Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Intersections between Pacific leadership and international development

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posted on 2021-11-15, 15:37 authored by Fernandez, Sean

As part of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations has a long-held commitment to universal primary education for all children. Aid donors in wealthy nations have taken up this call and international development programmes have subsequently been set up in recipient countries where education is not available to everyone. Despite this, an estimated 1.6 million school-aged children in the Pacific region do not currently have access to formal primary schooling. As the timeframe for achieving the Millennium Development Goals draws to a close it is now clear that this aspiration will not be realised in many parts of the Pacific and a generation of children will grow up without a primary education. This raises questions about the design, delivery and management of international aid programmes in the education sector that are often led by people who are not members of the Pacific communities that they seek to assist.  This research explores the frustrations felt by recipients of education development programmes in two nations in the Pacific, Tonga and Fiji focusing on the relationship between international development in the Pacific and leadership styles and cultures in the education sector. A key problem that was articulated by aid recipients is that international aid relationships in the Pacific continue to be dominated by the discourses and priorities of donor nations and important opportunities to develop grassroots and local forms of leadership that respond directly and knowledgeably to the rapidly changing needs of Pacific communities have yet to be fully realised. At the same time, new forms of Pacific leadership are emerging as global economies increasingly affect the lives of people living in remote communities and there is a need to respond to these changes because they have a direct impact on schooling for children who live in those areas. Donor nations have not contributed significantly to local leadership development in the education domain and this is an ongoing source of tension for many people because there are so few formally trained indigenous leaders in the education field. The lack of local leaders in this area has an impact of the level of buy-in that Pacific communities give to educational aid projects. This thesis argues that if donor nations are serious about providing universal primary education, leadership development needs to be supported more comprehensively.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

He Pārekereke

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Sanga, Kabini; Kidman, Joanna

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