Friday, September 16, 2016

Kava drinking in Fiji

from the Fiji Times:

Kava demand worry

Matilda Simmons
Saturday, September 17, 2016
RELIGIOUS leaders have expressed concern over the demand for kava by Fijians in the country.
A report carried out by this newspaper on Thursday stated that Fijians spent an estimated $750,000 a day on kava or 11 tonnes according to market price.
Leaders say the figures are disturbing and highlights the extent of consumption among the Fijian communities.
"We wonder if people have the right priorities in their spending," said Father Kevin Barr, from the People's Community Network.
Virend Lal, the national secretary of the Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha said while he was shocked at the figures, he said they've noted a high consumption among its members.
He said during a 13-day mourning ritual often practised by their community, families would spend $2000 to $3000 on kava to entertain guests.
"While we don't say kava is bad, we're asking our members to drink within their limits," he said.
The Methodist Church in Fiji secretary for communication Reverend James Bhagwan said overindulgence in things such as kava could be categorised as substance abuse.
The Fiji Muslim League President, Hafiz Khan described the consumption rate as "hugely excessive" and expressed his doubts on the figure, however, he said any kava consumption in any event was a "wastage of money," and this has seen a lot of social issues among Fijians.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Phoebe Mills

Many students in the Fiji Methodist schools will remember Miss Phoebe Mills their teacher such as at Ballantine and Dudley. I knew her in Dudley and we ate together at the teachers' cottage.  She died this week aged 102 in Queensland, Australia but there will be a Memorial Service at Butt Street in Suva.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Phones not books in the future?

Amazing! Now the Big Bosso wants to stop buying textbooks for the schools in Fiji but give all the children smart phones! Not every hill and valley in Fiji has access to these devices, and certainly not all material is allowed to be downloaded.
In the Fiji media today:
Smart Phones To Replace Textbooks: Reddy
September 05
Students will no longer carry their textbooks to school as Government plans to supply smart phones to all students in the near future.
The development was revealed by Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy. He was addressing more than 500 students and members of the public during the launching of the National Library Week in Labasa on Saturday,
Mr Reddy said this was in their attempt to blend learning into what has been termed as the advanced technological era which the global community is encountering.
“At some point in time we want every child in the country to have a smart phone, so that we put a lot of applications which you log onto and download all materials that you want to have access to including all your textbooks,” Mr Reddy said.
“We want you to access your textbook through the learning gadget in your hand, so you do not have to take your bagful of textbooks every day.”
Mr Reddy said it was important to be on par with the rest of the world.
“I have in my little gadget, BCC and CNN. Every two to three hours, I open it and read what is happening around the world,” he said.
“I like to keep myself abreast with the world, and it is amazing to see how we can update ourselves with Fiji, the region and world through a little application.
“The Ministry of Education in this accord understands that empowering education in all sectors of the community will lead to a peaceful, prosperous and vibrant united Fiji.”
Edited by Rusiate Mataika
For a discussion on this topic go to  and also a story from the Fiji Times.  They jump here, they jump there, do they know what they are doing?:

Tablets for students

Litia Cava
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
PLAGUED with challenges of printing textbooks last year, the Ministry of Education has an alternative for Year 12 and 13 students from next year — tablets.
Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy said his ministry would introduce the use of tablets to replace the "big textbooks" students carried to school.
This new education tool is apparently part of the ministry's digital literacy program, which would allow students access to news around the world and educational materials on the internet, Dr Reddy added.
The ministry will load all learning materials in the tablets and the total project cost would be about $250,000.
He said while the tablets would give students access to the internet, certain websites that would have negative impacts would be blocked off.
Dr Reddy said the ministry was still in talks with information technology (IT) experts on how to block websites that would have a negative impact on the children.
He said they were also in talks with IT experts to ensure that the blocked websites were not in any way unlocked.
"We cannot ignore the various developments in the IT sector otherwise we will become irrelevant and we do not want our children to be irrelevant and therefore, we will look at how we can develop from the IT," Dr Reddy said.
He said the ministry was also looking at ways of providing data for the tablets, however, once implemented, parents would also be able to top-up the data on their children's tablets.
Dr Reddy said the accessibility and use of the tablet should not be a problem as about 90 per cent had access to electricity.
He said students who were out of network coverage areas would not have problems as their devices would be preinstalled and programmed with textbooks, exam papers and solutions.
But Dr Reddy said students would have to replace the tablets if they were damaged.
National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said after the one laptop per child policy to the one learning device per child, the ministry now wanted to introduce tablets.
"A few days ago, the minister announced that school texts will now be available on mobile technology in the near future, replacing textbooks.
"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."
Opposition spokesman for education, Mikaele Leawere, aired serious concern over the announcement as well.
He said the Government should focus on reconstructing cyclone-affected schools instead of introducing tablets.
-------------------And a letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times:


Finau Naigulevu Turaga, Nadi Airport | Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Irrespective of where we are, I believe some poor decisions seem to override some leaders most of the time.
With electronic tablets for our students, what about maintenance, safe keeping, security and cost?
Was a survey conducted to gauge its longevity and practicality? The authority's selective actions show lack of sincerity to solve issues.
When rolling out ideas, could the authority ensure that all schools in Fiji have this, whether it be milk, Weet-Bix, or tablets. Also what about schools without basic needs, ie, blackboards, roofs, water tanks, toilets and proper classrooms? Do they get electronic tablets too?
from the Fiji Times letters:


Ian Mcleod, Nadi | Saturday, September 17, 2016
In a report in The Fiji Times on September 4, the Education Minister Dr Reddy is reported as saying that children in Fiji should read a lot of books and make use of libraries to improve their literacy rate.
Very commendable! However, a very short time later a plan is put forward to provide Year 12 and 13 with tablets, I believe which is about the surest way to destroy literacy every way one likes to think. I believe the average teenager has enough trouble using a pen as it stands now.
Within a week we see a gentleman on television making the statement that tablets were the only way forward and that books and libraries are a thing of the past (his words). Everything we know about our past has come from great libraries.
During this interview it was apparent that this person was being extremely evasive when asked on proposed costs of the devises and problems, batteries, re-charging, loss or damage. Who will be responsible? Further he stated that the expected life of the item could be four years or less. So this whole exercise would have to be re-financed all over again in that time.