30 Jan 2019

Scholars aim to help Pacific students access science careers

7:12 am on 30 January 2019

A group of educators is on a mission to boost the number of Pacific students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths or STEM.

The Islands of Opportunity Alliance said the challenge is to bring together Western training models with the Pacific's understanding of motivation, attainment and success.

Students at Pacific Advance Secondary School. Note only use identifying pictures for stories about PASS - only non-identifiying pictures may be reused.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Speaking at the group's conference at the University of Hawaii, project director Joseph Genz, said Pacific Islanders hail from heritages that have pursued indigenous forms of science and technology.

Professor Genz said these include astronomy, agriculture, aquaculture, environmental management, biology and architectural engineering.

He said Pacific students can claim their heritage as scientists, while learning to redefine and expand Western science to include their ancient knowledge.

Suva City bustling on the day after elections as counting continued

Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koroi Hawkins

Methods discussed at the conference to boost participation included inter-campus programmes, student learning communities, peer tutoring and the promotion of STEM degrees and employment.

Professor Genz said the true benefits would come from what graduates did with their degrees. He encouraged them to return to their island homes to help build their communities and foster a system of self-empowerment.

Representatives of the alliance hail from American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawai'i, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Marianas.

Steep hills drop down to the sea and a beach

Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley