Education in the Oan Isles
Education in the Oan Isles is administered and overseen by the Department of Education under the Minister of Education. Under the National Qualifications Authority, private and public institutions of education may provide education services. Primary education is compulsory and public schools are free. The education system consists of three phases: primary, secondary and tertiary. The Oan Isles has one of the highest rates of higher education in Aurora and its education is highly competitive in the United Nations of the Auroran Continent (in quality and cost).
For as long as people have lived in the Oan Isles, parents have provided their children with some form of education. This includes stories around the fire at night or teaching their children skills such as weaving and farming during the day. The earliest recorded formal education was around 1000 years ago when Thaerism was introduced to the Oan Isles. Thaerist proselytes from mainland Aurora introduced the Codexian script, introducing formal writing in the Oan Isles for the first time. Coupled with Ahua the Great uniting the country and using navigation to encourage trade and social mobility, the Oan Isles was pulled from the iron to the bronze age.
Access to education was primarily achieved through Mauist seminaries. These institutions cultivated scholarly thought and provided teaching in religious scripture and reading and writing. In an attempt to increase literacy, the nation adopted the printing press. This spurred a more professional civil service, specialized social and economic roles, and thus, the need to have formal education. Schools and scholarly associations were established and these were founts of early academic knowledge. With a focus on navigation, fishing, forestry, botany, biology and astronomy, the Oan Isles has contributed incredible scientific knowledge to the world.
Although the country has gradually urbanising and industrialising from the late 16th to the 17th century, the country only established a formal unified modern education system following the Morsto-Oan War. The shocking defeat due to the inferior technology and military leadership of the Oan Isles prompted the Emperor Rangatike-led regime to adopt similar educational practices as mainland Aurora. One of these reforms included making education as widely accessible as possible, striving to end illiteracy and establishing the first modern university: the University of Tokapa.
Following the Third Industrial Revolution (the invention of the computer), the Oan Isles realized that had to reform to remain globally competitive. Thus, colleges and polytechnics were established to provide field-specific skills and technical and vocational training respectively to as many people as possible. This has led to the Oan Isles having one of the highest rates of tertiary education in Aurora. At the same time, primary and high school education moved to encouraging students to learn as much information from as wide an array of areas as possible, making students very hardworking and encouraging rote memorization.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution arises, the Oan education system must reform to adapt. The country has taken steps to prepare for this revolution through the emergence and proliferation of life-long learning and online education. Schools are gradually shifting to a creative and problem-solving oriented teaching and learning style. In joining Pan-Auroran institutions like the UNAC, the Oan Isles has aimed to attract foreign students and academics to the nation through bursaries, student exchange agreements and preferential skills visas. Pre-primary school is receiving more attention and more academic knowledge is being covered at an earlier age.
Several laws govern the education system. At the apex is the Constitution of the Oan Isles. It guarantees a right to basic education for all children and requires that the government make education as accessible as possible within its means. Thus, the central government has passed numerous laws to give effect to the precepts of the Constitution. Primary education is compulsory for children below 16 years and free public schools are available for all, however parents are free to send their children to private schools. The National Qualifications Framework sets out the structure, recognition criteria and oversight of all qualifications in the country and charges the National Qualifications Authority (NQA) with the task of administering and overseeing the accreditation of qualifications.
The Minister of Education is the highest authority of the state on education. This position is occupied by Prof Imana Toangakau, former President of the University of Tokapa, who was appointed by Emperor of Polynesia Oahoanu on the advice of Prime Minister Maui Uye-Ahua. As such, they advise the government on education policy and run the Department of Education. The Department of Education handles all the affairs of public schools. Private corporations and foundations may construct and run schools and award qualifications independently of the state upon receiving the approval of the NQA. Whereas public schools are often free or highly affordable, private schools usually charge fees. The Portfolio Committee on Education of the Council of the People holds the government accountable for education in the country.
Teachers, lecturers and other workers in the education sector form part of and participate in collective bargaining via trade unions, the most prominent of which are the Teachers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) and the Democratic Workers Union of Education (DWUE). Primary and high schools can join the private sector Independent Education Council (IEC) and the public sector-led Association of State-Run Schools (ASRS). The Education Sector Forum brings together and facilitates informal resolution of employment disputes relating to education.
Phases of education
The pre-primary phase is not covered by law thus it is not covered in the National Qualifications Framework. The purpose of this phase is to prepare children for school, teach them good manners and social skills, and help their parents care for them when they are at work. Early childhood development centers (ECDCs) also known as crèches are administered by the state and private sector.
Primary phasenequips the student with the foundational tools for modern living: literacy, mathematics, basic reasoning and good socialization. Teachers have enormous control and independence over what they teach. The primary purpose of this phase is to impart basic skills and inculcate social and moral values. Thus, students are usually progressed to the next year regardless of their academic performance. This is highly contentious as teachers believe it inadequately prepares Oan students for high school. This period spans 7 years, with years starting from P1 to P7.
Secondary phase (also known as high school) aims to provide diverse knowledge and increase logical reasoning and creative thinking skills. Thus, students in this phase study diverse courses over a period of 5 years. If prerequisites are met, students can complete matriculation-level courses at any point in their secondary education career. This allows bright students to start tertiary education earlier. At the end of this phase, the first education qualification in terms of the NQF: the Matriculation Certificate is awarded to successful students. The Matriculation Certificate or equivalent qualification is required to write University Entrance Examinations.
Tertiary education is the final tier of the education system. Privately-run for-profit and non-profit institutions, coexist alongside public institutions. Three institutions comprise this sector: universities, polytechnics and colleges. Universities have the right to award doctoral degrees and confer the title of Professor on their academic staff. Polytechnics administer technical and vocational education up to NQF-level 2 (bachelor's degree or equivalent). Colleges provide academically-focused education at NQF-level 1 to 2 (Matriculation Certificate, bachelor's degree and equivalent).
Most Polytechnics and Colleges only require a Matriculation Certificate to admit students and entrance is typically non-competitive. These institutions were created with the aim of making tertiary education as widely accessible as possible. These institutions are responsible for Making the Oan Isles one of the most educated countries in the world. In contrast, admission to universities depends on the University Entrance Examinations and entrance is highly competitive.
Universities are the most prestigious institutions of higher education. They bear the weight of research and development in the country. Thus, they are the only institutions allowed to award NQF-levels 2 to 4 (bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees or equivalent). Some universities also award post-doctoral degrees, but these are not covered by law. Dual-degree programs exist for exceptionally gifted students and these degrees often offer an accelerated pathway to a doctoral degree. A university qualification offers disproportionately high employment and career advancement opportunities. Thus, university education is a proxy for social status and upward social mobility. Despite the exclusivity of these institutions, their fees are highly competitive as these institutions attract tax deductions, large state grants, private donations, research income and corporate bursaries. The wealthiest and most prestigious university and among the most highly acclaimed universities in the world, is the University of Tokapa.
The first 2 to 3 years of education, i.e. P1 to P3, are usually not academically intensive. Compared to other nations in the Greater Aurora Region, the rest of primary school and high school is fairly demanding. Students spend 6 hours at school usually from 07H00 to 13H00. Most students in high school attend external tutoring classes. Students preparing for University Entrance Examinations spend an additional 5 to 7 hours a day on their studies. Colleges and polytechnics focus on imparting specific skills or knowledge in set areas. University education, on the other hand, demands and inculcates high levels of problem-solving and creative thinking.
In addition to the standard education, institutions often encourage their students to participate in extracurricular activities and extra-mural studies. Rugby is the most prestigious sport as it offers many opportunity to earn scholarships and bursaries. Moreover, participation in university or high school rugby offers an accelerated pathway to professional competitive rugby. The Oan Isles is among the best rugby nations and has among the wealthiest competitive rugby circuits on Urth. But, numerous other sports and activities such table-tennis, netball, cricket, association football, surfing, canoeing and climbing are offered up to University level and have their own professional circuits.
Along with academic knowledge, the Oan Isles strives to inculcate a high-level of social and cultural awareness in its students. Thus, it emphasizes learning about the culture and history of other nations and inculcating social sensitivity (respect for elders, encouraging students to stand up for their own rights as well as the rights of others, and treating social minorities such as the LGBT+ and disabled community with dignity etc.). Nevertheless, some critics argue that it indoctrinates Pan-Polynesian ideology and Oan exceptionalism.