A Survey of Future Leaders in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Timor-Leste
Chapter 3 Vanuatu
Introduction Vanuatu achieved independence in 1980, soon after Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Like these other Melanesian nations, Vanuatu faced at independence the formidable challenge of grafting a Western system of parliamentary government, based on Weberian rationalist principles, onto still highly robust and deep rooted traditional systems of political and cultural organization. Comprised of an archipelago of about 80 islands, with an estimated 80 to 100 languages spoken across the country, and a segmentary society based on autochthonous clan systems, the task of con- structing a unifying sense of national identity around a centralized state would be a considerable challenge. In addition, the unusual legacy of joint British and French colonial era resulted in parallel education systems and a broad socio-linguistic division between Anglophone and Francophone Ni-Vanuatu that has endured in varying forms and potency throughout the three post-independence decades. These factors have combined to produce – at least after 1991 – an unstable multi-party system with adverse ef fects in key areas such as health, education and overall economic perfor- mance. Despite having considerably greater success than some neighbour- ing Melanesian states, the cultural processes of forming a cohesive political community to support the development of a functional state still remain a key challenge. This chapter presents new survey (N=298) and focus group data on attitudes to national identity among tertiary students in Vanuatu. The find- ings cast new light on the attitudes of likely future political and professional elites towards regional, ethnic, intergenerational and linguistic faultlines in...
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