Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On
Need for Education Check Up
I refer to the TV news where we are told we have a lack of town planners. The lack of town planners speaks volumes about where the education system in Fiji has fallen short. While we have a dynamic education system and educationists, there are many vital jobs that are not catered for, probably for many reasons. In today’s world glamour is the way to go – pilot, aircraft engineer and flight attendant are chief amongst them. Yet that market is very small.
Many of our urban areas flood when there is torrential rain, we ask why, simply because of blocked drains. It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to know and prepare and clean drains during prolonged dry periods. Town planners are not the only job where we lack experienced people. We don’t have qualified vets in abundance, and the agriculture area lacks expertise. If someone wants to argue with me, my point is, if we had experts, Fiji, a green country, would have been exporting root crops, beef and mutton instead of importing. Yes, that’s my point.
The government, education ministry and the universities must work in conjunction with each other to determine what the market needs and then devise the courses. Right now I notice that computer, business, office management, catering, management, tourism and a few more disciplines are the ones that are offered. Where we need to strengthen our economy, we lack. And why do we have to constantly bring in expatriates. It’s because of our shortsightedness. I worked as a Customs officer at Nadi airport for eleven years processing passengers and there were many times I came across farmers who had gone overseas to visit their children who were doing a BA, MBA, PhD or other qualification in computer science, management, banking, teaching, medicine and several other disciplines. But never in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, animal husbandry or cattle farming. Where are the children of the farmers who go to university, gets a degree in agriculture, returns home and takes over the farm, taking it to heights that his or her parents could never have taken it? I have asked many farmers in their late 70s and 80s and they always say, “Nahi, we don’t want our children to struggle like us. We want them to become doctor and teacher and earn big money.” And who will grow our food, the New Zealanders and Australians?
I rest my case.
Editor's P.S. I think it's also a matter of perceived status, where agriculture is pretty low on the ladder. I'm reminded of a student I taught in Tonga. He had top marks in English but failed his School Certificate. Only one overseas scholarship was available to him: in poultry farming. I urged him to take it, saying he would be Tonga's first qualified poultry farmer with excellent changes of financial success. He declined because his parents thought a minor clerk's job in Treasury had more status. The double irony is that his weak subject was Maths. There was a time in Fiji, however, when students went overseas to study agriculture. Joketani Cokanasiga and Jo Chung come to mind, and USP has its Alafua Campus.