Practical Guidance for Pacific Educators
The Book: Educational Leadership – Emerging Issues and Successful Practices;
Edited by academic Govinda Lingam of the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji.
The first part of this review was written by Associate Professor Claire Freeman, the director of Planning Programme, Geography Department, University of Otago in New Zealand
The second part was written by Vinesh K Maharaj, USP Bookcentre
I was asked to write this review whilst visiting the University of the South Pacific to undertake research in Fiji schools during June 2012. Whilst my primary area of professional expertise is planning, I have many years of research expertise and have published widely in the field of children’s environments and have worked in a number of schools during my research.
This is a welcome and important book that will be a valuable support for developing leadership in education in the Pacific.
The book addresses a challenging context, education across a series of countries that are not only multicultural, multi-religious, multi-racial but highly varied geographically in terms of size, accessibility and within many cases limited access to the resources and support necessary to develop effective well-functioning educational programmes.
It is thus very important that this book is being written which focuses on the Pacific and issues pertinent to this part of the world and in doing so challenges in the best possible way the Eurocentric perspectives that currently dominate educational literature.
The authors in the book represent a wide range of experience of leadership, and include reference to the best of international practice but root this within Pacific experience, practice and research.
The strength of the book lies here in the way it unites theory and practice, especially practice at the very detailed and practical level of how to make a difference on the ground at the level of the individual school.
It also not only recognises the need to identify good practice at the detailed level of the school but also the values that make individuals into good leaders. However good practice depends on a supportive governmental, institutional context and here the book does not hesitate to be challenging in its assessment of current structures and practices.
Educational leadership is about maximising the educational opportunities for all children growing up in the Pacific.
The book confronts head on the need to value, support and create caring environments in which children can learn but as the final part of the book identifies such learning requires sufficient resources, good structures and most of all committed effective leadership.
Who should read this book? It certainly has its place in universities as an “issues” text in global education, as the authors unflinchingly identify both challenges and possibilities for educational transformation and leadership.
The book draws attention to educational leadership not only at the school level but also at other levels of the education system. Divided into twelve chapters, the book weaves local and international literature on educational leadership, fusing the ideas with styles and examples of leadership derived from local cultural contexts to enhance the achievement of schools visions and missions.
The following themes were chosen as contemporary starting point:
The new leadership dimension
Reflective practice for sustaining leadership quality
The role of leadership in generating a learning community
Values based leadership
Instructional leadership and its impact on children’s learning outcomes
Collegiate leadership style
Multi-skills of education leaders in micro-states
School development planning
Gender issues in school leadership
Leadership for academic success
This book will act as a catalyst for extending our understanding of educational leadership. However, the book on its own will not make much difference unless the matters and discussions associated with educational leadership are kept alive. This challenging collection of essays brings together a host of insights, ideals and practice from the metropolitan contexts and the small focused Pacific cases.
The editor, Govinda Lingam is a Senior Lecturer and Head of School in the School of Education, Faculty of Arts and Law at the University of The South Pacific. His prior experience also includes two decades of teaching and leading in Fiji Secondary Schools and the Lautoka Teacher’s College. His academic training began at USP where he completed Bachelor and Master Programmes and attained his PhD from Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland.
Other authors who have contributed to the book include Richard Bates, Bhagwanji Bhindi, Narottam Bhindi, Stanley Houma, Charles Kivunja, Narsamma Lingam, Ross Notman, Lauren Pallota and Helen Tavola. Their combine thoughts and advocacy reflect the diversity of their varied experience and practical wisdom in education and its urgent need for development and sustainability within the region and beyond.
“The views expressed are those of the author of this article and not of the University of The South Pacific or any newspaper.”
The review is by Associate Professor Claire Freeman, the director of Planning Programme, Geography Department, University of Otago in New Zealand.
Educational Leadership – Emerging Issues and Successful Practices (200 pages)
USP Press, The University of the South Pacific
Price: $18.95 FJD
Available at USP Book Centre: email; firstname.lastname@example.org, website; www.uspbookcentre.com