Mr. Louis Arsac from the Embassy of France in Vanuatu has formally handed over the Doctorate in Science Award from University of Bordeaux in France to Dr Vomaranda Joy Botleng, the first ni-Vanuatu female to earn a doctorate in science from an European university.
The handing over took place on Friday May 31, 2019.
Dr. Joy started her PhD studies on the 16th December 2014 under the Partnership program between the Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education (VITE) and the Erasmus-Mundus STETTIN Project. On October 8th 2018, she successfully defended her doctoral thesis in the University of Bordeaux in front of a jury made up of science Full Professors from various universities in Europe.
This thesis defence process was witnessed by two ni-Vanuatu lecturers (with a science background) from VITE. It was the first time an Institute from Vanuatu was invited to be present during a PhD Thesis defence process in a European university.
The academic requirements to gain the doctorate award was quite tough, she said, apart from the normal process of carrying out research and writing a PhD thesis, she was also required to expose her research through paper presentations in international conferences and publish her work before she could defend her thesis.
She said it was not easy competing with science scholars around the world, but doing a research into a cutting-edge concept of digital fabrication, a MIT concept and one of the first researches of its kind in this field, her research and papers have been widely recognized in international conferences being held in Netherlands, China, the USA and Canada.
She just did not stop after her defence: Two weeks ago she flew out to present one of her papers in the University of Malta. Not only is she writing and presenting papers, this year she joins the team of Paper Reviewers where she reviews papers in her field of research from science scholars all over the world before presentation in international conferences and publications.
Although it is quite a challenge, she says she enjoys these academic challenges and experiences.
Her passion and interest in the science field is also influencing her children’s interest in science and career choices.
Her first born daughter has just graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Marine Science), her second born daughter is graduating at the end of this year with another Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry and her son is just starting his journey into Civil Engineering.
Dr. Joy has been a lecturer at the VITE for over 15 years now. She is lecturing Chemistry and at the same time appointed by the VITE Administration to oversee the Bachelor of Education design and course writing development prior to its implementation in 2020.
VITE intends to offer as of 2020 onwards Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching), Bachelor of Education (Secondary Teaching), Certificate IV in Education (Early Childhood Care) and Certificate IV in Education (Technical and Vocational Training).
All accreditation processes with the Vanuatu Qualification Authority (VQA) have been done and recommendations from VQA Expert Team have been dealt with progressively and VITE now awaits approval to deliver by VQA Board before it can actually start delivering the trainings.
Dr. Joy is also the first ni-Vanuatu PhD holder for VITE and her interest, work and study in science has helped in many ways the Science Education Department of VITE and the Institute.
This year, for the first time, VITE earned an ‘Observer Status’ in an international conference.
She has also helped in paving way for VITE to form partnerships with international STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related organizations which advocate for an integrative approach to the teaching of science, technology and mathematics in schools.
This program forms part of the VITE Science Department community involvement in science.
Through her involvement and the science department of VITE, partnership between VITE and organizations like ADRA was established.
One of the first product of this partnership is the launching of the first ever FLE Training Manual for the Vanuatu ADRA Blossom program last month.
The Acting Principal of VITE, Mr. Ben Boulekouran, acknowledges the effort and commitment Dr. Joy has invested in her studies and encourages women, youth and all ni-Vanuatu to consider Dr. Joy’s achievement as an example to follow particularly in areas of science, technology and engineering.
“I am proud of what Joy is achieving today,” said the Acting Principal.
“Being a simple teacher in the classroom back then and progressing through to become a lecturer at VITE with a master’s degree and now with a PhD.
“That is a career pathway we encourage for teachers in the field because we want them to see beyond the horizon, especially the young teachers.
“I understand that in the world of labour, with the right qualification and experiences comes the recognition of status and I only hope the Government is not taking too long to implement its Post School Education and Training (PSET) salary scale in relation to PSET providers because my worry is also to keep Dr. Joy at VITE.”
The French Embassy is very proud of Dr. Joy’s achievement, particularly when she is an Anglophone and studying in France within a French environment.
Being a woman, a mother and studying science and engineering at the PhD level is not that easy but she had made it and this can be an example to others.