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The re-integration of Tongan postgraduate scholars after study abroad

Scholars returning to Tonga after their study go through re-integration. Limited investigation has documented their experiences and the impacts of their new knowledge and skills, both in the workplace and the community. Therefore, it is important that the Tongan society and community, and also the workplaces, are aware of the scholars’ experiences and the challenges they face during the process of re-integration. This study was conducted with selected returned scholars in the main island of Tongatapu, Tonga. These scholars had secured scholarships funded by foreign agencies and successfully completed overseas postgraduate studies, after which they had returned to Tonga and worked for less than five years. The goal of this research study was to investigate the experiences of returned postgraduate scholars in Tonga. In particular, it focuses on how these scholars utilise their new-found knowledge and skills in the workplace and the community. The scholars’ experiences, including their perspectives and emotions associated with their new knowledge and skills, and specifically the professional usage of their new knowledge and skills in the workplaces, are investigated. A qualitative approach was employed with semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews for this study. Participants were categorised into two groups: government and non-government groups. The semi-structured interviews were conducted with each of the selected participants from both government and non-government organisations. Focus group interviews were conducted with both government and non-government groups respectively. These interviews were recorded and analysed using codes and themes. The data generated from these methods demonstrated scholars reporting their experiences, how they were reintegrated both into the workplace and the community, and how their new knowledge and skills had been utilised in both contexts. The data also showed how scholars felt during the re-integration process, the challenges they faced and how they confronted them. The findings of this study suggest that scholars experienced challenges when they returned to Tonga after their study. These challenges fall into particular categories: culture, management, reception and, most importantly, the utilisation of their new-found knowledge and skills. The findings also demonstrate that the scholars were resourceful in accommodating to the needs and demands from both the workplace and the community. Their cultural ways became resources that helped them respond to the challenges in the workplace and the community. This study also revealed interesting contradictions when it came to scholars’ knowledge and skills. Some scholars were able to utilise their new knowledge and skills in their workplace; however, some scholars were not able to utilise their new knowledge and skills because their new assignments upon arrival did not allow this to take place. As a result, some of the unfortunate scholars felt the need to move career or migrate to find a job that would fit not only their qualification but also the new knowledge and skills they had acquired from their study. This study has unveiled the returned scholars’ experiences both in the workplace and in the community. This knowledge will make a contribution to the Human Resources Administration, advocating the importance of reintegrating the returning scholars to jobs that allow the utilisation of their new knowledge and skills, thereby therefore contributing to the development of Tonga.
Type of thesis
Langi, N. T. K. (2014). The re-integration of Tongan postgraduate scholars after study abroad (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8989
University of Waikato
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