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iTaukei Indigenous Fijian masi as an education framework: Retaining and adapting tradition in epistemology and pedagogy for a globalised culture

Eta Emele Varani-Norton

2017 Fiji, Pasifika

iTaukei (Indigenous Fijians) are experiencing rapid social transformation through urbanisation and globalisation. Indigenous knowledge is being quickly eroded by its conflicts with modern Western knowledge and values. To counter this decay, there is need, in the school curriculum, for teaching methods that can help students achieve, in their own understanding, accommodations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous concepts, between modern values and expectations, and the emphasis being placed by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs on the importance of preserving traditions. This paper proposes an innovative iTaukei pedagogical and epistemological framework based on the traditional textile masi (tapa), with design and motifs used as metaphors to facilitate better understanding of the conflicts between and the potential for reconciling or accommodating “outside” (Western) and “inside” (Indigenous) knowledge. At the centre of the design is the learner who must critically reflect on the possibility of a symbiosis of Western and Indigenous knowledge. The masi framework could prove a powerful tool for educators dealing with the dilemmas of social change in an oral culture like the iTaukei.

iTaukei Indigenous knowledge; Yaubuliti framework; pedagogy; epistemology; melding; educational tool; social change; reflexivity