It takes sacrifice and commitment to leave half your family at home and head to another country and study in another language, however Gayleen Tarosa was determined.
Recently Gayleen’s determination paid off. With her thesis submitted, she is now heading home eager to use her new knowledge in an education capacity.
Gayleen, who has been a teacher, deputy and acting principal in Vanuatu, wanted a postgraduate qualification that complemented her experience and broadened her knowledge. As a women educational leader, the MEdLeadership at Waikato fitted her requirements.
Leaving behind her new baby, her two-year-old and husband was challenging admits Gayleen. Fortunately her two oldest children were able to live with her in New Zealand. She also received academic and moral support from the University’s Faculty of Education.
Gayleen, who received a NZ Aid scholarship to study at Waikato, researched how an English-medium senior high school in Vanuatu managed the changes to their student assessment processes. Since gaining independence from Britain Vanuatu has switched from a British-based GSCE student assessment system to using a national Vanuatu-based examination process.
“In Vanuatu there have been many changes within education. From my own observations some of these changes appear to have been successful and some have not. I was interested in what people thought about these changes.” In addition to a document analysis, Gayleen interviewed teachers, principals and Ministry of Education officials about their perceptions of the changes.
The findings of her research are that if educational changes are to be implemented successfully then there is a need for good planning. This involves consultation, a change management framework that suits the Vanuatu context and recognition of teachers’ prior student-assessment knowledge.
With her thesis submitted, Gayleen is now heading back home to Vanuatu richer from her Waikato experience and keen to make a difference. “All in all I am thankful for the experience with my lecturers and supervisors – Professor Chris Branson and Frances Edwards. The many readings extended my knowledge and the writing helped shaped my thinking.”
Gayleen encourages other Melanesian women to upgrade their qualifications and pursue further study.