Perspectives of Lower Primary Teachers Implementing New Numeracy Strategies in Maritime Schools in Fiji
In Fiji, concerns about the quality of education and low standards of achievement, particularly salient in numeracy, have led to reform initiatives requiring teacher pedagogical shifts to more evidence-based and learner-centered approaches. Despite previously unsuccessful reforms, the capacity of maritime teachers to successfully adapt curricula in their geographically constrained environments has never been considered, despite them forming a significant proportion of the primary teaching force. This interpretative qualitative study examines the implementation of a recent reform-based numeracy strategy in lower primary mathematics classrooms of maritime schools. Specifically, teachers’ perspectives on the implementation process, their experiences with the new strategies, associated challenges, and maritime context-specific barriers have been investigated. Data were collected through two in-context focus group interviews with 13 participants and 62 returned questionnaires. The findings of the study reveal that teachers’ perceptions and receptivity to the new numeracy strategies were strongly influenced by factors such as past experiences with reforms and increased expectations. While teachers understood key ideas underlying the reform to improve student’s mathematical knowledge and were inclined to alter pedagogical practices, most teachers felt a disconnect in terms of not being supported well enough to fully incorporate the new strategies. Teachers identified the need for a contextually-relevant supportive network and structures, both professional and personal, as essential to overcoming numerous challenges they encountered while living and working in maritime areas of Fiji.