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Human Capacity Building & Leadership

Human Capacity Building

USP will continue to lead the region in building capacities and leadership- a role that is of increasing importance with the growing dependence on the Knowledge Economy. The Pacific Island Countries need a new generation of people for their future development who are better qualified, committed, ethical and possess strong cultural values. This calls for a better appreciation and understanding of youth issues and challenges they faced. USP will strengthen its leadership in the regional campuses and countries to engage more effectively with its members and stakeholders. The Strategic Total Academic Review (STAR) is aimed at producing graduates to meet the major societal challenges that face the region.


Diet, daily lifestyles, and health conditions in the Pacific Island region: a pilot study of Fiji

Team Members: Dr Naohiro Nakamura (Project Leader)

Dr. Ryota Nishino, Lecturer, School of Social Science, FSTE

Professor Surendra Prasad, School of Biological and Chemical Sci FSTE

External Collaborators: Professor Ren’ya Sato, Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University, Japan, Dr. Isimeli Tukana, The National Advisor Non-Communicable Diseases, MOH, Dr. Devina Nand, The Director Epidemiology, MOH

Funding: FJD$34,729

Duration: 2 years

Overview of Project

Pacific Island countries have recently experienced significant increase of chronic diseases, especially obesity and diabetes. In Fiji, chronic diseases are now even increasing on remote islands, where so-called traditional lifestyles and dietaries are believed to be preserved. Existing literature on chronic diseases in Pacific Island countries has examined overall tendency and identified the causes of the increase such as the incorporation into modern economy and globalization and the loss of traditional dietary sources and lifestyles. However, chronic diseases are ultimately caused by individual’s daily habit, such as dietary preference and attitude, and individuals are influenced by surrounding social and cultural environment, including means of income, cultural values, early childhood experience, and access to health care products and services. Previous research has not substantially investigated these factors. Thus this project aims to investigate the determinants of health of individual persons, especially how individual’s daily habit might increase the risk of chronic diseases and how surrounding environments affect. The research team plans to conduct survey and ethnographic research on individuals’ diet, daily lifestyles, knowledge, and health conditions in four communities in different geographical settings. Not only does the project aim to strengthen the literature of public health in the context of Pacific Island countries but also have potential to suggest more feasible means for prevention.

(PIURN) Towards National Drinking Water Standards in Vanuatu: Applied Research and Capacity Building

Team Members: Dr Krishna Kotra (Principal Investigator)

External Collaborators: Dr Sailesh Samantha, Associate Professor,

Dept. of Surveying and Lands, PNG University of Technology (PNGUNITECH),

Mr  Erie Sammy, Hydrogeologist, Dept. of Water Resources, Govt. of Vanuatu,

Dr Lokesh Padhye, Senior Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director Oceania Water Research Consortium (OWRC),University of   Auckland, New Zealand, Dr Martin S. Andersen, Senior Lecturer, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director of Connected Waters Initiative (CWI), University   of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Dr Srikanth Bathula, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Applied Sciences, PNG University of Technology (PNGUNITECH)

Funding: FJD$43,311

Duration: 2 years

Overview of Project

The proposal is to investigate the quality of drinking water resources in Efate and outer six islands which were badly hit by natural calamities.  This is supported by the concerns voiced by the communities about the decline in the water quality of these resources and their reports of changes in turbidity, salinity, fecal contamination, gastrointestinal aliments, etc.  This was also in line with the longstanding thought to framework national standards by Govt. in Vanuatu.

The proposal besides investigating the water quality is also aimed in providing training for various Govt. department staff, NGO’s, USP staff/students besides community leaders.  Survey, sampling, analytical, interpretation, policy making sessions along with field work would be the part of the research study.

Study of journalists, journalism culture and climate change reporting in 12 USP-member countries

Project Leader: Dr Shailendra Singh  (USP)

Team Members: Dr Baljeet Singh (USP)
Dr Folker Hanusch(Queensland University of Technology)
Ms Irene Manarae (USP)
Mr Eliki Drugunalevu (USP)

Funding:FJD $ 45K

Duration: 2 years

Overview of Project

The research is aligned to the USP Strategic Plan 2013-2018, and cuts across several priority areas and objectives:  PRIORITY AREA ONE – LEARNING AND TEACHING: Objective 2: Ensure programmes continue to be relevant and responsive to the region’s needs.  PRIORITY AREA THREE: RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONALISATION: Objective 9: Raise the performance of the University’s research programmes, Objective 10: Better align research with member country needs.  PRIORITY AREA FIVE – REGIONAL AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: Objective 18: Extend the reach of USP through the inclusion of other countries.  Objective 19: Strengthen and expand communication and partnership with stakeholders in government, CROP agencies, industry, media, non-state actors and the community.  PRIORITY AREA SIX – OUR PEOPLE: Objective 24: Ensure the development of regional talent and overall development of staff. Outcomes: The project will result in a comprehensive report about journalism culture, state of the media, and capacity to report on climate change in USP’s 12 member countries. It will provide recommendations on three important levels. On the first level, it will generate guidance and advice for policy-makers specifically relating to freedom of speech issues, ethical behavior and capacity to communicate issues such as climate change. Second, it will provide an invaluable analysis for news organisations to better understand their journalistic workforce and their training requirements. On the third level, the research will build foundations on which those involved in journalism education can inform their programmes. The transformative events in journalism top the agenda of many journalism schools around the world. As such the project will contribute to future curricular in the Pacific region.  Need for current, empirical knowledge: There has been no such research on the media linking USP-member countries. Generally, there is a lack of knowledge about Pacific Islands journalism culture, and how journalists negotiate local political, economic and cultural contexts in their work, as well their understanding of and capacity to communicate climate change issues. As a prominent Pacific Islands media researcher Robie (2004: 32), has noted: “Little media research has been done in the South Pacific, and even less based on empirical studies”. The last trans- Pacific study was conducted more than 20 years ago (Layton, 1992), demonstrating the urgent need for a more up-to-date picture of journalism culture in the islands. This study will provide a very important foundation for other studies to build on.  Need to better understand the role of local culture: While journalism scholars generally acknowledge the role that local cultural values play in shaping journalistic work, there is surprisingly little empirical work demonstrating this link.

This study will focus specifically on the influence that cultural values have on journalists’ professional views, advancing an important emerging strand in the discipline.  Journalists’ role in reporting climate change: One of the largest challenges currently facing the Pacific Islands is the impact of climate change, which is felt quite directly in most countries in the region. Journalists’ play a very important role in educating the population about the science of climate change, and how it may affect them in their daily life. Yet, only very few studies have addressed this issue in the context of Pacific Islands journalism. This study will therefore contribute valuable knowledge about journalists’ understanding of climate change, allowing us to identify potential training requirements.  Addressing a major gap in the literature Surveys of state of the media in the Pacific are rare at best. A collective survey of USP member countries has never been undertaken. The Worlds of Journalism Study, the world’s largest collaborative effort of assessing the state of journalism in more than 70 countries, does not cover the Pacific. It behooves the USP, as the leading research institute on all matters Pacific, to address this gap. USP has not funded research in Pacific media previously. The need for such research is stronger than ever before due to the threats emanating from climate change.

Completed Projects

Teachers and Teachers Education In The Pacific Identities, Capabilities And Quality

Cluster Sub-theme: Teachers and Teachers Education in the Pacific

Team Leader: Dr Frances Koya

Team Members: Dr Ledua Waqailiti, Jeremy Dorovolomo, Terra Sprague (University of Bristol)

Funding: $30k

Duration: April 2015 – TBA

Overview of Project:

The project will research the effectiveness of visual arts in communicating climate change to a Pacific audience in both an educational sense and through people’s active involvement in art practice.
How effective are the visual arts – their development and display – in communicating climate change issues to a Pacific audience?
To integrate with a Pacific cultural context it is important to consider ways of developing community resilience and leadership through arts as well as sciences.
This project will collaborate with artists to produce an exhibition of environmental related visual artworks around the theme “responses to a changing Pacific environment”.

This proposal is for the Fiji component of a combined research bid to be part funded by British Academy. This USP component and related funding focuses on the planned Fiji fieldwork described in this document.

Globally as we approach 2015, the field of education and development is increasingly being focused on achievement of the Education for All (EFA) targets and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the challenges that still lie ahead. As debate about future education priorities begins emerge, quality is currently the primary concern: whilst the vast majority of children, especially in small states, are now in school globally; their learning attainment is highly uneven and often quite simply unacceptable by international standards and measures. Inevitably, this rising wave of concern about educational quality has led to a renewed emphasis on the importance of the teacher with “teacher quality”, teacher education and also school leadership being key factors towards improvement (McKinsey, 2007). The McKinsey (ibid) report maintains that the key factors in improving teacher quality are:
– Selecting the right people to become a teacher
– Improving instruction through continuous professional development
– Creating systems and targeted support to ensure that every child benefits from excellent instruction.

Towards improving partnership in Education: Re-examining the economics of education in general and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in particular for Small Island States

Team Members:

Kelesi Whippy (PhD Candidate), Assistant Lecturer, Early Childhood Education, School of Education. Research interests include classroom science and everyday experiences, play pedagogies and community support in ECEC, curriculum innovation and practice (leader)

Neelesh Gounder (PhD), Senior Lecturer, School of Economics. Research areas include trade liberalization, poverty, banking and finance, gender outcomes and human capital development.

Lavinia Tiko (PhD), Lecturer, Programme Coordinator, Early Childhood Education, School of Education. Research interests include childhood and society, parental/community partnership in ECE, curriculum innovations, working with infants and toddlers, indigenous perspectives on child rearing practices.

Funding: $FD40, 000.00

Duration: 10-12 months

Overview of Project

Regional policy makers will benefit through a study that looks at the provision of ECEC in Small Island States. While there is some recognition of the importance of ECEC in the region, there is a lack of research that provides policy implications on the challenges, constraints and provision of such education. This study will look at the economic issues relating to education, that includes the demand for education and the financing and provision of education, with specific reference to ECEC. From early works on the relationship between schooling and labor market outcomes for individuals, the field of the economics of education has grown rapidly to cover virtually all areas with linkages to education.4 In essence, this aim of this study is to strengthen partnership with stakeholders in an attempt to assist Small Island States to improve efficacy and productivity towards achieving quality programmes in early childhood care and education.

The Gender Gap in Learning Achievement and Transition to Science, Technology and Mathematics in Higher Education: A Study of Seven Pacific Countries

SRT Sub-theme: A Study of Seven Pacific Countries

Project Leader: Dr Salanieta Bakalevu

Team Members: Dr A. Kedrayate (Dean FALE), Ms Joan Yee (University Librarian), Dr Seuula Johanssen-Fua (Director IOE), Ms Rokosiga  Morrison (Instructional Designer/Acting SID CFL)

Funding: $60,595

Duration: Start Date: September 2014          End Date: 31st Dec 2016

Overview of Project

Addressing the gender disparity in access to and the quality of education, including learning achievement, has been subject to intense policy debates in education. The EFA Global Monitoring Report 2008 noted under Goal 5 on Gender Parity and Equality that “the gender parity goal has been missed and gender equality remains elusive” (p. 79). The report also noted that in countries where gender disparities still prevailed, they are greater at higher education levels. The AUSAID Tracking Report of governance and development in the Pacific region (2009) noted mixed improvement for MDG 3 which called for gender equality and the empowerment of women. Most Polynesian and Micronesian countries have achieved or are on track to achieve gender equality in primary and secondary education by 2015. Of the Melanesian countries, PNG and Solomon Islands are off track. For these countries, the gender gap began early at primary level, widened further at secondary and tertiary levels and showed significantly lower enrolment for girls. This in turn has seriously affected female prospects of earning higher incomes. The EFA Global Monitoring Report 2008 noted several factors that needed attending to if the countries were to move beyond gender parity towards gender equality. The factors included safe and non-discriminatory school environments, more female teachers to act as role models, unbiased learning content, greater gender equality of learning outcomes, less gendered choice of subjects or equal opportunities for men and women in subject choices at tertiary level.

The proposed study will study girls’ and boys’ performance and achievement in secondary Science and Mathematics, their corresponding progression to higher education in the related fields of study, and eventually in their career choice and representation in these sectors. The interest in science and mathematics is in line with the belief that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications earn high-status jobs now and in the future. Since mathematics is considered a sequential subject and many sciences require a mathematical background, students are required to take it throughout their schooling. While studies indicate that girls may be catching up to their male counterparts in science and mathematics achievement at secondary levels, the concern is that this is not translating in corresponding progression to higher education in related fields of study as well as their career choice and representation in these sectors. With no available date of this nature available for the Pacific countries, data from other countries provide useful information to guide understanding of the possible factors that contribute to the lower scores and under-representation of women. A comparative analysis of girls’ learning achievement in mathematics and science and progression to STEM fields of study in higher education in Pacific countries, which is the aim of this study, can provide a better understanding of the factors which may be affecting this progression. This work is in line with USP’s commitment to ‘strengthen institutional research and analytics’ as well as providing support for schools and national institutions.

Educational tools for children with visual disabilities according to Pacific regions’ needs: Challenges and Solutions

Project Leader: Dr Utkal Mehta

Team Members: Raijieli Bulatale, Disability Resource Centre
Goru Arvind, ITS
Markand Bhatt, FBE
Student Assistants:
Nikhil Avneet Singh, SEP
Vinaal Vineet Prakash, SEP

Funding: $49,392

Duration: 18 months from July 2016

Overview of Project

One of the key contributors for global development is braille literacy. Learning braille script is the only means of literacy for persons with visual disabilities. There are a number of barriers in learning braille despite its significance and accessibility.

Literature  indicates that literacy rates amongst persons with visual disabilities are very low despite the importance of literacy skills in relation to employment, social well-being and health. In this way, there is a special kind of challenge associated with learning and teaching braille in most Pacific Island Countries (PICs) .

Most of the advanced equipment available globally to teach braille is very expensive. Furthermore, because the number of special schools in both urban and rural areas is limited, not all parents are able to send their children to these schools (some of them being in remote locations) to study braille. Another drawback is the lack of trained personnel to teach braille script. Therefore, it is highly recommended to have a smart, simple and cost-effective ICT tool/device that will assist in the early Braille learning of blind and/or partially sighted children from a young age to make them independent communicators.

After systematic data analysis, a new device is proposed to not only teach blind and/or partially sighted children but also train their teachers who work in special schools. In addition, this project seeks to develop a tactile maps specifically designed to assist blind and/or partially sighted students studying at USP.

Currently, there are 10 students who fall under the ‘disability type’ category of ‘blind’ and/or ‘partial sight’; these students are enrolled in various programmes at USP . All these students are assisted around campus by staff at the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) or student volunteer ‘buddies’. The tactile mapping initiative would be an innovative and proactive approach towards enhancing accessibility at USP.

The tactile maps could cover, but not be limited to, the following areas:

  1. accessible walkways from the entrances to USP campuses and throughout the campus ;
  2. building codes with the building names and the location of lecture and tutorial rooms; and
  3. tactile representations or graphics of pictures, graphs, maps, pie charts, diagrams and other images which students are required to study and/or produce in courses.

Publication plans and outcomes from this research project include the following:

  1. Patent File for possible new and innovative devices;
  2. Results to be published in ranked journal; and
  3. User-defined tactile maps for blind and/or partially sighted students.

Examining the adjudicative process of the Native Land and Fisheries Commission (NLC) in settling Chiefly disputes: The case of Natewa (Sovatabua)

Team Members: Dr Morgan Tuimaleali’ifano (Project Leader)

Dr Uriam Kambati, FALE

Ms. Mereisi Nainoka-Kamoe, FALE

Mr. Sefanaia Sakai, FBE

Ms. Emeli Tolo, CFL

Ms. Tima Tuvuki, FALE

Dr Tui Rakuita, FALE

Mr. Eroni Rakuita, FBE    

Funding: FJD$42,028

Duration: 9-12 months

Overview of Project

To evaluate and where possible complement/improve, the process that the NLC (and by extension, Government) uses to settle chiefly disputes by using the Vunivalu (chiefly) dispute in the Vanua of Natewa as a case in point.

The current exercises has a lot of implications throughout the region as it touches on leadership issues and by extension access to resources.


  • Examine certain canons that the NLC holds to be immutable in the process of adjudicating competing claims
  • Suggest alternative interpretive method based on structure-agency dialectics to provide a more holistic understanding of the Tulutuku Raraba
  • Provide a contextualized adjudicative model that will ensure a more efficient way of settling chiefly disputes.

Multilingual ECCE: Bringing language policy to life in the Grade 1 classroom

Team Members: Dr Fiona Willans (Project Leader)

Dr Lavinia Tiko (School of Education)

Rajendra Prasad (School of Language, Arts & Media, prospective PhD Linguistics student)

Funding: FJD$12,327

Duration: 18 months (June 2017 to November 2018)

Overview of Project

The project investigates the way Grade 1 teachers in Fiji deal with the challenges of teaching multilingual classes. Audio data will be collected from 10 different schools (capturing a range of contexts from urban linguistically mixed classrooms in which English is perceived to be the only viable language, to rural linguistically homogenous classrooms in which the teacher and children share a single vernacular language), examining the extent to which teacher talk is multilingual, and assessing the complexity of the teacher talk once language choice is factored out. Official policy allows for teachers and schools to make their own decisions about which languages to use during Grades 1-3, but provides materials only in English, leaving a great deal of responsibility to teachers to find their own way. Although there is considerable concern expressed by the Ministry of Education and the general public about literacy levels amongst the school population, very little is actually known about how the rather flexible language policy plays out in practice in the early years. In addition, many teachers and parents fear that multilingual teaching will be too complex. We aim to find out just how complex teacher talk is at this level, with the potential to provide very practical strategies that can work in a range of languages and classrooms. A longer-term plan is to extend the research to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, two very multilingual countries which are currently implementing new language-in-education policies in primary schools, with mixed reactions from the public so far.

Creative Arts As A Method Of Communicating Climate Change Issues & The Effectiveness of Capacity Building Programmes For Leadership In Climate Change

Cluster Sub-theme: Creative Arts

Team Leader: Dr Sarah Hemstock

Team Members: Johanna Beasely (FALE), Dr Stuart Capstick (Research Associate – Cardiff University, UK)

Funding: $34,113.60

Duration: 9 months: August 2014 to May 2015

Overview of Project:

The project will research the effectiveness of visual arts in communicating climate change to a Pacific audience in both an educational sense and through people’s active involvement in art practice.
How effective are the visual arts – their development and display – in communicating climate change issues to a Pacific audience?
To integrate with a Pacific cultural context it is important to consider ways of developing community resilience and leadership through arts as well as sciences.
This project will collaborate with artists to produce an exhibition of environmental related visual artworks around the theme “responses to a changing Pacific environment”.

– To evaluate the potential of the visual arts – their development and display – for communicating climate change issues, increasing public engagement, and making climate science more accessible to a Pacific audience.
– To identify unique advantages and challenges of using creative and experiment art practice as a route to capacity building and developing leadership skills in the Pacific
– To contribute to the literature and knowledge base on climate change communication, especially in terms of climate change adaption in a Pacific context.

Collaborative, Holistic and Innovative: A CPD model for enhancing Teaching Quality in the Pacific: An empirical analysis in Kiribati

Cluster Sub-theme: A CPD model for enhancing Teaching Quality in the Pacific (Kiribati)

Team Leader: Dr Tess Martin

Team Members: Mr Ian Thomas, Mrs Shikha Raturi, Mrs Lalita Sharma

Funding: $27,324

Duration: 12 months (April 2015 – April 2016)

Overview of Project:

This Proposal relates to a model for workforce development which can be applied across a broad range of industry areas. Although this proposal is focused on research in the area of in-service teacher training it is aligned with other USP human capacity building initiatives such as research focused on leadership and management, public sector development and state building initiatives. Chi an energy force in China Culture appropriately describes the model of Collaborative, Holistic and Innovative (CHI) continuous professional development (CPD) for teachers in this proposed study. The study will investigate in-service teachers’ learning environment. The participants will be 25 secondary school teachers who engage in a school based project for professional learning. The participants will respond to a survey on their experiences during different aspects of the project and will be interviewed with regard to the value of the learning at different stages of the project. The learning will integrate subject content with e-learning using web resources and social support to enhance the learning experience, improve the self-learning and increase the quality of interaction with others in the learning process. Furthermore, the learning will align with Kiribati Ministry of Education 2015 priorities for in-service secondary teacher skills development. The outcomes will be important for informing policy and practice which contributes to quality teachers and quality teaching in the Pacific region.

Examining Stakeholder Perceptions of Community Policing in the Pacific: A pilot study on Community Policing in Tuvalu

Team Members: Dr Danielle Watson (Project Leader)

                            Dr. Jacob Mati, School of Social Sciences, FALE

External Collaborators: Mr. Luka Falefou, Acting Commissioner, Tuvalu Police   Service, Mr. Timi Melei, Liaison Officer, Tuvalu Police Service

Funding: FJD$43,960

Duration: 12 months

Overview of Project

The study proposes to firstly, collect data reflecting stakeholder positions on key areas specific to modern policing principles  informing Community Policing initiatives in Tuvalu, compare the positions of the stakeholders (police and community), and offer recommendations for ongoing professional development of police officers engaged in Community Policing based on the findings. Focus will be placed on collecting data reflective of participants perspectives in the following areas:

  1. Police relationship with the public
  2. Police prevention of crime and disorder
  3. Police ability to secure and maintain public respect and cooperation
  4. Police appropriate use of Service
  5. Police demonstration of impartiality in applying the law
  6. Police respect for tradition

Realising Educational Access in the Pacific (REAP): Tuvalu

Project Leader: Dr Seu’ula Johansson Fua

Team Members: Research Team
Tuvalu DOE (senior officer in ICT and education, TEMIS officer, Planning & Research officer).
IOE team (Dr Fua, IOE Research fellow, Economist, Tuvalu USP Graduate student).

Reference Team
Director CREATE Professor Keith Lewin, University of Sussex
Associate Professor Eve Coxon, University of Auckland
Director Tuvalu DOE
IOE Director
Director USP Tuvalu campus

Funding: $106,215

Duration: Phase 1 – 9 months

Overview of Project

The Education For All (EFA)/Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG) prioritizing of enrolment rates at primary school level has masked uneven patterns of access, low completion and transition rates. It has diverted attention from the importance of learning processes and the quality of schooling experiences. This proposal will explore the challenges of improving education access, transition and equity in Tuvalu. It draws on the CREATE Zones of Exclusion model  to develop a research methodology that will identify patterns of exclusion and inequity and locate groups of students denied access to meaningful schooling; and explore the educational, economic and socio-cultural issues contributing to these exclusions. Furthermore, the project will use a Design-based research (DBR) approach that will encourage  practical contributions with tangible products, programmes and tools  to improving access transition and equity in Tuvalu; encourage better ties between theory and practice and between researchers and practitioners ; generate theories about application of the Zones of Exclusion model to a small state; and at the same time generate evidence-based claims about learning   in Tuvalu. This is a pilot project with the view for scale up to a regional research project. Results of the inception phase will be published in scholarly journals (Education, development, research) after findings are released in Tuvalu and reported at the Forum Education Ministers Meeting (FEdMM). Proposed publication of findings from this phase will be done as co-authors with Tuvalu team.

Building Leadership and Human Capacity in Transitional States: Fiji and the Solomon Islands

Cluster Sub-theme: Building Leadership & Human Capacity

Team Leader: Prof. Shaun Goldfinch

Team Members: Prof. Karl DeRouen (The University of Alabama)

Funding: $40,047

Duration: 1 year (Jun-July 2015 to Jun-July 2016)

Overview of Project:

Transitional states – that is countries moving from non-democratic to democratic regimes – and democratic consolidation are key interests of international agencies, aid donors and academics across the world. The success of democracy and state-building however is mixed and reversible, and depends to a considerable extent on the leadership and capacity of state actors. The South Pacific’s transitional states of Fiji and the Solomon Islands provide key fields to examine these processes, particularly the role of democratic and other norms in consolidation of new regimes.

To understand the role of democratic and legal/rational values in transitional states, state-building and consolidated democracies, and how these can be developed in elite and non-elite populations. Such values underpin the effective development and capacity of actors in state- building, and will inform teaching and capacity development for state actors.