Letters To The Editor, 31st August 2017

Civil Service Reforms: Teachers’ Contract Dewan Chand, Suva I write to warmly congratulate Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister responsible for civil service, for his foresight, proactive vision, meticulous planning and efficient execution
31 Aug 2017 15:05
Letters To The Editor, 31st August 2017

Civil Service Reforms: Teachers’ Contract

Dewan Chand, Suva

I write to warmly congratulate Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister responsible for civil service, for his foresight, proactive vision, meticulous planning and efficient execution of the Roadshow for civil servants, starting with the teachers.

This was a master stroke which caught the teacher unions flat footed and with their pants down!

They have no idea what struck them. As far as I am concerned it was the responsibility of the two teacher unions to have launched the “Road Show” to inform all their members at branch levels and to have given them a specific direction.

The unions were not prepared for any such actions and the membership had no idea what direction to follow.

The teachers had no idea about signing or not signing the five year contract. There were rumblings of a court case against the contract. And that’s just about all many knew.

The first “Road Show” at Jai Narayan College was a super success story with teachers. Their niggling questions were answered and the phenomenal salary rises were put before them.

They had never heard of such huge rises in their salaries. They simply could not believe it and when the hard facts sank in their minds there was no stopping them from signing the contract even if the teacher unions want it now. They have clearly lost the battle even before it started.

The euphoria amongst teachers is simply too great and unstoppable!

My friend Govind Singh, Secretary General of COPE, rang one of the senior teacher unionists to find out what was happening and what direction the unions will take. Because the mobile volume was high I could hear what was being said at the other end. I was simply baffled with the ignorance of this senior official.

He clearly had not done his homework. What kind of advice can the rank and file of teachers expect? As a former unionist myself I expect the union leaders to be fully abreast with the latest development in teacher administration for the 21st Century.

We all want well paid and efficient teachers in our classrooms.

The concept to reward effective classroom teachers with higher salaries is simply too good to be true

In my view, merit and performance must decide ones worth. This motivates people to work hard and upgrade their qualifications.

I wish the teachers every success in their professional careers.


Where were they?

Premila Prasad, Suva

Where was BC Prasad the NFP leader on Tuesday night? Where was Pio Tikoduadua?

Why did they miss an important meeting where BC Prasad was advertised to have been there?


Casino investment

Savenaca Vakaliwaliwa,  Suva

A fellow writer and friend suggested that the Methodist Church in Fiji invest in a casino whereby they can fulfill their mission vision statement to holistically meet their financial obligations and at the same time lessen the financial burdens and obligations of its members.

Some may say that this suggestion is an abomination as in the iTaukei and Christian mindset; casino and church do not mix.

But I remember that the church had major shares in Carlton Brewery some years back and after a while, it was viewed as just an investment.

From a Christian perspective it would be ironic and contradictory, if the church preaches against gambling, drunkenness and NCD’s and yet invests and fills up its coffers from the vices it stands up against.

I believe that if the Methodist Church in Fiji, being the biggest Christian denomination in Fiji, follows the Biblical principles of returning tithes and offerings (Mal. 3:8-12), it will not depend on investments.


Level of engagement

Parmesh Prasad, Suva

I applaud the letter written by Livi Kalou from New Zealand (F/S 26/08). She said it right. Such a level of engagement that the Attorney-General had with teachers was great.

Nowhere else in the world does this happen. Appreciate the good that is happening.


Pick up a book and read

Spencer Robinson , Suva

I can still clearly recall the constant reminders from my primary and secondary school teachers of the importance of reading books.

Often times as students, we were told of making use of the school library to read the local dailies and be informed of what is happening locally, regionally and internationally.

Our teachers also stressed the significance of taking story books for the weekend to read as it would improve on our English, both written and spoken. I took their advice, read a few books but not religiously. All this did not seem important to me at that time!

However, this invaluable advice rang loud bells of significance when I left high school and progressed to tertiary studies to undertake an undergraduate Agriculture Diploma. It was during those three years of undergraduate studies that I had to put in extra effort to read widely, especially, in my final year of Management Research based on A Critical Analysis of Value Adding on Fijian Agricultural Produce.

I managed to complete my studies and graduated with flying colours. However, the very advice and motivation from my primary and secondary school teachers never ceases to fade from my mind on the importance of reading books. I remember the advice with appreciation and imagine if I had taken reading very seriously during this compulsory education period.

Perhaps I would not have to put in the extra effort and probably done even better in tertiary studies. Sometimes things are meant to be or “everything happens for a reason.” Perhaps this could be the very reason for this contribution to this column, sharing my experiences to continue the legacy of my primary and secondary teachers to stress the importance of reading books and newspapers to our youngsters and future leaders of tomorrow.

I am also indebted to acknowledge the advice of my University Professors including Visiting Professors who had taught and continue to teach in my current postgraduate studies.

A former Visiting Professor who taught me in one of my Masters unit (Contemporary Issues in Asia Pacific) re-emphasized the significance of reading well and widely. He told a story of “a toad under the coconut shell” to illustrate what he had meant. He said that if you did not take reading seriously then you are equivalent to that of “a toad under a coconut shell.” That is, you would not know what is happening around you and your knowledge is limited around the rim and enclosure of the coconut shell in the story illustration. I have not forgotten this story because it has continued to motivate me till to date. I wish to thank this Visiting Professor for his words of inspiration and motivation. Indeed it is very hard to find academics of this calibre that go up to the point to explain concepts and issues until you fully grasp the idea. He was a simple academic, very intelligent but different (from the others) as it would be very rare to find another academic like him. He also said that there is a “genius inside of everyone” and that we must not underestimate our potential either academically or in other areas of our lives.

This is my story and a simple contribution to this column which I hope will continue to motivate everyone on the importance of not just reading, but reading “properly and widely” as it will improve your ability to write as well.


United Front?

ET Smith, Nausori

Seeing five political parties together on Tuesday reminded me of the United Front for a Democratic Fiji that had popped up before the 2014 general elections. It disappeared as suddenly as it had appeared. So did Mick Beddoes. Where is the man these days?


Serving the public

Geeta Pillay, Suva

Sake Ratu wrote about a rather pertinent issue- the attitude of civil servants now compared to before the reforms started. Take the Lands Department as one example.

Horrendous is how I can explain their behaviour some five years ago. Dreadful and a disgrace to the name ‘civil service’ and there have been many others in various departments who had taken their jobs for granted.

Serving the general public is what they are paid for but serving is what they failed to do.

If contracts can change this, it is for the best. Unionists keep out of this please. We need to get the civil service back to serving the people.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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