USP Theses Collection


close this section of the library Distance education--Oceania

View the PDF document A postcolonial perspective of distance education : a case study of the University of the South Pacific's Distance Education Program
Author: Wah, Richard.
Institution: University of Queensland
Award: Ph.D.
Subject: Distance education--Oceania
Date: 2000.
Call No.: Pac LC 5808 .O3 W24 2000
BRN: 925127
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: This thesis is concerned with distance education (DE) as practised by the University of the South Pacific (USP). The USP's DE program is considered essential for its existence. This thesis attempts to analyse that program through a postcolonial lens. The objective of this thesis was present a reconstitution of USP's DE program. I feel that I accomplished this objective and in doing so I treaty theory and data as mutually complementary, with a number of initial explanatory models refined during the course of the study. This strategy has defined its initial problem as susceptible to certain kinds of theoretical analysis, particularly from contemporary social and literary theory, but thereafter seeks to ground this research in a progressive focussing towards emerging explanations. To be able to reconstitute USP's DE program, within the paradigm and standpoint that I used, I had to do five things. Firstly, I presented myself in the thesis by explaining my position within the DE program of USP and my position within the political and cultural milieu in the USP countries, but especially in Fiji, my home country. Secondly, 1 presented the context of the USP's DE program, the Pacific Island Countries, the people, their histories, their education and the infrastructures that were required for DE. Thirdly, I presented the DE programs of the Pacific with special emphasis on the DE program of USP. Fourthly, I presented the dominant discourses of DE, the theories and the practices, that dominated the operations of DE. Thus having presented the scene of DE from different perspectives, I set out to fulfil the fifth requirement: the need to find suitable tools to reconstitute the USP's DE program. I struggled with the search for suitable methodology, but eventually decided to create a methodology that I called i-tukuni. This methodology was informed by postcolonial theory and criticism, postmodernism; and driven by Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The i-tukuni is the local reconceptualisation. It also provides space for the local people to use their ways of thinking, writing, seeing and knowing within research. It provides space for, rather than privileges the local, as it attempts to bring the local and the global to a meeting place. The local is conceived in various ways, but the one that I have used often in this thesis is that of everyday experiences, everyday ways of making knowledge. Similarly, the global is conceived in many ways, and one that I use often is that of the formal colonial education system that many of the countries of the Pacific inherited and continue with today. An attempt is made to bring these often different ways together, in an attempt to get the students to move out of a feeling of dependency towards one of interdependence and self development. Throughout this thesis various binary oppositions are presented, then deconstructed to show the power relations that they impose. In their place, I have proposed an alternative positioning that was informed by notions of thirdspace.
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