News and Comments Thursday 29 September 2011


 A COMMUNITY LAW CENTRE within the Legal Aid office was officially opened by the PM recently. The centre will assist in providing civil legal aid services on referral from Legal Aid and also double up as an important practical learning centre for 23 student advisers from USP's Law School who will provide opinions under the supervision of the Centre manager. A second second centre in planned for Nausori. -- No:1700/MOI.

MINISTRY LOOKS AT LANGUAGE POLICY. The Ministry of Education has conducted a survey of all primary and secondary schools  to ensure they are following the ministry’s language policy. And the ministry is now looking at its current language policy.

“There are three parts to this policy. Firstly, we look at teaching of vernacular in the lower primary, that is, classes one, two and three where teaching is done generally in the vernacular languages- mainly in Hindi, Fijian, Rotuman, Banaban and so forth,” the ministry permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal said. “The ministry will encourage teachers in the lower primary to teach in vernacular so that it is easy for students to understand as well.”

Dr Lal said the teaching of the conversational i-taukei and Hindi, which started from Class Five and goes up to secondary level, is also encouraged by the ministry. “We would like the Fijian students of Indian ethnicity to know a little bit of conversational Fijian and the i-taukei students to know a little bit of conversational Hindi,” he said.

“No child should be deprived of his or her mother tongue. That is why we are taking a good survey throughout the country of all primary and secondary schools to see that all these are being implemented. -- No:1589/MOI.

Ed. Note. I have made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain information on languages (and civics education) in schools.  What I wanted was information on the curricula, and the numbers, locations and classes involved.  I would be grateful if anyone can help me obtain this information. The promised implementation of these two new programmes is critical to government policies on a multi-cultural society.

"THE INDIANS WANT YOUR LAND". From 1998 to about 2001 "politics" resulted in many hundred of sugarcane leases not being renewed, and some of the pressure not to renew leases came from the NLTB, the body responsible for lease renewals. At the time, itaukei landowners were unofficially promised support from government if they lost income by not renewing the leases.

The result was that many Indo-Fijian farming families left the land to live in squatter settlements in the West and along the Suva-Nausori corridor; sugar production dropped drammatically depriving the nation of much needed income; and the landowners were left with vacant land and no cash income from leases.

All this because of the scaremongering call: The Indians want your land.

It will take years for the industry to recover from this act of economic sabotage but there are now signs that the tide is turning.   Reports from the Northern (Vanua Levu) Division show that "the majority of of expired leases ... have been renewed". Fiji Cane Growers Association CEO  Mohammed Rafiq said the positive move by the Government through the ILTB and the landowners has given hope to farmers to remain in the industry. [It is] a win-win situation for the industry.

“The fast tracking of land lease renewals will benefit the tenants as they have a place to live and farm, the sugar industry will grow because of more productivity and idle land put to good use, landowners will continue to receive payment for the use of their land and the nation’s economy will benefit from the sale of our sugar industry.' He agreed with the PM who had said politicians had poisoned the industry. "With politics erased, we are starting to see better days and there will be more in the near future,” he said.


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