They've been talking about this for years, and in fact in many schools there have been classes in the two languages. Grade 5 and Form 3 apparently have been chosen as the period for specialist classes - for all children. Way to go!
However it is also necessary in the very early years of schooling that the children sing songs and learn some basics of 'other' languages because the earlier they learn the better. I don't thing that knowing language alone will overcome prejudices that still exist in some people, but communication with neighbours with local languages and dialects is a very good thing. So, what about local variants of Fijian then? Nadroga dialect for example for the Huva people!
from Fijilive today:
Fijian, Hindi classes for all Fiji schools
Tuesday November 20, 2007
Fiji's two major languages, Hindi and Fijian are expected to be taught from certain classes in all primary and secondary schools around the country starting next year. The new language policy is expected to be implemented when Term 2 starts next year.
The Fiji Cabinet today approved the implementation plan for the language policy based on the use of Fijian, Hindi and English "as a long-term and sustainable strategy for a peaceful and stable, multi-ethnic cultural living in Fiji". Minister for Education, Science and Technology Netani Sukanaivalu said that this new programme will begin in Term 2, 2008 at all classes 5 at primary schools, and at all Form 3 levels at secondary schools.
"The courses will start at beginner's level and gradually progress in proficiency year by year as students progress through schooling, class by class."
He said that this programme is earmarked to start from class 5 mainly because classes 1-4 concentrate on socialising the child into the 'schooling' process and on introducing the teaching and learning of the English language. He said the course structure will comprise two components - conversational Fijian or Hindi, starting at beginner's level then progressing to intermediate, then onto an advanced level, and a component on basic culture studies, that is, Fijian culture or Hindi culture.
"Part of this component will require students to take part in situational learning, either by visiting/assisting a family or through projects to enhance cultural understanding." Sukanaivalu said that students will be assessed at Class 6, Class 8, Form 4 and Form 6 levels.
"Certificates would be given to students after completion of study at each level and after passing the assessment tests." He further said that all teachers and officers at headquarters, divisions and districts offices and also at teachers' colleges will also undergo the same language learning programme. Currently, English, and either Hindi or Fijian is taught based on whether it is an Indian or a Fijian school. Teaching Hindi and Fijian languages in all schools has long been proposed in an effort to bring more understanding between the two races but has never been implemented.