News and Editor's Comments Friday 28.7.11

WEEKEND POSTINGS • Allen Lockington column •  Tevita Mara's Auckland Speech
•Reserve Bank 2010 annual report

Friday 28.7.11

HUGE INCREASE IN VKB REGISTRATIONS.The Vola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) determines itaukei membership into a yavusa (tribe) or mataqali (clan), verifies access to mataqali-owned lands and is also an avenue to justify title holders within iTaukei communities. This year has seen a huge increase in registrations, 4039 compared with 2049 last year. The increase is thought to be due mainly to Government policy changes that will (a) see lease money paid directly to landowners, and (b) compensation paid to resource owners for land leased, directly or through the Land Bank, in development ventures such as commercial farming and mining. People who are not registered by yavusa and mataqali will miss out on distributions.
MINISTER EMPHASISES FIRST LANGUAGE IMPORTANT. Education Minister Filipe Bole is right in stressing the importance of conducted classes in the first language for children's first three to four years at school. “When children are taught in their own mother tongue, they understand concepts better. After they have accumulated enough English vocabulary, they  will be able to communicate these concepts back even in the English language, which is the children’s second language.” -- Based on No.1502/MOE.
 Comment.   Right, but!  What's happened to Government's policy of making children tri-literate (English, Fijian, Hindi)? The younger language skills are acquired, the better, not just for the children but for nation-building.
HELPING MARITIME TRAVELLERS. Inter-island boats arriving at irregular times and the remote location of some outer island jetties has prompted government to build Waiting sheds  at seven locations this year at a cost of $1.7m. Vunisea on Kadavu and Taveuni have already been built and others are either construction or planned for at Koro, Vanua Balavu, Qarani on Gau, Rabi and Savusavu.  -- Based on No.1515/MOI.
THE MINISTRY OF WOMEN is working hard to development women's entrepreneurial skills to improve household incomes and empower rural women. Minister Dr Jiko Luveni says this is being done through business and financial literacy training in cooperation with the cooperatives department and vocational schools. Practical experience is also being encourages, with special attention to poultry farming and sewing.
   So far over 1,600 sewing machines have been distributed and for the first two years the women will develop their skills before venturing into large scale business. The first phase sees them meeting household needs and sewing school uniforms; the second phase will see some of them catering for Fiji’s lucrative tourism and garment industry market. The Ministry intends to establish a Sewing Centre along with a Technical and Vocation Training Centre specifically designed and tailored to prosper Fiji’s potential women entrepreneurs.-- Based on No:1509/MSWWPA.
EDUCATION AND INTERNAL MIGRATION. Secondary schooling — and access to scholarships for further education—  has long been a major reason for the migration of teenagers from the outer islands to Suva, and often their parents have moved with them. Next year Adi Maopa Secondary School on Vanua Balavu will help to defer the process by offering 7th form education for the first time. Minister of Education Filipe Bole said students will now "only leave the island to attend university education. The upgrading of Adi Maopa  to Form Seven ensures students enjoy the same privileges students in Suva and other urban schools access scholarships.” The Minister said he was impressed by the school's examination results, and in speaking to teachers, he urged them to "improve their qualifications. Those holding diplomas need to get degrees and postgraduate degrees. The impact will benefit the students,” he said. -- Based on No:1500/MOE. 
     I have no wish to labour the point but this is yet another example  of the "small" but important incremental infrastructural steps being taken by government to improve conditions for ordinary people in rural areas and the outer islands. 


Languages for the 21st century said…
Complex ideas must be imparted in languages which are best able to process them. For this reason, Latin and Greek were taught for years as well as English in many European countries.

There is no reason whatsoever for vernacular languages not to be taught simultaneously with English which is now a Global Language and the pre-eminent language of business. The Philippines have taken advantage of this to establish their Call Centres.

Many countries like Switzerland teach all indigenous languages as 'source languages' and no one is disadvantaged by this: quite the reverse. Those who have been taught classical languages from an early age have immensely benefited and this would extend to Arabic and to other Asian languages where an extensive history may thus be accessed.

Children need to be stretched. To achieve this, their teachers must have been stretched ahead of them. The teaching of diverse languages requires up-to-date IT and multiple sources of relevant material including first-class radio and television programmes. This must also extend to Village/settlement and towns.

It is really a regional enterprise in scope and it needs to be fast-tracked.
Politically correct language-speak said…
@ Languages for the 21st century.....

We need to remind ourselves that in the aftermath of the 2000 upheaval, there were people, supposedly well educated, proposing that ONLY the iTaukei language and associated dialects should be taught (this might well have extended to 'spoken' as it has in the past in countries under military rule like General Francisco Franco's Spain). Can you imagine what it might be like to live daily with the language you SPEAK even AT Home set by decree? Ask any Spaniard and Google 'Spain under Franco' No Spanish region other than Castilla was permitted to speak its own language nor publish newspapers or make radio programmes except in Castilian. A language of only one central region.

However, within Fiji in 2000 there were advocates who wished to abolish English. This in a nation trying to find a niche existence in a rapidly globalized world?

In China, a 5000 year old nation, English is now considered essential, fundamental for economic growth. No disrespect whatsoever to Mandarin or to Cantonese and other regional languages. This is to confront reality with open arms: opportunity is the name of this game and it results in a growing rate of GDP. This increased productivity benefits development for all.

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