Wednesday, 12 August 2009 1:30 PM

Students' failure and SIG leadership

I think Ellison Giano was referring to George Saemane's posting on Saturday the 8th of August and not George Kalo's posting on Tuesday the 11th of August. Please note that, many George's have contributed to this column, so I think it is better to check the postings before responding and maybe it is also better to use sir names when making references. Giano was referring to this point raised by Saemane; "Many individuals in Solomon Islands have researched, studied and made recommendations about the type of leadership Solomon Islands need in all sectors of society". Similarly, many individuals have researched, studied and made recommendations about some of the issues and problems in our education system at various levels and disciplines. I think it is time that our leaders should include the importance of research within the dimensions of strategic planning and setting strategic goals, visions and directions if there are any of such. I think SIG should shift some of its focus from merely maintaining and providing services to encourage research in order to improve the services and development as a whole. In fact, a writer once made an analogy about leadership as a designer of a boat (organisation, nation etc). The way the boat floats and travels in the ocean depend very much on the design of the boat though the captain and the crews try their best to maintain and control the boat through various conditions of the ocean. Likewise, the problems we are facing now depend very much on the design that our leaders have crafted upon our nation. For example, they have designed the idea of RCDF and now we are facing the consequence of depending on and demanding it.

There are a good number of research recommendations already been done on the issue of students failures at tertiary level especially in science related fields. For example, former teachers of KGVI School such as Fradd and Crawford (1986), John Lowe (1999) and many more including Solomon Islanders who recently have added a wealth of findings and recommendations specifically in the context of Solomon Islands education and leadership. The problem is SIG hardly or very little have tapped those banks of knowledge. I think one main reason is because our leaders do not really value or even bother to sight some of those resources through their appropriate agencies. In fact, someone had already shared some findings by Crawford and Fradd in this column earlier on. According to Aaron Hayes' article titled 'In search of a learner-control paradigm for the Solomon Islands science classroom'; he suggested a shift from teacher-control to learner-control learning environment to help students to function independently in the tertiary science learning environment. Although such shift was emphasized, I can claim that our decisions in education is very much political and there are a lot of political factors affecting the implementations of such shift or any improvement in education for that matter. For example, teachers demands to SIG, some parts of the curriculum content and timeframe, some of the education policies and agendas etc.

Moreover, as I have shared earlier in one of my contributions in this column, the problem of students' failure is very composite. There are different parts to the issue of failure. I remember one of the Provosts during our time at USP mentioned to us that, not all lecturers were teachers in a sense that they can teach. Most or some of them were specialised people in their respective fields of expertise. Hence, how they transmitted their understanding and knowledge to students were very much different to someone who can teach. I guess that is one of the reasons why students need to start and develop independent learning from secondary and primary education level and also not forgetting students' attitude and aptitude. On the other hand, lecturers too need to reflect on their lecturing and tutoring approaches.

Finally, Solomon Islands as nation, I think in order to address some of these problems to some extent, will depend very much on how our leaders design our boat, our beautiful Solomon Islands. So far the design is unstable and if we do not reshape this boat we are going to sink in the near future. "Oh Solomon Island ae"

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Lionel Kakai and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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