FTU: Vernacular, culture need to be taught in schools

FTU General Secretary, Mr Agni Deo Singh

TWO of the biggest unifying forces — vernacular and culture — need to be taught at primary and high school if the country is to fully embrace what it truly means to be Fijian, says the Fiji Teachers Union.

FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh said cross-cultural training in the iTaukei and Hindi languages and traditions would be a good starting point.

Mr Singh said a program which was pioneered in the 1970s where iTaukei students learnt Hindi and Fijians of Indian descent learnt the iTaukei language had declined over time when no attempt was made to improve on it.

He said proof of this was evident in the very low number of people who could speak or understood a vernacular language.

“This, I believe, is one of the many reasons we are still far apart in terms of respecting each other’s cultures, traditions and languages,” he said.

“It is simply because we only understand each other at a very superficial level and not as in-depth as we should.”

Mr Singh said the erosion of values evidenced by the number of issues at schools could also be attributed to the lack of understanding of vernacular and culture.

“If we lose our language, we lose our culture and we lose our values.

“In Fiji, we have a very serious problem with values education and one of the major reasons is that students are not able to read religious and spiritual books in their own or each other’s languages and understand the values that are taught.”

Questions sent to the Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy two weeks ago and again yesterday about the issues raised by Mr Singh remained unanswered when this edition went to press last night.

Source:  The Fiji Times

By:  Felix Chaudhary