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Benchmarking Our Education System, The Fijian Way

In the last ten years, traditional powerhouses of education, United States, Britain and Australia have had a rude awakening of sorts. Graduates of their educational systems, no longer rank at
06 Nov 2014 10:49
Benchmarking Our Education System,  The Fijian Way

In the last ten years, traditional powerhouses of education, United States, Britain and Australia have had a rude awakening of sorts. Graduates of their educational systems, no longer rank at the top, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

The 2012 assessment programme, run by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has a few telling results.

According to PISA, in the three key areas of maths, science and reading, no Western country apart from Finland featured in the top five for any of the three key areas.

It’s no surprise then that leaders of the Western world have demanded major educational reforms in their countries. Reflecting the Government’s ambitions, Fijian Minister for Education, Dr Mahendra Reddy, has also hopped on board the bandwagon. Starting tomorrow, the National Education Conference, to be held in Lautoka, will discuss the theme, “Aligning National Curriculum to Development Needs.”

The two-day programme covers an impressive array of topics. The cream of local educationalists will be sharing their opinions and expertise on the way forward for the Fiji education systems.

Some of the highlights will be listening to specialists on mathematics; Rashida Singh, Sereima Takiveikata, literacy; Samuela Tuinabua and Bhagwanji K. Bhindi, Disaster Risk management; Mohan Kumar Bera and others. Topics will also included physical education, arts, numeracy, stress management, curriculum development and even student obesity.

In the light of this, it’s important that the words of international advisor on education Sir Keith Robinson are considered, “The dropout crisis is just the tip of an iceberg. What it doesn’t count are all the kids who are in school but being disengaged from it, who don’t enjoy it, who don’t get any real benefit from it.”

Fiji doesn’t necessarily have to copy other countries’ roadmap to the top. Even though South Korea is ranked consistently in the top ten, it’s hyper-competitive education environment produces what one commentator termed ‘unhappy students.’ The social pressures to succeed are immense in this Asian nation.

That’s why it’s interesting to note that one of the speakers at the National Education Conference is Mosese Natuilagilagi, whose presentation is entitled ‘Reconceptualising Teacher Training and Education-the Vaka-Pasifiki Way.”

Maybe organisers wanted to save the best for last by slotting him in at 4.20pm tomorrow at the FNU Lecture Theatre, Lautoka Campus.

If we’re ever going to benchmark our Fijian education systems against international standards, it has to involve all stakeholders, teachers, school managers, families and communities. Teachers aren’t magicians and expectations of them should be realistic.

However, tomorrow’s conference is a major step in the right direction.

It took 50 years to turn the South Korean and Finnish education systems around. The important thing is their governments set their targets and applied themselves diligently to achieve them. We need to do the same.

Feedback: josua.tuwere@fijisun.com.fj

 




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