My Say: Gaunavinakas A Wonderful Role Model In iTaukei Education

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the 4 The Record programme on FBC Television last night. Timoci Gaunavinaka is an ordinary iTaukei. But he speaks
20 Aug 2018 10:00
My Say: Gaunavinakas A Wonderful Role Model In iTaukei Education
Timoci Gaunavinaka

This is an edited version of Nemani Delaibatiki’s My Say in the 4 The Record programme on FBC Television last night.

Timoci Gaunavinaka is an ordinary iTaukei. But he speaks with passion, sincerity and a firm belief that iTaukei can excel in education if they make the effort and wise choices.

But first they must:

  • Stop the finger pointing and blame game and change their mentality.
  • That means taking on a positive attitude and focus on working hard rather than blaming the system and using Indo-Fijians and other races as scapegoats.

I have spoken on this issue before but it is great when ordinary members of the public like Mr Gaunavinaka endorse what I have said.

Mr Gaunavinaka, an avid letter writer in the Fiji Sun, last week hit the nail on the head on this issue.

His views correct the misinformation and lies spread by some Opposition politicians.

Mr Gaunavinaka does not believe in the affirmative action that allocating a certain percentage of scholarships for iTaukei students as proposed by SODELPA and the Unity Fiji Party will level the playing field in uplifting the academic performances of iTaukei students at tertiary level.

He says this racist policy has already been tried before and it failed miserably under both the SDL (Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua) and SVT (Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei) governments.

He makes the bold statement that “Our iTaukei failure in academic achievements is of our own making, and until we address the root cause, no one can help us.”

He says look at the recent three-week duration of the Powerade Deans Rugby finals for example, and consider the amount of focus and expenses we spend on it.

Prioritising resources

Mr Gaunavinaka says the Kaji Rugby drained a lot of resources for iTaukei families and so do the Athletics zones competitions and the annual Coke Games.

He says if this focus and expenses were to be channelled to academia, of course we would have improved relatively, but we choose not to.

He suggests it would only cost a few dollars to engage a private tutor to assist our children in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and other subjects they are weak in for extra hours on Saturdays.

But, he says, we would rather spend that money in sending them to play rugby or netball, use it in our various soqo and its kalavata or even for buying yaqona, than spend them for such a vital purpose.

Playing the race card

Of course, he adds, many iTaukei families have benefitted from these investments in sports when their children make it into Super Rugby, European Top Rugby clubs or get employed by the British Army or security forces because of their physicality.

“But when that happens, we do not hear Indo-Fijians or our local Chinese complaining that those contracts should be given on a fair percentage of ethnic distribution.

“Why then shall we complain to share scholarships on ethnic lines victimising the Indo-Fijian student who worked so hard and scored good marks by denying him and giving it to a iTaukei student who spend long hours in sports resulting in his low marks ?

“This is how the ‘race card’ is now being played again by the same old group for political gains. They believe that for our iTaukei race to thrive, other races must suffer as a consequence and through no fault of their own.

“They have no idea on how all races can embrace each other, unite and climb up the ladder of opportunity, progress and enjoy prosperity together.

He or she is never a victim of anything as some opposition parties now try to claim.”

Mr Gaunavinaka is spot on. It’s an insult to call iTaukei victims in their own land.

They are not marginalised as some claim. Their rights and land ownership are protected by the Constitution.

They communally own most of the land in Fiji. The challenge is how they can convert this big asset into cash.

Mr Gaunavinaka has seven children who all reached university.

Today there are three Bachelors Degrees and a Masters Degree hanging on the sitting room wall of their family home.

Mr Gaunavinaka’s youngest son is on his fifth year of the six-year MBBS programme at the Fiji National University. He says they are not gifted, but just work very hard.

He says they prove that we iTaukei can accomplish the same if we make the right choices and work hard in life.

The Gaunavinaka family is an inspiration. Using the principle of hard work and commitment they have become achievers. If they can do it, other iTaukei can do it too. I am sure there are many Fijian families out there like the Gaunavinakas who are quietly contributing to society.

All we hear is the politics of race, religion, division, gloom and doom from some Opposition politicians. Let’s change our mindset.

I am certain that the Gaunavinakas started their journey way back when the children were babies. They have walked with them through pre-school and primary, laying down the foundation to their education pursuit.

Then they helped them through secondary school, investing in extra tutorial classes after normal school hours to help their children improve their grades until they were able to stand on their own two feet and manage on their own.

They were not gifted students but they succeeded through hard work.

When they finally reached university they were ready to take on the world.

They are living testimonies of the importance of work as a universal and divine principle.

Let’s stop making excuses and get down to work.


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