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RESET FIJI: Focus On Resetting Education System

The impact of COVID-19 has become a defining moment for Fiji’s formal education system, with the lockdown and closure of schools, universities and learning institutions for three months.
27 Jul 2020 10:03
RESET FIJI: Focus On Resetting Education System
USP Senior Economics Lecturer Neelesh Goundar, Playwright and Director Larry Thomas, RESET Fiji host Stanley Simpson, Founder Fiji Rugby Academy Sereimaia Bai, National President Fiji Early Childhood Teachers Association Ufemia Camaitoga and deputy principal International School of Suva Hector Hatch..

The impact of COVID-19 has become a defining moment for Fiji’s formal education system, with the lockdown and closure of schools, universities and learning institutions for three months.

This forced educators across the country to transition to a world of virtual learning. The reopening of schools with stringent protocols and health standards has created challenges for a conducive learning environment.

With such challenges, RESET Fiji’s seventh episode focused on education. The five panellists participated in robust and innovative discussions on how to reset the formal education system.

 

Larry Thomas

A renowned local playwright, writer, director and documentary filmmaker said the current education system in Fiji did not encourage creativity.

“We have a system where children actually learn in fear, they are told that it is either right or wrong, black or white, good or bad, there is nothing in between,” Mr Thomas said.

He said teachers were too busy fulfilling administrative duties to have the time to be able to nurture students.

“Our education system, in my view, comes down to economics, what profession, what jobs that you can do, but that will earn you income, and often you go to traditional professions of teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants and we do not look at the creative industry.”

 

Hector Hatch

The deputy Principal of International School Suva said: “We are talking about nation-building, we are talking about the benefit to a nation, when we talk about education, it is much more than the result on a piece of paper, it is actually about the future of the country. I would suggest we address and we have the opportunity to reset, look at the curriculum, document and resources that we use.

“With the hearts of the fathers and sons, I think we are talking about two different generations. One generation who is responsible turns and considers the need for the second generation, the upcoming generation. Then we can see the real progress and real healing in the nation,” he said.

Mr Hatch has been a teacher, assistant and deputy principal in New Zealand and Fijian schools for the past 32 years.

 

Neelesh Goundar

A senior lecture with the University of the South Pacific, Neelesh Goundar said the Government needs to relook at ways to harness the community-stake partnership in the school system.

Mr Goundar said with 35 per cent of the population currently unemployed, help must be for the children in those households to succeed in schools.

“One of the things that the schools are currently doing is to provide meals to children who are attending these schools come from households where at least someone has lost a job, their income has gone down,” Mr Goundar said.

 

Sereimaia Bai

The founder of Fiji Rugby Academy, Sereimaia Bai, commended the work of all teachers who were able to teach successfully despite an outdated education system.

“We should be very thankful to all the teachers of Fiji because we have produced some of the professors, pilots, not only employed here in Fiji, but overseas as well,” Mr Bai said.

He said the unemployment rate in Fiji led him to start a rugby academy.

“In 2018, Fiji recorded about 15,000 unemployed youths, this is the reason for me to start a Rugby Academy. If it is an academy, it is where you develop potential and elite rugby players, I always call it, it is an environment,” Mr Bai said.

 

Ufemia Camaitoga

The national president Fiji Early Childhood Teachers Association said there was a need to move beyond traditional boundaries in teaching and learning with young children.

Ufemia Camaitoga said: “Let’s take learning to the homes. And I am talking about the home-based education care model.”

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

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