Be kind and pay no attention to leaders who promote hate, Gau students told

School teacher Nalini Kumar hugs a Year 13 student during the farewell segment of the Gau Secondary School Awards ceremony. Picture: LICE MOVONO

EIGHTY per cent of all women and girls raped in this country are raped by people known to them and half of the time, the perpetrator is a family member.

It is, therefore, very important to be compassionate and to be the kind of a leader who promotes kindness.

Shamima Ali, coordinator Fiji Womens Crisis Centre, told graduating students of Gau Secondary School not to pay attention to leaders who promoted hate.

“When we look at the problems faced by women and even in the world, we have to ask “i vei na loloma?” Ms Ali said.

“We have to ask where it is going and work hard as a community to reintroduce and practice it.”

Ms Ali who was the chief guest at the school’s awards ceremony on the island yesterday began her career at the school in 1975 as a teacher, five years after the school was founded.

The feminist leader told the hundreds who had turned up for the day-long event, the world was losing kindness.

“People are suffering all over our world, especially the vulnerable; the women, children and also many men,” Ms Ali said.

“We need to be kind to each other – No bullying! Stand up to bullies and support those who are being bullied. Stand up for what is right – that is part of leadership!

“We need many more leaders who have a lot of compassion.”

Ms Ali who has maternal links to several villages on Gau and neighbouring Nairai Island said Gau Secondary School had a tradition of celebrating the country’s mixed race society.

“As I look around and see Indian teachers, I am reminded of my own time here. Having mixed races in all our schools, especially here at the rural level provides a great learning opportunity for both sides.

“We all need the same thing. We all need to eat, to work, to love and be happy. So it should not be hard to learn from each other. We should celebrate our diversity, as long as they enhance everyone’s lives.”

Ms Ali said there were many leaders both here and international who were “behaving very badly” and she told the students “don’t listen to them!”

“Listen to your church values, listen to your parents, don’t listen to people who teach you bad things about hating another race, another religion and so on.”

Gau Secondary School has 27 staff and only 12 staff quarters teaching 207 students from Year 9 to Year 13.

Principal Atama Nakalevu said the school had achieved good pass rates in the past two years, sending two students off to tertiary studies on the National Toppers Scheme scholarships and others to study law, aviation engineering.

“The dynamic nature of our school, our commitment to excel and our relentless pursuit of achieving our best,” Mr Nakalevu said.

“We focus on supporting all students to reach their full potential academically, socially and emotionally.”

Mr Nakalevu said his 23 teaching staff whose qualifications ranged from Masters to Diploma were “reactive and responsive to student needs”.

The school is governed by the Gau Island Council which has reps from each of the 17 villages covering the three districts of Sawaieke, Navukailagi and Vanuaso, which the principal described as providing “quality commitment”.

“We pride ourselves in our unique context – islandness, smallness and remoteness,” he said.

(*Lice Movono is a freelance journalist who was on the island yesterday)

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