The meeting was opened by the Minister for Education (Fiji) Ro. Teimumu Kepa Introductory remarks by Al Binger and keynote address by Lino Briguglio, University of Malta Introduction of all participants
Panel discussions followed.
On Day 1 discussions mostly focused on the background of the meeting and the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA). Most of the presentations were technical papers providing vulnerability information on Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Konai Thaman's presentation was the most interesting one as she highlighted the importance of indigenous knowledge in Environmental Education. She also highlighted the fact that most of the Pacific school curricula were adaptations of foreign curricula - Fiji's curricula is greatly influenced by the New Zealand and Australian curricula. She added that curricula should be developed in the local context and should contain local and indigenous content - including language, culture etc.. She said that in most Pacific island countries, the formal education system was in conflict with indigenous education systems.
Another important statement which came up on Day 1 was that at tertiary level students are gaining knowledge and skills which they cannot apply in their own communities. A strong suggestion was brought up for the SIDS tertiary institutions to offer SIDS specific development courses at least at the graduate level.
Day 2 began with a series of presentations on Education and Sustainable Development (ESD) in the different SIDS region. Case studies from Belize, Seychelles, Pacific and Fiji were presented.
ESD was defined and explained by Lino Briguglio with special reference to SIDS. The most important statement in my opinion was: "ESD is the acquisition of indigenous/local knowledge, skills and upholding of values in education". He also explained a little bit about ESD in Agenda 21. He also highlighted that one of the recommendations in the BPoA was "enhance public environmental awareness and encourage participation in community action". He also spent some time in discussing the participatory, ethical and political dimensions to ESD. Very briefly: Participatory dimension: public participation in decision making is essential for sustainable development (SD)
ethics is vital in development
This was followed by a presentation from Mr. Mustafa Toure from Belize who explained the role of information technology in ESD and the importance of information exchange among SIDS.
Ms. Seema Deo from the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme focused on the need for ESD and explained the current situation in the Pacific in regards to ESD. Main points of her presentation are as follows: ESD - focus on learning critical thinking techniques and recognizing the links between environment, economics, society, ethics (developing beliefs, values).
Discussion and recommendations
The TYPE II partnership proposal for cooperation between SIDS universities was introduced to the participants by Lino Briguglio, Al Binger and K. Koshy.
The most important part of Day 3 was the break out sessions. The participants were divided into three working groups each engaging in discussions on three different themes.
The key issues which came out of the discussions of the three working groups are presented below in summary:
There was a unanimous agreement that there was a need for radical changes in the educational systems of SIDS. One primary target should be teacher training institutions as well as at the teacher curriculum development level.
On day 4 the final report and recommendations were discussed and changes additions/ modifications/ deletions) were made to the document and the Plan of Action. The report and Plan of Action were endorsed by the participants and the meeting was brought to a conclusion by Prof. Al Binger.