Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On
Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Education is important and we now have three universities? What do they teach? Are they different in any way? We have the University of the South Pacific, University of Fiji and the Fiji National University. With three choices, people will want to know what subjects are being offered. With this question in mind I ask, what makes a university?
I had the privilege of speaking to the distinguished Professor Subramani, lecturer in ethics and literature at the Fiji National University about the subject. Early this week Professor Subramani gave the staff of University’s Namaka Campus a brief about the subject. He referred to Cardinal John Henry Newman, who was an English Roman Catholic priest and poet who wrote a classic essay on the subject. It’s a fascinating read. There are two important points in the essay:
A university must offer a wide range of subjects for people who want to come and learn;the reason for having many courses is so that no one subject has a monopoly over the others. Interestingly, no one subject or discipline, as Professor Subramani said, has a monopoly over truth, even religious studies.
In Fiji we have allowed English to dominate to the detriment of the development of Fijian and Hindi. For me, the Fijian language is my second language and I believe it can be developed further to include new words. As it is, many people speaking Fijian have to use English words in sentences so that the full impact can be felt. If we followed Cardinal Newman’s advice all three languages would have equal merit or status in Fiji. If you allow some fields to dominate there will be an imbalance in society.
If we allowed economics and science to take precedence over social science and humanities, it will create a huge imbalance. Cardinal Newman said that universities should not just teach some skills and knowledge but all skills and knowledge so that students can become fully developed persons to live meaningful lives in society.
We should avoid narrowness in our education system. Professor Subramani said one good point was for students not to become too specialised. In this modern world many corporations undergo restructuring and jobs are lost. Flexibility in our learning system will allow people to be marketable. Universities should provide flexible learning and teachers should be encouraged to teach more than one subject.
Professor Subramani said there were two employment opportunities in Fiji that should be developed further –– sports and entertainment. Both these disciplines can bring name and fame. However, he said that we should not limit sports science only to soccer and rugby. Ironically we are number two in the world in lawn bowls, how many know the sport, let alone that we are world ranked. Professor Subramani stressed that Fiji can be world ranked in cricket.
In entertainment there are many opportunities to expose graduates to. There is film making, TV presentation, acting, dancing, music, script writing, lighting, prop and many more. There is a huge potential in entertainment and universities can grab the chance now. Persistence of excellence should be our motto.