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Student voices: Experiences of Solomon Islands students in transition from primary school to boarding secondary school

Abstract
This study is about students' experiences when in transition from primary schools they attended daily to boarding secondary schools located far from their homes and villages in the Solomon Islands. In particular it explores the positive and negative feelings of students who have left their parents to live in boarding schools. For their first five months these students had no opportunity to contact their parents. The study also explores the strategies they used to overcome their difficulties and problems. It also explores the strategies that boarding schools used to help their students. While much research to date has been carried out in developed and developing countries, no such study as this has been carried out in the Solomon Islands or in the Melanesian region. Therefore, little is known about the students' experiences living in boarding schools for five months before seeing their parents again and the strategies they used to overcome their difficulties and problems. Research data were gathered using the qualitative method. Interviews were conducted with 16 students (9 first year students and 7 second year students), 3 principals and 1 deputy principal from four boarding secondary schools. Data gathered were analysed using the thematic approach. The collecting of data was conducted in the Solomon Islands in April and May 2009. The key findings revealed both positive and negative experiences of the students when they had just arrived at school and the strategies they used to overcome their negative experiences. The positive feelings were feeling happy and all right. The negative feelings were feeling homesick, lonely, shy and afraid. The strategies that students used to overcome these problems were creating friendship with other students and attending social activities. The students also came across difficulties and problems like change of status from being senior students at primary schools to being the most junior students at secondary schools, tight school programmes, unfamiliar cultures and languages, and shortage of pocket money to help them to buy some of their needs that schools cannot provide. They also came across positive experiences like happiness, feeling relief and immediate help when they just arrived. Furthermore, they also faced both positive and negative aspects on their academic work, extra-curricular activities, food and accommodation. The other key findings are the strategies that boarding schools used to help their new students. These include: good dormitories and classrooms, orientations, class assemblies to talk about academic matters, dorm masters and mistresses helping out the new students in the dormitories, old students helping the new students, and cultural and religious groups. The strategies provided by boarding secondary schools were not adequate enough from looking at the many difficulties and problems the students encountered, and some of the strategies were their own personal strategies and not the boarding school ones. Therefore, this study is in a position to inform the transition programmes for boarding secondary schools in the Solomon Islands.
Type
Thesis
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Vasethe, G. (2010). Student voices: Experiences of Solomon Islands students in transition from primary school to boarding secondary school (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4341
Date
2010
Publisher
The University of Waikato
Supervisors
Rights
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