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Women Speak Out! A Report of the Pacific Women's Conference. October 27 – November 2

New Hebrides

New Hebrides

I would like to make a comment to support and clarify Lucette's statement on education in New Caledonia which is similar to the situation in New Hebrides. I feel even though some of our speakers have said that national topics are becoming or clouding the overall women's issues, as far as the area of education is concerned, I feel that we must understand and I ask you to understand, that in the French territories, that's New Caledonia, Tahiti and New Hebrides, the situation is a little bit different if not very different from the experience that the other territories have been through. Some of you people speak from independent platforms, places that have already gained their independence, and determine their own education system; whereas in our areas that exist under colonialism, this problem is not only duplicated, it is multiplied, because the education system is not only an imposed one it is in many ways in contradiction to our traditional way of education.

The underlying factor in our colonial situation is that page 44 the type of education that we have has been planned hundreds of years ago and that is why we have this type of education that we have. For example, Lucette has brought out the fact that in today's education on the French side, a woman is expected to speak good French, is expected to dress nicely, wear make-up the right way, and all those kind of things. This is because the colonial policy, the plan that has been made by the colonial governments when they came in and took over our countries, especially on the French side, have always been and are still effective today, is that you educate a person to become a Frenchman, and that when you move into a country, you occupy that country and make it a part of France outside France. Therefore, you try to turn those people into French people. So to be recognised at all, you either inter-marry and produce mixed-blood people who speak French and who adopt French life-style, or if you don't inter-marry and you keep within your own ethnic groups, then you must deny everything that is yours before you can be recognised.

In the New Hebrides, for instance, education has not been allowed until the last ten years even though the New Hebrides has existed under colonialism for more than sixty years - it's in its sixty-nineth year this year. At the moment there is only one high school in the whole country. This is not an accident, it has been planned.