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close this section of the library Naisilisili, Sereima Volivoli

View the PDF document 'Iluvatu : an exploratory study of Cu'u indigenous knowledge and implications for Fijian education
Author:Naisilisili, Sereima Volivoli
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: Ph.D.
Date: 2012
Call No.: pac In Process
BRN: 1188373
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: The issues of relevance for formal education in Fiji has become most pressing today as critics interrogate a system that continues to push out an alarming number of students each year. Such a concern has intensified as the ‘faulty’ system (through schooling), becomes a vital engagement for every child reaching six years of age and is expected to remain in the system for the next twelve years of his/her life. Despite attempts by the government to curb the educational dilemma, indigenous Fijians continue to struggle in schools and eventually dropout of the system as a result. This thesis advocates for the inclusion of Indigenous Knowledge and ways of learning in Fiji schools in order to make learning more relevant, contextualised and ‘democratic’. Hence, the study addresses the central question: What is regarded as important knowledge in an indigenous Fijian community and how can this valued knowledge be included in the content and pedagogies of schools? To answer the above question, this study took a critical ethnographic approach to a study of Cu’u knowledge in an indigenous community in the northern part of Fiji. The study allowed me to use the ‘Iluvatu Research Framework, that respected the indigenous vanua ways and ethics. ‘Iluvatu, a special mat that is closely associated with Cu’u culture and people, was used as a metaphor for the principles and values that provided the foundation of the (Cu’u) culture. The ‘Iluvatu Research Framework, a derivative of the Fijian Vanua Research Framework developed by Nabobo-Baba (2008) was used to connect the researcher to the web of relationships within the Cu’u culture during the research process. The approach recognized the indigenous people as holders of knowledge and therefore treated them as knowers and participants of research. This reflected the Pacific Research protocols which treat the indigenous persons as participants rather than “objects” of the research (Thaman 2010b). v The use of an indigenous framework resulted in the gathering of authentic data which was analysed and validated by the owners of information. The data was found to be rooted in an inseparable interrelationship between the vuravura (territory), the social sphere where relational knowledge was vital and the spiritual sphere of knowledge. These were also the spheres that made up an ‘Ai Cu’u (a person from Cu’u) and defined his/her notion of important knowledge. The study also showed that a learning approach that neglected any of these (three) spheres of knowledge would be meaningless to, and different from, the perspectives of the indigenous learner. This disconnectedness may be the main factor in the continuing struggles of many indigenous Fijian learners in the formal educational system. Finally, the use of an indigenous approach to gather and document indigenous knowledge was an attempt to decolonize research methods and allow indigenous people a space in which to talk about their knowledge in their own language and take ownership of such knowledge. The study was therefore a way of centering IK and acknowledging indigenous people as owners of that knowledge. The implications of the findings of the study for curriculum and instructions in Fijian schools are also considered.
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