Members' research interests and related activities

See below for selected education in small states group biographies.

The Education in Small States Research Group has a core membership in Bristol and is also establishing a network of interested colleagues worldwide. Membership of the Education in Small States Research Network is open to all who are interested. We are, therefore building up a global network of colleagues from education systems within the Caribbean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean, South Atlantic, Africa, the Mediterranean Basin and Central/Eastern Europe – in addition to interested personnel from UK and other universities world-wide. Should you wish to register with us, then by all means contact us via

Senior educationalists from small states, many of whom have undertaking Masters or Doctoral degrees in the University of Bristol, participate actively in the Research Group and lead presentations in courses and research seminars at Bristol and beyond. Many are members of the Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education (CIRE) at the School of Education in Bristol.

Postgraduate research student members of the Research Group based in Bristol have, over the years, focused upon issues such as:

  • Conversing with island mangroves: towards a new story of humanity’s relationship with the earth. (Sprague);
  • Evolution and development of tertiary education in the Maldives (Muna);
  • Teacher professional development and science education in the Maldives (Shiyama);
  • Tertiary education policy in St Lucia / the Caribbean (Louisy);
  • School / community partnerships in Botswana (Tsayang);
  • Vocational education in Fiji (Sharma);
  • Globalisation, educational policy and educational reform in Papua New Guinea (Webster; Ako);
  • Critiques of modes of educational research and postcolonial theory related to St Lucia (Holmes);
  • Studies of the international transfer of educational management policy and practice in the Solomon Islands (Galo);
  • Post-compulsory education in UK Overseas Territories, with case studies of Montserrat and the Cayman Islands (Fisher);
  • Higher education in small Gulf States (Watson);
  • Patterns of power and inequity in selection for secondary schooling in Trinidad and Tobago (Mills);
  • Pupil recruitment and retention in the Turks & Caicos Islands (Fulford B);
  • Human resource development and staff appraisal systems in the Turks & Caicos Islands (Fulford H);
  • School retention in rural ethnic minority areas in Botswana (Pansiri);
  • Curriculum policy and practice in Papua New Guinea (Le Fanu);
  • Learner centred pedagogy and educational reform in Mauritius (Colin);
  • Educational aspirations in Jamaica (Stockfelt);
  • Assessment policies and their impact upon group culture in Armenia (Sprague);
  • The use of social software as a tool for mathematical growth and understanding in St Lucia (Frost)
  • Mathematics education in St Lucia (James)

Professor Crossley's long-term collaboration with colleagues in countries such as Papua New Guinea, Belize, Botswana and St Lucia and as Adjunct Professor of Education at The University of the South Pacific underpins a collective rationale that generates a shared commitment to supporting local research and evaluation capacity building, and the strengthening of small state voices, values and perspectives in international policy arenas, organisations and agencies.

This reflects a broader collective recognition of the importance of cultural context in educational research and educational development; and the dangers of the uncritical international transfer of educational policy and practice in an increasingly globalised world.

The Education in Small States Research Group, therefore, welcomes increased contact with others engaged, or interested, in such work. We would be especially pleased to develop further working partnerships with others engaged with issues currently commanding policy attention within small states themselves. 

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Selected education in small states group biographies


Cathryn MacCallum

Cathryn MacCallum began her career in development as a cheese-maker on a coconut plantation in Tanzania. Passionate about rural development (North and South) she became involved in the development education movement. She has more than 20 years experience of working as a research and programme manager in international development and development education, she has co-written a number of textbooks aimed at secondary school students on learning for sustainable living for the Zanzibar Government and Welsh Curriculum.

She is currently a Director of Sazani Associates, a small international NGO based in Wales (with offices in Zanzibar and Belize) that supports sustainable livelihoods through participatory approaches to rural development. In 2009 she was put on the WGgreen list for her work in international sustainable development and sits on the UNESCO UK Committee. She also lectures on an MA in Development Education at the Institute of Education where her doctoral research was on the relevance of global social justice in sustainable rural development in small states.

Aminath Muna

Aminath Muna has worked as a primary teacher and in the management team in schools in the Maldives. She has been among the first educators to introduce computer literacy classes in schools in the Maldives during the latter half of the 1990s. She successfully implemented several programmes for staff and students. Her belief in learning, innovation and development led her to embark on her studies, starting with a Diploma in Management course in Singapore. To further complement her professional career, she did a MEd degree and her Doctorate at the University of Bristol, where she is currently assisting in running the ESSRG. She has launched a new initiative related to Education and Research in the Maldives. As the co-founder of Ilmu Education, a privately owned company, she seeks to promote research and education in the Maldives. It is being developed as a platform where like-minded researchers from Maldives can share their papers, thesis abstracts, featured journal articles and other interesting matters relating to education in the country. Her research interests lie in higher education, education policy, planning and management.

Aminath Shiyama

Aminath Shiyama is science teacher educator and curriculum developer; with research interest on science education pedagogies, teacher education, curriculum development and teacher professional development. She has worked as a lecturer at the Maldives National University since 2009, in preservice science teacher education and curriculum development. She is passionate about researching science education and curriculum development, together with teacher professional learning to translate into various contexts and settings such as formal learning and informal learning. She has provided numerous teacher professional development and learning programs to various schools in the Maldives, where the focus has been on science education and teacher-centric professional learning approaches. She has co-authored three books as teacher’s guides on problem-based-learning in primary science education. 

Clermina James

Clermina James completed an MSc in Education at Bristol University and returned to pursue a PhD in Mathematics. Clermina is from the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean and worked there for a number of years in roles as educator at all levels - from primary to tertiary, as well as establishing a Maths Center for students as the subject remains one of the main challenges for students particularly at the secondary level.

James Frost

James Frost had an opportunity to work in Saint Lucia in 1993 as a volunteer through the organization known as V.S.O. Working alongside his counterpart, Clermina James, he was responsible for the training/mentoring of student teachers in the area of mathematics. After two years as a volunteer James was offered a fixed term contract to stay at the Division of Teacher Education (contained within the institution: Sir Arthur Lewis Community College). He worked in this capacity until 2008 whereupon he engaged upon post graduate study at the University of Bristol, gaining a Masters degree in Maths Education. After a brief one year post at Manchester Metropolitan University, again in teacher education, James returned to Saint Lucia in 2010 to resume duties. James returned to Bristol University to engage in doctoral studies with particular interest in the use of social software (facebook, youtube, wikis etc) as a tool for mathematical growth and understanding.  

Shawanda Stockfelt
Shawanda Stockfelt held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Multilevel Modelling (CMM), Graduate School of Education (GSoE) at the University of Bristol. Her research covers a range of issues relating to sociology and psychology in education with a specific focus on youths’ aspirations, achievements and their transition into higher education and the labour market. Shawanda’s research does not focus specifically on small states, but on individuals and groups affiliated - in many cases -with small states globally. Her British Academy funded research looked at the interrelation between educational aspiration, educational and labour market outcomes for Black Caribbean (BC) males in England. This study utilised the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE) dataset to explore factors that shape aspirations and outcomes and the nature of that relationship. The research developed models of aspirations/outcomes for BC young men that can be used as the basis for a range of outputs targeted at policy makers, BC community groups and practitioners. This study is built on the foundation of Shawanda’s PhD which looked at the nature of boys’ educational aspirations in urban Jamaica. 

Collin Tjitemisa

Collin Tjitemisa obtained his undergraduate qualifications and teaching experience in his native Namibia. He then completed his MEd at the University of Bristol in 2005. His MEd thesis focused on the implications of grade 10 school leavers’ unemployment among Namibian youth. Prior to his return, to Bristol, to pursue his doctoral studies, Collin had been a teacher at the Polytechnic of Namibia. Collin’s doctoral research focused upon a case study of the former Windhoek College of Education’s merger with The University of Namibia. This College was only one of four teachers' training Colleges that were officially merged with the university in April 2010. Collin now works in the field of teacher education in Namibia. 

Michele Celine Mills

Michele Celine Mills grew up in Trinidad and Tobago where she obtained a BA (Hons.) in English Literature from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad campus. She later completed the in-service post- graduate Diploma in Education at the School of Education, UWI Trinidad. Michele was a teacher at the secondary level for twenty years, eighteen of these in Trinidad, and two years at the Clement Howell High School, on the island of Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Michele has also had a career in journalism, working as the Features Editor with Daily News Limited (Newsday) a national daily newspaper in Trinidad &Tobago which enjoys a wide circulation. It was during this phase of her career that Michele completed her Master’s in Education in 2002 with the Sheffield University Caribbean programme. Michele’s area of interest was the representation of secondary modern schools in one daily newspaper for which Newsday was the case study. She later joined the locally based staff on the Master’s programme as a part time tutor. In 2013 Michele successfully defended her University of Bristol, PhD dissertation entitled: Dilemmas and Dynamics Relating to Selection for Secondary Schooling in Trinidad & Tobago.  

Terra Sprague

Terra Sprague taught English language arts in the United States and was an education advisor with an Indianapolis based Sylvan Learning Centre before working in the small state of Armenia with the United States Peace Corps for three years. In Armenia, Terra taught English as a Foreign Language (EFL), trained EFL teachers in student-centred approaches and supported a special education school in executing a $250,000 capital improvements project while becoming a founding member of Los Angeles based NGO, Focus on Children Now, which undertakes humanitarian activities. In 2008 she completed her MEd, with a dissertation about standardized examination systems in Armenia. Terra worked as a Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, working on projects with the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) and the UK Forum for International Education and Training (UKFIET). She worked on the Commonwealth Secretariat funded project ‘Education in Small States: Policies and Priorities’ and has recently been publishing on Education for Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States.

In 2014, Terra began a University of Bristol Alumni funded studentship on the Environment, Energy and Resilience pathway of the South West Doctoral Training Centre. Her doctoral research looked at the concept of environmental resilience in Fiji, Mauritius and St Lucia through narrative inquiry titled ‘Conversing with Island Mangroves: Towards a New Story of Humanity’s Relationship with the Earth'

Mindy Colin

Mindy Colin began her teaching and research career in the bilingual pre-schools of Mauritius prior to receiving a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University Hawaii and then a Master's in Instructional Technology from Utah State University. Mindy has taught undergraduate courses in classroom technology for pre-service teachers and also helped create the first online courses for the Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies at the University of Mauritius. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies at the University of Bristol, Mindy worked for Academic Technology Services at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she was primarily responsible for campus-wide faculty technology projects, researching student uses of campus technology and leading the Instructional Technology group. Mindy's PhD research focused on the international transfer of learner- centred pedagogy in educational reform in Small Island Developing States, with specific reference to primary schooling in Mauritius. 

Guy Le Fanu

Guy Le Fanu is the Programme Development Advisor (Education) for Sightsavers, an international non-governmental organisation working in the fields of health, education, and social inclusion. He is responsible for establishing, overseeing and providing technical assistance for education programmes for young people with disabilities across sub-Saharan Africa, India and South Asia. He has many years' experience working in international development, including four years supporting inclusive and integrated education in Bangladesh and six years lecturing in special and inclusive education at the University of Goroka in Papua New Guinea. Before working in international development, he taught in comprehensive and special schools in the United Kingdom. Guy successfully gained his doctorate at Bristol in 2011. The title of his dissertation is: The transposition of inclusion: an analysis of the relationship between curriculum prescription and curriculum practice in Papua New Guinea.  

Beatrice Louise Fulford

Beatrice Louise Fulford has served as the Director of Education in the Department of Education, Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI). She commenced her professional career as a trained teacher and served at both primary and secondary level. Whilst serving at the latter, she assumed the positions of Head of the Department of English, and Vice Principal. She was subsequently posted at the Department of Education where she initially served in the capacity of Education Officer, with direct responsibility for Curriculum Development, and later, Deputy Director of Education. She pursued her teacher training and undergraduate studies at Shortwood Teachers’ College and the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, respectively. Postgraduate work was undertaken in Curriculum Studies at the University of Bristol, where she completed her doctorate.

 Beatrice was born in the TCI, an archipelago in the Caribbean, and one of the remaining British Overseas Territories. Being a small multi-island state, with a population of approximately 22,000, the TCI experiences a number of challenges, which are no stranger to other countries in the region. The need for the duplication of resources in all sectors of the public service (particularly in education and health) on each of the inhabited islands challenges an economy of scale, thereby keeping capital and recurrent expenditure relatively high. Among the many educational priorities, is the commitment to provide universal education, which must be complemented by a cadre of appropriately trained, qualified and experienced teachers whose commitment to quality classroom performance must be very high. When the demand for these professionals outstrips supply, the economic sustainability of the country is threatened. Hence, the doctoral research that Beatrice carried out at the University of Bristol, was indeed timely. Through the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data, she examined ‘The factors impacting upon teacher recruitment and retention in small states, and the challenges they pose for education systems, with particular reference to the Turks & Caicos Islands’. In addition to focusing on her own country, she drew upon the experiences of the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands, two small states which confront similar difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers at a time when student enrolment figures are soaring, and attempts are being made to expand access to, and increase equity in, education. 

Hubert Alolphus Fulford

Hubert Alolphus Fulford is a native of the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), an Overseas Territory of Great Britain. Hubert is a career public servant. A career he started in July 1972 as a clerical officer. He has held the most senior position in the public service of the TCI as Executive Permanent Secretary. His tenure in the public service spans more than 36 years. During these years he has held positions as teacher, at primary, secondary and tertiary levels; vice principal; education planner; Permanent Secretary for Education, Health, Works and Utilities, and Immigration and Labour.

Education and development have always been foremost for Hubert. He commenced his teaching career at the E L Simons Primary School in Grand Turk. He has taught in schools in Jamaica, the UK, and Canada. Tertiary education was pursued at Mico Teachers’ College in Kingston, Jamaica, where he specialised in English language and literature and music at secondary level. A BA degree with honours was completed at York University, Toronto, Canada, specialising in music education and Latin American and Caribbean studies. A Master of Arts degree was completed at Columbia Pacific University, California, concentrating on administration and management. His University of Bristol doctoral dissertation ‘Human Resource Management and Staff Performance Appraisal in Small States: A Case Study of the Turks & Caicos Islands’ analyses the impact that staff performance appraisal have had in the TCI and in other small states.

Graham Fisher

Graham Fisher has held various teaching and advisory positions in education over a 30 year period. Though several have been in the UK, most have been overseas with, for example, the government of the Isle of Man, St Helena and the Falkland Islands, and the Department for International Development (DFID), with further experience in the United Arab Emirates and Botswana. These roles have centred around the development of upper secondary, sixth form and post-compulsory education.

Graham completed full-time doctoral study at the University of Bristol funded by the UK Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC). The research topic was: 'The potential and limitations of post-compulsory education in the UK Overseas Territories'. This examined policy and practice in post-compulsory education in eight Overseas Territories, with detailed case studies of the Cayman Islands and Montserrat. A comparative and qualitative approach to research considers the potential and limitations of post-compulsory education, with particular reference to the role of locally based and controlled provision, distance education, different institutional structures, lifelong learning, and the influence of stakeholders' attitudes and perceptions on its expansion. Policy implications for the territories are explored, as are implications for the theoretical and methodological literature. It is argued that the constitutional status of the Overseas Territories creates particular dilemmas for these micro-territories, along with rapid globalisation, the spread of information and communication technology, and the growing commitment to high skills economies and lifelong learning. Expansion of post-compulsory education is seen as crucial for these small territories if they are to fully utilise scarce human resources, improve government and economies, participate in any global sharing and communication of knowledge, and exercise greater control over their own destiny. 

Nkobi Owen Pansiri

Nkobi Owen Pansiri is Professor in Education at the University of Botswana. He completed his doctorate at the University of Bristol and his doctoral research focused on school retention in basic education for the rural ethnic minority in Botswana. His diverse career in Educational Management includes ten years as a teacher, seven years as a District Education Officer, and seven years as a Principal Education Officer heading the Primary Education Inspectorate in Botswana. He served as a chairperson for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Technical Committee on Basic Education for four years. He is one of the founding members (and a regular contributor) for the opinion page ‘Issues in Education’, in Mmegi/The Monitor, a weekly newspaper based in Botswana. .

Albert Beltran (external network member)

Albert Beltran undertook a two-year master's degree in the international education programme at the George Washington University, in Washington, DC, USA. His professional experience in education has been spent teaching. He has taught at nearly all grade levels, the majority of his teaching being in primary schools. Albert is finding his way through the policy and research aspects of international/comparative education and is originally from San Jose, California, where his family continues to live.

Albert continues to research education in small countries across the various categories of small states (islands, land-locked, coastal) as well as associated groups (Commonwealth, non-Commonwealth, AoSIS, UN-SIDS) and income and geographical groupings. He prepared a substantial paper/report on education in small countries for the 12th World Congress of Comparative Education Societies Conference in Cuba and visited Mauritius to attend the UN Conference on Small States in January 2005.  

Thomas Webster (external network member)

Thomas Webster is a former Director of the National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea (PNG), a government funded public policy 'think tank'. The Institute carries out research on good governance, improving law and justice, economic development, education, environmental studies, population studies and social and community development. Prior to this he worked for three years as the Director of the University of Papua New Guinea’s Open College (2002-2004), recipient of the 2004 Commonwealth of Learning Award of Excellence for Distance Education Materials. Thomas worked as Provincial Administrator of Western Highlands Province from 1998-2001 following completion of a Doctoral Degree in Education at Bristol University. Thomas also worked as lecturer in education planning and policy studies at the University of Papua New Guinea, National Education Planner with the Government of PNG and as a primary school teacher and headmaster.

Areas of research interest in education are in education planning and policy studies, analysis of policies and programs to universalize primary education, financing and financial management of resources, distance and flexible modes of education. Despite a major restructure of the PNG education system in the 1990s designed to provide more opportunities for school aged children, participation remains very low. Less than 40% of primary school aged children attend basic education institutions. The opportunities are severely limited as one progresses, e.g. from primary level to high school (grades 9-10) and secondary school (grades 11-12).

Opportunities for girls are even more limited with only 39% of primary school aged girls in school. Even more worrying is the lack of parental support for girls' education. I have been involved in a program called Accelerating Girls' Education in PNG and our work in 16 pilot schools in three provinces shows that girls are either not enrolling or are dropping out from school because parents are not paying the basics school fees charged by authorities. When UNICEF offered to meet the costs of school fees for girls who had dropped-out from the pilot schools, 445 girls or nearly 85% of those who had dropped out in 2003 and the early part of the 2004 school year came back and completed the 2004 school year. Thomas wrote a fortnightly column in the Post Courier, one of the two daily newspapers in PNG on issues affecting girls' education.  

Marcia Shah

Marcia Shah is a primary school teacher from Trinidad and Tobago. Prior to 2006 teachers in Trinidad and Tobago were trained in Teachers’ Training Colleges and successful candidates were awarded a Teachers’ Diploma. Having earned her Teachers’ Diploma but believing that the knowledge gained was inadequate to keep abreast of the rapid changes in education, Marcia pursued a Bachelor of Education degree from The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). The desire to enhance her teaching skills propelled her to study for a PGCE with The University of Sheffield. During this time, Marcia became interested in studying the impact of global changes on the education

system in Trinidad and Tobago and went on to complete a M.A. in Globalizing Education Policy and Practice at the latter university. The government of Trinidad and Tobago aspires to achieve a graduate teaching profession by 2020 and hence teachers who possess a Teacher’s Diploma are being required to upgrade to B. Ed. status. Many teachers, however, are resistant to this change. Marcia’s doctoral research carried out in Bristol examined the global agendas which influenced this policy on teacher education reform. She aimed to understand this reform from the perspective of the trained, but non-graduate qualified teachers. She was concerned to give these teachers a voice to suggest ways in which the government can facilitate a smoother path for them to upgrade to B. Ed. status. 

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