We Need To Listen To What The Ordinary People Are Saying

Some politicians would like us to think that they are representing the people’s views when they speak on certain issues.
11 Feb 2020 12:00
We Need To Listen To What The Ordinary People Are Saying
Adi Cakobau School students. Insert: Ratu Kadavulevu School students with their new principal Arvind Prasad.

Some politicians would like us to think that they are representing the people’s views when they speak on certain issues.

Sometimes they are not.

It’s obvious they put a spin on issues to suit their own political agenda.

The latest case in point was the criticism by some Opposition politicians and some church representatives against the appointment of Indo-Fijian principals in some Government and church schools.

The Fiji Sun later discovered that the stakeholders in two Government schools, Ratu Kadavulevu School and Adi Cakobau School, did not agree with the politicians.

They welcomed the new school heads and embraced their appointment.

The critics had argued that these were traditionally iTaukei schools with iTaukei school heads.

The change could endanger the character of the school, they claimed.

They unashamedly used the race card to incite anti-Government sentiments.

Last week, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama took to the airwaves on FBC radio to explain in iTaukei the reasons behind the appointments.

The feedback was great – that people accepted the rationale behind the move.

The appointments were done on merit, based on the best candidates for the jobs.

They were also done in the best interests of the students – not the politicians or anyone else.

That was the bottom line.


As far as faith-based schools are concerned the same principles apply.

It has been made clear that religious programmes in these schools would remain. That has been a concern.

There is also a worry that education would lose its religious component and its values.

Many parents, if they are asked, will admit that all they are concerned with is that their children attain their education goals.

Some have invested their meager earnings to ensure that they get a decent primary and secondary school education before they move on to higher learning at tertiary institutions.

It does not necessarily matter to them who heads the schools as long as the principals and teachers deliver on the desired positive outcomes

We should not be wary of change because it can be beneficial.

Queen Victoria School was originally set up for the chiefs. Later it was opened up to iTaukei commoners.

This was followed by the admission of girls. In the colonial days most of the teaching staff were expatriates. After Independence most these positions were localised.

The changes were part of the school’s evolution to what it is today. There is no doubt other schools went through a similar transformation.

Do we stop there? Of course not, we need to keep moving forward and innovate and introduce changes that would benefit the schools, and more importantly, the students, in the long term.

If the politicians in question had done their homework, they would find out the truth and not speak out prematurely.


It’s the same with the debate on the vernacular languages.

Many years ago English was not only compulsory in schools, students were punished if they spoke another language during school hours.

The vernacular languages were also taught but not included in the external examinations.

Those who went through that school system would appreciate the measures that were taken then to improve their English proficiency. They reaped the rewards later.

The reality is that English is a universal language and is the most common form of communication across the globe.

Because it is also our national language it is important that we learn to read and write in English. Students sit for their exams in English. When they go into university and other tertiary institutions, English is the medium of communication.

It is the same in the job market and in other facets of national life.

No one is stopping us from learning the vernacular languages. We can learn them at home through practice and courses that are available not only at school but privately, as well. They have their use in traditional and cultural settings.

It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children the vernacular languages and the preservation of their culture, customs and traditions.

The reality, however, is that to help their children get ahead in life, they need a good command of both spoken and written English – in the same way as they need a good quality school head irrespective of his or her race and religion.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj


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