French Polynesia

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French Polynesia (French: Polynésie française, Tahitian: Pōrīnetia Farāni) is a French overseas collectivity in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory (Papeete). Although not an integral part of its territory, Clipperton Island was administered from French Polynesia until 2007. The population is just over 260,000. The currency is the CFP franc - not the euro. French is the official language of French Polynesia. A law of 1996 states that "French is the official language, Tahitian and other Polynesian languages can be used." At the 2007 census, among the population of 15 and older, 68% of people reported that the language they speak the most at home is French.

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:French Polynesia.

Education in French Polynesia

For a general description of education in French Polynesia see Education:French Polynesia.

The major issue facing the education system in French Polynesia is the failure of local schools to meet the educational needs of Polynesian children. School participation rates for Polynesian students are well below those of other ethnic communities. Even before the end of compulsory schooling, large numbers of Polynesian students have dropped out. Many Polynesian students enter their first year of secondary school underprepared and fall further behind with every year. As a result, Polynesian participation rates in higher education are extremely low. The language policy appears to be one important factor in this attrition rate. French is the language of classroom instruction in almost all cases and this situation puts Polynesian students at a disadvantage. Recent pilot programs have shown the benefits of education in Polynesian students’ first languages. It can be argued that the expanded use of Polynesian languages in primary and secondary schools may go some way towards redressing the gap in educational outcomes. (1)


For a description more focussed to e-learning see E-learning:French Polynesia.

The Centre National d'Enseignement à Distance (CNED) in France offers a wide range of secondary-level DE courses in French Polynesia. The CNED not only offers programs for secondary students who wish to enrol in subjects not taught at their schools (such as certain languages), but also post-Baccalauréat qualification, foundation courses and courses to prepare students for civil service examinations. Most students in French Polynesia are supplied printed course notes, audio-visual materials and CD-ROMs. In addition, a number of online courses are accessible online at the CNED site. (2)

A number of metropolitan French TVET providers offer students in French Polynesia distance courses in vocational and professional fields. (2)

The CNED also offers distance education courses at a tertiary level in French Polynesia. In addition, there are a large number of French universities with active distance education programs. Many of these institutions may be presumed to have students in French Polynesia. (2)

The main tertiary education provider in French Polynesia is the Université de la Polynésie Française (UPF) on Tahiti. The UPF offers diploma, bachelor, masters and doctoral level programs, as well as offering distance education through the open source system, DOKEOS. The UPF shares its École Doctorale with the Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie (UNC). In addition, the École has partnership arrangements with other universities in overseas French territories. This situation means that the École is something of an exception to the general run of education providers in French Polynesia having an international reach. Interestingly, the École Doctorale currently makes use of the latest DE technologies, including the videoconferencing, digital journals and the UPF’s own Esp@don digital campus platform. It is likely that the UPF will continue to experiment with distance education technologies and when the Honotua fibre optic cable comes on line, it is expected that the UPF will expand its online provision of DE accordingly. The UPF appears to be continuing to experiment with distance education, clearly perceiving it as a mode of legitimate teaching to address the challenges and barriers to education in French Polynesia. UPF is continuing to invest in the use of advanced information technologies to deliver courses and qualifications. (1) In 2003, the UPF began experimenting with distance education using an online LMS. The UFP has created the Esp@don digital campus using the open source Dokeos platform. This platform supports tutoring by email, chat, forums and online assessment activities. This project appears to be at an early stage. (2)

Quality procedures

Internet in French Polynesia

Internet hosts (2010) - 36,056

Internet users (2008) - 90,000 (2)

In 2010, the Office des Postes et Télécommunication de la Polynésie Française (OPT) completed the Honotua fibre optic cable connecting several islands in French Polynesia to Hawai‘i. The Honotua cable will eventually revolutionise Internet communications within French Polynesia and between the territory and the rest of the world. At present, however, OPT is still waiting for final approval from the United Sates to operate the link. Moreover, it will be some time before the Honotua cable is capable of providing its full connection speed. (2)

Internet in Education

Until the full operation of the Honotua cable, distance learners in French Polynesia will continue to experience obstacles in the use of ICT. (2)

Copyright law in French Polynesia

Copyright law in Education

OER Initiatives in French Polynesia

The ICDE report on regulatory frameworks for distance education could not find any legislation or policies in support of OER. (1) However, it might be suggested that OERs could help with some of the problems faced in the French Polynesian education system, such as reaching out to students not as comfortable learning in French. The efforts of the UPF in experimenting with distance education and open source systems might give hope that they would be a potential partner in the development in OERs.

National OER initiatives

Regional OER initiatives

Institutional OER initiatives


2. ICDE Country Profile for French Polynesia (


1. ICDE Report: 'Regulatory frameworks for distance education: A pilot study in the Southwest Pacific/South East Asia region - Final report'. December 2011. Prepared by the Project Team (Team leader, Dr. Rosalind James) (accessed at on Monday 9th July 2012)

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