Letters

Letters To The Editors, 28th, March, 2017

Education matters Christopher Griffin, Perth, Australia My ‘Constructive Education Criticism’ letter (FS 17/3) upset Tukai Lagonilakeba (FS 21/3) whose praise for the Ministry of Education (FS 14/3), blithely ignored ministry
28 Mar 2017 11:12
Letters To The Editors, 28th, March, 2017
Letter To The Editor

Education matters

Christopher Griffin,

Perth, Australia

My ‘Constructive Education Criticism’ letter (FS 17/3) upset Tukai Lagonilakeba (FS 21/3) whose praise for the Ministry of Education (FS 14/3), blithely ignored ministry shortcomings (FS 21/3), some of which I listed (FS 17/3).

In reply Mr Lagonilakeba’s letter (FS21/3) defies logic, ignores my facts, and resorts to innuendo.

Mr Lagonilakeba says I should not compare education in Fiji with education in Australia or – presumably anywhere else. I say, why not? Providing one’s intent in comparing is not to belittle, comparison provides a form of measurement. As does benchmarking against international ‘best practices’.

Mr Lagonilakeba contradicts himself. He says the time is coming when education standards in Fiji are on “equal level and footings with other developed countries” – a comparison in itself; he then qualifies that forecast with ‘in our own good Fiji Time’.

I know where he is coming from. Fijians like other Pacific Islanders are very wary of being proffered models of development felt alien and condescending – yet the truth is globalisation has caused us to rethink time and space. Take Climate Change. Here acting according to ‘Fiji Time’ would be foolish.

Action is required today, not tomorrow. Education is no different.

Blaming educational “woes” on Fiji’s colonial past and previous Fijian governments won’t help either.

The charge is valid, but it is time to move on. When it comes to action, the catch call “Fiji Time” hinders more than it helps. Indeed without a highly educated workforce, open to critical thinking, the issues of Climate Change will only worsen.

Mr Lagonilakeba seems to think I believe Fiji’s education problems rest with non-Fijian people, even though I said otherwise.

I certainly think there are lessons to be learnt about teaching and learning theory, best practice teacher training, curriculum design, and administrative expertise from bodies outside of Fiji, but I also stressed the importance of Fijian and other Islander education ‘experts’ overseas.

The core aim should be to turn out high quality teachers and then retain them.

That’s not just my opinion. It is the view of Dr Priscilla Puamau (2007) whose paper would be known to the ministry.

Mr Lagonilakeba admonishes me for suggesting we stop teachers from having to retire at 55.

He tells me to pipe down. But why should a Fijian citizen who spent a life in higher education, made his family home in Rakiraki, and saw his child through Fiji’s education system not advocate change?

Why, pray, such censoriousness? It hardly strikes a good chord for the future of schooling and education.

Why such hyper-defensiveness? What’s the back story?

Shattered dreams

Michael Chambers,

Lautoka

The dream of becoming a professional rugby player overseas for Etonia Lotawa Uluilakeba was cut short in 2015 when he got injured and damaged his hip bone while playing in local Kaji Rugby competition.

Due to the extent of his injury, he had to be aided with crutches to attend school daily.

Now a Year 9 student at Tilak High School, he sits on the sidelines cheering his team on for a sport that brought him his disability.

He was fortunate this year to qualify under his father’s medical insurance to obtain medical treatment overseas.

His father, a firefighter with the National Fire Authority in Lautoka, was seen running around making last minute arrangements for his son’s treatment in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, the cover only takes Etonia as far as India where he has to seek funds to transit to Hawaii for his operation. He has to be there on April 4 which is his appointment date or he loses out.

After his operation, he will be given six months to recover with regular check-ups to monitor his progress.

I am wishing Etonia well in his treatment and recovery. But that leaves the question on what Fiji Rugby Union, the parent body for Kaji Rugby, done to help those that have been injured like Etonia.

The answer, nothing. I believe every kaji player should be insured under a group medical scheme under the Kaji Rugby banner. Otherwise I would urge all parents not to allow their children to play as it will come back to haunt them when a serious injury happens. The oval ball is in your hands, you decide before fate tackles you.

 

Dog nuisance

Dewan Chand,

Namadi Heights

It took the death of a student in Navua for authorities to focus their attention on the nuisance the stray dogs in towns and cities. The Police have now charged the owner of the dog in question for negligence and keeping a dog without licence.

The law requires that owners of dogs pay licence and keep their animal chained and well within the control of their compound.

However, the reality is that hundreds of dogs are just let loose and they make early morning walk a frightening affair.

Therefore, the early morning walkers have no option but to carry a stick or some sort of defence mechanism to keep the dogs at bay.

Can the Ministry of Agriculture, which is tasked to issue dog licences and the city councils who have the task of laying traps to catch stray dogs reach some sort of amicable solution so that one authority does both things?

My deepest condolences to the parents of the child who lost his life as a result of a stray dog attack. May his soul rest in peace.

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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