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School related gender based violence: a case study in Tonga

Fa'avae, David and Otunuku, Mo'ale and Robyns, Richard and Siale, Lausi'i (2017) School related gender based violence: a case study in Tonga. [Professional and Technical Reports] (Unpublished)

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    Abstract

    The School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV) in Tonga was a 2-phase study funded by the United Nation Educational Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO). The overall outcomes of the SRGBV study were to understand how gender based violence (GBV) is perceived by students, teachers and parents in Tonga and the design of a research tool that could be implemented in future. The Institute of Education (IOE) at the University of the South Pacific (USP) was tasked with the implementation of the SRGBV study. This study employed a pragmatist approach to the research design whereby the knowledge and data gathered in phase 1 informed phase 2 (Cornish & Gillespie, 2009). Phase 1 was a desk study and it involved a review of literature linked to how GBV was perceived in the Pacific region and the implications of policy and policy-related programmes on students’, teachers’ and parents’ responses to GBV in schooling and in the community. Phase 2 was a pilot study based on a focus group pō talanoa (group discussion) and individual in-depth talanoa. Multiple methods were used to gather data to understand the two outcomes of the study – individuals’ perceptions of SRGBV in Tonga and the design of a qualitative questionnaire tool for future fieldwork. Focus group pō talanoa was used as a method to gather data from a group of female tertiary students about ways to improve the content and structure of the questionnaire tool. Similarly, in-depth talanoa was used as a method to gather data from the parent and former school leader and two male tertiary students that also helped shape the content and structure of the research tool. In-depth talanoa interviews were also used to gather data from individuals as part of a Non Government Organisation (NGO) and tertiary institutions in relation to how they perceive SRGBV in Tonga. In light of the initial agreement between UNESCO and IOE, the original intention was to use the desk study as well as the pilot study to inform the field work in Tongan secondary schools. Time constraints and communication concerns between UNESCO and Tonga’s Ministry of Education and Training officials prevented the field work from being implemented. Nevertheless, both UNESCO and IOE agreed that the findings from the desk study and the pilot study would be used to construct and design a research tool, a multi-levelled questionnaire which would allow for quantitative and qualitative data analysis, that could be employed in similar studies. To honour the agreement with UNESCO, it was important for IOE to analyse the current and relevant findings that could assist the global organisation in its development and delivery of a robust research tool that is aligned to similar topics or issues. Subsequently, the ‘questionnaire’ consisted of nominal scale items to collect demographic data. As well, the Likert-type scale was used as an instrument to collectdata and analyse participants’ perceptions of GBV in Tongan secondary schooling. The questionnaire was then translated into Tongan. A rigorous process of translation and ‘back-translation’ was employed to ensure the appropriateness of the language in tool (Lee, Jones, Mineyama, & Zhang, 2002). This report highlights the concern that there are very few reported studies that conceptualise GBV in the context of secondary schooling both internationally and at the local level. Despite the presence of international regulations and local policy, in practice GBV remains a concern in secondary schooling. Whilst the findings in this report are primarily focused on GBV content in the Pacific, they have also affirmed the significance of research engagement and practice that is worth further understanding and articulation. As part of IOE’s responsibility, sharing the concerns experienced in this project adds contextual knowledge that can be utilised by UNESCO. GBV remains a key challenge when what is proclaimed in policy lacks consistent practice in Tongan schooling. The desk study found that although policies and legislations related to SRGBV were plentiful in the international literature, it was limited in the Pacific region. Therefore the purpose of the SRGBV Tonga study was to provide an evidence-based study that would inform policy making and decisions in Tonga. Furthermore as noted above, although the field work was not implemented, the findings from the desk study and the pilot study have assisted in the development of a contextual research tool that can be utilised by UNESCO with secondary school students, teachers, and parents. This report has identified and expressed some of the concerns related to research engagement with schools in Tonga. Chiefly, a research approach that is more appropriate to the schools’ context whereby the schools have more say and control of the processes involved. SRGBV is a significant concern as it impacts not only students and teachers in schooling but the community as well. What remains central to its understanding is engagement and practices with schools and the community that are culturally appropriate. Similarly, the difficulty in active participation and willingness from the students, teachers, and parents is a result of the sensitive constructs that are deeply embedded in SRGBV and in Tongan culture. For one, the constructs of ‘gender, violence, sex, social class, and schooling’ needs to be unfolded first within a certain group/groups within Tongan society before SRGBV in its entirety can be understood in Tongan schooling. To understand public attitudes related to violence that are deeply embedded in Pacific Island Cultures’ (PICs) culture and surroundings, and to encourage engagement and discussions about such issues, inquiries into GBV requires measures that focus on prevention programmes that are community-based and ongoing (Ali,2006, p. 18). This report recommends an action research approach grounded in the experiences of participants whereby they are intimately involved and engaged as partners in the research process (Tali Tal, 2004). In terms of scope, this report proposes an in-depth study of a smaller scale than that proposed in the original terms of reference for instance the Tonga Leiti Association (TLA) or a church group as a way to appropriately conceptualise the constructs of ‘gender, violence, sex, social class, and schooling’. If UNESCO chooses to implement a similar study in other PICs that is of a larger scale, the implications on peoples’ willingness to participate as well as the kinds of quality data expected runs the risk of being undermined.

    Item Type: Professional and Technical Reports
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
    L Education > L Education (General)
    Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > Institute of Education
    Depositing User: David Fa`avae
    Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2018 16:00
    Last Modified: 08 Jun 2018 16:00
    URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/10815
    UNSPECIFIED

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