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Call for trainee teachers to learn native language

Kalesi Mele
Saturday, September 03, 2016

THERE is a need for trainee teachers to have cross cultural learning to help improve education standards around the country and the Pacific.

These sentiments were expressed by Dr Cresantia Francis Koya Vaka'uta during the Bose ni Momo ni Yasana ko Ba Trust seminar yesterday.

Dr Vaka'uta said having some form of knowledge of the different cultures could help ease problems such as language barriers and help better understand the nature of students.

"Currently there is no community service component to teacher preparation, and in Fiji, teachers are not required to learn another culture or language," she said.

"The teacher education program focuses on preparing teachers for classroom work rather than work for the wider school community.

"In a multicultural society, it is an important skill to at least be able to speak and know something about one of the major ethnic groups in Fiji.

"This is a gap that is currently not being addressed in teacher education and should be focused on," she said.

She added learning Fijian or Hindi should be an initiative taught in primary school education. A few years ago, I tried learning conversational Fijian and its something I struggled with. I realised this is something that should have been done in primary school.

"Learning Fijian should be made compulsory. It is an endangered language and there are so many dialects.

"We must also note that when we prioritise one dialect we are endangering the others which is why it is important to work around your communities and have people properly trained with the dialects around their respective areas," she said.

Dr Vaka'uta added being well-versed with community dialects, teachers would be able to "switch codes" and help students understand a concept in their own language.

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