06 September 2016 – Media Release: Stop using students and teachers as propaganda tools

The Fiji First Government through the Minister of Education Honourable Mahendra Reddy is belittling our education system by trying to indoctrinate them with Fiji First policies.

The latest example of this is a circular sent out to all schools in behalf of the Minister for teachers and students to speak about the 2013 Constitution, a document that was imposed upon the people of Fiji by this government when it was a military regime. Under the pretext of “creating awareness”, the Government is trying to use students and teachers as propaganda tools, instead of ensuring their empowerment with quality education curriculum as well as making it a priority to repair damaged schools.

The Education Minister never disappoints with all his hare-brained schemes dreamt up on a whim without the proper, rationale thought processes. A few days ago the Minister announced that school texts will now be available on mobile technology in the near future, replacing text books. And the Minister chose the launch of National Library Week to make this announcement! This means that the Minister doesn’t believe in books and libraries.

In 2014, soon after the elections, Government announced a one laptop per child policy in schools. In 2015 it changed to one learning device per child, Now it is a smartphone!

Last weekend the Minister accused Indo-Fijian parents of corrupting the values of their children by allowing them to dress inappropriately. This means he is now dictating the dress code to parents and their children. Only two days of this week have passed and the Minister is at it again – firstly by imposing his authority on schools on how and what to discuss about the 2013 Constitution through a circular. And in another comical rhetoric, the Minister says parents should discourage their children from watching the famous Mr Bean cartoons and comedies!

Then the Minister announced that he wants 100% pass rates ignoring the serious situation that many students are expected to learn while housed in damp tents with no electricity in many parts. It is arrogant that the Government thinks that taxpayers will be patient while their gross incompetence escalates, where disaster rehabilitation and recovery and non-transparent use of disaster funds is concerned.

The rhetoric coming out of Education Ministry is nothing short of buffoonery. Instead of worrying about propagating the Fiji First’s imposed Constitution, it should immediately re-set its priorities and focus on rebuilding schools and educational institutions destroyed about 7 months ago by TC Winston, instead of waiting for our neighbours to do so under the “Adopt a school” initiative.
Our students and teachers deserve decent and well equipped classrooms and educational facilities, and not to be used as propaganda tools.
Hon Prof Biman Prasad
Leader