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EDITORIAL: Boarding School Issue Needs A Talanoa Session

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama recently returned from a tour to the Northern Division. As usual, one of the hallmarks of his tour included consultations with local residents, a talanoa
11 Apr 2015 11:45
EDITORIAL: Boarding School Issue Needs A Talanoa Session
QVS students at a leadership seminar

The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama recently returned from a tour to the Northern Division. As usual, one of the hallmarks of his tour included consultations with local residents, a talanoa session. This was a forum where people raised issues with Mr Bainimarama about land, public utilities, rehabilitation and assistance, law and order amongst other things.

The Prime Minister’s effective and efficient response was to get onto the phone with a relevant senior government officer to address the situation at hand. Most situations in the context of the Prime Minister’s talanoa sessions have been dealt with in a manner of hours or days. If a situation was not addressed immediately, like the request for the construction of school buildings, the request was sent to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) Engineers who surveyed the site for checks before proceeding with the construction or renovation.

Given the negative response to the Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy’s proposal to prioritise boarding schools for rural dwellers we suggest the honourable minister take a leaf out of the Prime Minister’s book and engage in some serious talanoa sessions.

If old scholars of Queen Victoria School (QVS), Ratu Kadavulevu School (RKS) and Adi Cakobau School (ACS) bristle at the idea of being categorised as part of the ‘elite’ there is good reason.

As a correspondent to the Fiji Sun letters to the editor column pointed out, he did not have the benefits of a privileged upbringing, having to study by benzene light at night, attending RKS. His story is far from unique. It could be argued that even QVS, set up as Vuli ni turaga (Vulinitu), a school set up in 1906 to educate the sons of Fijian chiefs actually became the antithesis of its founding ideas.

Becoming a conduit for  iTaukei ‘commoners,’ for want of a better word, from every corner of our sun-splashed country, the majority of its alumni, hardly consists of  blue-blooded iTaukei. If the current crop of elite Fijians, that occupy top-paying jobs in the Government and private sector want their children raised at these schools, it’s for a good reason.

Boarding schools help incalculate a sense of gratitude in their graduates. Cane knives replaced mobile phones, cassava and dalo replaced bread, discipline replaced unfettered youthful indulgence and fraternity replaced narcissism.

Parents don’t want children who act with a sense of entitlement, ungrateful for the life they live. Boarding schools with their spartan lifestyles help shape their foundational values into the lives of these young people.

If there is abuse in the system it can be checked and dealt with. But like the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the Northern Division, the current impasse between the Minister and the old scholars is worth a talanoa session.

At the end of the day, both parties might find more commonalities that disagreements. That’s the ethos in the new Fiji.

Feedback:  josuat@fijisun.com.fj

 




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