Updated: Jul 21, 2022
"The teaching of vernacular languages needs to be emphasised in Fiji's schools to preserve culture and traditions". R.Harakh
This is an article from 1976 - a long time ago. It was written by (now) a famous editor known to us all : Nemani Delaibatiki. For those who might be from another era who visit our page, the subject was a Mr Ram Harakh retiring as Deputy Secretary. Many a teacher would have known him (according to the article he would have trained 2,000 teachers at the NTC) - with good and bad memories! Mr Harakh was clearly a humanities and history teacher and who was in an era where science and enquiry took over the "classics".
Putting aside who the people are in the article, there are things that we should reflect on aside from the quote above - for as Winston Churchill once said, "those who ignore the lessons of history are condemned to repeat it".
In the early days of education in Fiji, a great deal of emphasis was placed on religious education in schools which were identified with culture and traditions. It came to be replaced with as Mr Harakh called it the "Sputnik" - gravitation of educational systems towards a scientific bias and "more important aspects of human relationships" to more or less fend for themselves.
Even in 1976, there was a reference to the expected brain drain of professional people - something that has been exacerbated
There were no fixed salaries for teachers and teachers haggled with committees for salaries
Teachers first joined the Fiji civil service in 1944 before that they were not part of the service
In 1976, there were 128 secondary schools with a roll of 34,940
What are your views on the teaching of vernacular? What has changed from 46 years ago? How important is it - for "important aspects of human relationships?". The Fiji education system has embraced the teaching of vernacular - is it being strongly advocated for and valued, what is the basis of this in the educational ecosystem? We state this with the resurgence of vernacular in our neighbours such as in New Zealand. The welcome (we state our bias here) approach to the incorporation of Te Reo (Maori language) in New Zealand is refreshing.