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Education and Culture in Post-colonial Sāmoa


Tagataese Tupu Tuia and Penelope Schoeffel, National University of Sāmoa


This paper examines the history of ‘Western’ education in Sāmoa in relation to Sāmoan culture, and in the context of post-colonial theoretical perspectives, and in particular, notions of ‘hybridity’ and ‘mimicry’. Sāmoan hybridity was created from a mixture of early 19th century versions of Christian theology with older social ideology leading to new justifications of hierarchical power, transformed modes of clothing and housing, expurgated versions of traditional practices, resonant urban memes from abroad, aspirational education systems based on learning from foreign books and student-centred pedgagogy, and now, new streams of information and inspiration from social media. In the 1990s neoliberal educational reforms gave all Sāmoans access to secondary education intended to develop the nation’s ‘human resources’, albeit with inadequate resources and problematic consequences for accelerated divisions of social class and rural and urban locations. We consider these issues in relation to multiple post-colonial Sāmoan identities and contested spaces in educational policy and curriculum and Sāmoan cultural values.

Keywords: Post-colonialism, Hybridity, Education, Sāmoa.

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