Instill Culture In Our Children
The following is Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy’s address while opening the Multi-Cultural Centre workshop .
The director, Heritage Collin Yabaki; other senior staff from the Heritage section; the administrators from the various Multi-Cultural Centres; other invited guests; ladies and gentlemen, Good morning, ni sa bula vina, namaste and warm greetings to one and all.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to be here today to officiate at the first ever Multi Cultural Centre Workshop.
The theme of this workshop: Centre plans and Strategies to raise Cultural Diversity is aptly chosen especially at the current time when the global society is rapidly becoming more and more ethnically diverse.
With great strides made in the field of technology, transport and communication, the 21st century sees countries all over the world benefitting from the phenomena of ethnic mixing, racial integration and culture sharing.
Our beloved nation Fiji, being known for the rich cultural features all over the world is certainly no different.
Therefore, to raise cultural diversity amongst the people, especially, in children, is a great way to enhance cultural sustainability and peace and harmony in the country.
Ladies and gentlemen, Fiji is a country where our children are raised in diverse multicultural settings.
In Contemporary Fiji, our children need to continue learning about their own culture and at the same time respect and appreciate others cultures and values and accommodate them in their lives so as to become much better rounded and accomplished citizens.
Ladies and gentlemen, the main objective of this forum is to strategise and plan to heighten cultural diversity in our nation.
Enticed with the vision to promote “Social Cohesion through Cultural Diversity”, the five Multi-Cultural Centres, over the years has trained many Fijian children in cultural music, dance and playing of musical instruments.
The centres have prepared students to understand the richness of cultural instruments and most importantly instilled in them the discipline and dedication, that is linked to cultural music and other aspects of learning.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a time period when children do not give due interest to cultural activities, especially, in learning cultural instruments and art.
The communities and social groups are seeing a drop in participation of young people in cultural and religious events.
This is where we, together with the parents and other stakeholders, come in.
The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts operates with a vision for quality education, which inculcates all academic, extra-curricular, mental and physical development of children including the development of cultural values, skills and mastery of art.
We are focusing on the holistic development of children with emphasis on their ability to learn cultural talents so as to contribute positively to the wellbeing of the nation.
The Bainimarama Government having prioritised education encompasses the vision to attain quality in all aspects of education.
While we have had delightful success at giving opportunity to all Fijians to attain formal education, I am afraid that while the funding has been there, the ability of the centres to reach out to the community at large is something which is missing.
This is precisely why this workshop becomes that extra more special. This is a time of collaboration so that effective avenues can be planned to reach out to more students and motivate them to learn at the centres.
This workshop will also look at other key issues pertaining to the operations of the centres. One such area is financial management. The funds allocated for the different activities and processes must be effectively used.
The injection of funding into projects or action plans must be output driven, that is, result oriented. It has been a sad situation where we have to investigate issues of funds mismanagement in some centres.
This certainly paints a wrong picture on those that are at the helm of the different centres where such issues come up.
Ladies and gentlemen, the operations of the multicultural centres are a very noble profession. It reflects on the identity of different group of people and teaches their values and beliefs through the art and talent that is taught.
The people learning that and the people teaching the art require high levels of self-discipline and determination to succeed. As such, it is extremely important that the morals of honesty always prevail.
The funding which is directed towards the development of Fijians, especially, the children must be devoted to that and nothing else.
The Administrators at the centres play a critical role in ensuring that the Centre operates in a manner which is in line to the vision of the Ministry and the Government of the day’s objectives.
Set up policies which define the operations at your centre. Ensure that your services are of the best quality and your students learning experiences becomes a perfect marketing tool for the centre. Promote your activities and programmes and come up with dynamic ideas to grow.
Administrators must not be satisfied at static ideologies, but rather be the agent to bring about positive transformations at the centre.
Ladies and gentlemen, the marketability of the programmes of the Centres need to be bolstered with new initiatives and ideas.
The programmes have to be attractive and responsive to consumer needs in this era. Of course the biggest aspect of that is quality services. You must move out and reach to the community at large to spread the information on the programmes on offer and the workings of the centre. Generate the public interest in the activities at the centre.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are designing the Fijian education system in a way so that it is responsive to the needs of the students, responsive to the needs of the nation and responsive to the needs of the world.
If we would have continued with old procedures, systems and ideas, then we would have been still lagging behind. Now, we have a refurbished education system which is marketable in the 21st century global society. Similarly, I expect the operations of the Multi-Cultural Centres to improve.
You must first eliminate all barriers that hinder progression and development and then inject new strategies and plans to see a more vibrant, achievement driven organisation.
I also encourage you to form vital partnerships with private sector organisations, businesses and NGO’s. Promote the work of the centre to people in this sector to motivate them to invest into the programmes and activities.
While this becomes a key cost sharing initiative, it at the same time also ensures the workings of the centre are well transited to all areas of the society, including the business firms and industries.
Ladies and gentlemen, programmes at the centre become extra important given the fact that it will occupy our children for all the right reasons.
Many times we hear of incidents and problems that our children get into when they are not occupied.
The school holidays serve as an opportune time for centres to come up with attractive activities, which on one hand broadens the scope of knowledge for our children while on the other hand, gives them the time to interact with new people and form important relationships.
The workshop today motivates all stakeholders associated with the centres to come together to forge better pathways.
Connecting to the public and particularly to the students will undoubtedly attract students to the centres and which is important for the successful operation of the centre.
From this workshop, I intend to see a marked transformation in the operations of the centres, particularly, in the field of raising the bar of service delivery, attracting more students and proper management of funds.
Thank you, vinaka vakalevu and danyavaad.