Letters to the Editor | Sunday, November 26, 2023

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Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Social Protection Eseta Nadakuitavuki assisting Suluweti Rabuka during the National Women’s Expo at the Vodafone Arena in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Vital contribution

AS the Fiji National Women’s Expo by the Ministry of Women at the Vodafone Arena in Suva culminated in a prayer of thanksgiving and tears of joy, I could feel the burden, the sacrifice and the anticipation in the journey of each woman.

It is at events such as these that we get a better sense of the contribution that women make towards the betterment of their families and to Fiji as a whole.

Grandmothers, mothers and daughters, aunts and nieces, sisters, relatives, friends and colleagues, the young and the old, it’s about women getting together as women showcasing their skills and their desire towards building a better Fiji.

Touching was the acknowledgement of the contribution made by women with disabilities and tears were shed all round as the winner of the category hobbled to the front on crutches and the chief guest went down on one knee in recognition of her capability and success, more so in my opinion, in amazement of her “awesomeness”!

Marvelous indeed are these women.

Great is their works.

Honest and true are their desires.


Women showcase art

I APPLAUD the commitment and efforts of the organisers in ensuring that more than 360 women artisans showcased their talents at the sixth Fiji National Women’s Expo at the Vodafone Arena.

In her opening remarks, Women, Children and Social Protection Minister Lynda Tabuya shared that the expo had a proven track record, benefiting women artisans in more ways than one.

She added sales records over the years had progressively grown despite the number of exhibitors being strategically lessened to ensure the highest quality and supply was prioritised.

I’m thankful to the Government for recognising the role women play in the handicraft and fashion industry.

This shows that a lot could be achieved if we joined hands to move Fiji forward.

The activities that ran through the three-day event included the Fiji Rural Women’s Fashion Show, gender-based violence training, women in leadership training, financial literacy, book-keeping, flower arrangement, sewing maintenance, pattern drafting and tie-dye skills training which are vital in nation building.

I reiterate the call made by honourable Tabuya to further invest in the potential of rural women artisans, to create an enabling environment for their businesses to flourish, and to promote their products on the national and international stage.


Gaps in education

OCCASIONALLY I watch the TV One program IQ Active, and I regret the passing of its predecessor The National Quiz.

Reading through Dr Subhash Appanna’s article “Orientation towards education” (FT 25/11), I was amused by the Labasa teacher’s inability to distinguish between the Siberia in Labasa and the country Serbia, let alone knowing that there is a large area of Russia known as Siberia.

Such ignorance, especially in a teacher, is very sad.

I recently met a local woman who shared my regrets — she had studied hard and read widely in her teenage years in order to take part in the National Quiz.

IQ Active seems to be a matter of having a good memory for the formulae in the maths or chemistry books!

We have an exciting big wide world and thousands of years of interesting history that are ignored, despite the useful tool known as Google.


Unemployment rate in Fiji

IF 50,000 people have left the workforce in the past 19 months, the unemployment rate in Fiji should now be close to zero.

That is, there should be almost full employment.

The demand for local workers must be very high.

On the positive side, these workers who have left would remit monies back to Fiji and we all know that remittances is Fiji’s biggest income earner.

Which leads to the question — what is the Government doing to earn income?

Raise VAT of course, it is easy.

This can fund their overseas junkets.

What I would be interested to know is how many of those 50,000 left in the past 11 months since the election of this Government.

JAN NISSAR, Sydney, Australia

Increase in road accidents

FIJI has recently seen an increase in road accidents, some of which have been fatal.

These records are not exciting to see, especially when people are losing their loved ones on roads but what is even more saddening is that people still do not take heed and drive nonchalantly, especially the young drivers.

Despite Fiji’s national speed limit being a maximum of 80km per/hour in comparison with other overseas countries, the fatalities here are painful to the eyes.

Not just the fatal ones, minor accidents take place nearly every second day in the Suva-Nausori peak hour traffic.

Are drivers always in a hurry?

Are pedestrians to be blamed partly?

Are the people not well informed?

We need informative action that has the ability to transform the mentality and sense of road users because so many innocent lives are lost and it is not acceptable!

This is not a one-man job, or the Government’s job, it is the responsibility of the society as a whole.

Come on Fiji, we can do better.

RAYNAV CHAND, Nakasi, Nausori

Underpaid teachers

I WISH to salute the Minister for Education, Hon Radrodro, for having the courage and conviction in admitting that Early Childhood Education teachers were underpaid.

The Hon. Minister also categorically agrees that the foundation for education is laid at ECE level.

Nothing is further from the truth.

Every effort must be made to give appropriate remuneration to these teachers.

Most of the ECE teachers are time tabled for 4-5 hours a day with a $5 an hour pay.

Though the curriculum is activity based, most of the teachers in term three go onto teaching literacy and numeracy skills to their students.

For too long these teachers have been taken for a ride.

The two teacher unions have not been committed either to ensure the voices of the down trodden are heard.

I know that Fiji Teachers Union (FTU) have been having the resolution for better pay for ECE teachers endorsed in the AGMs.

And it just remained as a resolution.

I can see some light at the other end of the very once very long tunnel.

Our ECE teachers deserve a better pay Hon. Minister Sir.

And you are the man who can make this happen.


ARUN PRASAD, Dilkusha, Nausori

Rugby League madness

SOME heavy blows were exchanged after the completion of the Samoa v Fiji Rugby League 9s match in the Pacific Games, bringing unnecessary disrepute to the teams, the games and to the sport itself.

Regardless of which side started it, I believe players have a responsibility to uphold values and morals as representatives and ambassadors of their nations.

While I understand such circumstances do arise at times during the heat of the moment, team officials should try cooling players down and guiding them rather than joining the madness, as to what everyone saw in the viral video circulating on social media.

This is not the Pacific spirit that we all know about.

While I was glad that there was peace at the end as the two teams came together for a prayer, I still hold out that players must be held accountable for their actions on the field and some form of disciplinary action must be taken against those involved in the fight as it will hold out a precedent for the future of the sport and for the Pacific Games in general.

RAYNAV CHAND, Nakasi, Nausori

Not forgetting

NISHANT Singh said people should not forget.

But people forget.

Take for example former PM Voreqe Bainimarama.

He forgot he was banned from entering the Parliament precinct.

He entered and got together with his FijiFirst mates for a chat and some laughter.

Yeah, it’s so easy to forget.

RAJEND NAIDU, Sydney, Australia

Ending coup culture

IN recent weeks and months, there have been countless articles by prominent academics and others about ending the coup culture.

Just wondering why?

JAN NISSAR, Sydney, Australia

Labour migration

IT is evident from news reports that 50,000 Fijians migrated over the past 18 months.

Is it good or bad?

The subject is well debated without getting the desired answer.

Those leaving may have thousands of reasons while the country depends on migrant workers to fill the vacuum.

It’s brain drain from many sectors.

How can we handle the entire situation is yet to be seen.

My only reason is to examine the exits.

The terms and conditions along with the pay is to be reviewed.

The value of our workers’ rights to be upheld with dignity.

There shouldn’t be any discrimination.

The short-term training and upskilling offered by training institutions to be revisited.

Let all stakeholders come together and find solutions collectively and not in isolation.

We have to strategise for brain gain immediately.


Condolences to Rajesh Chandra

I WRITE to express my deepest condolences on the passing of Rajesh Chandra, distinguished former vice-chancellor of the University of the South Pacific.

He leaves a huge legacy on the scrap board of academia.

Rajesh Chandra, a humble local boy, had a brilliant academic career.

As a geographer he was a figure to be reckoned with.

He rose to prominence through sheer hard work and determination.

He was an achiever who survived in the cutthroat competition of academia.

His contribution to the success and development of the University of the South Pacific can be attributed to his futuristic vision.

Pacific Island nations and the thousands of students who have gone through the University of the South Pacific will fondly remember him for generations to come.

Death is a necessary end. Rajesh Chandra was cremated and his mortal body became a handful of ashes.

However, this towering character will remain in our memories for many generations to come.

May his soul rest in peace.

DEWAN CHAND, Namadi Heights, Suva

Ban harmful drugs

IN the wake of expensive treatment for health disease and poverty increased from smoking, vaping and drinking, I feel there should be some strict legislation to ban such destructive health hazard drugs and substance when abused.

Parents working in partnership with police, schools and religious groups should take up the challenge to control this.

When children see their parents involved in these bad habits, they are likely to follow them.

We all should practise what we preach.

Prevention and treatments at early stages is the way for corrective behaviour for our wellbeing and longer life.

Prevention pays.

TAHIR ALI, New Zealand