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This chapter examines the usefulness of the field of comparative and international education (CIE) in reference to supporting and informing the development of education in…
This chapter examines the usefulness of the field of comparative and international education (CIE) in reference to supporting and informing the development of education in the Pacific Islands (Oceania) region. Accordingly, it reconsiders the conceptualization and practice of the field by unpacking understandings of CIE with specific reference to the Pacific Islands. I argue that advancing the field in Oceania entails critical examination of context, of persisting colonial legacies in education and the broader social, economic, and political landscape. Considerations of these discourses identify some of the tensions, contradictions, and ambivalences that eventuate as “education for national development” is reconciled with indigenous knowledges and the intellectual traditions that sustain Pacific island communities. Adopting a postcolonial perspective, this chapter explores recent educational initiatives in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Solomon Islands. These initiatives reveal the complexities and multifaceted dynamics that underpin the context of Pacific Islands systems of education. They also reflect how Pacific educational leaders negotiate global imperatives for education while observing indigenous knowledge systems and cultural values. The lessons drawn from these case studies suggest that comparative education scholars need to rethink partnerships with colleagues and neighbors in consideration of Pacific and indigenous (including Australia and New Zealand) cultural protocols of engagement by honoring respect and reciprocity, mutual benefit, and empowerment. Such conceptual and practical reconsiderations may facilitate an assessment of the impact of western intellectual contributions on systems of education in Oceania.