of both groups
received the same amount of attention so that the higher improvement of the EG

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54

could not be explained by a higher amount of attention. In contrast to regular


physical education lesson, the dance training required spatial orientation and
rotation around the body axes. We suggest that this is the crucial difference
between interventions, which led to the better performance of the dance group.
This result is in line with two experimental studies of our own working group.
In adults, Jansen and Pietsch (2010) showed that only one single 45-minutes
lesson of physical education improved mental rotation performance compared
to a control group who received a theoretical learning session. Jansen, Kellner
and Rieder (2013) showed that a longer lasting creative dance training in second
graders enhanced mental rotation performance. Hence, the results of the present
study build a link between the results of those former studies.

Gender usually plays a crucial role in mental rotation performance insofar as


male advantages are often observed (Jansen, Schmelter, Quaiser-Pohl, & Heil,
2013). However, these advantages could not be shown in this study, which
might be due to the fact that not the mental rotation performance per se but the
improvement between pre- and post-test was investigated. This result gives a
hint that boys did not profit more from the training than girls.

The enhancing effect of dance on the visual-spatial task can also be inferred from
other studies with older participants (e.g. Kattenstroth et al., 2010) or through
the comparison of novice and experienced dancers (Overby, 1990). In the latter
study it was shown that experienced dancers showed better spatial imagery
ability. Furthermore, the literature is growing that dance, in this case Tango,
might improve spatial cognition in patients with Parkinson`s Disease (McKee &
Hackney, 2013). In addition, the results of the present study are important for
the educational setting due to the positive relation between spatial ability and
mathematical ability, especially mathematical word problem solving (e.g. Casey,
Nuttal, Pezaris, & Benbow, 1995). The theoretical link is that children with good
spatial skills are better at making visual schematic representations, which is
positively related to the solution of mathematical word problems (e.g. Van
Garderen, 2006). According to this, creative dance may also improve
mathematical word problems solving. This assumption has to be investigated in
further studies.

Finally, the study has some limitations, which should be investigated in more
detail in further studies. First, it has been shown that the relation between motor
behavior and mental rotation performance might be mediated by working
memory (Lehmann, Quaiser-Pohl, & Jansen, 2014), so the influence of creative
dance has also to be investigated with reference to working memory. Second, we
did not control for intelligence and general motor ability in this study, assuming
that the semi-randomization of the four classes to the two conditions eliminates
possible differences. Thus, the influence of these three aspects working
memory, intelligence and general motor ability should be considered in future
studies to provide a more accurate picture about the origins of mental rotation
performance.

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55

Conclusion
To conclude, this study gives support to the assumption that only one lesson of
creative dance training in primary school-aged children can enhance mental
rotation performance, and that this kind of training is more effective than
regular physical education lessons. Future studies are needed to disentangle the
reasons why dance ameliorates spatial ability more than regular physical lesson
is it the rotation of one`s own body, the moving through space or the coupling
of action and expression to music? Regarding future research directions, it
would be interesting to find out if this effect transfers to cognitive, social, and
emotional skills, such as a possible enhancement of self-esteem.

Acknowledgement
The authors thank Kathrin Hommer and Franziska Pohl for the data acquisition
and the children for their participation.

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58

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 58-68, October 2015

On the Way to Phronesis: Delving into Stories


of School Based Experiences of Pre-Service
Teachers

Swaleha Beebeejaun-Roojee
Doctoral student, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Nathalie Congo-Poottaren
Doctoral student, University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Abstract. There exists an on-going debate on the gap between the


academic aspect of teacher education and the reality of school life. In
response to this issue, many teacher training institutions propose on-job
placement or School Based Experience. In Mauritius, trainee teachers
are posted in schools with a view to provide them with work-based
learning opportunities and expose them to the world of schools. A
narrative enquiry has been adopted to investigate ways in which pre-
service teachers have lived their school-based practicum in relation to
the knowledge acquired during their training. Data was collected from
stories narrated during focus group seminars and analysed using
Haynes (2007)1 Key Steps. The study sheds light on ways in which
trainee teachers faced the diversity and complexity of the school milieu
as an experiential learning space. It also leads to the understanding of
their concerns as they negotiate their way along the journey of
reconciliation between teacher education and experiences of school life.
Key findings relate to both the benefits and setbacks of work based
learning. The authors recommend that there is a need to revisit the
partnership which exist between the teacher education institution and
schools.

Keywords: School Based Experience, experiential learning, work based


learning, phronesis.

1Haynes, C. 2007, Experiential learning: Learning by doing: 5-step experiential


learning cycle definitions.
www.niu.edu/facdev/resources/guide/strategies/experiential_learning.pdf

1. Introduction
The novice teacher sat in my office with shoulders
drooped and a forlorn face. Nothing workedI do not
want to go back in that school, maybe I need to change
school were the first few words she muttered.

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59

As teacher educators we often get to hear such stories when our


students are out on field experience. The profession is plagued with a theory
practice gap, which seems to be at the center of this gloominess. It is indeed an
uncomfortable space where the student-teachers get engaged in the complex
environment of the school and their struggle to bridge the theory and practice.
Therefore what becomes fundamental is that workplace need to provide
them with experiences that are positive and authentic not only in terms of
equipping them with appropriate pedagogical knowledge but also the
practical knowledge to cope with everyday school life so that these novice
teachers can shape their identities as effective teachers. Research has shown
that to be effective, Professional Development Programmes must to be
attentive and sensitive to the practice of work-place. Darling-Hammond and
McLaughlin (1999), laid emphasis on the importance of situational and
contextual learning and pointed out that learning about practice should be
done in practice. Cochran-Smith & Lytle (1999, 2001) reiterated that such
knowledge development, include the development of practice for practice
(kinds of knowledge teachers need to know), knowledge in practice
(knowledge in action), and knowledge of practice (emphasizes the relationship
between knowledge and practice and the theoretical aspects of both). While
Elmore (2004) emphasised on the need to focus on concrete classroom
applications of ideas and expose teachers to actual practice rather than
descriptions. There is a need to be attentive to real themes and issues in the
day-to-day work of teachers (Berliner, 2001; Korthagen, 2001, Kaminski,
2003).).On job placement thus provide the space for first hand learning to
occur. Novice teachers can observe, emulate, discover, and reorganize the
ideas that they have formulated about teaching from the experiences gained.

1.2 Experiential learning and Phronosis


Learning through experience is not a new concept. Well known
educational psychologists such as John Dewey (1859-1952), Carl Rogers (1902-
1987), and David Kolb (1939) have provided the seminal work on learning
theories that focus on learning through experience or learning by doing.
International literature provides us different names for such practical knowledge
gained such as craft knowledge, work-place knowledge,
wisdom of practice, personal knowledge ,teacher knowledge, teacher practical
knowledge, professional

knowledge and phronesis. The common denominator here being that learning
takes place as a result of personal involvement in direct experiences which are
related to real world problem and situations. What is crucial in experiential
learning is that the phases of experiencing (doing), reflection and applying are
present. In addition, the stages of reflection and application are what make
experiential learning different and more powerful than the models commonly
referred to as learn-by-doing or hands-on-learning" (Kolb & Kolb, 2007).

The term experiential learning is a broad term, generally used by


educators to describe a series of pragmatic activities sequenced in such a way so

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60

as to enhance the educational experience for the student learner (Moon, 2004).
Experiential learning experiences help to complete students preparation for
their chosen careers by bridging the gap between theory (course content) and
practice. Students learn through experiences by doing, discovering, reflecting
and applying. Such kind of interactions with the social world help students to
develop an internal knowledge help improve their communication skills, gain
self-confidence and strengthen decision-making skills by responding to and
solving real world problems and processes (Korthagen, 2001).

Much has been written about the different types of Knowledge an


educator needs to acquire. Shulman (1987) advocated three different types of
such knowledge namely content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge
and curricular knowledge. While Aristotle (1941) distinguished several types of
knowledge: techne (craft knowledge), episteme (propositional knowledge) and
phronesis (practical wisdom) amongst others. Practical wisdom according to
Aristotle differs from theoretical wisdom by an insistence on action. Practical
wisdom includes judgment, understanding, and insight that leads to appropriate
action which take into account the context and situation. Proponents of teachers
practical knowledge/wisdom advocate that such knowledge stems from the
tacit personal reflection based on experience, context, and motivated by practice
which is connected to the educators subject area. Therefore, what student
teachers need to acquire is practical wisdom (phronesis) is the ability to act in the
most effective and proper way in every particular situation.

Teacher Education (TE) programme round the world includes a


component of practical experience that allows the students to reflect about their
actions and learn from the experience gained. Aristotle's theory of Phronesis
(practical wisdom) turns up more and more often in TE programs. Practical
knowledge relates to

ones actions and behaviours, and answers the question, "what must I do?"
The answer to this question should cause a person to act. This study claim
that if we want to create better teachers with knowledge relevant to their
profession the TE programme proposed should provide scope for the
practical wisdom to emerge.

2. Background

Mauritius being no exception has included in its Teacher Education


Programme, component of school-based education .This is commonly
known as SBE- School Based Experience which has been introduced in an
attempt to overcome the criticism that teacher education is not at par with
the practices in schools. To this end, placing trainee educators in schools so
that they become familiar with the work has become a common feature in all
the teacher education programmes. The SBE consists of three phases. The
first phase is the immersion, where trainees are expected to get familiar with
the school setting. The second phase is the observation phase, a well-planned
schedule is worked out for trainees to observe different classes. The third

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61

phase is when trainees are called to teach in classes. Mentors are identified to
guide trainees in schools. There are specific tasks that trainees need to
complete for each phase and trainees are expected to submit a portfolio at
their end of the SBE. The compilation of the SBE Portfolio is a professional
development process through which trainees document their progress,
accomplishments as well as reflections on their learning. During each SBE
period, three Sharing Experience Seminars (SES) are conducted for the three
phases. The Sharing Experience Seminars (SES) complement the SBE. These
are scheduled at regular intervals after each phase of SBE where trainees
discuss, narrate, and share their lived experiences in schools with their
tutors. This present article originated from the stories that the pre-service
student teachers shared with us during the seminars.

2.1 The Reasons for Conducting the Study

There are three main reasons for venturing in this study. Firstly it is
our personal interest. We have been involved in School based experience
since the past seven years. At first there was the assumption that there is a
whole drama which is staged when tutors go for school visits. After the SES
sessions we realised that there are more to this staged drama and what we
tutors see is only the tip of the iceberg.

Our second motivation was to showcase the stories from the trainees
which would provide insight on the type of landscapes prevailing at schools
in relation to what is learnt at the university. We had the assumption that
after following the education as well as the subject didactics, students should
be able to teach without much difficulty. Here we were struck at the layers of
complexities involved as there was no linear equation and instead a lot of
voids and swampy lands.

Finally there is a genuine belief that researching these stories will


contribute to the scholarship about work based experience and help both
mentors and tutors to better understand the predicament of novice
trainee educators joining the profession.

The objectives of this study are:

to present the challenges and tensions that trainee educators face during
their school based practicum.
to gain insight on how theory and practice reconciliation is negotiated
during school based experiences.

3. Methodology
Bearing in mind the purpose of this research, which is to gain insight on
pre-service teachers lived experiences of their school-based practicum in
relation to the knowledge acquired during their training, the narrative method
has been adopted. As expressed by Clandinin & Connelly, (2000) Experience
happens narratively Therefore, educational experience should be studied
narratively, (p. 19) .They further stated that Narrative inquiry is a way of
understanding experience. It is a collaboration between researcher and

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62

participants over time---Simply statednarrative inquiry is stories lived and


told (p. 20). Narrative has also been defined as having first and second levels
(Carr 1997). The first level is where the individual tells the stories of themselves
and the second level narrative is the researchers account of the stories .In this
study the first level of narrative provided a chance for students to reveal their
thoughts, feelings, and intentions during the phase three of their SBE. The
second level help the researchers to understand the phenomenon. Therefore
narrative inquiry relate to both the research method and the phenomenon
(Pinnegar and Daynes 2006) or the phenomenon and the process (Connelly and
Clandinin 1990).

Three trainees were purposively chosen. Patton (2002) describe


purposive sampling as a form of non-probability sampling where the researcher
hand picks the cases, because they are considered typical or particularly
interesting in relation to the research topic. As such three trainees who had
joined the university without prior teaching experience were selected. Their first
encounter with the schools as a teacher was during the SBE. The small sample of
the present study (N = 3) allowed for depth of study (Patton, 2002) of the
phenomenon as trainees recount their stories of their journey in schools. This is
in line with Morse (1989) who claimed that a good information source is
someone who has undergone or is undergoing the experience and is able to
reflect on and provide detailed experiential information about the phenomenon
(p. 121). The informed consent principles were adopted. Participants were
briefed about the research project and were given assurance on anonymity and
confidentiality through the use of pseudonyms (PST 1 preservice teacher 1 and
so on).Their consent for the recording of their stories were also negotiated.

4. Data collection

Trainee telling their stories were the data collection method used. Stories
are presumed to provide a holistic context that allows individuals to reflect and
reconstruct their personal, professional and social experiences (Gill, 2001).
Capturing these untold stories and analysing them will lead to a better
organisational understanding and yield a far deeper insight into the complexity
of life within the organisation. Initiating trainees to such community of sharing
stories from the field give them a platform to reflect upon how field experience
connects training with practice. The stories were tape recorded during the SES
sessions. The stories were about the experiences that trainees had encountered in
their respective schools. Trainees were encouraged to add on or reflect on the
stories. Stories were collected during the sharing experience seminars. Each
seminar lasted for two hours and was led by both tutors, namely one from the
Subject Area and one from the Education Department. A total of six hours of
seminars was held.

5. Analysis of data and the Theoretical Framework for the Study

People tell stories, but narratives come from the analysis of stories
(Frank, 2000). As Frank states that, the researcher's role is to interpret the stories
in order to analyze the underlying narrative that the storytellers may not be able

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63

to give voice to themselves (p. 4). Therefore in order to illuminate how the
stories about school experiences relate to or are in dissonance with the theories
we had to opt for a framework so as to present a coherent picture. We decided to
use Haynes (2007) Key Steps. This framework which has its roots in Schon (1983)
work will allowed for reflections, self-reflections and applications.

The stories were transcribed. Data were coded using the axial coding system
under themes pertaining to the research objectives and analysed using Haynes
(2007) Key Steps. Learning content is important, learning from
the process is at the heart of experiential learning. During each step students will
engage with their experiences following the Haynes (2007) key steps :
Experiencing/Exploring Doing , Sharing/Reflecting What Happened?,
Processing/Analyzing Whats Important?, Generalizing So What?,
Application Now What? .The first two steps (Experiencing/Exploring
Doing , Sharing/Reflecting What Happened? ) were used to encourage
Preservice teachers to tell/share their stories and to self-reflect as well as get
feedback from peer reflection .The third and fourth steps (Processing/Analyzing
Whats Important?, Generalizing So What?) were used to analysed what
they have learned and to relate these to future learning experiences. Students
were also encouraged to discuss how specific problems or issues were
addressed. The last step (Application Now What?) aimed at helping to make
connection with what they learned in the School Based Experience and the
knowledge gained at University .Students were encouraged to discuss how
issues raised can be useful in future situations and how more effective future
behaviors can be established from what they have learnt.

6. Discussion following excerpts from the stories

In the Experiencing/Exploring Doing, Sharing/Reflecting What


Happened? phase, the student teacher had many anecdotes to share. Some of
them were stories of success where a class went well and they were able to
answer students queries .It was also about being able to participate in school
activities and when they felt they were part of the school family. During this
phase they also advised one another by sharing what has worked and how they
tackled problem. There were also stories of distress where they related their
frustration and fears.

PST1- I can still remember the first day at school. Everybody was busy with their own
thing. The Rector was not available and I was told that my Mentor was on sick leave. I
was on my own. I stayed in the lobby and after sometimes I went in the library .I had
prepared for this day for so long. I was at a loss. I had not slept on the eve.
PST2: I was introduced as a trainee teacher to the class. I think the students are aware
that I am here to learn and as such do not take my class seriously. They kept talking and
disturbing the lesson. This annoyed me and I complained to my mentor. Instead of
listening to me, the mentor was not helpful at all, she told me that they were very good
students and that I needed to change the way I did things. I do not what I how I am
going do when my tutor will come to visit me.
PST3: I am completely shattered. So far I thought I was doing well. I had my lessons
well planned, I used different teaching strategies. After a class test, my mentor called me

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64

and asked me to explain why there are so many failures. I could not understand, why is
she was blaming me of students performance. I had done only 2 lessons with them.

During this stage student teachers were encouraged to help each other by
proposing alternatives and solutions to problems. What emanated from these
sessions is the way each of them were able to demonstrate empathy. We tutors
could only admire the burgeoning of a community of practice among the pre-
service teachers. They were actively reflecting and encouraging their colleagues.
There was no one way of dealing with these experiences and we tutors did not
have answers for their queries. Our courses are mostly focused on empowering
trainees with content and pedagogical knowledge and theories which clearly fall
short when one has to deal with the routine of school life. How do we boost
teachers morale and self-confidence? How do we sustain this community of
practice? What is the role of the teacher educator? There stories raised questions
for our own practice and propelled us to reflect on what kind of teacher
education we need to impart.

During the phase of Processing/Analyzing Whats Important? and


Generalizing, there were stories where the novice teacher was trying to reconcile
the knowledge gained at the University with what was happening in the real
context of schooling.

PST2: I was scoffed by the senior teachers who told me that lesson plans are not needed
here and what is needed is to learn the survival techniques. I was preparing my lessons
and had my things on the table. In fact the school where I am posted most of the teachers
did not have their lesson plans
PST1: I noticed that teachers were mostly using the chalk and talk methodseven my
mentor. When I asked her if we could try the socio-constructivists methods, she just
smiled and told me that these should be done at University and not in schools (same
scenario for narrator 2 and 3).And my struggle is to use as many studentcentered
strategy .even the students are so used with the traditional method of teaching that I
am faced with a lot of resistance when I try using strategies like group work, roleplay
..What will I do when my tutors will come for teaching practice?
PST3: I find the introductory part of the lessons most difficult. Gaining students
attention and sustaining it was most difficult. Sometimes I asked questions and I did not
get the answers as expected and then I am at a loss. I am worried what if I do not finish
on time. I need to complete what I had planned to do.

What was obvious from the stories was that the pre-service teachers were
confronted with the proverbial clash between theory and practice at a very early
stage of their SBE. You will learn theory during lectures and will then apply it
in practice simply does not work. Throughout their stories it became clear to us
that the knowledge acquired in teacher training did not help them to handle the
uncertainty, the complexity and the instability of actual situations prevailing in
practice. Over the last few years a number of researchers have brought up the
problem of the relationship between theory and practice. Many solutions has
been proposed to overcome

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65

these notably: making Teacher Education Programme more practical


,coursework based and richer conceptions of teaching practice .However, linking
theory to practice remain an elusive concept .

Application phase-the way forward;


The struggle of the novice teachers to succeed in their profession is evident in
their stories.

PST 1: The school I am posted for SBE is a co-educational institution. I feel really at a
loss as I had been to a girls school and I do not really know how to cope with the boys. I
feel very uncomfortable and they never listen to me. I am trying to cope with the
situation by asking help from senior teachers who talk to the boys before I
start my lesson. I am happy that they are helping me out, but I do feel embarrassed. The
different teaching strategies learnt at the university are helping to keep the boys engaged.
I am also reading on how to teach in boys schools.
PST2: Students are so used working individually, when I put them in groups there are
many problemssuch as the grouping itself, classroom management issues and they did
not like group work , they want me to give notes and tips for the test. However I was
determined to make them learn how to work in groups. So I decided to bargain and
negotiate with themyou know kind of if you do this for me I will give you some
tipsthis sounded unethical but it worked..
PST3: Another issue is the administrative part of the job. I never knew that I had to be
very careful of students attendance. what to do if someone is sick in the class, how to
cope with situation of lateness, cheating, indiscipline, fights, bullying This is too much
as I had a lot to do with the SBE itselfI remember one day I was summoned in the
Rectors office. One of the students who was supposed to be in my class was caught at the
bus-stop. Now I know that to be a good teacher is not only doing lesson plans and
reflecting on how to improve, but it is also knowing my students, their lives, what is
troubling them.

The above extracts clearly showed that students were able to demonstrate
a practical wisdom which had emerged through reflections. Frank (2004) work
revealed that such kind of practical wisdom developed during reflections cannot
be fully articulated but is the guiding force (p.57). Such unanswered dilemmas
and uncertainties has been often referred as an inherent characteristic of the
work in professional practice. The novice teachers were trapped in a theory
practice gap, which shows their restlessness. Kemmis, (2005) referred to this as a
negative spacea longing for something else that is not currently present
(p. 157). To some extent the SES provided a positive space that could address
this void, however to be able to sustain such community of sharing is yet
another debate.

7. Conclusion and what next?

In Teacher Education Programmes, preservice teachers take internship,


called School Based Experience to prepare them for teaching and they are also
exposed to various aspects of the profession under the guidance of both the
supervisor from the University as well as and the mentor in school. Prior to
their internship in schools, the preservice teachers gain experience in planning

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66

and teaching lessons during Peer/micro teaching module where their main task
is to identify their weaknesses and strengths in a simulation class. The sharing
experience seminars sessions after their on-job placement provide a very rich
space where students come and share their lived experiences and build a
community of practice.

However from the study it is clear that most of the preservice teachers do not
receive much feedback and support from their mentors. It was noted that when
they tried to discuss issues with their mentors, the latter often took a defensive
stance saying that they were novice teachers and they should know that what is
true for the university is not necessarily applicable to real life situation.
Experienced teachers routinise much of their practice, making it customary,
programmed and ritualised (Eraut 2000; Oliveira, (2005).). This can be
detrimental to novice teachers who need to learn from their practice and be
engaged with their workplace (Abadzi, 2006).

All stakeholders in pre-service teacher education need to work together to


ensure that student-teachers successfully adapt and cope with the demands of
school life. The role of the mentors in coaching the student is pivotal in the
process. Directing students in how to apply their college-based learning in the
school and the classroom are important aspects of mentoring. Mentors should
help support and encourage students to move away from the periphery and join
the community of practice of the school. Mentors should act as the bridge
between university (theory) and workplace (practice). The authors therefore
recommend that there is an urgent need to revisit the partnership which exist
between the teacher education institution and the schools/mentors.

The study has shed light on various idiosyncrasies of school life which should
not be ignored as these are the concerns and realities of the pre-service teachers.
It is important to empower trainees to create their own practical knowledge
(phronesis), knowledge that will have meaning for them and will help them to
act successfully in confusing and perhaps ambiguous situations. Meetings with
school mentors and rectors is crucial to help novice teachers deal with
workplace situations. These would give students the confidence and security to
try out ideas, to ask questions and to seek answers and elicit their support. The
scope of future research on workplace learning should be widened by
investigating further how workplace learning (practice) relates to teacher
education (theory) or else we teacher educators, become mere accomplices in
the system and therefore help promote the staged drama when we go to visit
our trainees for their teaching practice sessions.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 69-80, October 2015

School Leaders as Progress Makers: Opening a


New Vista for School Leadership in Mauritius

Nathalie Congo-Poottaren and Swaleha Beebeejaun-Rojee


Lecturers, Mauritius Institute of Education,
Reduit, Mauritius

Abstract. This small scale study aims at exploring how far school leaders
consider themselves progress makers. This is felt important as there is
now much emphasis on schools to be more successful in terms of both
academic and socio-economic outcomes. The challenge lies in knowing
how to make it happen. A qualitative research was conducted.
Furthermore, this article expands current knowledge on school
leadership by reporting data gathered from a group of school leaders
(n=6) who were mandated during their course in educational leadership
to explore new vistas in school leadership and be pioneers as progress
makers. Data gathered by means of a semi-structured interview, was
analysed using the conceptual framework developed by Clampitt and
DeKoch (2011)1 on transforming leaders into progress makers. The main
findings illustrate how school leaders struggle to come to terms with the
various strategies and tactics associated with progress makers. The
studys implications for future practice and training of school leaders are
also considered. The authors hint that school leaders can become
progress makers, that is, that metamorphosis can occur, if they consider
leading differently and use new leadership practices.

Keywords: Progress makers; School leaders

Introduction
Mauritius is an island state 2040 kilometers square with a population of
approximately 1.2 million people. It is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country.
As far as the economy goes, Mauritius is economically competitive, and has a
friendly investment climate. Its Gross Domestic Product was $ 22.05 billion and
Gross Domestic Product per capita income was $ 16, 820 in 2014. There are 168
secondary schools in Mauritius. 63 are run by the state and 103 are run by the
private sector but heavily subsidised by the Ministry of Education. In some
schools, because of their size there is only a rector, or a rector and one or two
deputy rectors. There is approximately a dozen of co-educational schools and
the rest is either for boys or for girls. The statistics available indicate that in 2013,
there were 7795 educators for 113, 872 students in secondary education. In all for

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70

that year, there were approximately 245, 000 in the pre-primary, primary and
secondary. Education is free and compulsory from 3 to 16 years old. Hence this
study which is contextualised to our local realities is an attempt to explore how
far school leaders behave as progress makers.
Historically, school leaders were seen as those who would attend to the day to
day running of schools in a rather routine way. Nowadays, things have changed
and the role of school leaders has expanded. But one element which has come
out strongly is that the school leader is central to the success of a school. School
leadership strongly affects student learning. Principals are central to the task of
building schools that promote powerful teaching and learning for all students
(Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005, p.3). Findings from studies conducted
later also came to the same conclusion (Leithwood, 2005; Masumoto & Brown-
Welty, 2009; Reardon, 2011; Robinson, 2011; Sebastian & Allensworth, 2012).
School leaders are also seen as change leaders as they are no longer expected to
maintain the status quo (Peterson, 2002).
At the same time it is now recognised that school leaders have a daunting role to
play n bringing about increases in school achievement (Leithwood et al. 2004).
Contemporary school administrators play a daunting array of roles, ranging
from educational visionaries and change agents to instructional leaders,
curriculum and assessment experts, budget analysts, facility managers, special
program administrators, and community builders (Davis, Darling-Hammond,
LaPointe, & Meyerson, 2005). Running of a school is also seen as stressful,
political, complex, and time consuming (Duke, Grogan & Yucker, 2003). At the
same time, there is growing evidence of intensified accountability (Starr &
White, 2008). There is furthermore more focus on results. Consequently, Heads
of Schools are expected to be able to use data to drive decision making and
assessment (Hellsten, Noonan, Preston & Prytula, 2013; Renihan & Noonan,
2012).
Hence we find that while the job becomes more demanding, we can query if
there is time to innovate and meet the new challenges with new, more adapted
solutions. Consequently, the need arises to find out more from Heads of Schools
themselves.

Statement of the problem


Heads of Schools have to face many challenges in the day to day running of their
schools. They are expected to create the appropriate climate which is conducive
for learning. Heads of School also have to create the structures and practices
which are necessary to help students achieve academic success. However, when
we look deeper at the daily activities which are required to support what Heads
of Schools need to do, we wonder when they have the time to act as progress
makers. Yet this is what Heads of Schools need to become. Hence we find that
there is need to investigate this issue further.

Research question
How far do school leaders consider themselves as progress makers?

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71

Literature review
Clambitt and DeKoch (2011) developed a framework to define leaders who are
progress makers. They found that there are seven strategies that these leaders
adopt which make them progress makers.

Envision the future with calculated boldness.


Progress leaders do not take decisions boldly. They make calculations. This leads
them to act with deliberation, design and planning (p.80). Whilst they do not
take rash decisions but act boldly when the right conditions prevail (p.80). They
are fully conscious that the context is dynamic and while they have to take this
into consideration, they also need to stay focused on their vision. They need to
think about growth and how to embrace opportunities which arise. They need to
control their natural brashness (p.70). In fact, they temper these impulses with
calculation (p.82).

Cultivate a focused flexibility mind-set.


While in most situation school leaders have to know where they are going and
to determine strategies to move their schools in that particular direction, they
also need to remain attuned to their environment. In fact, it seems essential to
maintaining the dynamic tension between focus and flexibility (p.105). It is
believed that as successes are encountered, there is a tendency to replicate what
has worked into other areas of the organisation. Yet as this is done, the
organisation loses sight of its environment and it becomes rigid. It happens that
success silently morphed into inertia (p.107).

Enlarge the circle of engagement.


This involves deciding who to include and who to exclude. This also indicates
getting the right people (p.127). Furthermore it involves getting the right
combination of people in order to create synergies (p.126). There is need to have
a balance in the team so that the team members can contribute productively
towards the common goal. It is also essential that the team grows and develops
as the initiative does.

Foster the growth of investment-worthy employees.


Progress makers assume the responsibility of surrounding employees with the
tools, experiences and challenges to fulfil their potential amid the storms
everyday life (p.150). This is done in a systematic way by ensuring that
employees get tasks which help them build their competencies but they are also
provided with constructive feedback. Progress makers can identify those
employees who are able to adapt to changing circumstances, who are
continuously learning and who embrace the organisational direction.

Seek, nurture and evaluate actionable ideas.


This occurs when progress makers quickly shift direction is fueled by
intellectual restlessness bent on the never-ending quest for the next actionable
idea (p.169). Hence, progress makers are opened to changes and are ready to
change their course of action. They look for incremental improvement or tweak
to an existing process or product (p.170). Therefore progress makers look for

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72

ideas, nurture those they feel are right and evaluate them. All ideas which are
accepted become actionable ideas.

Select, detect and correct the proper errors.


Progress makers learn from failures. They select what are considered as errors
and they set up a mechanism to detect such types of errors. Then they correct the
errors. They remain aware of the focus given to their organisation and in relation
to this correct those errors which might threaten the feasibility of the goals
identified for the organization.

Practice receiver-centric, strategy-based, feedback-driven communication.


Progress makers put emphasis on audience analysis. They anticipate how
different groups of people will respond to a particular message (p.221). Then
they plan accordingly. Hence they try to be effective in their communication and
they work on properly communicating particular messages (p.221). Lastly,
they get feedback. This allows them to check message fidelity (p.224).

Methodology
For this study, as already indicated, qualitative method will be used. It was felt
appropriate for this study because, as Rossman and Rallis (1998) have noted,
there are few truths that constitute universal knowledge; rather, there are
multiple perspectives about the world (p. 29). The qualitative method is
relevant because it can express a richness and intensity of detail in a way that
quantitative research cannot. Qualitative research methods allow for much more
detailed investigation of issues - answering questions of meaning, such as why.
More and more recognition is being given to the individual in the process, not
just the observable effect of strategies upon a particular element. By exploring
the Heads of Schools who have had leadership experiences, it will be possible to
obtain multiple perspectives that further our understandings of this
phenomenon. Each individual ascribes certain characteristics and attributes to
any given situation.
Also there exists little research on the topic; therefore, qualitative methods are
suited for this study (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). Since this study is exploratory in
nature, the process of allowing the data to speak for itself further supports a
qualitative method of inquiry. Given that qualitative methodology uses context,
individual experience, and subjective interpretation, generalizability is not
possible, nor is it a goal (Heppner, Kivlighan, & Wampold, 1999). This method is
also congruent with the nature of the research problem.
It is important to choose a data production approach which will invite
participants to offer a rich, detailed, first person account of their experiences
(Smith et al (2009, p.56). Accordingly the present study has used in-depth
individual semi-structured interviews (Coolican, 2004). The choice of semi-
structured interviews permits a degree of structure to an interview where pre-
identified issues can be explored and discussed (Denscombe, 1998).
These participants were interviewed. Cannell and Kahn (1968) have defined
research interview as a two-person conversation initiated by the interviewer
for the specific purpose of obtaining research-relevant information , and focused
by him on content specified by research objectives of systematic description,

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73

prediction or explanation. It involves the gathering of information through


direct verbal interaction between individuals. Respondents can feel free to say
what they think without subjecting their views to peer scrutiny, as in a group
discussion (Gray, 2004). The interview serves the purpose described by
Tuckman (1972) as, by providing access to what is inside a persons head, [it]
makes it possible to measure what a person knows (knowledge or information),
what a person likes or dislikes (values and preferences), and what a person
thinks (attitudes and beliefs).
Issues of credibility have been addressed by adopting a research method, which
is well established and used in various studies which have studied the
experiences of participants. Furthermore, we have developed an early
familiarity with the culture of participating organisations (Shenton, 2004, p.65).
We got to know the organisation prior to starting the research and tried to
develop prolonged engagement between ourselves and the participants so that
we develop a real understanding of each other and build a relationship of trust
(Erlandson et al., 1993; Lincoln & Guba, 1985).
Another measure to ensure credibility has been used tactics to help ensure
honesty in informants (Shenton, 2004, p.66). Therefore each person has been
given the opportunity to refuse to participate in the project so as to ensure that
the data collection sessions involve only those participants who are truly willing
to participate. In addition, probes have been used to elicit data. Also iterative
questioning has also been used. We have looked for respondent validation or
member check (Bryman, 2012). We have provided our participants with an
account of what he or she has said during the interview. The aim of this exercise
was to seek corroboration between what the participants have revealed during
the interviews and the transcripts of these interviews. Furthermore, whilst we
were conducting an in-depth analysis of the data collected, we have supported
my arguments with verbatim extracts. This is important as validity implies
presenting an accurate and truthful account of the participants experiences
(Coolican, 2004).
As far as the sample is concerned, purposeful sample was used. Only those
school leaders following a course in educational leadership and management
and who have explored school leaders as progress makers have been involved.
This has limited the number to 6. These people represent information - rich
cases for study in depth Patton (1990, p.169). It represents a powerful case to opt
for purposeful sampling. In fact Patton (1990) adds that Information-rich cases
are those from which one can learn a great deal about issues of central
importance to the purpose of the research (p.169). Thus as we study these
participants, we are able to discern more thoroughly and get more in-depth
understanding about the issue under study. The idea is not to make empirical
generalizations. Patton (1990) nicely summarises the importance of using
purposeful sampling by saying that information rich cases whose study will
illuminate the questions under study (p.169))
One issue which might look like a limitation of the study related to the use of
only one form of data production tool. In fact, information was collected only
from school leaders. The idea behind this exercise was to get school leaders to
reflect on their lived experiences in order to make meaning out of them. Also in

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74

line with principles of confidentiality and ethics, the participants have not been
referred by their own names, but as Participant A, B, C, D, E.

Emergent themes and discussion


Firefighting
Participant B explained that leading school is not an easy job. He added that
there is a lot of pressure from all corners. For participant A, its like treading
on thin ice. Leading schools is described as complex, demanding by
Participant F. It would seem that school leaders take time to get used to the job
and that as from that moment when they feel that they have mastered all the
tasks that need to be done, they get into a comfort zone. They feel secured and
confident with the way in which they are leading their school. They are many
difficulties and expected events during a school day. Participant C said that
during a normal day, a school leader meets with many chaotic situations and
needs to take a lot of decisions on the spot. We are reassured that there are other
things going on as planned. The participants seemed to be engrossed in a lot of
firefighting. Hence as far as the other aspects of school life are concerned, they
tend to hold on to what they know, what has worked explained Participant
F. They lead in the same way and do not venture out of their comfort zone.
Participant E added that he has taken time and energy to master my leadership
practices and that he is happy with the way he is leading his school. It would
seem that the pride that school leaders take in their current leadership practices
prevents them from embracing new leadership practices. Only participant E
considered that perhaps its time to change. He considered that holding on to
the past might not be what a school needs. But this opinion is not expressed
with a lot of confidence. At the same time, it would seem that leadership is a
lonely position as the school leaders do not involve other people. They do not
take any risk. They do not venture outside the beaten path. Hence school leaders
show that they do not envision the future with much calculated boldness, nor do
they take any bold incentive to enlarge the circle of engagement from
employees.

Used to analyse an issue in a particular way stick to the book


Another idea expressed by participant D is linked to their autonomy and the fact
that they feel that they need to stick to the book. This refers to the School
Management Manual which is given to the school leaders and which explains
how they need to lead the school. The education authorities have tried to cover
most aspects of school life in the School Management Manual (SMM). Hence
school leaders get used to analyse issues in particular ways and they thus
remained locked and they do not consider other ways of doing things as
mentioned by Participant F. Furthermore, Participant F revealed that the SMM is
a blessing in disguise as it helps in decision making but limits the scope of
possibilities. Participant A explained that if other people want to bring
suggestions, it has to be in line with the SMM, otherwise they are disregarded.
Participant C talked about reporting and having to explain in writing how
the procedures set down in the SMM have been followed. It seems that school
leaders in this case are so focused on following the SMM that they do not allow
other initiatives to be examined nor do they make space for other people to bring

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75

their contribution. They miss the opportunities to judge the talents of their staff
and collaborators. They are not able to fully foster the growth of investment of
worthy employees. At the same time, school leaders do not eagerly seek, nurture
and evaluate actionable ideas.

Easy way out


Furthermore, it would seem by the way that the school leaders relate events that
happen at school and how they handle them that it times they choose they easy
way out. Participant A explained that there is so much to do. He thus added
that you need to move on. As a result of which they tend to take the easy way
out and do not take enough time to consider other options. Participant B
mentioned that if he allows discussions about certain issues it would trigger
further discussion. It would seem that their unwillingness to handle
discussions or engage into discussions around issues prevent them from
considering other options. They tend to opt for a quick fix as declared by
Participant F. There is also an ego issue as school leaders do not readily enlarge
the circle of engagement. Furthermore, we can also consider that school leaders
here also, do not do much to seek, nurture and evaluate actionable ideas.

Procrastinate
On the other hand, though it might look contradictory, participants also
mentioned that they tend to procrastinate at times. Participant A explained that
there are some decisions that are hard to take because of the consequences they
might have on the school and on their careers. So some of them might
procrastinate because they are unsure about what they have to do. Participant
F is more direct in his answer, since he stated that at times, we procrastinate
because of we do not know how to complete certain tasks. Yet when prompted
further, the participant does not seem to put time aside to reflect on the issue
and consider other options. They tend to focus on saving face and thus inhibits
acknowledging mistakes. School leaders thus do not engage in correcting errors.

Only one enthusiastic but others hold divergent opinions


Participant A explained that at times school leaders might be all fired up about a
new strategy. They might feel that the school would benefit. However, their
enthusiasm does not catch on the way that they expected it would. The staff
does not respond with the expected enthusiasm. They react with indifference or
with negativity. Participant B mentioned that there are discouraging times.
School leaders meet with people who spend time to criticise them for trying to
do things differently instead of trying to analyse how the proposed change
might be beneficial for the school. Participant F stated that its like swimming
against the tide! It is tiring and discouraging!. This attitude thus becomes a
major roadblock before they even get started. The school leaders are not able to
seek, nurture and evaluate actionable ideas, even though they have tried to be
inventive.

Unsuccessful past experiences


Participants explained that they have often attended workshops and seminars
where they hve met powerful speakers. They first exposure was inspiring and

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76

they came back to school with new ideas. Participant C explained that following
one of these workshops he has tried to adopt a new idea in his school. He added
that at the beginning his staff adopted the initiative and they got on board, but it
was difficult to sustain the momentum. Follow up efforts were laborious. After
some time the initiative has had to be abandoned. Participant D mentioned that
he too has tied new initiative but had to carry it alone. He had to back pedal as it
was not feasible to lead the project alone. Consequently, although their
experienced are different both school leaders felt that before they decide to
embark on a new initiative they tend to be held back by their past unsuccessful
experience. This tends to act as a potential drawback which keeps them from
leading differently. This shows that the school leaders are not able to enlarge the
circle of engagement.

Prejudice
On the other hand, participant E explained that he does not believe in the new
wave. He feels that in the workshops he has attended the speakers do not seem
to be in touch with the realities of the audience. They tend to propose initiatives
which are not feasible in the local context. The idea was also taken up by
Participant D who felt that outsiders cannot know better than us. Participant F
felt that the strategies which were proposed even if contextulised, will not be
appropriate. It would seem that this group of school leaders come with the
preconceived idea that they will not learn anything worthwhile. Their prejudice
seems like a major stumbling block which prevents them from taking advantage
of new ideas. This is also related to their ego and ultimately they are not able to
enlarge the circle of engagement.

Where to start
Another issue which crops up is linked to knowing where to start. Participant E
mentioned that when embarking on a change journey, the most important thing
is to know where to start. He added that not knowing where to start or starting
at the wrong moment might negatively impact on a new initiative. Furthermore,
Participant B talked about when he started a new project, he wanted to bring
everyone on board. But this was overwhelming and proved distressful. He
explained that he thought he communicated well but the others always
complained about not having been properly informed. It was a bad experience.
Participant F felt that tasks can look so complex. Hence it would seem that not
knowing where they should start impacts on their willingness to embrace
change. School leaders cannot envision the future with calculated boldness.
Additionally, they have not adopted a very effective communication strategy.

Evaluation and recommendations


It would seem that there is need for schools to work out on getting the proper
background ready for them to be able to successfully become progress makers.
An analysis of the comments made by the participants highlight various lacunas
which can be tackled in providing a different kind of preparation or professional
development to school leaders. We cannot ignore the comments made by
Brundrett and Crawford (2008) and Hallinger (2003) who claim that 21st
century leaders have not been effectively prepared to take up school leadership

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77

position or the claim made in OECD Report on Improving School Leadership


(2008) which states that There is a growing concern that the role of school
principal designed for the industrial age has not changed enough to deal with
the complex challenges schools are facing in the 21st century (p.16). Hence in
their preparation or professional development, school leaders need to come
across opportunities that will allow them to :

Realise that school leaders are vital to the core purpose of schools.
When school leaders engage in various strategies which they feel will be
beneficial for the schools, it is important for them to realise that the relationship
between them and the student achievement has long been established. They are
an important element in building the success of the school so that they need to
come up with initiative which they can handle. There is need to maximise the
effectiveness of the role of the school leaders.

Expand the capacity of the school leaders.


In order to adopt new practices, it is important to first take stock of the actual
capacity of school leaders. Given their load of work, it is to be feared that they
are at or nearing their practical limit. It is a fact that new and more and more
challenging expectations are being placed on school leaders. In order for school
leaders to expand their potential, there is need to provide them with more
training which can help them to handle new initiatives more effectively, but also
some kind of mentoring or coaching to allow them to get the support which they
need. It is also important to use instructional methods which would give school
leaders the opportunity to engage in discussion which would help to raise their
critical consciousness. At the same time, school leaders must also be helped to
see how they can support theory with examples. The relevancy of topics which
are taught should be highlighted. In fact, the basis of the programme should rely
on andragogy. When working with adults those delivery courses should apply
andragogy. This is critical as adults learn in a different way. Attempts must be
made to raise school leaders pedagogical critical consciousness by studying case
studies based on real examples, that is, evidence based practices. During their
professional development, they need deeper engagement strategies so that the
school leaders can undergo critical and transformative change. The school
leaders could be encouraged to read controversial readings which could lead
them to question their own biases. This could lead to situations where reflection
informs practice.

Choose the strategies depending on their context


Another important element to take into consideration is the context. Since each
context is different, school leaders have to realise that some strategies have a
greater impact than others. When trying to become progress makers, school
leaders have to bear in mind that they might not intervene on the whole
framework. They need then to concentrate on those dimensions which they can
change.

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78

Focus on what can be done


Since there are seemingly growing pressure on school leaders and more
challenges which now exist, then the school leaders have to focus on few
strategies which they feel will impact more on the life of the school. There is
need for school leaders to prioritise their strategies and to focus on those
strategies which seem more efficient and more effective and which are within
the scope of the school leader as well as the school. The school must have the
necessary resources, physical and human, to implement the strategies. In times
of such challenges, it is even more essential to constantly review the list of
priorities which a school leader has to tackle.

Evaluate competing strategies


As we investigate how school leaders are as progress makers, we need to realise
that there are other initiatives and strategies which are available and that at
times school leaders find themselves overburdened with strategies and not very
sure which one to use. All the strategies which are being proposed are credible
and if properly implemented will certainly yield significant improvement for the
school. Yet, the school leaders will have to determine which ones are the most
important and which combination of strategies will work best for the school.
They need to embrace the strategies which speak to their own context and run
with it.

Develop supportive networks


It would seem that given the various constraints encountered by the school
leaders, that they could among themselves develop a supportive network. This
would provide them with opportunities to share ideas and projects. They could
also provide emotional support and encouragement and provide assistance
wherever needed. They could help to monitor projects and circulate to appraise
the situation and provide suggestions and comments. This network will serve as
a platform for school leaders to learn new practices and they could investigate
ways to support other school leaders in leading their schools. The experience
shared by the school leaders would serve to improve practice. These new
educational intervention could induce school leaders to lead differently and
adopt new leadership practices. Hence these networks will allow school leaders
to find allies, access tools, share practical wisdom, and build collaborative
strategies. Networking would indeed help them to share resources and
information, devise an agenda, and engage in collective action within their
schools.

Supervise, train and support teachers


School leaders must also be taught how to supervise, train and support teachers
in carrying out projects which will lead to school improvement. In their quest to
be progress makers, school leaders have to challenge the existing school culture.
Consequently, they might need help in order to provide the appropriate support
to the teachers. They need to show to teachers that they need to relentlessly
review their practice and should be flexible and adapt to the current context.
This is also what they themselves should be doing.

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79

Conclusion
Hence, we find that there is need to have an inspiring training programme for
school leaders. But there are also strong claims for continued professional
development as the school system is dynamic. In the future, there is need to
include knowledge and information on a variety of issues impacting the
education sector. School leadership cannot be considered in isolation. There are
other issues which are impacting on schools and school leaders must be able to
see how to handle these issues simultaneously. The school leaders need to be
empowered so that they dare to venture on new paths. School leaders are
expected to redesign the existing organisational structures. Furthermore, we also
find that they also have to redefine and redistribute leadership across the
organisation. This will promote greater engagement and ownership from the
staff. This in turn will promote student achievement. We also find that a change
in the roles and responsibilities of school leaders. They would need to have more
lines of communication with the different stakeholders.

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81

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Special Issue, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 81-101, October 2015

Exploring the potentials of Intercultural Education


in sustaining Social Cohesion in Small Island
Developing States

Jabeen Bibi Soobratty


The Graduate School of Global Studies
Doshisha University,Japan

Abstract. The process of globalisation has made the world increasingly


intertwined. Diversity in term of cultures, nationalities, faiths and ethnic
backgrounds has become an intrinsic characteristic of all societies.
Furthermore,most countries around the globe share concerns about
social cohesion and stability. Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
which has an economic backwardness, fragile ecosystem and social
fabrics were mainly built on multicultural pillars. The features of SIDS
make social inclusion more important than ever in order to survive in
the global change. A system of education for a sustainable society has a
pivotal role to play to support a cohesive society. Fostering social
cohesion in SIDS will enable such society to be more cohesive and thus
be equipped with the necessary inclusive mechanisms for managing
conflicts. In order to promote respect for and acceptance of diversity in
today`s societies, Intercultural Education is proposed as a powerful
mechanism to strengthen social cohesion. In section one, the
vulnerabilities of SIDS will be highlighted. This section is trying to
answer the crucial question of: Why social cohesion is vital to SIDS more
than other countries? In section two, the emergence of interculturalism
and intercultural education in multicultural societies will be discussed.
While section 3 will be focusing on the possibilities of implementing
intercultural education in the educational systems of SIDS.

Keywords: Intercultural Education; Social Cohesion; Small Island


Developing States

Introduction
The process of globalization has changed the world into an increasingly
diversified one. That diversity - in term of cultures, nationalities, faiths and
ethnic backgrounds - has become a remarkable characteristic of almost all
societies around the world, and this diversity has led to the rise of
multiculturalism as a key factor to understanding and addressing any societal
problem facing any country.

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82

Social cohesion is an essential foundation for cohabitation in this era of


multiculturalism. Durkheim (1893) called the social ties that unite a society as
the social solidarity which bond individual together. However, violence,
social tensions, migration, and the current global economic recession have
brought to the forefront a crisis in various social domains. Brigg and Bleiker
(2011) have argued that cultural difference is invoked in conflicts that beset
today`s world. Sen (2006) stressed out that due to the illusion of the
predominance of a unique identity, conflicts and violence are sustained today.
Eventually over the past two decades, the role of education in promoting social
cohesion has been in the spotlight. Policymakers and educationalists are pre-
occupied to find solution to address the various threats to social integration. The
cognitive development is a very crucial in a child and will eventually reflect in
his or her adult's development. In order, to sustain the social fabrics, learning
about social relationships, interaction and respect for individual must be an
important part of every young child's development. For a future with social
cohesion, it is crucial to begin by working with young children. In this proces,
Intercultural Education can be used as a powerful mechanism to strengthen the
social cohesion and to build the peace foundation in the society, and to promote
respect for and acceptance of diversity in today's multicultural societies.
Intercultural Education is defined as applied social science promoting the
dialogue between cultures and civilizations, as well as supporting the
development of democratic multicultural societies1.The distinctive advantage
of the intercultural education lies in the fact that it allows the individual to go
beyond passive coexistence, to achieve a developing and sustainable way of
living together in multicultural societies. In a recent report, UNESCO 2 had
emphasized the importance of the intercultural education as a vital factor
leading to social cohesion and to maintain social peace. Intercultural education
alone cannot achieve social cohesion, but, it can play an important role to
strengthen the social fabrics in a multicultural society.

Small island developing states (SIDS) are a particular case in this regards, as
their societies are mainly built on multicultural pillars. The multiculturalism is a
building block of the society rather than a result of external changes in the
surrounding conditions. In the relevant literature, it has been noticed that one of
the conceptual problem underlying the definition of SIDS depends on how to
define smallness. The most commonly used criterion, in recent years, has been
a population of 1.5 million or below, specifically 52 islands, which have an
extremely fragile ecosystem, social fabrics and economic backwardness. In SIDS,
people from different continents have migrated and lived for centuries in the
majority of cases with the island indigenous population creating natural cross-
cultural bridges through marriages, language, and other social immersion
mechanisms. Multicultural policies have been introduced in the late years of the

1
Bleszynska, Krystyna. "Contructing intercultural education." Intercultural Education, Vol. 19,
No.6, December 2008: 542.
2
Intercultural education is proposed by UNESCO(2006)as a response to the challenged offered
by the rapid changing world leading to multicultural societies.
Available at:http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001478/147878e.pdf

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83

colonial periods and during the early stages of the independent, to conciliate
with the diversified society to ensure social cohesion and stability. However, the
intrinsic disadvantages of SIDS, namely the environmental, social fragility and a
high degree of economic vulnerability have made social cohesion more
important than ever to survive in the rapid global change. A stable social order
is of particular importance for small states to ensure peace and progression.

This research paper will focus on and develop the current interest to work
towards the integration of intercultural education within SIDS educational
system. There is little discussion within the social science literature, on the
effects of intercultural education in sustaining social cohesion in SIDS. However,
there exists an abundant amount of literature based on intercultural education in
multicultural societies aside of SIDS (Portera,1998; Gundara,2000 and
Coulby,2006), which can provide a framework for this research paper. In other
words, examining the application of intercultural education in the educational
field can provide the ground and rationale upon which this research will be
based. The fact that this paper is exploring new grounds, namely the potentials
of intercultural education in sustaining social cohesion in SIDS, the methodology
for this study will based on a desk review of the academic literature, policy
documents and reports which are related to this research topic.

After this introduction, section one will highlight the main sources of the
vulnerability of SIDS. This section is trying to answer the crucial question of;
Why social cohesion is vital to SIDS ? In section two, the emergence of
interculturalism and intercultural education in multicultural societies will be
discussed. While the third section will be focusing on the possibilities of
implementing intercultural education in the educational system of SIDS. The
paper will conclude with the discussion of the centrality of the social cohesion in
SIDS to build their resilience in response to their vulnerabilities. And
intercultural education has the potentials of fostering sustainable social cohesion
in SIDS.

This paper is leading the efforts in addressing the unique correlation between
intercultural education and the vulnerable situation of SIDS, and it paves the
road for further future research to be enriched in this field.

1. The vulnerabilities of SIDS


This section will highlight the three primary sources of the vulnerabilities
of SIDS, namely their economic, environment and social fabrics. SIDS are
vulnerable to harm or damage originating from internal and external forces.
Such islands faced vulnerabilities that are outside their control. In the vast
majority of conceptualizations of SIDS, the economic and environmental
vulnerabilities are now primary whereas social factors (including social
development) are now addressed as secondary considerations (Campling and
Rosalie;2006). However, in this section, the importance of SIDSs social stability
will be highlighted.

The 52 small islands states are mainly located in two regions, 23 in the Caribbean
Ocean and 20 in the Pacific Ocean. While 9 are scattered across Africa, Indian

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84

Ocean, Mediterranean and the South China Sea. Small islands states are
described as low-lying coastal countries that generally share similar sustainable
development challenges namely; small but growing population with limited
resources, remoteness, prone to natural disasters, high dependency on
international trade and a fragile ecosystem. Indeed the future of Islanders is
insecure due to several factors like the climatic threats, threats of coastal
erosion, the economic decline in the world upon which small island states
depend on and their dependence resulting from the interconnections of the
world.

Since the 1970`s there has been a remarkable interest in small island developing
states. The broad focus of the SIDS literature 3 according to Crosslay and
Sprague (2013) can be presented in three stages: First in the 1970s, the focus was
on the socio-economic development (Benedict 1967; Selwyn 1975; Shand 1980;
Dommen 1980; Jalan 1982;). Secondly in the 1980s there is an emerging concern
with SIDS geopolitical security (Cohen 1983b; Commonwealth 1985; Harden
1985; Clarke and Payne 1987). Thirdly, in the 1990`s the main focus has been on
the vulnerability of SIDS economies and environment (Atkins et al; 2000; Biagini
and Hoyle 1999; Briguglio 1995; Commonwealth Secretariat-World Bank 2000).
However, It was at the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED)4, where SIDS were recognized as a special case both for
their environment and development. This was the beginning of acknowledging
the threats faced by SIDS related to current global environmental and
development challenges.

1.1 Economic vulnerabilities


The economy of SIDS share several common structural characteristics
such as;small domestic market with limited scope to exploit economies of scale;
lack of natural resources; high dependency on import of food and fuel;
dependence on a very small-scale export products; incapacity to influence
international prices; unreliability of supply due to remoteness and insularity
(Commonwealth Secretariat 1985). Briguglio(1995) explained that the economic
vulnerability of SIDS is profoundly determined by forces outside their authority,
mostly because of their economic openness and high reliance on a limited range
of exported products. Seychelles, for example, has a non-diversified economy. Its
economy is heavily reliant on international trade. It imports around 90 percent
of its population`s and tourist's consumption. Consequently, the island has gone
through the negative balance of trade. A report5 shows that in the ten year
period 19922001 Seychelles had an average annual balance of trade deficit of
Seychelles Rupees (SR) 976 million. Therefore, the international fluctuation in

3
From the outset, it is important to point out that SIDS literature have been promoted by
international institutions like UNESCO, UN and Commonwealth Secretariat. Such institutions
have brought experts in economic, social, governance and environment field to raise international
awareness of SIDS vulnerabilities and their sustainable development needs. There is a limited
literature on SIDS which is not part of the above mentioned institutions. SIDS are extremely
reliable on these institiutions.
4
Also known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (3-14 June 1992),
5
Reported by the Central Bank of Seyechelles

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the world economic can have drastic adverse effects on a non-diversified


economy like Seychelles. Campling and Rosalie (2006,119) describes this peculiar
situation of the economic vulnerabilities of Seychelles by stating: Like all SIDS,
Seychelles is a price-taker in the world economy and is thus structurally
vulnerable to external shocks and the vagaries of global capitalism.

On the other side, a few SIDS like Singapore have managed to generate high
income per capita in spite of its vulnerability. In the related literature, Singapore
is referred to as the Singapore Paradox(Briguglio:1995) which indicates a small
island state like Singapore can be exposed to economic vulnerabilities but yet
manage to attain high level of capital. The reason for this is that it is possible for
SIDS, under specific conditions, to build up their resilience to improve their
ability to cope with vulnerability. Professor Briguglio has explained through the
illustration below(Table1) how small state when exposed to external shocks is
able to absorb, meet or bounce back from adverse shocks. For instance,
Singapore through a good governance, sound macroeconomic management,
market efficiency and social cohesion have made use of its strategic geographic
position within the global trading system to build its resilience.

Table 1: Juxtaposing Vulnerabilty and Resilience in SIDS (Briguglio:2004)

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1.2 Environmental vulnerabilities


The environmental vulnerability of SIDS acts as a magnifier of the other
vulnerabilities. Consequently, the fragile and vulnerable economy of SIDS can be
damaged further due to SIDS proneness to natural disasters such as cyclones,
volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and earthquakes. Due to its inherent smallness,
any of these natural calamities can significantly affect the lives and livelihood of
the inhabitants as a whole. The enormous impact of environmental
vulnerabilities on all aspects of life in SIDS made it a crucial impeding force
against the pursuit towards sustainable development in these vulnerable islands.

Furthermore, the relation between environmental vulnerability and economic


development is two ways. As the process of economic development in SIDS has
affected the environment at a larger scale comparing to other countries. The
majority of SIDS depend on their coastal zone for tourism and marine related
activities. Furthermore, increasing demand for residential housing, tourism, and
industrial buildings has led to a drastic depletion of land. Another example is
the problem of waste management. Though it is a major problem facing most
developing countries, however, the impact on SIDS is likely to be more severe
due to the small size territory of these islands(Briguglio:2013)

One of the major environmental problems facing SIDS - being island states by
definition - is the threatening rise of sea level due to the global warming.
Maldives, for example, located to the west of India, consisting of over 1,100
islands is considered by experts as the world's lowest-lying nation (Ghina:2003).
On average the islands are only 1.3 meters above sea level. As indicated by
Ghinas research, the situation in the country is very alarming. Due to significant
beach erosion and its low-lying elevation, a rise of just three feet in sea level
would submerge Maldives and make the island uninhabitable 6. Other island
states in the Pacific Ocean, like Kiribati and Tuvalu, are also at the risk to
disappear due to rising sea levels.

In addition, what makes the environmental vulnerabilities of SIDS having a


catastrophic impact on people's lives, is the lack of sufficient disaster mitigation
capabilities like hazard forecasting ability, laxity in the enforcement of
procedures and inefficient insurance system. Once again, Singapore stands out
as a distinctive exception among SIDS reflecting its relatively high levels of
economic development and infrastructural capabilities (Mark Pelling and
Uitto:2001). After joining the Kyoto Protocol in 2006, Singapore has formed the
National Climate Change Committee, which focused on five areas: mitigation,
public awareness, competency building, vulnerability, and adaptation. The
island has taken initiatives to foster its understanding of climate change and its
repercussions. However, the majority of SIDS are not equipped to face disasters.

6
Ministry of Home Affairs,Hus.&Envt,Republic of Maldives,First National Communication of
the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change
2(2001), available at http://unfccc.int/resource/ docs/natc/maldnc1.pdf.

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1.3 Social vulnerabilities


The social fabrics of SIDS are characterized by multiculturalism, as the
societies are composed of people of different ethnic, cultural and religious
backgrounds. Researchers like Springer and Roberts(2011) in their paper titled
Partnerships for sustainable development in small states had noticed that the
social structure of the community can be very vulnerable to the economic strife,
environmental changes, government policies or internal events and forces.
Mauritius serves as a very demonstrative example of this social vulnerability
and its tight correlation with the economic situation of the country, which worth
a brief highlighting of this case.

Mauritius is an island situated in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar and is


noteworthy for its extraordinary demographic diversity or as its been frequently
referred to by the Mauritian community as The Rainbow Nation. The
Mauritian society is heterogeneous in terms of ethnic, linguistic and religious
dimensions. As for the ethnic dimension, Mauritian society consists of four main
ethnic groups: 1) Indo-Mauritians, around 67% of the population and they are
the descend of migrants from the Indian subcontinent, came as endangered
laborers mainly during the British and or French colonial periods. 2) Afro-
Mauritians, who are the descendants slaves brought to the island by both French
and British to work in the sugar production, and they are representing now
around 28% of the population. 3) Sino-Mauritians, around 3%, and consists of
the Chinese traders who moved to the island basically for the economic reasons
during the colonial periods. 4) The remaining 2% are called Franco-Mauritians,
and they are the descendants of the European sailors, colonials staff and
colonial landlords. Furthermore, the diversification gets deeper as in each of the
four main ethnic groups mentioned above, a religious and linguistic
diversification level appears. As the Indo-Mauritian group ,for example, is
divided among several religious groups (Hindus,Tamil, Telegu, Marathi,
Muslims, Christians and Buddhists) and numerous linguistic affiliations (Creole,
Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Tamil, Chinese, Marathi, Telegu, French, English). As of
today, despite the zero net migration rate and the small size of the population,
the society has an unexpected diversified composition. The island has been
identified as amongst the most peaceful and stable democratic in the African
continent 7 . Its success story is based primarily on its good economic
performance and on the apparent interracial peace and harmony. However, as
some researchers noticed that an important social issue is being undermined and
went unnoticed during focus on the economic development, thats the building
of sustainable intercultural bridges amongst all these levels and sublevels of
diversified social structure has been neglected. Bunawaree (2002)8 stated that
clearly in her research about Economics, conflicts and interculturality in small
island state and as an expert in the social issues facing the Mauritian society she

7
The Institute for economics and growth has rated, Mauritius, according to the Global Peace
Index(2014) as the the most peaceful African country in 2014 and it ranked 24 th globally
8
Bunwaree, S. "Economics, Conflicts and Interculturality in a Small Island State: The case of
Mauritius." Polis/R.C.S.P.?C.P.S.R. Vol.9,Numero Special, 2002: 1.

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88

believes that In the process of channeling its energies towards the consolidation
of its economy, Mauritius has benefited from the emergence of some form of
economic nationalism and has perhaps ignored the need to develop a strong
sense of interculturality. In other words, social stability is not well established
in the island. Fiji and Solomon Islands have an important lesson to share with
other SIDS, as they have gone through problems that threatened their social
cohesion due to ethnic or religious affiliation. For examples: violent conflict in
Fiji between indigenous Fijians and Indian migrants and in the Solomon Islands
between natives of Guadalcanal and Malaita Islanders have undermined the
social cohesion. Such islands have undergone social conflicts or riots, which in
turn impact negatively on productivity and sustainable development in general
(Briguglio: 2003). The negative social impact will have a deeper negative effect
on SIDS compared to most developing countries, due to their inherent
vulnerabilities. Besides, dispute and discard can quickly spread throughout the
small island states and become amplified into major conflicts.

However, some researchers appear to indicate that social cohesion is stronger in


SIDS than larger countries. Smallness is used as an important variable in
analyzing social cohesion. Many small island states dont experience an overt
form of conflicts. Streenten (1993) believed that SIDS is more flexible and
resilient in the face of conflicts. Whereas Bary (1992) attributed the success of
social cohesion in small society due to the concept of `managed intimacy.
According to managed intimacy smallness results in close proximity that acts
positively, as in small islands states, people learn to get along in their daily life
with others. To minimize open conflicts, the islanders focused on the social
mechanism to function without undue stress. For example, people tend to
become expert at muting hostility, deferring their views, avoiding a dispute in
the interests of stability and compromise. Thus, they managed to live together
in a small restricted place. However, in large societies it is easy to take issue
with someone you seldom need or never meet again, but to differ with someone
in a small society in which you share a long mutual history and expect to go on
being involved in countless ways is another matter. These points of views are
certainly not shared by all researchers. A Commonwealth Secretariat9 Advisory
group study revealed that:Community and political security are particularly
important for small states, given that dispute and discord can quickly spread
throughout society and become magnified into major challenges to social and
political order. The integration of social fabrics in SIDS is crucial.

1.4 The importance of social cohesion to SIDS


The small, isolated, dependent, resource-poor economy that is caught in the
competitive global world will need to deepen its social inclusion to be in better
position to face these challenges. Thats why in SIDS, more than other nations,
social cohesion can act as an essential platform in the efforts toward fighting
poverty, reducing inequalities, and marching towards inclusive societies which
is among the key goals of sustainable development. Small islands nations need

9
Commonwealth Advisory Group. "A future for small states: Overcoming vulnerability."
Commonwealth Secretariat, London, 1997.P133

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89

the full membership of all its citizens to put hands in their society to shape a
collective destiny to face their vulnerabilities. Social inclusiveness is the key to
build a strong resilience.

If SIDS create a strong, inclusive approach towards the members of their society,
it will in return act as a force for social cohesion. It is essential to ensure
harmonious interaction among people within a diverse society to ensure their
willingness to live and cooperate to build their resilience. Educational policies
that ensure inclusion and participation of all citizens can foster and safeguard
the social cohesion. Taking the case of Mauritius as an example, the
interculturality among the different ethnic groups has not been given enough
attention and instead there has been a collage of cultures that in many ways
prevented the emergence of social inclusiveness. The alarming consequences of
this apparent interracial peace are that Mauritius remains fragile and vulnerable
on the long term, especially if the economic position of any of the social fabric
has changed. Which indicates that a genuinely sustainable peace is not deeply
rooted in the society. This challenging risk is not of a theoretical nature, as the
island, has witnessed at least two serious social conflicts in about thirty years10
despite the general peace and harmony which is at the surface of the social
structure. Furthermore, the official Mauritian government slogan of Unity in
Diversity didnt help much in creating a true sense of unity amongst the
different shades of diversity in the society. On the contrary, it has contributed to
present the various cultures in a mosaic structure instead of being integrated
into one society. The question to be asked is how to promote the cultures of
different groups in SIDS, foster the social fabrics and bring a real interculturality
between them? In what way should the social fabric be enhanced in order to
reduce tension or latent ethnic conflicts? Within the context of social cohesion,
Intercultural Education has an important role to play. The ultimate objective of
the intercultural education is to build up an inclusive society, where every
culture is valued, respected and have a vital role in contributing in the social
structure. Intercultural education can be an efficient tool to enhance sustainable
social cohesion.

In the light of the vulnerabilities being faced by SIDS, it is apparently clear that
they will have to depend on their resources to build their resilience. The most
valuable resource that SIDS possess is its human capital. This made both
researchers and policy makers to draw particular attention to education and
training of population in accordance with the national goals for sustainable
development. And intercultural education plays a significant role in the overall

10
Early in 1968, just before the accession of Mauritius to independence and in the heat of the
political competitions, a serious tension between Muslims and Christians had emerged which led
to racial riots. As the country was still under the British authority, British troops had to enforce
law and order again. The second serious social conflict was not later than February 1999, where
the sense of injustice felt after the death in police cell of a popular singer quickly led the country
to the brink of an ethnic confrontation between Hindus and Christians. The country had witnessed
also several other ethnic related social unrests. Ethnic related incidents had been stimulated for
several reasons; supporting specific sport teams, ethnic scripts on banknotes, oriental languages in
schools, public holidays among other reasons. The frequency of these incidents had revealed the
fragility of the officially adopted slogan of Unity in Diversity.

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success of this process. As Professor Baccus11 (2008) explicitly states that :"The
success of small states, in coping with the economic and social challenges that
they are likely to face in the twenty-first century, will, to a large extent, depend
on the quality of their human resources." Moreover, If the society in SIDS is
well united, believed in "togetherness" rather than "otherness," they will be able
to build their resilience together as one nation to face any challenges. Social
cohesiveness will play a vital role to ensure social stability and enable social
development in the face of the vulnerabilities.

In the next section, the focus will be on the contribution of intercultural


education in promoting social cohesion in multicultural societies that can be
used as a framework in SIDS. The fact that small island states are built on
multicultural pillars, they can adopt and infuse intercultural education within
their educational field through examples of practical experiences and insights
from elsewhere.

2. The emergence of Interculturalism and Intercultural Education


In an effort to understand the contribution of Intercultural Education in
sustaining social cohesion, the development of interculturalism and intercultural
education in multicultural societies will be discussed. In this section, examples
of how Intercultural education has been initiated and implemented to the
benefits of students, schools and communities will be analyzed. The literature
mainly focused on the development of intercultural education primarily in
Europe and North America. The European Commission 12 has greatly
emphasized the importance of intercultural education in the European
Union(EU) countries. In many EU countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and
Portugal, intercultural education is part of the general school set up, and their
curriculum does include provisions for intercultural education

One of the evident results of globalization is that many societies have become
more diverse and dynamic. Migration for a better employment prospects and a
better standard of living has increased drastically. Nowadays cities like London,
Stockholm, Toronto, New York and Amsterdam are becoming increasingly
diversified. Thus, multicultural societies have become a complex reality. The
new changes in these newly diversified societies are far beyond being
adequately addressed by proper multicultural policies, and in this new dynamic
society tensions and conflicts are inevitable as many cultures faith, value and
global forces interacts, to use the wording of Professor Cantle (2012), who has
been involved in crafting these policies and he is the author of a series of reports
on Britain's ability to deal with its growing diversity. He further believed that
the multicultural policies that governments have been applying are no more
appropriate to mediate this new era and are not sufficient enough to promote
community cohesion. This is reflected very often in the current political and

11
Bacchus, M.K. "The education challenges facing small nation states in the increasingly
competitive global economy of the twenty-first century." Comparative Education 44, 2008: 139.
12
Interculturalism represents the direction towards which Europe is moving. In 2008, EU
proclaimed European year for cross-cultural dialogue

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international context. Cantle(2012) has pointed out that many politicians in


Europe, for instance, The UK Prime Minister Cameron and the Chancellor of
Germany, Angel Merkel have stressed that there is a failure in the practice of
multicultural policies in their respective countries. Many western countries
have undergone race-related disturbances for example Bradford riots in 2001 in
the UK and a series of riots in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities in
2005. The main criticism of multicultural policies is based on the fact that
multiculturalism has encouraged the members of different cultures to live
separately in parallel communities that have only minimal contact and
interaction with one another, generating mutual ignorance and mistrust. Thus,
multicultural policies had its limitation. Furthermore in many countries like in
the case of Britain and France, multiculturalism has weakened collective
identities and shared values and undermined the national identity and loyalty to
the state (Cantle,2012). Intercultural theorists proposed interculturalism as a new
approach to overcoming these limitations and take the issue of societal cohesion
into a higher level. Bouchard (2011) rejected multiculturalism, which was
associated with fragmentation of the social cohesion and proposed the choice of
Interculturalism as a middle path, as a model of balance and equity.Cantle (2013)
further described interculturalism as a broad program of change in which
majority and minority communities think of themselves as dynamic and
outward looking, sharing a common objective of growing together and
overcoming institutional and relational barriers in the process. Intercultural
policies within multicultural societies will enable to promote dialogue and
exchange between people of different cultures. The fact that diversity tends to
lead to segregation and exclusion, interculturalism, as a strategic policy of
intervention, will seek to restore social cohesion, trust, and a feeling of belonging
(Barrero:2013). An intercultural program like community cohesion13 has been
developed and applied in many cities in Europe to promote trust and
understanding in the societies by breaking stereotypes and misconceptions
about the other. The success and impacts of such program have been
measured based upon an attitudinal and behavioral change in the participants or
the wider local community. Interculturalism is used as a tool to build and
strengthen mutual trust and respect between different groups in the society.
Eventually, interculturalism is implemented as a reaction against social
exclusion and as a primary tool for restoring social cohesion.

2.1 Infusing intercultural competence


Another way to promote interculturalism is through education. The
implementation of intercultural education in the educational system will equip
the young generation with the intercultural competence that is required to
participate in the respectful intercultural dialogue.

13
The Council of Europe and the European Union have adopted a range of standards and
initiatives in order to combat racism and xenophobia and promote intercultural dialogue.
Through the Intercultural Cities programme, they are supporting the emergence of local strategies
for diversity management that focus on diversity as an opportunity.
Available
at:https://www.coe.int/t/dg4/cultureheritage/culture/Cities/ICCstepbystepAugust2012.pdf

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92

It has been acknowledged that students have a greater capacity to grasp and
appreciate certain ideas about interculturality than adults who are rather quite
rigid in welcoming new challenges to their preconceived ideas. Young students
have a better ability to be open minded, to experience different cultures, and
they are more curious and willing to learn about the others. For that reason, the
intercultural education world-widely is focusing on the students and early years
of schooling. Intercultural education is of vital importance in ensuring
recognition, tolerance and especially understanding cultures. The young
students represent the future of any country. In his book on International
Perspectives on Intercultural Education, Cushner14 sheds more lights on the
characteristics of Intercultural Education, It strives to eliminate prejudice and
racism by creating an awareness of the diversity and relative nature of
viewpoints and thus a rejection of absolute ethnocentrism; assists people in
acquiring the skills needed to interact more efficiently with people different
from themselves; and demonstrates that despite the differences that seem to
separate people, many similarities do, in fact, exist across groups.The
substantial literature on intercultural education can be divided into four groups
according to Tupas(2014):a)Intellectual and conceptual roadmaps for
Interculturalism (Gundara 2000; Cantle 2002; Coulby 2006; Bleszynska 2008); b)
Intercultural incorporation into national curricula (Portera,1998,2005; Tratas,
2010; Tupas 2014); c) Practical road maps for the classroom (leRoux,2001; Mushi,
2004; Perry, 2011) d) Intercultural Education and training program (Bennett,
2004; Cusher, 2009; Stephan and Stephan 2013).

The provision of the inclusion of the society through education will combat
intolerance, hatred, and discrimination. Sondhi(2009) suggests that
interculturalism implies a different way of reading situations, signs, symbols,
and of communicating which we would describe as intercultural literacy. In
other words, through intercultural education students will acquire intercultural
competence 15 . The acquisition of this competency in a diverse society will
become as important as basic numeracy and literacy according to Sondhi(2009).
Nowadays worldwide, some governments like Canada, Italy, and even
Australia have responded to problems concerning migration, ethnic nationalism
and minority rights by favoring laws that recognize the existence of minority
groups and their contributions to national development. Such steps are reflected
in the national education curricula by integrating intercultural education with
the aim of ensuring greater social inclusion. Recently, Australia has included
intercultural understanding as a general capability in its national curriculum.

14
Cushner, K. International Perspectives on Intercultural Education. Mahwah: NJ:Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, 2009.P2

15
Intercultural education is part of the Italian Educational systems. In many school, scholastic
subjects promote intercultural competences. For examples: In order to overcome ethnocentrism
approaches during history teaching, the theme of racism and issues of a pacific living together
among people and analyzing the moments of meeting and collision among people and civilization
are taught. Teaching Italian, artistic and musical education gives an occasion to reflect upon the
relations between European and extra-European cultures. Across the curriculum, through these
subjects, intercultural competences like understanding, respect and sharing are being infused
among the students from diverse cultural background.Contini and Naturo(2011)

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93

The following diagram is reflecting part of the Australian Curriculum model. It


focuses on three aspects of intercultural understanding in the scholastic field

Recognising culture
and developing
respect

Intercultural
understanding

Reflecting on
intercultural Interacting and
experiences and empathising with
taking others
responsibility.

Table 2: Intercultural understanding in the Australian Curriculum Model

The diagram above focuses on three major characteristics of intercultural


understanding. The first is to recognize the culture and to develop respect,
secondly is to interact with others and finally to reflect on intercultural
experiences and taking responsibility. Intercultural Education will enable the
development and implementation of inclusive practice in the education system
among students from different cultures. Such practices in the Australian
curriculum favor the promotion and growth of intercultural competence
between local and immigrant student. The inclusion of all students will
eventually foster the social fabrics in the long run. That is why it is believed that
intercultural education will eventually reduce tension and latent ethnic conflicts.
Intercultural education is a dynamic way of learning which developed from the
principle that the other should not only be respected but that people from
different cultural background should share the same rights. Therefore the
educational aim is not only to tolerate the other but also to co-exist in peace,
eliminate discrimination, prejudice, inequalities and awareness of others values
feeling, belief and attitudes.

In intercultural pedagogy, concepts as identity and culture are considered


dynamic where the otherness is not considered only as a risk but even as a
possibility of enrichment as a means even to reflect on values, rules and
behavioral standard. Hence intercultural education within a multicultural
society intends to foster the social cohesion in the long term. There is a growing
concern to adopt intercultural education in the curriculum in order to develop
cultural navigational skills and competences in students in order to relate to
those who are different to themselves and to see `others` as an opportunity
rather than a threat. A cohesive society will depend on a model of education
that will deconstruct the barriers between cultures to ensure a sense of belonging
to be established.

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In the context of SIDS, interculturalism will strengthen the existing social fabrics.
Multiculturalism in SIDS is well established compared to the western exposure
to multiculturalism. In the West, the society is still undergoing change through
diversity dynamic because the door of migration is opened whereas, in the
majority of SIDS, the society is well established on multicultural pillars with zero
or few migration. However in SIDS the potential towards the consolidation of
social cohesion through intercultural education have not been exploited. Within
the context of sustainable development of small states, intercultural education
has a crucial role to play. Education with an intercultural dimension holds a key
place in endeavors to foster the social fabrics and to maintain peace. The table
below illustrates the effect of intercultural education as an inclusive approach
will enhance the social fragility of the society, thus building a strong, resilient
community in SIDS.

Iintercultural Education as an Inclusive Approach

Sustaining Social and Community Cohesion

A Strong Resilient Community

Balancing the Vulnerability

Sustainable Prosperous Peace

Table 4: The potential effect of Intercultural Education in SIDS

Section 3: The possibility of implementing Intercultural Education in


SIDS
The third section of this paper will be focusing on the position of intercultural
education in SIDS educational system while trying to answer these crucial
questions; what are the educational priorities in SIDS? What is the possibility of
implementing intercultural education in SIDS? Particular attention will be paid
to two cases; Mauritius and Solomon Islands.

Surveying the literature regarding the SIDS and sustainable developments, one
can easily notice a gap in the literature in terms of the role of education in the
sustainable development and particularly in SIDS. Crossley and Sprague 16
stating this fact plainly: Until recently, very little attention has been placed
upon the role that education can play in reaching the goals of global sustainable
development in SIDS. One possible reason for that SIDS priorities were topped
by facing environmental threats and achieving economic objectives, (Sem, 2007).

16
Crossley, M. and Sprague,T. "Education for sustainable development:implications for small
island developing states(SIDS)." International Journal of Educational Developemnt, 2013: 90

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95

Besides it has been noticed that international educational agendas often fail to
match up closely with some of SIDS educational priorities. For example, back to
the Jomtien era17, the key international priority was access to primary education.
However, at that time, many small states were already moving ahead to
prioritized their tertiary education needs (Crossley and Holmes 1999). Thus, the
global educational agendas are not in many cases portraying the educational
needs of SIDS. SIDS would like to move beyond the international agendas.
However, they have difficulty to access international funds and support for their
educational priorities (Crossley and Sprague:2013). It is crucial that the
international agencies and analysts identified the educational priorities in SIDS.
Education for sustainable development in SIDS must be in the light of their
experiences and needs. UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
(UN-DESD 2005-2014) which was the most important international benchmark
in ESD, did stress the importance of intercultural education in its agenda.
However, recent research before even reaching the end of the UN-DESD
(Crossley and Sprague:2013) has argued that in general, the educational
priorities in SIDS have not been put into practice. The international community
recognizes the exceptional vulnerabilities island societies face, but it has failed to
translate this recognition into island-specific support. The vulnerability of SIDS
to external factors is not disregarded, but the modest element, more specifically
by sustaining their social cohesion through intercultural education that would
help them become more resilient are not being made available to these islands.

3.1 Can social cohesion be fostered in SIDS through Intercultural


Education?
The rigid educational system in SIDS does not address sufficiently the cultural
diversity that is present in the schools. The educational system in most of the
SIDS is more oriented towards competitions. In the small interethnic state like
Mauritius, their system of education fails to develop a sense of cohesiveness and
a truly multicultural society. In every school, the diverse communities are
reflected through the students. The government policy to promote
multiculturalism is to offer oriental languages to the students coming from
different ethnic groups. In both primary and secondary schools, students can
choose one of the following oriental languages: Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin,
Marathi, Tamil, Telegu, and Urdu. The students choice of the oriental language
will be largely influenced by his or her ethnicity (Moorghen and
Domingue,1982). However, schooling has not contributed to strengthen the
social cohesion by inculcating students with a certain degree of nationalism as
well as understanding and appreciation of the diversified community. The
educational system in Mauritius succeeded in bringing students from diverse
backgrounds in the same classroom, but it didn't achieve similar level of success
in constructing new curriculum, syllabi, and teaching in order to make

17
In 1990, it was agreed at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand (5-9
March 1990) to make primary education accessible to all children and to massively reduce
illiteracy before the end of the decade

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96

interculturalism real. Bunwaree 18 believed that the Mauritian educational


system accepts people from diverse backgrounds on the same premises; it
gives them a chance to rub shoulders but it has a long way to go in teacher
training, devising new curricula and syllabi and most important of all in
bridging the gap between intent and reality in order to make interculturality
real.

Consequently, the education system is producing new generations of Mauritian,


who are foreigners with their borders. Mauritius has the scope to promote
interculturality but to do so it requires a new educational policy, which
promotes and develops intercultural competence across the curriculum. The
education system in Mauritius has been adapting the relativistic approach also
known as multicultural education; that is primarily based on promoting
neutrality, tolerance and accepting the various elements of the multicultural
society. Asgarally19(2005) believed that the Mauritian educational system cannot
content itself with multicultural education because it is the breeding ground for
ethnicism. He further explained that the risk of multicultural education is to
favor a society with an essentially ethnic-centered one. However, the Mauritian
government has started several initiatives and measures to promote intercultural
education at the scholastic level, in line with the objectives laid down by the UN-
DESD. These efforts are addressing three spheres; educational institutions,
teachers training, and the national curriculum.

Examining the effectiveness of the efforts in these three spheres is essential in


achieving progressive steps toward building sustainable social cohesion in the
small island state of Mauritius. Notwithstanding governmental policies to
implement intercultural education, the situation in the field may be different.
The potentials of intercultural education have not been exploited fully in the
educational system. It is still at an initial stage. Further research is required to
examine the shift in the students intercultural understanding and sensitivity
after an in-depth implementation of the new measures pertaining to
intercultural education. Intercultural education can contribute to promote
further active participation in the classroom among the diverse students that will
propagate to active citizenship in the local and global community in the future.
The Mauritian educational system has already paved the way to
multiculturalism by accepting students from diverse background and by
supporting the spread of each ethnic group language affiliation. By adopting the
intercultural approach in their education system, it can contribute to foster their
social cohesion further. Thus building a strong, resilient society as a small state.

Compare to Mauritius, Solomon Islands, a former British protectorate in the


Pacific, is struggling to recover from a five years civil conflicts(1999-2003) that
have brought it to the verge of collapse. The post-election riots in April 2006
further affected the social stability on the island and peace remains elusive.

18
Bunwaree, S. "Economics, Conflicts and Interculturality in a Small Island State: The case of
Mauritius." Polis/R.C.S.P.?C.P.S.R. Vol.9,Numero Special, 2002: 15.
19
Asgarally.I and J.M.G. le Clezio, Nobel Prize Winner of literature(2008) are the co-founder of
The Federation for Interculturality in Mauritius.

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97

Besides the island is facing serious economic and environmental problems.


According to the World Bank 20 , the Solomon Islands is one of the poorest
countries in the Pacific. This small states is facing a successive economic crisis
like global food, fuel, and financial crisis. The environment21 has deteriorated
drastically for example most of the coral reefs surrounding the islands are dead
or dying. Besides in the Solomon Islands the major conflicts between the ethnic
groups have created social instabilities. The economic, environmental and social
vulnerabilities have weakened the prosperity and stability of this small island.
There is an urgent need to build the resilience; to reconstruct this multicultural
society to stand up as one force against the vulnerabilities. Education can take
the number one position in the battle against the vulnerabilities in this small
state. In the multiethnic of Solomon Islands, the Ministry of Education and
Human Resources Development has put forward policies and planning related
to peacebuilding and social cohesion. According to a recent report22 Solomon
Islands Case Study in education, conflict, and social cohesion before the
conflicts, a mostly western-curriculum predominated; which didnt inculcate a
sense of cohesiveness but instead contributed to create friction between
traditional and non-traditional systems and structures. The major obstacles of
the western-curriculum are that it didn't take into consideration the enormous
diversity of the island; each tribe or clan has his languages, traditional or
religious beliefs, laws, and culture. Another major problem is the limited access
to relevant quality education across all levels and in particular for secondary
school-aged children have led to a largely uneducated and unskilled youth
population. Over the last decade, there have been significant gains in education
provision, including an increase in primary school enrolment from 60 per cent to
90 per cent of children and an expansion from 27 to over 200 secondary schools.
It shows the government willingness to provide access to education.

According to the report, many young people in the Solomon Islands have the
motivation and willingness to engage positively in society, but limited education
and skills have led to a lack of opportunities to enhance the social cohesion.
While government policies, frameworks, and strategic plans have been
elaborated to promote social cohesion interventions, these have not been
incorporated or linked explicitly to ministries and department. In other words,
the implementation of policy and planning of peacebuilding and social cohesion
at school level is limited. However, many NGOs have initiated short-term
projects to enhance the social cohesion in the educational systems, but there is
little evidence of long-term strategic approaches. The report23 pointed out the
following: The potential to support real social cohesion interventions that
empower people and create opportunities to heal past conflicts and open doors
for economic and social reform are present, but a concerted effort by the
government, parties and communities is needed to work across sectors in a

20
Available at: http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/pacificislands/overview
21
Available at: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Asia-and-Oceania/Solomon-Islands-
ENVIRONMENT.html
22
Solomon Islands case study in education, conflict and social cohesion was commissioned as
part of UNICEF East Asia and pacific Regional offices (EAPRO) contribution towards the 4
year global Peacebuilding, education and Advocacy (PBEA) Programme(2012-2015)
23
Ibid.,85

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98

coordinated and transparent way to achieve these goals. One of the


recommendations of the report is that the educational system should expand
access to quality secondary education, and promote quality, relevant education
that embraces social cohesion approaches.The past ethnic conflicts have created
immense friction in the society. The diversified Islanders in Solomon face
barriers between each tribe. There must be a significant push towards a new
approach in their educational system to breach such obstacles. Intercultural
education can be implemented to promote understanding and respect between
the different ethnic groups. The infusion of intercultural competence can heal
past conflicts and bring a sense of understanding, cooperation and respect for in
the new generation. The distance between the ethnic groups can be improved,
in the long run, thus sustaining social cohesion. A cohesive society in Solomon
Islands will strengthen their resilience. The Solomon Islanders will have to
understand and cooperate with each others to face their vulnerabilities, for
examples to stop the alarming rate of destruction of their forests and marine life
or rebuild their economy. Social cohesion is crucial for the survival of the
Solomon Islanders.

The two cases of Mauritius and Solomon Islands are reflecting the fragility of
social cohesion in most of the SIDS. There is a pressing need to implement
intercultural education in SIDS. The small island states need to move ahead
towards an intercultural approach in their educational system. The different
cultural and ethnic groups through their intercultural competence will manage
to live together peacefully and build their resilience when facing their
vulnerabilities.

Conclusion
Complex reality of the world today presents diverse and an interrelated
portfolio of challenges for all the countries around the world; challenges that
include social, economic, ecological, political and cultural dimensions. While
recognizing that all countries are facing these challenges with a different level of
vulnerabilities, nevertheless SIDS has peculiar situation that amplifies their
economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities in the face of these
challenges.

One of the crucial issues to override these vulnerabilities is the building a long-
term societal cohesion in the society. And one of the best ways to do that is
through the educational system. The case of SIDS demonstrates that, while
acknowledging the economic and environmental vulnerabilities of SIDS are of
fundamental importance, reaffirming the centrality of constructing social
cohesion is of vital importance. Intercultural Education is a powerful tool for
building resilience policy option that could enable these small states to minimize
or withstand the negative magnifying effects of social instability on any of their
three vulnerabilities.

The paper highlighted the main three vulnerabilities that are facing the small
island developing states, identified the importance of intercultural education in

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99

general and in SIDS case in particular and presented the potential and challenges
of intercultural education in building social cohesion through two brief cases of
Mauritius and Solomon Islands. These cases demonstrated several lessons that
can be useful in the formulation of future educational strategies for intercultural
education that can be implemented in SIDS to achieve sustainable societal peace.

Social cohesion can be promoted if in the education system the conditions for the
development of intercultural competence is created. Relations experienced in
school through intercultural education can contribute significantly to cohesion in
culturally heterogeneous societies. Education alone cannot achieve social
cohesion. Instead, this research paper have stressed on the role that education
can play to strengthen the social fabrics in SIDS.

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