Enabling Sustainable Development by Embedding Tongan Knowledge into University Science Curricula


  • Sonia Fonua University of Auckland




culturally sustaining pedagogy, cultural values, indigenous knowledge, Moana, Pacific, science education, sustaining pedagogy, Tonga, university


Sustainable development requires the valuing of Indigenous knowledges. The complex and intertwined processes of coloniality and globalisation have contributed to spreading a dominant set of Western knowledge, values, and practices discrediting local Indigenous knowledges and wisdom (Thaman, 2003). Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, requires educators to recognise that non-Western students  continuously negotiate the disconnect between their formal Western education and their cultures. Developing educational sustainability requires resetting this educational imbalance. Culturally sustaining pedagogy acknowledges and encourages cultural pluralism something often absent in the teaching of Western Modern Science. Here I describe the ‘Ulungaanga faka-Tonga Fonumodel, a response to Thaman’s directive that embedding Indigenous knowledges in higher education institutions’ formal curriculum enriches student experience by providing diverse understandings, perspectives, and wisdoms. This model demonstrates a way to engage with Tongan knowledge in formal teaching spaces.


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How to Cite

Fonua, S. (2021). Enabling Sustainable Development by Embedding Tongan Knowledge into University Science Curricula. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 13(Summer), 157–179. https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v13iSummer.3164



Summer 2021 Special Edition