Investigating teacher support for curriculum implementation in Vanuatu: A phenomenological study

Year: 2019

Author: Tamata, Elvie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

I currently work at the In-Service Unit (ISU) of the Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education (VITE), in Port Vila, Vanuatu. My job is to plan, develop and deliver professional development (PD) about curriculum implementation to primary school teachers throughout Vanuatu. It has become evident from my school visits and training session feedback over the years that primary teachers are having difficulty in implementing what they learnt in training. To compound this further, a new curriculum with significant policy changes unsettles teachers practice and confidence.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the support mechanisms in place for Ni-Vanuatu[1] [#_ftn1] primary teachers when implementing the new curriculum in the current reform agenda. An interpretative approach using phenomenology was used to explore the experiences of eight urban primary teachers and four Ministry of Education and Training officers in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. The major finding of this study was that shared understandings about the new curriculum was not evidenced and yet this is an important foundation upon which curriculum reform progresses. To ensure future education policies are implemented, evidence from this research has two major recommendations to make. Firstly, research participants suggested the need for the Ministry of Education and Training to offer a clear communication and implementation plan providing details of what supports are made available (and when) and how access will be provided. At present the supports seem to be opportunistic and not introduced with training. Secondly, the plan should include detailed allocation of the necessary human and financial resources with funding allocated for provincial education officers who are based throughout the islands or provinces. The implementation of the Vanuatu National Curriculum Reform is an example of how education policies need to be supported if it is to be successfully implemented.

Currently, a second research program has been initiated to investigate how teachers support each other during curriculum reform. The preliminary findings of this research indicted teachers don’t have practices of collaboration or collegial support established and are working in isolation and losing confidence in the purposes of the reform. The research could proceed to investigate the different strategies used to develop a shared understanding amongst a variety of stakeholders to develop collegial practices.

[1] [#_ftnref1] Ni-Vanuatu refers to the people of Vanuatu, indigenous or naturalised