SPC Community Education Training Centre Celebrates 50th Year

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Community Education Training Centre (CETC) celebrated its golden anniversary last week in Suva, Fiji. CETC had its humble beginnings 50 years ago under the leadership of its founding director, Ms. Margaret Stewart of Ireland. At that time, it offered a home economics course. Today, it offers an award-winning programme in community development and business enterprise. CETC is unique in that it is the only residential programme to have provided technical and vocational training for women in the community development sector. It trains women and entrepreneurs of Pacific communities in a comprehensive, regional capacity-building programme.

The 50th anniversary celebration ran for four days, from Monday 14 to Thursday 17 October. CETC graduates, four former principals, current staff and representatives of diplomatic missions and development partners attended the key celebration events during the week.

Monday's events started off with the first day of a three-day special skills workshop in new areas for graduates from overseas and the formal opening ceremony of the golden jubilee at SPC's Fono, Nabua, in the evening. The ceremony included the launch of three CETC publications, the key one being Changing women, changing communities, changing the Pacific, a history of CETC compiled by Anne Moorehead.

On Thursday, the final graduation ceremony for 32 women from 13 countries was held. The winner of both the Head of CETC’s Leadership Award and the Suva Deputy Director-General’s Award for Overall Excellence was Ms. Jacobeth Maneira of Guadcanal and Malaita, Solomon Islands.

The graduation ceremony was followed in the evening by an awards ceremony and a graduation dinner and ball at Suva's Holiday Inn. Awards were presented to 13 community development champions. These women are graduates of CETC from 12 Pacific Island countries. SPC member countries were requested to send nominations of outstanding graduates who have served their country with excellence at national and local level. These nominations were used to select recipients of the SPC CETC Anniversary Pacific Community Development Golden Champions Award to mark the Golden Jubilee.

Champions were selected on their active participation and contribution to community development as community leaders and practitioners through development work in government, non-government or faith-based agencies; or through initiatives that have inspired the lives of many and brought about significant positive changes at community, provincial or national level; or through demonstrating outstanding qualities with proven success in establishing community development initiatives; or through other high impact contributions.

Twelve countries sent a total of 33 nominations, from which 13 champions were selected, with a special candidate being selected from the country whose submission met all the criteria and were submitted on time and according to technical requirements.

Community development golden champions:

These champions were brought to Fiji by SPC to participate in the week’s anniversary celebrations. Their awards were presented by Fiji ‘s first lady, Adi Koila Nailatikau. Also present were His Excellency, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of the Republic of Fiji; Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, SPC Director-General; and Ms. Fekita ‘Utoikamanu, SPC Deputy Director-General; representatives from governments, members of the diplomatic corps to Fiji, CETC graduates from 13 countries, as well as SPC colleagues and friends.

The jubilee celebration was a historical event for CETC, for not only did it celebrate 50 years of CETC changing the lives of women in the Pacific, it also marked the final offering of the programme under SPC before it is transferred to the University of the South Pacific (USP) in January 2014. Higher-level elements of CETC’s Community Development Programme will form part of a revised Diploma in Social and Community Work at USP’s School of Social Sciences, while the vocational courses will become a new Certificate in Applied Community Development for USP’s Regional Centre of Community and Continuing Education. Both will be offered as distance and flexible learning courses. CETC will continue to facilitate and advise on the transition until December 2013, when USP will take over the responsibility for the administration and delivery of the training.

Extracts from Changing women, changing communities, changing the Pacific sum up some of the achievements of CETC:

'The original vision for the Centre was for it to be a force for change, with women at the heart of the change process ... This remained the centre's vision through the decades, as the number of graduates grew and its impact gradually spread across the Pacific.

'All of the women who studied at the Centre were changed by their experience... Many of [them] went on to fulfil the highest ambitions of the course originators. They set up new community training programmes in their own countries, and shared their new skills with other women, men and youths. Others incorporated their new knowledge into their teaching jobs and spread their skills in that way. Still others set up new enterprises and provided jobs and income, as well as skills training, for others in their communities.'

The changes the graduates have brought about, at local, national and regional level, are the proudest achievements of the Centre. Recognition of acheivement can also be seen in the winning a Fiji Business Excellence Award, both in 2010 and 2012, and, more recently, CETC became the first ever training programme in Fiji to be registered and accredited under both the Fiji Higher Education Commission and the Fiji Qualifications Framework.

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