FALLING moral standards, the low value placed by many parents on education, high levels of absenteeism and student underachievement were identified as the main challenges facing Fiji's education system.
And teacher training institutions must develop appropriate programs to help foster the development of teachers with integrity and sound character, who guide their students into making moral and ethical choices in their learning and living.
During the opening of the Fijian Teachers Association 80th annual delegates conference in Suva yesterday, chief guest Doctor Priscilla Puamau, team leader and senior education adviser of Access to Quality Education Program (AQEP) Fiji, said a serious issue facing schools, which had implications for teacher education, lay in the falling moral standards that pervade society.
"Adults, including parents and teachers, have been perpetrators of violence and sexual crimes against children; and teachers have been found guilty of professional misconduct," Dr Priscilla said.
"What happened to the conviction that teaching is a noble profession infused into new teacher graduates? What has happened to make them break the teacher's oath and the PSC code of conduct?"
She said the issue of making moral and ethical decisions was significant in these new times of rapid social, cultural, political, economic and technological change.
Dr Priscilla said in this conception, teachers had to lead by example.
FTA president Merewairita Moci said the association remained committed to carrying out its primary and secondary roles and the executives knew what it expected of them.
Questions sent to the Ministry of Education were yet to be answered when this edition went to press last night.
Several attempts made to get a comment from Dr Lal remained unsuccessful when this edition went to press yesterday.