Teaching of iTaukei and Hindi to be compulsory in Fiji
Fiji's new constitution has a provision to make the teaching of the iTaukei and the Hindi (along with English) compulsory at primary-school level.
Fiji's new constitution has a provision to make the teaching of the iTaukei and the Hindi along with English compulsory at primary school level.
The move is aimed at bringing people together and breaking down language barriers.
Sally Devi reports:
The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education, Dr Brij Lal, says it will ensure every primary school has an iTaukei and a Hindu language teacher. He says in the past three years, the two languages have been introduced on a very small scale and the programme will be extended to every school.
BRIJ LAL: We are very pleased and we have the teachers. We just have to now reshuffle them and move them to various schools so they are fully staffed and we have people of different cultures there to teach the other languages.
But the Fijian Teachers Association is opposed to making Hindi a compulsory language. The Association's general secretary, Maika Namudu, says only Fijian and English should be in the curriculum. He says everybody living in Fiji is a Fijian and should know the language, but not Hindi.
MAIKA NAMUDU: No, I don't think so. Because we all Fijians, we are supposed to be speaking Fijian - compulsory - and then we speak English as our lingua franca as the case in the past.
Fiji's largest Hindu organisation says it is annoyed by the statement. The Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha's national secretary, Vijendra Prakash, says anyone who hinders the process of the supreme law is not a real Fijian. He says to steer Fiji into a new direction it's important for the people understand each other's language.
VIJENDRA PRAKASH: He doesn't respect the majority members inclusion in this nation as Fiji citizens, so I think we will fully support and I believe Mr Namudu doesn't own any institution and therefore we own about 117 institutions.
Mr Prakash says the Indo-Fijians are happy to learn iTaukei.
VIJENDRA PRAKASH: Our children should be proud to learn the iTaukei language as it is very important, and at the same time we will be very, very happy to see the iTaukei members of the community learn Hindi, as well.
And an Indo-Fijian parent says the language learning programmes at schools are a valuable tool to break down the language barriers. Roshni Rohit of Nabua, Suva, says her eight year old son Prashant Aryan has problems communicating at school and the teaching of iTaukei is helping him.
TRANSLATOR: My son studies is at a school where 90 percent Fijians students are there and about 10 percent are Hindu. As Hindu teachers are not much in for him its very difficult for to learn Hindi because very less classes taken in Hindi.
Mrs Rohit says she is happy the school will start teaching the Hindi language as instructed in the new constitution.
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