FIJI REPORT URGES SCRAPPING PRIMARY SCHOOL EXAMS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 30, 2000 - Fiji's Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---All external examinations should be scrapped from the primary school system, the Fiji Islands Education Commission 2000 has recommended.

The commission said examinations should be replaced by a standardized internal assessments system from Class One to Class Eight.

The recommendations were part of a 515-page report presented to the Education Minister Nelson Delailomaloma yesterday.

The report said the Fiji Junior Certificate at Form Four, the Fiji School Leaving Certificate at Form Five and the Fiji Form Seven exams should be phased out and replaced by only two exams.

These would be the Fiji High School Leaving Certificate at Form Five and the Fiji Higher Leaving Certificate at Form Seven. This means students will sit for their first major examination at Form Five. The board said education should be compulsory up to that level.

The report suggested that the classification for primary school education remain as it is; class 1 to class 8; high school education from year 9 to 10 (forms 3 and 4) and years 12 and 13 be classified as senior high school or college.

On receiving the report Mr. Delailomaloma said it will first be studied by the stakeholders of the education system in Fiji. Mr. Delailomaloma said he will put together a team from the ministry to seek the stakeholders’ comments and advice.

"They will have to develop an action plan on the report; so we're looking at something cohesive on paper by January 2001."

Mr. Delailomaloma said he was happy with the report, saying Fiji's education system had grown bigger and ineffective over the years.

In presenting the report, Professor Subramani, one of the six commission members, said stakeholders of Fiji's educational system should brace for radical changes if they accept the commission's recommendations.

"Some of the suggestions would require a radical rethinking of the education system. We need to change from a colonial or old-fashioned system and tune into the postmodern world," he said.

The commission was formed in January this year by the ousted Coalition Government to undertake a comprehensive review of Fiji's education system.

Other recommendations include:

*-Broadening the curriculum and introducing modular form curriculum coverage with specialization only in years 12 and 13;

*-That in years 1 to 6 the main medium for teaching should be the school's predominant mother tongue - Fijian, Chinese, Hindi, Rotuman, Banaban, et cetera;

*-That the use of English in the first years marginalizes children, especially those in rural areas. English, however, will continue to be the main language of teaching, but to be progressively introduced;

*-That the Fijian language be made compulsory in all schools to years 10-11. For Fijian schools it should be compulsory to year 13;

*-Keep and maintain partnership between Government and civil society organizations owning and running schools. The Government is not to take over ownership of all schools as recommended by the 1969 Education Commission. The report emphasized that of 715 primary schools only two are owned by the Government and of 154 secondary schools only 12 are owned by the Government;

*-Increase financial assistance to schools;

*-Review and strengthen the role of the Education Forum as a "think tank" for discussions on educational policies and strengthening the research and development arm of the ministry.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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