Increasing awareness and participation in education is focus for new VUSSC Chair

With a reputation for international collaboration and innovative thinking, Tuifuisa’a Dr. Patila Malua Amosa has taken on the role of VUSSC (Virtual University for the Small States of the Commonwealth) Chair, bringing her trademark enthusiasm to the challenge of increasing awareness of VUSSC.

“More community involvement,” is how Patila summarizes one of her key hopes for the Commonwealth of Learning’s VUSSC.

“I’d like to get many more people from our member countries participating in our educational opportunities,” she says. “For example, climate literacy affects everyone and we’ve got some great courses available to anyone in the 33 countries that make up VUSSC.”

From The Blue Economy and Climate Literacy for All to a recent course on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management offered by University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the number and nature of educational opportunities available to learners young and old through VUSSC are significant.

Raising awareness of these opportunities and encouraging people to experiment with them is one challenge Patila is keen to tackle with the support of all of the VUSSC Focal Points in 2024.

Building a lengthy history with VUSSC

Patila’s support for the organisation began during her first VUSSC involvement at a Bootcamp in Vancouver, Canada where she helped map out a programme on disaster management in 2007.

“I was a team leader at the time, and our group developed a disaster management course that we still use today at NUS (National University of Samoa),” she says. The inspiration and connections made during that activity, helped Patila begin to appreciate the full potential for collaboration outside of the borders of Samoa. 

Her subsequent involvement in international research projects around climate change and their impacts around aquatic systems also sparked her interest in cross-border collaboration, and helped her see the benefits available through this approach.

Looking into the future of VUSSC

What areas does Patila see VUSSC exploring in the coming years?

“As educators, we need to investigate the potential for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in learning, while making sure we’re able to maintain the integrity of learning itself,” she says. 

“By working together on big questions such as ‘How can we use AI?’ and What are the implications of using AI?’ I believe we can save ourselves time and find better solutions.”

The possibility of a co-degree in Climate Science is another option that Patila is keen to explore further, an avenue that she thinks hold great promise for both the residents and governments of all VUSSC countries. 

And helping nations address some of their most vital development challenges – such as a critical shortage of teachers – is something she’s drawn to.

“The work we’re able to produce with our ongoing educational collaboration is what makes VUSSC such a unique opportunity,” says Patila. “And the power of this work to help us all build capacity and resilience for the people in our countries and our local communities is something that all of us involved in VUSSC need to engage in to make it as successful as possible.”

When she’s not serving as the Vice Chancellor of NUS, a post that she started in March 2023, Patila balances her life out by spending time with her four grandchildren, all of whom are under 10 years of age. If she does happen to find a few minutes of spare time for herself, she enjoys a good detective story and trying to determine “Whodunnit?”, which mirrors her lifelong interest in problem-solving and finding answers to tough questions.

New Management Committee members also appointed
There have also been two new members recently appointed to the Management Committee:

Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw
Chief Education Officer
Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Barbados

Mr Francil Antonio Morris
Chief Education Officer
Ministry of Education, Saint Kitts and Nevis

You can also find more information on the VUSSC Management Committee here.

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