Dorovolomo, J 2015, 'Physical education in Fiji and Solomon Islands: students' physical activity contexts', DEd thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.
Copyright J Dorovolomo 2015
This thesis aimed to study the physical activity environment of school students in, and outside of, the school day. It encompassed the physical education curriculum and school sports in rural and urban settings, recess play and games, after–school activities and the teacher education professional community. The locations of the studies were Suva, Labasa and Lautoka, cities and towns of Fiji, and Choiseul Province in Solomon Islands. A variety of methodologies and methods were applied in order to consider five research questions. The first two questions, investigating rural and urban physical education and schools, incorporated a qualitative approach which used interviews, field notes, document analysis and questionnaires. The third research question on schoolchildren’s recess play and games utilized a mixed method approach encompassing both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Recess observations were assessed to provide quantitative data and a series of focus groups offered qualitative information. The final two research questions, relating to after–school activities and the teacher education professional community, were examined through quantitative methods, with data being collected using the Recall Method and Delphi Technique respectively.
The most significant finding was that although these schools were implementing physical education and sporting programs, there exists widespread neglect of physical education in schools in Fiji and Solomon Islands. Intramural and inter-school sports are more widely implemented than physical education. Major urban schools in Suva offer students a greater variety of sports in comparison to smaller towns such as Labasa and rural areas. Netball and Rugby are popular Fijian sports, but when teachers are Indo-Fijians their confidence in teaching Rugby is lower: a similar pattern was found when Itaukei-Fijians are teaching soccer. It was also found that females are more confident than males in teaching netball. In Fiji, physical education and sports are often suspended in the third term when high stakes exams are conducted. During recess, children of all five sampled schools were all very social and the predominant type of activity varied between schools. When gender was considered, boys were shown to participate in ‘vigorous play’ more than girls, who were significantly more engaged in ‘conversation’. In terms of activities after-school, the most prevalent activity was watching television, although rural children ‘play outside’ more than their urban counterparts. In addition, it was found that teacher education, amongst other factors, can play a role in elevating the status of physical education and sports in schools, by being responsive to needs on the ground and building professional communities.
The thesis has impacted on many fronts, including academia through publications and presentations, influencing regional and university decision making, and establishing vital nexus with international bodies, most notably with the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC). While there are many possible areas of future research the thesis findings could particularly be utilized to implement and investigate workable intervention mechanisms.