STATEMENT OF SOURCES
I certify that this thesis is my own work except those sections
which have been explicitly acknowledged. I also certify that
this thesis has not been previously submitted for a degree at
this or any other university or institution.
Priscilla Qolisaya Puamau

DEDICATIONS
This thesis is dedicated in memory of my grandmother, Sera Qolisaya Naulumatua.1 e sa qai
oti tu, Bitbu, Vinaka vakalevu na veitokoni kei na nomu loloma. Au na sega ni giulecavi
iko.
It is most especially dedicated to my mother, Eileen Maureen Lidise (nee Simmons): you
always knew I could do it and gave me unconditional love. Your nurturing support and
unshakeable faith have been uplifting and inspirational.
It is also dedicated to my brothers and sisters: Joeli Kete Lidise, Sera Lockington, Debbie
Lidise and Kenny Lidise and their families, especially my nieces and nephews. My
namesake, Maria, Sisilia, Silina, Vesi, Dianne, Sereima, Wiliame and Joeli - aspire always
for the highest things.
And to my husband and children: Sowane, Seini, Lai, Eileen and Manoa - reach for your
dreams, nothing is impossible. Strive always for what is good: qualities such as patience,
perseverance, tolerance and a desire to help others. But above all, walk in God's way and
seek His wisdom and His truth.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
A major undertaking like this thesis is not possible without much needed support
from many people at a personal, professional and intellectual level. Consequently, I have
many people to thank. I begin by thanking my husband, Sowane Lutu Puamau, for his
support and encouragement. To uproot and transplant to another culture for four long years
in pursuit of a dream is no easy task and I thank you for enabling the fruition of this dream.
To my children Seini, Lai, Eileen and Manoa—thank you all for your patience and
unconditional love. I also thank my mother for providing valuable assistance in our first ;:
two years in Brisbane.
I especially thank the Fiji and Australian Governments for providing me with an
in-service scholarship, without which this research project would have been an
impossibility. I thank senior staff at the Ministry of Education for recognising that I had
intellectual potential and allowing me study leave with pay. Thank you AusAID, thank you
PSC, thank you MOE for financial support. I also thank the FTA for providing a research
grant of $500 and Mr Alifereti Cawanibuka, Principal of FCAE, for the provision of office
space during the fieldwork.
To the informants of the thesis: those politicians, senior government officials,
academics at USP, community representatives, school principals, CDU officials and
teachers who gave willingly of their time to patiently answer my questions—I thank you
most sincerely for it is your insightful comments, your collective knowledge and wisdom
that have shaped the form and content of this thesis. Vinaka vakalevu, dhanyavad and
thank you. I particularly thank the Permanent Secretary for Fijian Affairs, Ratu Jone
Radrodro, the Acting PS, Mr Isoa Tikoca and staff at the Fijian Education Unit for
providing invaluable data on the implementation of the Special Fijian Education Fund. My
appreciation also extends to Dr Warden Narsey, Reader and Associate Professor in
Economics at USP for taking the time to listen and for offering constructive advice on
methodology, theoretical frameworks and other matters. It is with much sadness that I \\
acknowledge the passing away of four informants: Mrs Lavenia Kaurasi, Mr Josevata I
Kamikamica, Mr Ilai Kuli and Mr Valekuta Mateni. i
i
For intellectual support, I thank my supervisors Professor Allan Luke and Professor
Fazal Rizvi, Thank you, Allan, for helping me articulate 'words' that I did not know I had,

for your theoretical insights, for excellent supervision and for facilitating a grant for
interview transcription work, Thank you, Fazal, for guiding me through the initial
quagmire of thesis conceptualisation - you always knew which direction I should take even
before I knew it myself. I thank you both for exceptional support, encouragement,
inspiration and supervision. I also thank Associate Professor Bob Lingard for assisting me
with ethical clearance and other preliminaries prior to data collection. I especially thank
Merle Warry for meticulously proofreading the thesis. I am grateful, too, to my room-mate
Cathie Doherty for giving unstintingly of her time to read the draft and to provide valuable
comments.
I am also grateful to the members of the following research interest groups at the
University of Queensland for interesting, stimulating discussions: Higher Education Policy,
Discourse Analysis, Postmodernism, Philosophy and Globalisation. I especially thank my
Asian-Pacific-African-Australian counterparts and 'experts' who made up the Postcolonial
Reading Group, for some of the ideas in this thesis had begun as a seedling at one of our
meetings.
I would also like to thank family and friends who made my data collection time in
Fiji a memorable one. My thanks go to my sister Debbie and her two daughters for opening
their hearts and home to Manoa and me. And to Kenny and Joe, my brothers, for caring
and providing moral support. I also thank my sister Sera, extended family (Tu Soro, Ane,
Sera, Tarai and their families) and my in-laws (Allan, Meme, Emele) for their loving
support. To all my friends who acknowledged my presence during the field work - thank
you for continued friendship, for shared laughter and delicious food. I am particularly
indebted to Sereana Tagivakatini at USP for uncomplainingly conducting 'mini-researches'
for me in Fiji in the final phase of the thesis, Thank you, Sereana.
My gratitude also extends to those Australian families who have opened their hearts
and homes to my children. In particular, I thank the Asnins, Gwyther and Hogan families.
I thank the principal and staff of Toowong State Primary and High schools for providing
my four children with positive memories of education in Australia.
But most of all, my thanks go to God. For through Him, everything is possible.
Thank You, Lord, for Your guidance, blessings, loving kindness and peace.
IV

ABSTRACT
This thesis is concerned with explaining why Indigenous Fijians in Fiji consistently
underachieve in formal schooling. It is particularly concerned with why affirmative action
policies have not helped to narrow racial inequalities in education. It utilises the conceptual
resources provided by postcolonial theory to critique the devastating impact of colonialism,
to unpick written texts that claim to represent Fiji's history as well as to deconstruct the
interview data. Interview data was collected in Fiji over a fifteen week period in the latter
part of 1996 from 74 informants in the following six categories: Politicians, Bureaucrats,
Community Representatives, Academics, Principals and Teachers. Questions asked
included informants' perceptions of the way affirmative action is thought about,
implemented and its consequences as well as explanations for the underachievement of
Indigenous Fijians in schooling.
To frame and categorise explanations for racial inequalities in schooling, I have
grouped the data into three categories: socio-cultural deficit models, psychological-deficit
models and historical structural models. For the firsl explanatory category, spatial
disadvantage (rurality), home background and cultural deficiencies and school disadvantage
were reported as significant determinants of Indigenous Fijian underachievement in
schooling. Psychological-deficit models posited shortcomings in Indigenous Fijian
attitudes to education and psychological problems that arise when Indigenous Fijian
students live away from their immediate family as two important factors. Historical
structural models point to the negative impact of the colonial experience, manifested in
neocolonial educational structures of the curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and the
language of schooling.
Some key findings have emerged from the thesis. One is that mono-causal
reductionist factors are inadequate explanations for why students fail in school. This is
because racial inequalities in education are a consequence of the constant complex and
multiple interactions of the dynamics of race, gender, class and rurality in the economic,
political, cultural and historical spheres. The issue of rural spatiality has emerged as a key
analytical category in explaining Indigenous Fijian school failure, unsettling the traditional
analytical categories of race, gender and social class.

As illustrated in the interview data on affirmative action, issues of social justice
which accord state-provided resources to specific groups in society are highly contested and
controversial. I argue that affirmative action in Fiji was a strategically essentialist
intervention on the part of a predominantly Indigenous Fijian government to bring about
equality of access and opportunities for Indigenous Fijians who have reportedly been
disadvantaged by a colonial history. Affirmative action in Fiji did not really result in
significant material transformations for the Indigenous Fijian community: raiher, the
outcomes have been mixed. However, in arguing for a rethinking of affirmative action in
Fiji, I make the important point that this rethinking needs to be mediated, contingent and
historically specific. In other words, it needs to be grounded in the social, cultural and
political realities and specificities of the Fiji context. A rethinking of affirmative action
requires a reconceptualisation of the notions of race, success and merit, and hegemony. As
part of this project, categories of class, place and space will be imperative in order to
redefine social justice, social difference and social inequality.
The complexities, ambiguities, multiplicities and tensions evident in affirmative
action in Fiji indicate that there are no clear-cut or easy answers to the problems that beset
Fiji's educational system. I argue that the answers, indeed, cannot be based on idealist
principles of justice and equality of Western academic discourse. Instead, the-answers,
whatever they may be, have to be practical, negotiated social and political solutions and
compromises amongst the peoples of Fiji. I note, in particular, that spaces for radical
coalitions, in some cases unprecedented, have begun to open up at the political level for this
to occur. The challenge is how to fill those spaces so that people are empowered, are given
agency to think and act so that a collective consciousness for the common good becomes
the creed for decisionmaking.
VI









Attitudes
Living Away From Home
Success of Non-Indigenous Fijians in Schooling
Success of Indigenous Fijians in Schooling
Historical Structural Models
Colonial Historical Experiences
Curriculum
Pedagogical Methods
Assessment
Language of Instruction
Interpretations
The Parallelist Theory of Racial Inequalities in Schooling
Space as an Analytic Category
History as an Analytic Category
Symbolic Violence
Success in Schooling
Silences in the Data
Other Unresolved Themes
Summary
CHAPTER SIX AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POLICIES: CONCEPTUALISATION,
IMPLEMENTATION, OUTCOMES
Conceptualisation of AA Policies in Education
Rationales for AA
Poor Conceptualisation
Comparisons in Educational Performance
Implementation of AA Policies
Differentials in Admission to Local Tertiary Institutions
Who Benefits from AA?
Means Testing
Lack of Transparency and Accountability
Lack of Liaison/Communication between Agencies
Tunnel Vision: Lack of Input from Other Communities
Need for Proper Assessment\\Review
Provincial Inequalities in Scholarship Awards
Poor Monitoring
Emphasis on Human Resource Development
Why the Educational Gap Hasn't Closed
Outcomes of AA
Positive Outcomes
Negative Outcomes
Interpretations
AA in Fiji: A Postcolonial Response to Colonial Inequalities
Was AA an Historically Appropriate Response?
Better Implementation
Resource Issues
Positive Outcomes of AA
XV







CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
This chapter has three parts. In the first I provide the background context for the study.
In particular, I outline the way racial inequalities in education have been framed and the policy
background of affirmative action in Fiji. The second part details the rationale for the present
study, Here, I discuss the aims of the study, the theoretical frameworks and research
methodology that inform the study, and the assumptions and personal standpoints I bring to
the thesis, I also explicate some of the reasons this study is significant. In the final part of the
chapter, I outline the thesis organisation.
The Background
Race-based affirmative action (henceforth abbreviated to AA) began in Fiji as an
educational strategy in the early to mid-1970s. This was in response to the 'Fijian education
problem', defined by both colonial and postcolonial governments in terms of an educational
gap between Indigenous Fijians on the one hand, and 'other' ethnic communities on the other.
The underachievement of Indigenous Fijian students in formal schooling compared to other
ethnic groups has been identified as a persistent problem since the 1910s (Education
Department Annual Reports 1920-1969; Education Commission, 1926; Mayhew, 1937;
Stephens, 1944). Haifa century later, the 1969 Fiji Education Commission Report highlighted
the large educational gap that existed between Indigenous Fijians and 'other' racial groups in
terms of numbers accessing the higher levels of education and the large attrition and failure
rates at the secondary and tertiary levels.
In order to get a better picture of AA and racial inequalities in education in Fiji, an
understanding of the historical basis of the current educational system is necessary. The
historical documents point out that Fiji was a British colony from 1874-1970. An enduring
legacy of colonialism is the institutionalisation of formal education. Education systems are
shaped not only by the physical and cultural milieu in which they function but also by social
and economic histories. Education can indeed be an insidious and cryptic survivor of
colonialism, a residual institutional memory, while older institutional systems pass into
neocolonial configurations (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1995).

Written colonial historical records indicate that Western education was introduced to
the indigenous population soon after the arrival of the first missionaries in Fiji in 1835.
Initially, the people were required to read the Bible which had been translated to the
vernacular language. But English soon became (and still continues to be) the language of
formal schooling, official communication, administration, politics, commerce and law. Some
160 year later, despite decolonisation, the curriculum is still Western-based with an emphasis
on academic-type subjects, English language, English literature, Science and Social Science
subjects still form the main disciplinary bases for schooling. During colonial times, a
Western-type education was imposed on the colonial subjects and so began a process that
would ensure that the colonised subjects became as 'Western' as possible. This process has
continued unabated since formal decolonisation occurred and demonstrates to a large extent
the profound psychological impact of colonialism.
Thus, when Fiji attained political independence after almost a century of colonial rule,
the new nation remained shackled with the legacy of British educational institutions and
practices. This educational inheritance is manifested in the selection and training of local
elites to implement government policy, the establishment of government and provincial
schools in selected areas, the provision of 'imported' curriculum from other colonial social
contexts, and the development and deployment of a network of examinations as selection and
screening devices (Bhindi, 1988). To this day, the pedagogies of the school, school
organisation and management are British-based (Mangubhai, 1984; Thomas and Postlethwaite,
1984) with the institutionalisation of the colonial language English as the language of
schooling,
As a discursive effect of the material processes of colonialism, the category 'Fijian' is
ambiguous. On the one hand, this could refer to the "Melanesian population" who are the
"original inhabitants" of the Fiji group: that is, the Indigenous Fijian populace. This is how
the Government of Fiji defines this category (Bureau of Statistics, 1989: 3). On the other
hand, this category could encompass any person who is a resident or citizen of the country,
including Indigenous Fijians.
The normalised use of the category 'Indian' is also problematic. Not only are the
people included in this category varied, but they also have varying degrees of historical,
contemporary and generational identification with people of the Indian sub-continent. In other

words, the heterogeneity that reflects diversity and differences within, as much as across,
cultures is overlooked when one invokes the binary categories of Fijian or Indian - categories
which, this thesis will show, have dominated educational and social policy debates.
During colonial times, the Indian people who were brought in as indentured labourers
to work the European-owned sugar plantations and their descendants were categorised by
colonial administrators as "Fiji Indians". After decolonisation, the Fiji Government referred to
"the population who are of Indian descent" and "descendants of the indentured labourers and
free settlers of the early part of the twentieth century" as the Indian people (Bureau of
Statistics, 1989: 3). As mentioned above, the use of the category 'Indian' is problematic
because the Indian people are varied, comprising of various sub-categories contingent on their
religion and the state/region (to note but two) from which they originated. In Fiji, for instance,
the Indo-Fijian population "comprises the major religious and ethnic groups of Northern
Hindus, Southern Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs and Gujaratis" with Northern Hindus forming the
majority of the Indo-Fijian population (Chandra, 1990: 12). The diaspora of the people who
can trace their ancestors back to the Indian sub-continent across many countries of the world
has created complex issues of identity. The question of how much allegiance, familiarity or
identification they have with the Indian sub-continent is a complex and far from self-evident
issue. For the purpose of this thesis, the indigenous people of the Fiji Islands will be referred
to as Indigenous Fijians and the people who have origins in the Indian sub-continent as Indo-
Fijians. Yet I do so fully aware of the dangers of categorising heterogenous groups, knowing
also that I may not have their consent.
Discriminatory educational practices were the norm during the period of colonial rule.
As experience has shown in other colonised countries, the Colonial Government was mainly
concerned with the education of European children. For this purpose, government schools
were established for Europeans with the best of qualified teachers, facilities, resources and
supervision. Several government schools were established initially to cater for sons and
daughters of the chiefly Indigenous Fijian elite. Apart from this, the Colonial Government left
the education of non-European children very much in the hands of missions, Provincial
Councils (Indigenous Fijian schools) and local management committees (mainly Indo-Fijian
schools).

In his 1944 study of education in the colony of Fiji, Stephens argued that educational
development was characterised by lack of policy and planning resulting in chaotic conditions
(Stephens, 1944). The annual reports of the Education Department (1920-1969), Special
Government Reports and Development Plans (since the 1950s), and Ministry of Education
Annual Reports (1970-1996), all highlight the fact that the education of Indigenous Fijians
has always been beleaguered with many problems. The more serious of these were identified
as inadequate numbers and quality of teachers, inadequate school facilities and educational
necessities (e.g., textbooks and science laboratories), lack of professional supervision and the
irrelevance of the curriculum to the daily lives of the students (Puamau, 1991). Consequently,
primary education was of low quality, especially in the village, district and provincial schools.
This has had negative implications on the number and academic calibre of Indigenous Fijian ,:
i <
students entering the secondary-system:
The colonial records show that despite making a late start on the educational scene, jjil
Indo-Fijian students were not only catching up in terms of numbers - by the late 1950s more
Indo-Fijians were enrolled than Indigenous Fijians in the school system (Puamau, 1991) - but
their standard of attainment had surpassed that of Indigenous Fijians (Education Department,
1946). The colonial records and statistics consistently indicate that Indigenous Fijians had low
retention rates and a significantly higher failure rate at the upper secondary level which had
implications for access to tertiary level. These were identified as serious national problems by
the new predominantly Indigenous Postcolonial Government when decolonisation occurred in
1970. Colonial discriminatory practices had left huge gaps in the quality of non-European
education.
At the. point of decolonisation, the new Government openly acknowledged the presence
of an imbalance between the educational attainment of Indigenous Fijians and that of 'other
races'. One of the long-term aims of the Government's Sixth Development Plan (Fiji
Government, 1970: 67) which it hoped to achieve by the mid-1980s was "a marked
improvement in the education of Fijians". Five years later in 1975, the Government
emphasised the need for special measures if the nation was to "produce enough qualified
Fijians to occupy a due share of top and middle level positions in the public and private sectors
of the economy" (Fiji Government, 1975: 184). The "special measures" translated into AA

policies. The educational gap between Indigenous Fijians and 'other' ethnic communities in
Fiji, thus, was central to the development of AA policies in education.
Explanations for the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians typically have been
attributed to some shortcoming on the part of the Indigenous Fijian learner, be it psychological
(Stewart, Mulipola-Lui and Laidlow, 1980; Basow 1982; Kishor, 1981,1983) or socio-cultural
(Tierney, 1971; Thomas, 1978; Nabuka, 1984; Elley, 1982). Institutional factors such as poor
quality of teachers and lack of resources (Fiji Education Commission, 1969; Baba, 1983; Bole,
1989) are other explanations posited for underachievement. Logistical issues such as isolation
from urban educational centres and the related issue of distance have also been raised to
explain the relatively poor quality of education in Indigenous Fijian schools (Education
Department, 1967; Naisara, 1974; Ministry of Education, 1992), the bulk of which are situated
in rural areas. Poor economic conditions in the rural areas are another factor that has been
posited as contributing to poor educational performance of Indigenous Fijians (Kallam, Rika,
Rustam and Tukania, 1980; Baba, 1983).
What AA strategies have been put in place to affirm the education of Indigenous
Fijians? Government documents (Ministry of Education Annual Reports, Development Plans)
acknowledge that soon after decolonisation in 1970, the Government instituted a number of
AA policies. One of these was the development of junior secondary schools in the rural area
to provide Indigenous Fijians with access to a secondary education. Another was a public
relations campaign through Fijian language radio and newspapers to assist Indigenous Fijian
parents to recognise the value of an education for their children. However, the two significant
AA policies focal to this thesis are the reservation of 50% of all government scholarships for
Indigenous Fijians since the mid-1970s and the provision of an annual fund of $3.5 million
since 1984. The latter policy has had two foci: provision of tertiary scholarships as well as
the capital development of Indigenous Fijian schools with emphasis placed on infrastructure,
facilities and resources. Since 1994, however, the focus has been almost exclusively on
scholarship provision as a mode of human capital development. It is interesting to note that in
terms of scholarship provision, the category Rotuman1 has been added to Indigenous Fijian as
1 Rotumans are the indigenous people of the island of Rotuma. Rotuma became part of Fiji during the period of
colonial rule. As a category, Rotumans have been included as beneficiaries in the Fijian Affairs Board
administered scholarship fund since its inception in 1984. Appendix D shows that in the 14 year period from
1984-1996, 69 local scholarships and 19 overseas awards have gone to Rotumans.

beneficiaries of AA.
AA policies, then, have been in place since the early to mid-1970s to assist Indigenous
Fyians (and Rotumans) who had been identified as disadvantaged in education and, by
implication, to counter their underrepresentation and lack of participation in the professions,
business and in the private and public sectors of the economy. In a previous study (Puamau,
1991) entitled Fijian Education - An Examination of Government Policy: 1946-1986, I
concluded that AA policies had a negligible effect in closing or narrowing the educational gap
between Indigenous Fijians and 'others', I thus am interested to explore why these policies
had not made a significant impact on the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians. Was it
because the policies were poorly conceptualised in the first place? A matter of poor
implementation? Was AA misdirected? Was it too simplistic to assume that pouring in
resources would result in profound changes to the underachievement equation? Was the
problem of underachievement too complex for AA to make a significant difference? What
role did Fiji's colonial history and consequent neocolonial educational inheritance bring to
bear on the question of underachievement?
& The Research
w' My main research question is: Despite more than two decades of AA to assist
Indigenous Fijians in education, why are these students still underachieving compared to the
non-indigenous population? This research question translates into four main aims for the
r study.
; First, I want to explore reasons for the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians in
schooling. Why do Indigenous Fijians fail? Second, I want to explore possible explanations
* for the ostensive failure of AA policies to narrow the educational gap between Indigenous
Fijians and Indo-Fijians in the manner that the first Postcolonial Government had defined it.
Why did AA fail? Third, I want to expand the dimensions of the debate on the concept of AA,
tar especially in relation to theoretical perspectives that have arisen since the inception of AA in
Fiji. Relatedly, I want to explore whether the Fiji context offers new perspectives on AA in
decolonised sites, particularly when the indigenous beneficiaries have had numerical and
political control since decolonisation.

While developing an empirically documented and theoretically innovative study of AA
is the visible focus of this thesis, it remains a project fraught with the problems and potentials
of any postcolonial academic intellectual work. Thus, its fourth and perhaps most significant
aim is to make a broader contribution to the deconstruction of Fiji's colonial history with the
purpose of reconstructing, re-inventing or reclaiming indigenous voice, space and dignity
which had been silenced or negated during the period of colonial rule. Throughout this study,
I have asked: Is it possible to write a thesis that would be heard over and above the
representations of indigenous people in colonial historical and imaginative accounts, and
material and discursive practices?
The two theoretical frameworks that underpin the thesis are previous scholarly work on
AA and postcolonialism (See Chapter Two). In terms of the latter, two concepts are
particularly salient: strategic essentialism and voice. This thesis itself has come to be an
exercise in strategic essentialism. Here, I take up a strategic positionality to claim there is a
material essence in the concept of an Indigenous Fijian, that there is a 'reality' of Indigenous
Fijian cultural identity. This thesis, therefore, is an attempt to give Indigenous Fijians a voice
to write and talk back to colonialism. Not only is my voice being heard but just as
importantly, this project is a forum for the Indigenous Fijians who are the subjects of the
study. If there is silencing of other ethnic communities in Fiji, this is neither intentional nor
done in malice. This deliberate strategy of essentialism sets out to generate agency for
Indigenous Fijians to recover their historical voice and to assert their postcoloniality.
However, at the same time, I recognise and wish to expand understanding of the
heterogeneity of Indigenous Fijians. Colonial administrators wrongly assumed that
Indigenous Fijians were a homogenous group, They (mis)appropriated this mythical
homogeneity for their own purposes, mainly for ease of administration. Previous colonial (and
postcolonial) policies were based on an unstrategic essentialism, one intended to keep the two
major ethnic groups in Fiji separate and apart. I will show how difference or diversity within,
and across Indigenous Fijian populations, is highlighted and problematised as a key
unresolved issue in AA.
Where I stand in the world, my values and attitudes and my thinking on matters that
concern indigenous people, were influential in my choice of research topic, aims, questions,
methodology, analysis and interpretation. For me, there is no such thing as an impartial,

value-free scientific educational research. What we are, our gender and our social positions,
our cultural backgrounds, our belief systems and attitudes - taken together, these contribute to
the way we approach research. They influence what we see and hear - our interpretations and
our textual representations. I am not advocating the common, yet romantic, view that we
should control against bias in research. Rather, what I am saying is that bias is unavoidable,
' ^ particularly in a research method that utilises the researcher as the principal research
t
F instrument or tool.
I am an Indigenous Fijian woman and this standpoint is central to this project. The
formulation of my research question arose not only out of personal and political interests, but
also out of the theoretical interest that had been roused in my first year of studies. At the
personal level, I was concerned about why students of my 'race' consistently continue to do
badly in the education system, particularly as reflected in their high failure and attrition rates at
the upper secondary and tertiary levels. I was concerned at the way the policy documents,
Development Plans, Education Department Reports and the media consistently portrayed
Indigenous Fijians as underachievers in the school system. I am a recipient and 'product' of
AA policies, a beneficiary of the policy of awarding 50% of government tertiary scholarships
* to Indigenous Fijians that enabled me to complete two degrees at the University of the South
* Pacific (USP) in Fiji.
At the political level, I wish to generate collective thinking at the institutional, local
and national levels to find solutions. My main readers, hopefully, will be Indigenous Fijians
in key positions of power, authority and influence in government, academic and private
organisations. This text is a deliberate attempt to raise critical issues that may influence
political discourse and, ultimately, political will.
* At the theoretical level, postcolonial discourses have led me to reconsider and reframe.
Initially, I had not considered that colonialism might be an explanation for the
underachievement of the indigenous students in schooling. It was only after reading some of
•* the postcolonial literature that I began to seriously consider how neocolonial educational
structures such as curricula, school organisation, pedagogies and assessment systems may be
contributing factors to the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians.
This research study, therefore, is a product of these interests. Added to these is the
intellectual or academic interest that becomes the all pervasive focus when one embarks on a

PhD study. In fact, some of the burning questions that agitated me for months in my first year
of studies were: Why am I studying in a Western university when I could obtain a PhD from a
* local Pacific university? Who told me that studying in Australia was the best way to go? Why
am I doing a PhD anyway? Why is this paper credential of importance in my life and in the
life of my country? Who decided for me that this was the best way to go? If I decided this,
^ what and who influenced me to think this way?
On contemplation, I came to realise that I had been conditioned through written
English texts, through formal schooling modelled after Western educational structures and
traditions, through the media and generally through the way institutional life was organised in
Fiji, Our psyche was still very much colonised by neocolonial structures that the leaders
continued with after Fiji became politically independent. We might have been politically
independent in the literal sense that the people of Fiji could decide for themselves what they
s wanted, but in every way we remain colonised particularly where it counts most—in out-
thinking. For me personally, doing this PhD study is symbolically a deconstruction of this
colonial mentality and a reconstruction of who and what I am in the bigger picture of the
thesis. The issue of identity is, therefore, preeminent.
« While I realise that my personal standpoint will influence every facet of the thesis, I am
' also aware that this will be influenced and mediated at every turn by the rigid academic
standards required by this very Western institution of thesis production. While I may strain at
the noose of Western academia with its almost totality of focus on theoretical knowledge,
fa
while I may groan at the precision required, again by Western standards, of PhD research and
all the other guidelines required by this Western institution - 1 am aware continually that if I
want to attain a Western PhD, I will have to undergo the 'test' the Western way. On the other
t hand, by utilising interviews of people in key positions of power and authority in Fiji and by
privileging their voices in this thesis, I hope to open the way for the emphasis of Western
theses to move from purely analytical pieces to the privileging of narratives (see Chapter
a Eight).
I consider it critical to discuss these self-reflexive issues to lay the groundwork thai
would enable the reader to situate and locate this particular research project. In claiming a
strategic essentialism, I foreground my personal, political and theoretical interests in the

research study. It is these that influence the genesis, development and production of this
thesis. I now turn to explain the significance of this text,
No detailed research has been carried out on AA policies in Fiji. The present study is
the only piece of work that systematically critiques AA in Fiji. It argues that AA in Fiji is a
postcolonial response to social and educational inequalities that British colonialism left in its
wake. In providing a richly textured and detailed description and analysis of AA in a specific
historical micro-context, this study hopes to yield a broader comprehensive understanding of
AA in decolonised, postcolonial societies.
This research study has theoretical and practical implications (See Chapter Eight) that
are important in enabling better policy, practice and decision-making. Just as importantly, I
hope to show through this research that colonial representations of Indigenous Fijian
underachievement need to be critiqued and dismantled, I am living proof, as are other
Indigenous Fijians who have attained professorship, doctoral and masters level qualifications,
that many Indigenous Fijians can indeed act as rcle models. At this historical juncture,
Indigenous Fijians are showing that they can perform and work on par with other citizens in
any arena of social and economic life.
This study, as noted, is a piece of Western intellectual work. But in utilising
postcolonial critique, it constitutes a strategy for talking and writing back to colonial
representations. It is a strategy of providing a voice for Indigenous Fijians (See Chapter
Eight), with Indigenous Fijian informants. Apart from its function in university credential ling,
its main readership will be Indigenous Fijians in positions of power and authority who affect
the life trajectories of many people in Fiji, Yet the thesis itself is certainly not a subaltern text:
it is both an act of power and resistance (See Chapter Eight), with substantial political and
social consequences. I need to make the point that epistemologically, the thesis is not written
from a colonial or decolonised perspective; neither does it take the standpoint of indigenous
nationalism leading up to and after the coups of 1987. Instead, the epistemological standpoint
of the thesis is that of a Fiji in New Times (Hall, 1996c). It is a postcolonial thesis, one
writing of Fiji in the late 1990s, on the eve of the new millennium as it faces the prospect of
redefining itself and its peoples yet again.
10

The Organisation
The thesis comprises eight chapters. Chapter Two, "Theoretical Framings", explicates
the theoretical frameworks that underpin the thesis, namely postcolonial and AA discourses. I
argue that traditional notions of viewing AA in the West are limited and that postcolonial
conceptual frames are more appropriate for understanding AA in decolonised sites, First, I
explicate the meaning of AA, discuss the philosophical debate on AA, explore the concepts of
educational opportunity, equality and inequality and outline the limitations inherent in
traditional notions of AA, Second, I define those postcolonial concepts that are particularly
salient to these issues: concepts such as neocolonialism, hegemony, Other, voice, identity,
strategic essentialism, hybridity, and then turning to redefine the postcolonial curriculum.
Third, I compare the way AA is used in the West and in Fiji, Accordingly, I conclude Chapter
Two with a discussion of the value of this research in terms of a better understanding of AA in
decolonised, postcolonial conditions, particularly in instances where the indigenous population
holds political and numerical control,
In Chapter Three, "Contextualising the Study: Pre-Colonial, Colonial, Postcolonial
Fiji", I provide an account of Fiji's colonial history in order to set the groundwork that would
lead to an understanding of the state of Fiji's educational system and the thinking that led to
the development of AA at the point of decolonisation, There are five emphases in this chapter.
First, to counter the forceful presence, impact and authority of colonial historical
representations and discursive practices, I provide space and voice for Fiji's pre-contact
history and an explication of resistance to colonial rule. Second, I argue that Fiji is a colonial
construct. Political decolonisation occurred almost four decades ago but colonial political,
economic and social structures and institutions are sustained in neocolonial hegemonic
configurations. Third, the education system is an instrument of colonial control with colonial
reproduction continuing in neocolonial formations at this historical juncture. Fourth, I provide
a detailed analysis of AA in Fiji. In my view, AA is a counter strategy by indigenous people
to negate the effects of their colonial history. It is my contention that AA in Fiji was a
strategically essentialist intervention on the part of a predominantly Indigenous Fijian
Postcolonial Government to assert its postcoloniality, to counter the social and educational
inequalities that colonial rule left in its wake, Fifth, I provide an overview of contemporary
conditions in Fiji,
11

Chapter Four, "Methodological Considerations", provides a description of the research
methodology utilised in this study. First, I review the literature on qualitative research,
^ particularly the case study approach and the interview method of data collection. This is
followed by a review of the literature on policy analysis. I then provide an account of the
decisions and explanations for the decisions made during the gathering of the interview data.
& In the final section of Chapter Four, I describe the processes of transcribing, analysing and
interpreting the interview data. In total, I conducted 74 interviews with six categories of
informants: Politicians, Bureaucrats, Academics, Community Representatives, Principals and
Teachers. The data from these interviews formed the basis for Chapters Five, Six and Seven—
the main data chapters of the thesis.
In Chapter Five, "Explanations for Racial Inequalities in Schooling", I explicate my
informants' representations of Indigenous Fijian underachievement in schooling. They
^ provided three explanatory models: socio-cultural deficit, psychological-deficit and historical
structural. Under socio-cultural deficit models, spatial disadvantage (rurality), home
background, cultural deficiencies and school disadvantage were identified as major
determinants of Indigenous Fijian underachievement in formal schooling. In terms of the
* second explanatory category—psychological-deficit models, Indigenous Fijian attitudes and
the impact on children when they live away from home when attending school were identified
as two important factors to explain school failure. The third explanatory model—historical
structural—refers to the negative impact of the colonial experience which is manifested in
neocolonial educational structures of the curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and the language
of schooling.
There are several key findings emanating from the data in Chapter Five. First,
* explanations for underachievement cannot be reduced to mono-causal, essentialist arguments.
Racial inequalities in education are a consequence of the constant, complex and multiple
interactions of the dynamics of race, gender, class and space in the economic, political,
s cultural and historical spheres. Second, the issue of rurality or spatiality has emerged as a key
factor that problematises the usual categories of race, gender and social class. A third key
issue is the reproduction of hegemonic colonial representations of Indigenous Fijian
underachievement in decolonised sites. These last two points are further discussed in the final
chapter.
12

Chapter Six, "AA Policies: Conceptualisation, Implementation, Outcomes", explicates
the informants' representations of the way AA policies in education were conceptualised and
implemented. There were significant contradictions and ambivalences in views of Indigenous
Fijians and the non-Indigenous Fijians on AA. While all the informants supported the
principle behind the development of AA, the emergent consensus is that AA needs to be
reviewed. A key finding of this chapter is the view that AA needs to change from race to
class,
There have been many criticisms of the way AA policies have been administered. One
reported explanation for the ineffectiveness of these policies is to do with their conceptual
limitations. Furthermore, poor implementation of AA policies was cited as another reason
why they were ineffective in reducing the educational gap that existed between Indigenous
Fijians and other ethnic groups. Consequently, according to the informants, the outcomes of
AA for Indigenous Fijians have been rather mixed. Chapter Six also explicates what
informants have identified as positive and negative outcomes of AA.
In Chapter Seven, "Reforms: School, Policy and People", I explore the descriptions of
the informants of desirable changes in AA policy redirections, pedagogical practice as well as
people-change. Adult or community education has emerged as an important agent for the
change of Indigenous Fijian cultural orientations, epistemology and value systems. There is
recognition that if there is to be a curriculum overhaul, a change in teacher-training curriculum
and pedagogy also needs to be considered, Informants acknowledge that any policy
redirection or curriculum reform is difficult to carry out unless there is a national vision and
the necessary political will on the part of leaders.
The implications of the study on a postcolonial methodology, policy, pedagogical
practices, leadership, research and theory are discussed in Chapter Eight. In particular, the
issues of voice(s), mine and those of the informants, and the creation of speaking and writing
spaces are discussed under the heading of a postcolonial methodology. Moreover, the
implications of the study on AA policies are spelt out. This is followed by a detailed
examination of implications for pedagogical practice. In particular, I provide an alternative
view to curriculum reform.
13

CHAPTER TWO
THEORETICAL FRAMINGS
In this chapter, I discuss the theoretical frameworks that underpin and inform the
thesis. The chapter has three sections. The first examines traditional ways of thinking
about AA in education in Western capitalist democracies with the principal purpose of
demonstrating their limitations in understanding AA in the Fijian context. First, I
examine the way AA has been defined and the ethical debate surrounding the discourse
on AA. I then focus on AA in education as it is described in the literature on equality of
educational opportunity and racial inequalities, particularly those studies that have tried
to explain underachievement in formal schooling. This section concludes by drawing out
the limitations in the way AA has traditionally been viewed. :
There is a need to broaden the notion of AA. For 'Third World' nations or \\
'postcolonial' societies2 like Fiji, recent postcolonial theory may provide conceptual and ]
analytical resources and insights that are useful in providing a comprehensive notion of j
AA that is more appropriate. The second section of this chapter, thus, examines the i
I
literature on postcolonial theory/discourse with specific emphasis on key concepts that ]
play an important role in this research project. Neocolonialism is one such concept. j
Although many postcolonial nations have gained decolonised status, a new form of
colonialism (neocolonialism) demonstrates the continuing power and authority that ex-
colonisers have over their ex-colonies. The concept of hegemony explains how and why
'domination by consent' continues in the postcolonial moment. This is particularly
relevant to contemporary education, for instance, where educational structures such as the
curriculum, the pedagogies of the school, the assessment systems and school organisation
continue in neocolonial hegemonic formations after decolonisation occurred.
The concepts of strategic essentialism, voice and the 'Other' are also examined
because of the salient role they play in understanding the response of colonised people to
being 'othered' by the essentialist discriminatory and racist institutional, material and
discursive practices of colonialism. An examination of the concepts of cultural identity
and hybridity is also undertaken. The search for a cultural identity (whether ethnic/racial
2 1 don't know what to call nations like Fiji. Concepts like 'Third World', 'Developing' or 'Underdeveloped'
assume some lack or otherness. The concept 'postcolonial' is also unsatisfactory because it implies the
necessary presence of the colonising agent. Given that there is no better replacement, I will use the lerro
postcolonial to describe ex-colonies.

or national) is intensified in postcolonial nations to counter the hybridising processes of
colonialism, westernisation and globalisation.
The third section of this chapter attempts to draw the two theoretical frameworks
together by explicating the value of the current research in a broader understanding of
AA. In particular, I discuss the value of the research study in terms of the contribution it
hopes to achieve in an understanding of AA in decolonised states where the indigenous
people are the beneficiaries of AA and where they hold numerical and political power.
Theorising Affirmative Action
I am aware of and sensitive to the dangers of uncritical acceptance of the
American literature on AA (Bacchi, 1996), However, it needs to be remembered that
American models of AA have been imported to postcolonial sites like Fiji. Here, I
discuss traditional ways that Western capitalist nations have thought about AA. First, I
provide a contextual background to the concept of AA before providing an analysis of the
ethical and moral rationale of AA. In so doing, a discussion of the concept as it applies
especially in the United States of America, will ensue as well as an examination of the
theoretical positions for and against AA. This is followed by a description of the way
AA is thought about in education and a critical review of studies that have attempted to
provide explanations for educational inequalities (both empirical and theoretical). The
last section will address the limitations in traditional ways of looking at AA.
The Concept of Affirmative Action
What is affirmative action? AA in the Western construction entails some
deliberate action or intervention taken by a government or private institution in response
to material disadvantage faced by minority racial/ethnic groups and women that has
arisen out of past and/or current discrimination. As feminist Roberta Johnson (1990) has
put it,
Affirmative action is a generic term for programmes which take some kind of
initiative either voluntarily or under the compulsion of law, to increase, maintain,
or rearrange the number or status of certain group members usually defined by
race or gender, within a larger group, (p. 77)
This thesis is concerned specifically with AA developed for racial/ethnic groups.
In the United States, it was acknowledged that Afro-Americans had historically been
discriminated against by the legal and institutional legacies of slavery (Taylor, 1989;
15

Graham, 1992). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 recognised the oppression of slavery and
attempted to make legal amends (Graglia, 1994). It is interesting to note that in the
United States, the indigenous people - the American Indians - are silenced and
marginalised in all the debate about AA because of the prominent political positioning
and lobbying of Afro-Americans and ethnic migrant groups. Indeed, American Indians
are subsumed under the general category of'minorities'.
Initially, AA meant to "seek out and prepare members of minority groups for
better jobs and educational opportunities"; that is, early efforts involved advertising
(Glazer, 1975: 197), But as Glazer explains, in the early 1970s AA developed to set
statistical requirements and quotas based on race, colour, and national origin for
employers and educational institutions. "Preferential treatment", "hard affirmative
action" or "reverse discrimination" are terms that have been used to describe AA with
"special rights", "racism", "quotas" and "qualifications" additional terms repeatedly
invoked in discussions on AA (Tierney, 1997). In her study of gender-based AA in six
major Western countries reputed to be leading the world in AA - the United States,
Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands - Bacchi (1996) notes that many
policy activists and administrators outside of the United States have distanced themselves
from the American terminology because of the negative connotations associated with the
experiences with AA in the United States.
Why is AA deemed to be necessary, even desirable? AA is a reaction against
racial inequalities that exist in society. The main reason behind the need for AA lies in
"the perceived under-representation or under-utilisation of the affected groups in certain
occupations, professions, statuses and positions and their over-representation among the
unemployed" (Edwards, 1995: 7). The main step therefore for AA arises "with the
recognition of the part that systemic discrimination plays in creating and replicating the
relative deprivation of some groups by denying access to goods and services, and by
compromising opportunities that ought to be equal to those of the majority members"
(Edwards, 1995: 3). Inequality of opportunity and access for groups as well as social and
economic disadvantage are the results of this systematic discrimination, be it direct,
indirect, intentional or unintentional. The basic purpose of AA, therefore, is "to shift the
balance of burdens and benefits between morally arbitrarily defined groups in society"
(Edwards, 1995: 154). Or as philosopher Iris Marion Young (1990: 198) has put it, the
primary purpose of AA is to "mitigate the influence of current biases and blindnesses of
institutions and decisionmakers". For the American context, AA is thus a remedial
16

strategy whose ultimate purpose is to reestablish the elements of fair competition that are
embedded in the ideal of equality of opportunity (Feinberg, 1996).
The Moral and Philosophical Debate
The critical question that has been asked is what moral, philosophical and ethical
justification can there be for government policies that benefit specific minority groups at
the expense of the majority? What are the moral reasons for the existence of AA policies
given the many arguments that run counter to the perceived benefits accruing from AA?
Despite the perceived injustice of AA to the white/dominant population, why are AA
preferential policies still being pursued, especially in the United States?
Race-based AA is a policy that is highly controversial (Bacchi, 1996; Mills, 1994)
particularly with regard to whether a group of people should benefit from taxpayers'
money to the exclusion of those who fall outside of the beneficiary category. Western
nations, like the United States, place a lot of emphasis on the rights of the individual
(Dovidio, Mann & Gaertner, 1989; Goldman, 1979). The thinking that every individual
starts life with equal chances and that one can be successful through hard work and the
sweat of one's brow is prevalent in egalitarian societies which assess the success or
otherwise of an individual on his/her efforts (Smith, 1991). For this group of people, it
would be anathema to give any individual or group of individuals what they may perceive
to be a head start in opportunity and access. This group of critics (e.g., Goldman, 1979;
Glazer, 1975) feel that AA is unfair to groups not protected by the policy and that this
works against the establishment of a race-blind society (Tierney, 1997). Tierney has
identified two other groups of AA critics: those who feel that AA is in fact harmful to the
beneficiaries of AA (e.g., Carter, 1991; Steele, 1994) and those who argue that AA has
diluted standards by admitting into the higher educational institutions unqualified
individuals (e.g., D'Souza, 1991). On the other hand, those who favour AA, especially
with regard to preferential treatment, believe that it is an appropriate and effective social
justice strategy to give disadvantaged groups of people an opportunity to catch up with
the dominant group in terms of providing the former with more opportunity and access to
material societal benefits, such as employment and education (e.g., Green, 1981; Pincus,
1994).
17

Much of the debate on the morality of 'hard' AA or preferential treatment has
occurred in the United States where AA is legally compulsory in some states3 , Ezorsky
(1991) argues that the benefits of AA for the Afro-Americans can be examined from both
a forward-looking and backward-looking moral perspective. The purpose of AA in the
forward-looking perspective is to facilitate "occupational integration" by the reduction of
institutional racism. This would not only enable many Afro-Americans who had been
discriminated against by the impact of a racist history to access employment benefits but
would enable the easier acceptance that Afro-Americans did not automatically belong at
the bottom of the employment hierarchy, The backward-looking perspective -
compensatory justice - believes that Afro-Americans have a moral right to compensation
for past injustice brought about as a result of slavery. The institutionalised and legal
discrimination they faced for centuries would give them the moral claim to compensation
for the discrimination and injustices they faced at the hands of the dominant white
population. Ezorsky (1991: 94) claims that preferential treatment is essential as
"opportunities created by preferential treatment should symbolise an acknowledgment of
such injustice and a commitment to create a future free of racism".
On the other hand, Glazer (1975) has argued against the necessity of preferential
treatment because of the inherent conflict over justice for the individual as opposed to
that of a group. He points out that there is increasing resentment against that group of
people benefiting from AA by the disfavoured groups. Nevertheless, Glazer does
concede that there is great morality in the application of preferential treatment to
compensate the Afro-Americans for past discrimination and injustices brought about by
the institution of slavery. Compensatory justice therefore is one moral argument that is
put forward by proponents of preferential treatment or 'hard' AA as a remedy for past
societal discrimination.
Moens (1985), in discussing AA programmes for Australian Aboriginals, ethnic
minorities and women, contends that compensatory justice does not seem as superior as
the social utility argument (called the "forward looking" argument by Ezorsky, 1991). As
Ezorsky and Moens have noted, the social utility argument views preferential treatment
as necessary not only to improve career prospects of beneficiaries but also to bring about
proportional representation. Moens' key argument is that "the key issue involved in the
affirmative action debate is the attempt by policymakers and legislators to replace the
3 California abolished AA in 1997. Some other states in the United States are thinking of following California's
example.
18

ideal of equality of opportunity with the ideal of equality of results" (Moens, 1985:15).
He also notes that the debate on AA has been on the legal, ethical and philosophical
aspects of two forms of 'hard' affirmative action: namely, in preferential admissions
(higher education) and hiring programmes (employment). Moens argues that preferential
hiring does not contribute to an "ideal" society. He believes that the argument for
preferential hiring for an "ideal" society is flawed because it is inconsistent with the
equality of opportunity principle. Rather, he argues, the proponents of preferential hiring
f pretend to be implementing the equality of opportunity or anti-discrimination principle
when in fact they are replacing the equality of opportunity principle with the equality of
result principle. The crux of this argument, therefore, is that preferential treatment would
discriminate or provide inequality for individuals outside of the target groups.
Nevertheless, as Edwards (1995) has noted, proponents of race-related AA
policies have argued for their necessity, giving the following reasons as worthwhile
j? goals: they promote equality of opportunity as a means to greater minority representation;
f they promote diversity; they enhance the general status and quality of life of minorities
and, in so doing, enhance distributive justice and racial equality. And as Cornell West
(1994: 95) describes it, AA should be viewed as neither a major solution to poverty nor a
<g. sufficient means to equality but rather "as primarily playing a negative role—namely, t o
i ensure that discriminatory practices against w o m e n and people of color are abated". P u t
\\ another way, then, the rationales for the creation and implementation o f A A h a v e
included; compensation which addresses past discrimination; correction which refers t o
'- the correction of present discrimination; and diversification which is concerned with t h e
importance of creating a multicultural society (Tierney, 1997). These rationales h a v e
provided the moral justification for race-based AA.
ir* I have laid the groundwork b y defining A A and discussing some o f the arguments
' p u t forward by proponents and critics of race-based AA. Opponents of A A have based
i their arguments against the morality of A A b y drawing on the principle o f justice which
states that meritocracy should b e the criteria for the distribution of social benefits. A s
I.M. Y o u n g (1990: 195) has put it, "Those w h o oppose affirmative action policies usually
do so o n t h e ground that they discriminate. For them a principle of equal treatment, a
principle o f nondiscrimination, has absolute moral primacy". F o r these critics
discrimination occurs when what they term non-relevant criteria such a s race, gender,
religion and so on are used as the basis for decisionmaking in matters o f public policy.
The perception of A A as a group right as opposed to an individual right, is another area

of contention in the AA debate. On the other hand, supporters of AA have posited their
moral arguments based on righting a wrong, whether it was caused by past discriminatory
and oppressive practices or by correcting present inequalities. An additional moral
argument forwarded is that distributive justice promotes diversity and the celebration of
difference in the public (and private) sphere of society. Having thus explicated the
philosophical debate on the morality of AA, I now turn to a discussion of AA as it relates
specifically to education.
Equality of Educational Opportunity
How has AA been applied and theorised in education? What do we mean when
we talk of educational equality and educational inequality? Are the terms equality of
opportunity and AA synonymous? Smith (1985) has pointed out that the notions of
educational equality and educational inequality are difficult concepts to define precisely
because different Western researchers/writers use them differently. Additionally,
different discourses are used for the two concepts (Smith, 1985; Tyler, 1977), For
instance, the assertion has been made that sociologists have defined educational
inequality as inequality of opportunity (Smith, 1991), Suffice it is to say that to talk of
attaining educational equality is to assume that inequalities exist.
What does equality of educational opportunity mean and does it have the same
meaning as AA? To answer this question, it is important that we understand the way
equality of opportunity is understood in Western democratic states. In so doing, we need
to be aware that the concept of equality of opportunity has been variously interpreted at
different times by different people (Goldman, 1979; Sadurski, 1985). As Goldman
explains, there are extremes to the way this concept has been interpreted. At one end of
the scale is the belief, in its most conservative form, that equality of opportunity can
ameliorate great inequalities in the status quo distribution of goods, while at the other
extreme, the radical egalitarian view is a call for equal chances at goods or advantages.
In fact, there seems to be an inherent contradiction in the concepts of equality of
opportunity and AA.
On the one hand, equal opportunity means not discriminating against a particular
group because of that group's race, sex, religion, ethnicity, disability and other categories
(Holloway, 1989). On the other hand, AA does just that: it is based on racial preferences
to ensure that particular groups are not disadvantaged by the principle of
nondiscrimination inherent in the principle of equality of opportunity. Holloway explains
20

that AA goes beyond doctrines of equal opportunity. As Clayton and Tangri (1989: 177)
have put it, AA policies "are perceived to violate two basic principles underlying
individual achievement in American society: equal access to opportunities and equitable
assignment of rewards based on individual merit rather than on immutable status
characteristics". Iris Marion Young (1990) also points out that AA challenges the
primacy of a principle of nondiscrimination and the conviction that persons should be
treated only as individuals and not as members of groups. We can see, then, that equality
of opportunity is not the same as AA (Holloway, 1989; Hacker, 1994). In fact, we might
say that AA is a strategy that attempts to bring about equality of opportunity by providing
those disadvantaged groups with a head start to counter their disadvantage and hence
equalise their opportunities. As Goldman (1979; 200) has put it, the avowed purpose of
many AA programmes is to "ensure present and future equality of opportunity for women
and minority-group members".
In terms of education, AA is the strategy that reduces educational inequalities by
providing disadvantaged groups with educational opportunities to equalise their situation.
Equality of opportunity has been defined as "the right to be socially successful if one is
able to" (Shklar, 1986: 22) and the educational system is the means whereby everyone
has an equal chance "to compete for the national cake" (Patterson, 1978; 22). As Green
(1981: 204) has put it, "Affirmative action is necessary to combat not only the cynicism
or hopelessness of the disadvantaged but the expectations of assured success of the
advantaged: in other words, to put everyone on an equal footing".
Race-related AA policies in education in the West have been a response to the
perceived educational disadvantage faced by people of colour/minority populations. In
other words, disadvantaged racial/ethnic groups were identified as facing educational
inequalities while AA was defined as a strategy to promote equality of educational
opportunity by reestablishing the elements of fair competition, as Feinberg (1996) has
argued, In a recent commentary on AA and higher education, Tierney (1997) maintains
that AA in America was a result of the fact that American campuses were White, male
centres of learning. The purpose of AA, according to Tierney, was to help not
individuals but groups who had been discriminated against. Tierney makes the point that
throughout this century, public higher education has been perceived as a central vehicle
for increasing equity in society. For those who have been disadvantaged by societal
circumstances, education, then, is conceived as a major vehicle to equalise relations by
21

expanding opportunity. Access to higher education, therefore, has been seen as a major
path to expand access and equality of opportunity for the disadvantaged.
It is interesting to note that apart from quotas in student admissions and faculty
employment, AA in education historically has been class-based. For instance in the
United States, Project Headstart, which was first implemented in 1965, was aimed at
changing children and their families in order for them to adapt better to the school culture
(Smith, 1991). In this government initiative in education, children from economically
and culturally deprived backgrounds took part in a comprehensive pre-school programme
presumably to break the poverty cycle. In Britain, the establishment of Educational
Priority Areas was intended "to break into the vicious circle of deprivation" and was an
attempt to "overcome perceived problems in one environment (the family) by initiating
changes in another (the school), i.e. using the school to compensate for perceived
deficiencies in the family" (Smith, 1991: 29). In Australia the establishment of the
Disadvantaged Schools Program in 1975 saw funds being allocated to both government
and non-government schools which served the greatest concentration of poor children
(White and Johnson, 1993). It is interesting that these policies were not really race-based
AA but were more class-based. Nevertheless, it would be fair to say that the beneficiaries
would have included children of colour or those from disadvantaged ethnic groups.
Commenting on class-based AA in the American context, Smith (1991: 30)
maintains that "official reform programs like Headstart did not directly address the
problem of working-class or minority group poverty and oppression nor did they
critically examine the structure of the school, its programs and resources of schools in the
poorest neighbourhoods". She argues that "The resources allocated for reform were
inadequate and the content of the programs succeeded only in enmeshing the poor in yet
another layer of welfare bureaucracy, and in subjecting them to sociological scrutiny
which blamed them for being failures" (Smith, 1991: 30).
Educational inequality has been a major focus of research for several decades with
the main focus placed on the impact of poverty, social class, gender or ethnicity on the
educational opportunities and outcomes of young people (Angus, 1993). Tyler (1977)
highlights the ambiguity inherent in the term 'educational inequality' and identifies six
different definitions of this term. He lists the first four as inequality in achievement, in
educational background, in aptitude or ability, in school environment, identifying these as
unequal inputs. The last two definitions are to do with unequal outcomes in terms of
inequality in credentials and in life chances (which relate to status and income).
22

The debate on educational inequality has centred around two opposing positions.
The first is that of'nature', the traditional viewpoint, which identifies the most significant
input variable as inherited aptitude or ability. This viewpoint sees school success as
largely a result of innate intellectual capacity which is affected by a learner's home
background. On the other hand, the 'nurture' position maintains that environmental
factors (economic, cultural and school) are important to school success (Smith, 1991). In
general, explanations for inequality in schooling have been posited by mainstream
(conservative and liberal) educators as well as neo-Marxist and radical neo-Marxist
sociologists (McCarthy, 1990), Mainstream educators, who Smith above has referred to
as proponents of both the 'nature' and 'nurture' viewpoints, have argued that biological
or cultural deficiencies on the part of the underachiever were adequate explanations for
racial inequalities in schooling. In other words, what Smith and McCarthy are pointing
out here is that mainstream educators blame the victim in some way for failure in school.
Some innate deficiency either in intelligence or social, economic and cultural
environment (i.e., family circumstances) was responsible for underachievement.
On the other hand, neo-Marxists theorists have aigued that inequalities in society
are reproduced and perpetuated in schooling. McCarthy (1990: 58) notes that dominant
themes in the literature in the late 1960s and 1970s centred on "the contradiction between
capital and labor and the role of schooling in the maintenance and the reproduction of the
economy". Bowles and Gintis (1976), for example, formulated the correspondence thesis
which posits that a "structural correspondence" exists between the social relations of
schooling and the social relations of production. In her study of the hidden curriculum,
Kathleen Lynch (1989) observes that many conflict theorists have deliberately ignored
issues of race and gender when analysing the school's hidden curriculum because they
consider class relations as the major factor in the reproduction of inequalities. Similarly,
as McCarthy (1990: 134-135) has pointed out in his commentary on race and the
curriculum, neo-Marxist educators "have tended to subordinate racial inequality to what
they see as the more general problem of class oppression, thereby suppressing the
importance of race in the project of social emancipation".
However, there are serious limitations in these conceptions of racial inequalities in
education, McCarthy sums up the debate succinctly by arguing that essentialism and
dogmatism are two characteristics of current debates in the educational literature on the
theoretical status of racial inequality. He notes:
23

Mainstream educators reduce the problem of racial inequality to the issues of
underachievement and minority social and cultural deficits—in some ways
blaming minorities themselves for the problems associated with race and social
disadvantage. Neo-Marxist educators, on the other hand, have tended to
subordinate racial inequality to what they see as the more general problem of class
** oppression, thereby suppressing the importance of race in the project of social
emancipation. (McCarthy, 1990: 134-135)
It is pertinent to note that AA policies for ethnic/racial minorities in the West are
developed and implemented based on some lack or deficiency on the part of these
minorities. Even the critics of AA operate on the paradigm of whether the policies work
or not. Western measures are then used to assess the relative success of the policies
a--- according to whether the policies succeed to do what they set out to do in a quantitative
fashion. How are AA policies framed, what assumptions do they bear and how are they
implemented in Fiji? How effective have they been? What criteria are used to measure
their effectiveness? Are the AA policies in Fiji a historically appropriate response to
iff
;. Fiji's colonial history? The answers to these questions will be fully discussed in
Chapters Three and Six.
This far, I have engaged with the discourse on equality of opportunity in
education. I have argued that AA was a response to educational inequalities faced by
•.«?•
minority groups in the form of equality of opportunity (and access). I have pointed out
that AA in education in Western democracies has basically been class-based with the
exception of race-based higher education quotas in student admissions and staff
pfe employment. In the next section, I review some of the literature on underachievement in
* formal education, both in the 'Western' and Fiji contexts.
Explanations for Racial Inequalities in Schooling: the Western Context
, There does not seem to be a coherent, satisfactory theory to explain the
reproduction and persistence of racial inequality in schooling in the educational literature
of Western nation states such as Great Britain, the United States and Australia. Rather,
< racial inequality in education has been explained either in terms of social and cultural
deficit models or in terms of class oppression. However, despite this limitation, Western
theorists themselves have attempted to retheonse racial inequalities in education and have
produced various alternatives (e.g., Hatcher and Troyna, 1993; McCarthy, 1990).
Racial/ethnic groups, including indigenous groups, have faced problems of
underachievement and have been marginalised and alienated from an academic core
24

curriculum. Examples of these groups are the Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islanders in Australia as well as migrant minority groups such as the West Indian children
in Great Britain and the Maltese background students in Australia, It is obvious that the
persistence of racial inequality cannot be attributed to a single variable but should be
viewed as a complex, multi-causal phenomenon.
In what follows I discuss two key studies that explain why minority children have
failed in schooling in other distinctive contexts, the first of West Indian children in
Britain and the second of Maltese-background children in Australia. They have been
selected as key studies because of potential correlation in the findings of these studies
with the situation in Fiji. First of all the situation is similar viz a viz a post-independent
people coming to terms with an imposed Western-oriented curriculum. In the case of
Fiji, the indigenous people are subjected to a neocolonial curriculum of their own choice
(people in power had the choice to develop different curricula content but chose not to);
in the case of minority children in Britain and Australia, their parents have no say in what
their children learn in school. In both contexts, however, Western forms of cultural
knowledge, pedagogies and assessment play a dominant role in identity formation and in
deciding which student should pass and which should fail. In both cases, the students are
marginalised and disadvantaged by the Western (-type) educational system in place.
Second, these two studies were selected because they both reiterate the point
which McCarthy (1990) makes that studies which reduce explanations for racial
inequalities in education to single causes are essentialist and dogmatic. Third, Sultana's
1993 study is important because he clarifies the concept of "symbolic violence", a
concept first introduced by Bourdieu and Passeron (1977), I argue in Chapter Five that
education systems which deliberately exclude the knowledge systems, cultural values and
language of a group, particularly of indigenous origins, are guilty of symbolic violence.
Parekh (1986) summarises the literature on the underachievement of minority
children in Britain, particularly West Indian children. First, he undermines the genetic
intellectual inferiority explanation, pointing out that IQ tests as well as the concept of
intelligence are too problematic to be valid. He points out that some West Indian
students perform as well or even better than their white counterparts. He notes as well
that the academic performance of middle-class West Indian children is much better than
that of white working-class children and they perform almost as well as white middle-
class children. Parekh demonstrates that the notion of underachievement is complex and
can be class-contingent,
25 ;
i
1

The traditional structure of the family is the second conventional explanation cited
for the underachievement of West Indian children. Specifics include inconsistent patterns
of discipline, acute inter-generational conflict, lack of commitment to and willingness to
make sacrifices of time, energy and money for children's education, and failure to provide
a supportive environment. Parekh critiques these findings, commenting that while the
family is an important factor, it should not be exaggerated. He examines research that
demonstrates the significance of the school and argues that students who have high
achievements whilst at boarding school demonstrate the higher significance played by the
school rather than the family. Parekh (1986: 117) contends that much of what is said
relating to the structure of the West Indian family is "either mistaken or unrelated to
education".
Material and cultural disadvantage associated with poor socio-economic
conditions of the West Indian home is an additional explanation for the
underachievement of West Indian children. The majority of West Indians have been
identified as "relatively poor, ill-educated, engaged in low-paid, dull and unskilled jobs,
working at odd hours and living in over-crowded houses" (Parekh, 1986: 111). Parekh
agrees that the socio-economic conditions of the family are of significant importance
with much research demonstrating the significance of class to educational performance.
However, he cautions that while class in an extremely important variable, it is not the
most important. Racism, as well as school factors (e.g., teachers, school ethos), mediate
the influence of class.
The structure and ethos of the school is another explanation Parekh picks out from
the literature review. Parekh (1986: 120) agrees that this is another very important factor
but claims that "the socio-economic conditions of the child, racism, etc., exert
independent influence on the school, and foster or frustrate its academic ethos". As well,
the failure of educational authorities to identify and meet the basic educational needs of
the West Indian child has also been posited as a cause of underachievement. Parekh
responds to this argument by saying that that is an important but limited explanation for
the overall underachievement of West Indian students.
Parekh concludes that socio-economic conditions, racism in the school, and the
academic ethos of the school, "in their complex interaction explain to a considerable
degree why the bulk of West Indian children underachieve" (1986: 121). This study is
important in that it is highly critical of studies which attribute failure to succeed at school
to a single factor. This is an important point that I will take up later, when I argue that
26

studies in Fiji that have attempted to correlate underachievement to one factor/variable
are methodologically flawed. They fall into the category of the "fallacy of the single
factor", to use Parekh's terms.
Sultana's (1993) paper on the education of Maltese students in Australia
emphasises that underachievement cannot be reduced to simplistic, reductionist causes.
Like Parekh, he repudiates the theories held by researchers that explained
underachievement in terms of "deficiencies in intelligence, genetic stock of a particular
race or group, cultural environments, diets or parenting" and maintains that these views
were useful "to those who sought to legitimise their colonial, imperial, class policies by
referring to 'objective' and 'scientific' findings!" (Sultana, 1993: 3).
Sultana suggests that in order to understand why racial inequality persists in
schools, we need to examine the institutional and social contexts in which the learning
process takes place. He argues that schools which do not value the "realities, language
and dignities" of their students are guilty of "symbolic violence". These schools are
violent and powerful in their labelling of who is a school failure and thus, provide
experiences which marginalise and exclude. Borrowing the term from Bourdieu and
Passeron, Sultana defines symbolic violence as:
...the violence perpetrated by systems which unilaterally impose themselves,
representing as they do the dominant frame of reference, on one and all. You
either accept this curriculum, this pedagogy, this world view, this language, or
else you are labelled a failure. It is violent because, so powerful are the people
who do the labelling, that we end up internalising those labels, and become deeply
convinced that we are, indeed not capable of ever achieving anything in life. It is
a powerful form of violence because the rules of the game are set by the system
itself according to its own criteria, and thus it becomes difficult to resist. (Sultana,
1993:5)
I believe that this study is an important one too because it reiterates the important
point that studies that explain school failure in terms of one variable are seriously flawed
and do not deserve any serious attention. Moreover, this study is important in that it
explores a feature that is prominent in all imposed educational systems—the symbolic
violence perpetrated against minority and indigenous populations by a system that is
based on a foreign material and cultural world view. My understanding of symbolic
violence is the imposition of colonial (and neocolonial) views of 'reality', 'truth',
'rationality' and language on a society. Symbolic violence occurs in schooling when the
"realities, language and dignities" of students are not valued by schools, as Sultana
(1993) argues, It occurs when those who do not adapt or conform to standards required
27

by the dominant ideologies and practices are labelled as failures. Western schooling,
thus, because it is based on a foreign world view, is symbolically violent when those
subjected to the system internalise the label of failure. I will revisit Parekh's (1986) and
Sultana's (1993) studies in Chapter Five.
Studies on Racial Inequalities in Schooling in Fiji
In this section, I review studies on Indigenous Fijian underachievement in Fiji.
My concern here is whether they have been essentialist and dogmatic in their findings
(McCarthy, 1990). Do they suffer from the "fallacy of the single factor" as Parekh
(1986) has described it? Indeed, do these studies place the blame on the underachiever
and his/her social, economic and cultural circumstances?
Tupeni Baba (1982) recommended three categories of variables for use by
interested researchers as the bases for investigations on racial inequalities in education in
Fiji, They are; psychological factors (e.g., motivation/aspiration, need achievement,
locus of control, cognitive style), social-cultural factors (e.g., individualism/cooperation,
cultural conflicts, tradition of academic scholarship) and institutional factors (e.g.,
urban/rural, facilities, teacher quality). The areas that attracted a great deal of
investigation were the psychological and institutional domains.
In terms of psychological studies, Basow (1982) and Kishor (1981; 1983) have
concluded that Indigenous Fijians have lower levels of self-concept and a more external
locus of control than Indo-Fijians. Kishor also found that Indigenous Fijians valued
education less than Indo-Fijians and had lesser academic motivation. In relation to the
socio-cultural research domain, Tierney (1971) concluded from his ethnographic study
that cultural explanations for the low academic achievement of the rural Indigenous
Fijian students lay in these areas: lack of privacy in the home, lack of desire for
competition due to societal preference for cooperative individuals, lack of mobility, and
pressure for conformity. Veramu (1990), working within an ethnographic paradigm,
found that rural Indigenous Fijian students had low self-esteem and that their parents did
not seem to be committed to their children's education, Veramu also noted two
institutional explanations for the poor performance of Indigenous Fijian students: boring
and seemingly irrelevant content coupled with the insensitivity and brutality of teachers.
Another study which sought socio-cultural explanations is Joeli Nabuka's (1984)
study of ten home background variables to explain racial inequalities in schooling.
Nabuka concluded that the most significant variables which differentiated Indigenous
28

Fijian and Indo-Fijian students were the people with whom students reside whilst at
school (a significant proportion of secondary-aged Indigenous Fijians students lived with
relatives in urban centres or in boarding institutions compared to Indo-Fijians), the
educational level of the student's father or guardian, the availability of reading books in
the student's home (Indigenous Fijians had significantly fewer story books) and the
availability of the prescribed text books for the students. On these factors, Nabuka
emphasised that Indigenous Fijians came out negatively. Nabuka, like Elley (19S2),
concluded that Indigenous Fijians have more disadvantages in their home circumstances
thanlndo-Fijians.
Baba (1983) summarised the institutional variables which could explain the poor
performance of Indigenous Fijians, particularly in the science, mathematics and
commerce disciplines, First, he identified a lack of qualified teachers teaching in these
disciplines. Second, Indigenous Fijian secondary school principals were less experienced
than their Indo-Fijian counterparts. Third, Indigenous Fijian schools offered an
integrated science compared to the pure sciences offered in Indo-Fijian schools. Finally,
the infrastructural development of Indigenous Fijian schools was not so adequate in terms
of laboratories, library and supportive office equipment. What is clear from Baba's
summary is that Indigenous Fijians are also disadvantaged when it comes to issues of
quality - in teaching, school leadership and resources.
It would seem that explanations for racial inequalities in schooling may be
essentialist and dogmatic in that explanations for Indigenous Fijian underachievement
have been sought in one domain (e,g,, either psychological, institutional or socio-
cultural). To my knowledge, there has not been one study in Fiji that recognises and
acknowledges the complexities associated with underachievement. This research project
will attempt to fill this vacuum.
Given the inadequacies of many explanations for racial inequalities in education,
what could be an alternative theoretical model? McCarthy offers the parallelist position
theory to explain racial inequalities in education (See Figure A). The parallelist position
...presents us with a theory of overdetermination in which the unequal processes
and outcomes of teaching and learning and of schooling in general are produced
by constant interactions among three dynamics (race, gender and class) and in
three spheres (economic, political and cultural). (McCarthy, 1990: 80)
29

Spheres
Economic Cultural Political
Dynamic of Class
Dynamic of Race
Dynamic of Gender
(Source: Adapted from McCarthy, 1990: 81)
Figure A: The Parallelist Theory to Explain Racial Inequalities in Schooling
In this chapter, I have explored the way AA is viewed in Western contexts, such
as the United States, and discussed the debate between proponents and critics of race-
based AA. I then narrowed the framework to a discussion of the way AA has been
viewed in relation to education, particularly in terms of equality of educational
opportunity, This was followed by a critical review of studies that attempt to explain
raci?l inequalities in schooling. In particular, I focussed on two studies in the West
explaining why minority students have failed, the first of West Indian students in Britain
and the second of Maltese-background children in Australia. I followed this with a brief
review of the literature on explanations for the poor performance of Indigenous Fijians in
Fiji. Then, based on McCarthy's work, the parallelist theory to explain racial inequalities
in schooling was outlined. This theory posits that racial inequalities in schooling are
produced by the constant interactions among the dynamics of race, gender and class and
in the economic, political and cultural spheres. I bring these sections together by now
outlining the limitations in the traditional Western way of thinking about AA to set the
groundwork for the next major section of this chapter which is an explication of the
theoretical resources that may provide a more appropriate and comprehensive notion of
AA in decolonised, small island states like Fiji.
Limitations
There are some limitations in the way AA is traditionally thought about in
Western liberal democratic nations. These arise out of the assumptions made about AA
which make problematic their application to decolonised societies like Fiji.
AA is a postwar phenomenon, This arose out of the principle of redistributive
social justice which was facilitated by the expansion of the welfare state. In the United
30

States, for instance, an expanding economy, sufficient tax bases and welfare
infrastructures made possible the redistribution of capital (Dworkin, 1998). The first
assumption, then, that underpins AA is the notion that states have unlimited resources
that can be spread around to benefit disadvantaged groups. Western capitalist states like
the United States, Great Britain and Australia, which have significant natural and material
resources, are better able to afford large financial outlays for AA programmes
By contrast, Fiji is a small island state with all the challenges that beset nations of
this status. Distinctive local problems include: development and over-concentration,
open economies and overdependence, high public expenditure, distance costs, the
dominance of public employment, problems of finance, aid dependency, and patronage
and nepotism (Bacchus & Brock, 1987: 2-4). Agriculture, notably sugarcane, forms the
backbone of Fiji's national economy with tourism following very closely. The country
has limited natural resources and a very small industrial base, Consequently, the gross
national product is minimal compared to Western industrialised states. Fiji's economy is,
therefore, more dependent on the vagaries of the global market economy. This reflects
the vulnerability of small island states to external socio-economic world forces. The
problems associated with smallness that encourage dependence may help explain the
continuation of neocolonial hegemonic structures in Fiji after political self-rule became a
reality. Fiji's status as a small island state thus emphasises its lack of resources. For
national resources, therefore, to be set aside for AA for a particular group would
demonstrate the view that AA in Fiji was perceived to be an urgent national need that had
to be addressed.
However, the point needs to be made that within globalisation and these new
times, it is becoming increasingly obvious that internally, governments are moving to
economic tightening with the resultant reduction in the distribution of resources.
Historically, we have hit a period where countries in both 'developing' and 'developed'
worlds follow the rationale of economic rationalism, where there is tighter management
of national budgets. And with fewer taxation bases, there are less resources to
redistribute. Notwithstanding the global trend of economic rationalism, it must be noted
that small island nations like Fiji are extremely vulnerable, not only environmentally but
more particularly in economic terms.
A second assumption that underlies AA in Western liberal capitalist states is the
notion that nations which institute AA have considerable control over their sovereignty.
Again, large industrial nations which carry the status and prestige of 'developed'
31

industrial states like the United States, England (and maybe Australia) are sovereign
states that even have the capacity to provide financial and other aid to less fortunate
'underdeveloped' or 'Third World' societies. The historical fact is that these Western
industrial countries have managed to maintain their sovereignty through the process of
colonialism where they amassed great wealth and appropriated many resources from their
colonies to run their economies. As Albert Memmi (1965: 149) has put it, "Colonization
is, above all, economic and political exploitation". After all, capitalism and its
worldwide spread through the process of colonialism "instilled in the white men a
constant yearning for the material benefits and power which they believed money alone
can bring" (Gladwin, 1980: 26-27).
When decolonisation of British, French and German colonies occurred after the
first world war, these countries had firmly established not only their sovereignty, but also
neocolonial power and control over politically independent states through the process of
foreign aid and financial assistance/loans. Gladwin (1980) argues that foreign aid is such
a powerful weapon that no Western government is keen to abandon it. He maintains that
many 'Third World1 countries carry substantial foreign aeot on foreign aid which mostly
comes in the form of loans from international financial institutions like the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank, various regional development banks, and agencies of
the United Nations. Fiji depends for its economic existence on loans from international
financial institutions as well as economic and other aid from 'big brother' 'developed'
countries like Australia, New Zealand and Japan. A United Nations report in 1977
estimated that by the end of 1978, servicing the foreign debt of 'developing' countries
would cost the equivalent of 25% of the total export earnings of these same countries
(Gladwin, 1980). Given that foreign aid and loans are primarily tools of control and
economic exploitation, and not simply business transactions as Gladwin puts it, how then
can small island states like Fiji maintain their sovereignty given their economic
vulnerability? In fact, if economies like the Asian economic 'tigers', Indonesia and
Malaysia that were internationally perceived to be invincible can collapse, as the events
of 1997-1998 have demonstrated, what does this reflect about the fragility of small island
states like Fiji and their supposed control over the affairs of their countries?
An additional factor that demonstrates quite clearly the vulnerability of small
island states is the emergent power of multinational and transnational corporations.
These corporations not only have the mandate of their governments to spread their
32

capitalistic tentacles but also hold much control over 'Third World1 countries. As
Gladwin (1980) has argued:
The national interest of the industrialized countries is indeed intimately linked
with that of the multinational corporations. These corporations are the spearhead
of the new imperialism, able to reward or punish Third World countries for their
behavior, providing an intelligence network to watch them, and convincing both
leaders and their people that the home country is their best friend, their model to
copy, and their protector, (pp. 66-67)
Additionally, the income from many of these corporations easily outstrips many
'Third World' economies (Castells, 1996). Castells seems to be describing the Fiji
context quite aptly when he notes that "countries that are left exclusively to the impulses
of market forces, in a world where established power relationships of governments and
multinational corporations bend and shape market trends, become extremely vulnerable
to volatile financial flows and technological dependency" (Castells, 1996: 89). Examples
of multinational corporations in Fiji include the ubiquitous MacDonalds and Coca Cola.
Supermarket chains include Woolworths and petrol stations include Shell, Mobil and
British Petroleum. Asco Motors also operate in Fiji, Multinational corporations also
have a hand in garment factories, brewery, cigarette, hotel chains and insurance
companies. Given the financial power that these multinational companies wield, how can
the sovereignty of a small island state like Fiji be maintained?
Third, another limitation in the traditional way of thinking about AA in Western
liberal capitalist democracies is the development of social movements which assume
equal representation before the state. The rise of new group-based social movements ,1
associated with left politics such as feminism, Black liberation, the lesbian and gay
movements and the peace and green movements have challenged traditional conceptions
of justice (I. M. Young, 1990) and indeed as Yeatman (1990) has argued, these new
social movements have placed new political claims on the democratisation of social,
economic, political and cultural resources of the state. In arguing for the need for the
state to recognise and affirm group difference as well as specific representation of
oppressed groups, Iris Marion Young (1990: 160) points out that oppressed groups "have
seen self-organization and the assertion of a positive group cultural identity as a better
strategy for achieving power and participation in dominant institutions". Iris Marion
Young notes that in attending to group-specific needs and providing for group
representation, the state would be promoting social equality and providing the
recognition that undermines cultural imperialism. Or as Laclau and Mouffe (1985: 191)
33

have argued, the discourse of radical democracy is one where new social movements are
representative of a "polyphony of voices, each of which constructs its own irreducible
discursive identity". In arguing for a radical democracy, they note:
Juridical institutions, the educational system, labour relations, the discourses of
the resistance of marginal populations construct original and irreducible forms of
social protest, and thereby contribute all the discursive complexity and richness
on which the programme of a radical democracy should be founded. (Laclau and
Mouffe, 1985: 192)
The potential for a new hegemony that arises out of the formations of coalitions
of these new social groups poses challenges for those in power. It is this hegemony that
can constitute a fundamental tool for political analysis on the left. And as Laclau and
Mouffe (1985: 192) have also noted, this hegemony is only possible when the "open
unsutured character of the social is fully accepted, when the essentialism of the totality
and of the elements is rejected".
We can see, then, that in Western liberal states like the United States, Great
Britain and Australia, equal representation before the state is something that is constantly
negotiated by new political movements who want some stake in state resources and as
Yeatman (1990) has put it, the state has been unable to cope. As Yeatman explains, it is
the multiplication of these claims which have put a lot of pressure on the state, prompting
top-down styles of state management. However, with regard to small, supposedly
sovereign states like Fiji, the issue of equal representation before the state is one that
cannot be assumed. For one, the population is too small (the total population is three
quarters of a million) for the development of radical social groups and two, even if these
groups were developed (e.g., gay and lesbian movements), the populace (and the
government) is too conventional to be as justice-oriented as Western liberal nations. And
three, the indigenous people currently hold political and land power so the context which
arises in Western nations regarding oppression of, and the resultant protest by indigenous
or the Black movement, does not apply. The multiplication of claims by social
movements on the state as Yeatman puts it is a rare occurrence in small island societies
like Fiji.
The fourth limitation of traditional notions of viewing AA is the assumption made
by its critics that everyone is equal and should be judged strictly by a 'neutral' standard
like merit (Tierney, 1997). Iris Marion Young (1990), a proponent of AA for
marginalised groups, argues persuasively against the merit principle. She questions two
34

assumptions which underlie discussions on social justice and equal opportunity. She first
criticises the assumption of "a hierarchical division of labor with scarce positions of high
income, power, and prestige at the top, and less privileged positions at the bottom" which
is assumed as a given and therefore not unjust (I, M. Young, 1990: 193). She also
criticises what she describes as the "myth of merit" which assumes that positions are
distributed according to merit "by measuring the individual technical competence of
persons and awarding the most competitive positions to those judged most qualified
according to impartial measures of such competence" (I. M, Young, 1990: 193). Iris
Marion Young argues that is not possible to use criteria that are normatively and
culturally neutral since criteria used to evaluate individual performance are normative and
cultural rather than neutrally scientific. She maintains that the basic purpose of AA is "to
mitigate the influence of current biases and blindnesses of institutions and
decisionmakers" (I. M. Young, 1990: 198). The assumption of traditional notions of AA
that merit should be the basis for AA is, therefore, problematic.
At the onset of this chapter, I pointed out the problems associated with an
uncritical acceptance of AA from one socio-historical site like the United States to Fiji.
Here, in this section, I have identified four specific difficulties that arise when we try to
transport the assumptions of AA to the Fiji context. These are: the notion of unlimited
resources, the notion that states have control over their sovereignty, the rise of social
movements which introduces heterogeneity, thus resulting in complex confusion, and the
notion that merit and AA are incompatible and mutually exclusive.
Clearly, these assumptions are problematic if they are literally transposed to
decolonised vulnerable small island sites. First, Fiji does not have unlimited resources.
Second, because of its substantial dependence on foreign aid/loans and the significant
impact of multinational corporations, Fiji does not have control over its sovereignty.
Third, the population in Fiji is too small for the emergence of new social groups to
demand a rethinking of the notion of social justice. And fourth, the notion of merit as an
argument against AA is problematic because the assumption that merit is a scientifically
neutral phenomenon is a misnomer. However, the point needs to be made that Western
democracies do not have unlimited resources or absolute control over their sovereignty.
As well, not all social groups within them are 'large enough' to gain recognition nor are
all large groups (e.g., women) duly recognised. In this section, then, I have established
that traditional notions of viewing AA are inappropriate in understanding AA in the Fiji
context. Given the limitations in traditional ways of thinking about AA, I now turn to the
35

theoretical framework that may provide a more appropriate way of broadening the notion
of AA in decolonised or postcolonial societies.
Theorising the Postcolonial
Underpinning the whole study is the conceptual and analytical lens provided by
postcolonial theoretical resources that will be utilised to theorise and critique the failure
of AA to make a significant inroad into the underachievement in education of Indigenous
Fijians in Fiji. Specifically, it will use postcolonial conceptual resources to critically
analyse the interview data. As well, these resources will be used to critique texts on
Fijian history (see Chapter Three) and curriculum and government documents.
The theoretical discourses that arise out of postcolonial issues such as universality
and difference, representation and resistance, hybridity, language, history, education as
well as production and consumption of postcolonial literature underpin the thesis. The
issue of textual representation and resistance of non-Western people, for example, is an
important one— language and written history in the form of texts are two instruments of
control of colonised subjects which continue long after countries gain political
independence, Education is another form of control institutionalised as part of
colonialism. A neocolonial curriculum assures the maintenance of dominant Western
values. The production and consumption of texts is particularly critical given that the f
proliferation of texts on non-Western cultures has taken place in metropolitan capitals.
Language is indeed a critical domain of power because the colonial process itself
begins in language (Ashcroft et al., 1995). Written history by the West of the non-West in
the language of the coloniser, not only presented the non-West with the way they should
view themselves and the West, but legitimised and institutionalised myths and
misconceptions of the West that became regarded as the gospel truth by the non-West.
Edward Said, in his much acclaimed text Orientalism, illustrates this point very aptly by
emphasising the power of Western discourses which invented the Orient. In Said's words,
Orientalism is "a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the
Orient" (Said, 1978: 3). The Orient in Said's case refers to the East, to the racial 'Other' of
the West. I would argue that the Orient can be extended to the Pacific, or the South Seas
as the Western literature so romantically called the region, because it was Western literary
discourse that invented and created the myths and misconceptions associated with the way
this region was (mis)represented. In terms of discourse, Allan Luke (1995-1996: 38)
makes the point that for minority categories such as indigenous peoples and women, "the
36

historical movement has been from an outright namelessness and invisibility to an
inclusion in public discourses and human sciences as colonised, deficit human subjects".
What is clear from this discussion is that Western discourses reflected in the use of
language is an effective instrument of control to keep the 'native' subjugated and within
knowable grounds, even after the point of decolonisation.
The issues of universality and difference are important also in considering "the
similarity of colonialism's political and historical pressure upon non-European societies,
alongside the plurality of specific cultural effects and responses those societies have
produced" (Ashcroft et al., 1995: 56). The remainder of this chapter may be taken then as
a postcolonial interrogation of what the literature says about the key concepts used in the
thesis: hegemony, neocolonialism, the 'other', voice, strategic essentialism, identity,
hybridity and the postcolonial curriculum.
The issue of recovering voice is an important one to negate the essentialist
representation that colonial discourse had instituted about the 'natives' or 'others', In the
project nf recovering voice, it <<* sometimes necessary to utilise essentialism as a strategy
in order to be heard above the silences and contradictions caused by colonial
representation of the 'others'. At the point of decolonisation, the emphasis on Indigenous
Fijian cultural identity, for instance, was spurred by nationalistic aspirations as a response
to the hybrid identity that had been mediated by the colonial experience and the attendant
processes of change. Another response to the hybrid identity 'created' by colonialism is
the need to re-create a postcolonial curriculum that would not only affirm the cultural
identity of Indigenous Fijians, for example, but also would accommodate the hybridity in |
cultural practices of 'New Times' (Hall, 1996c),
Hegemony
Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist theorist, is credited with first using the
concept of hegemony. In an examination of Gramsci's political thought, Joseph Femia
(1981: 24) points out that hegemony is where the supremacy of a social group or class
manifests itself through "intellectual and moral leadership", not through domination or
coercion. In this case, hegemony is "the predominance obtained by consent rather than
force of one class or group over other classes" which is "attained through the myriad
ways in which the institutions of civil society operate to shape, directly or indirectly, the
cognitive and affective structures whereby men perceive and evaluate problematic social
reality" (Femia, 1981: 24). Not only should hegemony be ethico-political, "this
37

ideological superiority must have solid economic roots". Femia (1981: 25) further argues
that for Gramsci, hegemony is conceived purely in terms of ideological leadership, that
when Gramsci speaks of "political hegemony" or "political leadership", he means "the
consensual aspect of political control".
A simpler way of defining hegemony is '"moral and philosophical leadership',
leadership which is attained through the active consent of major groups in a society"
(Bocock, 1986: 11). In any given historical situation, hegemony is only going to be
found as "the partial exercise of leadership of the dominant class, or alliance of class
fractions" in only some of the following spheres "but not in all of them equally
successfully all the time": in the economy, factories and offices, law and the legal
process, state educational institutions, civil society, mass media and the arts, and in
r
religions (Bocock, 1986: 94).
Mouffe (1979: 181) contends that for Gramsci, hegemony is not simply a question
of political alliance "but of a complete fusion of economic, political, intellectual and
moral objectives". This fusion, according to Mouffe, "will be brought about by one
fundamental group and groups allied to it through the intermediary of ideology when an
ideology manages to [quoting Gramsci] 'spread throughout the whole of society
determining not only united economic and political objectives but also intellectual and
moral unity'" (Mouffe, 1979: 181). She points out a hegemonic class is one which "has
been able to articulate the interests of other social groups to its own by means of
ideological struggle" and according to Gramsci, the nature of hegemony is not totally
antithetical to working class interest (Mouffe, 1979: 181), Similarly, Bocock (1986: 37)
points out that:
Hegemonic leadership involves developing intellectual, moral and philosophical
consent from all major groups in a nation. It involves an emotional dimension too,
in that those political leaders who seek hegemonic leadership must address the
sentiments of the nation-people and must not appear as strange or alien beings
who are cut off from the masses.
Other theorists have analysed Gramsci's use of the concept of hegemony and have
tried to apply it to other contexts apart from Gramsci's original usage of hegemony in
terms of legitimating the privileged position of one economic class over another. For
example, Laclau and Mouffe (1985) examined the concept of hegemony in their search
for a radical democratic politics. According to Bocock (1986: 109), the most important
element of Laclau and Mouffe's analysis of hegemony is their move away "from
38

economistic and politically oppressive, versions of communism, towards radical political
issues" which "entails reconstructing a socialist dimension to the fundamental values in
radical liberal philosophy: justice, equality, liberty, freedom of expression, peace, and the
enjoyment of life". Laclau and Mouffe view the possibility of radical coalitions, then, as
a positive feature of this new hegemony. In a similar fashion, Michael Apple (1996: 15)
argues that while hegemonic relations have usually been considered in terms of class, and
it is important to continue to think of hegemony along these lines, it is also "essential that
we always recognise the multiplicity of relations of power surrounding race, gender,
sexuality and 'ability'".
Raymond Williams' analysis of hegemony is very useful. Pointing out that
Gramsci's contribution provided an insightful emphasis on hegemony, Williams (1976:
204-205) notes:
[H]egemony supposes the existence of something which is truly total, which is
not merely secondary or superstructural, like the weak sense of ideology, but
which is lived at such a depth, which saturates the society to such an extent, and
which, as Gramsci put it, even constitutes the limit of common sense for most
people under it sway, that it corresponds tc the reality of social experience very
much more clearly than any notions derived from the formula of base and
superstructure....This notion of hegemony as deeply saturating the consciousness
of a society seems to be fundamental. And hegemony has the advantage over
general notions of totality, that it at the same time emphasizes the facts of
domination, (italicised versions my emphasis)
This notion, then, of domination by consent is critical in an understanding of the
working of hegemonic processes in education. Williams (1976: 205) makes the
important point that "educational institutions are usually the main agencies of the
transmission of an effective dominant culture, and this is now a major economic as well
as cultural activity". In his discussion of the curriculum and ideology, Apple (1979: 5),
who draws heavily on Raymond Williams' analysis of hegemony, emphasises that
hegemony "refers to an organized assemblage of meaning and practices, the central
effective and dominant system of meanings, values and actions which are lived" (sic)
Apple (1979: 6) stresses that schools not only process knowledge, they also process
people by acting as "agents of cultural and ideological hegemony". He asks the
following pertinent questions regarding the supposedly "legitimate knowledge" that is
taught in schools. Whose knowledge is it? Who selected it? Why is it organised and
taught in this way? Why is it taught to this particular group? (Apple, 1979: 7), He
further makes the point that one should be guided by linking the answers to these

questions to "competing conceptions of social and economic power and ideologies" in
order to get a clearer picture of "the linkages between economic and political power and
the knowledge made available (and not made available) to students" (Apple, 1979: 7).
Apple (1979) argues that a critical examination of the following questions also
needs to be undertaken: How does a student acquire more knowledge? Why and how are
particular aspects of the collective culture presented in school as objective, factual
knowledge? How may official knowledge concretely represent ideological configurations
of the dominant interests in a society? How do schools legitimate these limited and
partial standards of knowing as unquestioned truths? These questions are all in response
to the inescapable fact that schools are agents of social and economic reproduction and
are consequently "agents of cultural and ideological hegemony", as aptly put by Apple
(1979: 6).
This section has examined the concept of hegemony as it applies, particularly in
education, in terms of the hegemonic curriculum which is selected and framed by a
particu'^r dominant group. The next section will examine the literature on
neocolonialism. It is pertinent to note that the concepts of hegemony and neocolonialism
are related as will be demonstrated in the next section,
Neocolonialism
Altbach and Kelly (1978: 29-40) identify neocolonialism as the "highest stage of
colonialism" where a politically independent nation that was once under colonial rule,
continues to be bound, whether voluntarily or through necessity, to a European or
American society, or to a Western derivative society such as New Zealand or Australia.
Neocolonialism can range from the open distribution of foreign textbooks to the more
subtle use of foreign technical advisers on matters of policy as well as the continuation of
foreign administrative models and curricular patterns for schools with very little
alterations to the curriculum that was in place before independence (Altbach, 1995: 453).
The most insidious element of neocolonialism is that relatively little change to the
education system occurs after ex-colonised nations attain political independence.
While making the point that the concept of neocolonialism is difficult to describe
and analyse, Altbach (1995: 452), nevertheless defines the concept in two ways: first as a
continuation of old practices and second as "a planned policy of advanced nations to
maintain their influence in developing countries". Both these conceptions of
neocolonialism apply in nations which were once colonised, particularly in the
40

educational system. "Education is perhaps the most insidious and in some ways the most
cryptic of colonialist survivals, older systems now passing, sometimes imperceptibly, into
neo-colonial configurations" (Ashcroft et al., 1995: 425). In this sense, educational
apparatuses can be described as hegemonic because education occurs through
"domination by consent", in Gramsci's terms. Once structures such as the curriculum,
assessment and school organisation become entrenched and institutionalised, they have a
totalising effect on the society, Education deeply saturates "the consciousness of a
society", as Williams (1976: 40) emphasises, and becomes unquestionably what parents
want for their children, The formal education structures that were put in place during
colonial rule become the norm with the society not really critically questioning whose
knowledge it is and whether it is relevant at a particular point in time,
I argue that Fiji is in a neocolonial condition, despite decolonisation occurring in
1970, because of its continued dependence on the hegemonic social, political, economic
and educational structures that had been instituted during the period of colonial rule.
These structures were maintained and perpetuated by the local elites who had power after
political independence was attained. In any case, it is important to realise that these local
elites had no other models to work from/with. Ninety six years of colonisation is more
than enough to allow colonial hegemony to saturate the consciousness of any society.
It is pertinent to note that the works discussed in the section on hegemony are
written in the contexts of capitalist liberal nations such as in the West/Europe/America,
While they may be applicable to the situation in what is known as the Pacific Islands,
defined as 'developing' or 'underdeveloped' by the West, it may be appropriate at this
stage to discuss some of the questions raised specifically in a colonial or postcolonial
educational context.
In a volume entitled Schooling in the Pacific Islands, Thomas and Postlethwaite
(1984: 15-17) ask fourteen important questions regarding educational institutions
alongside six dimensions:
Dimension I: The Purpose or Role of Schooling:
1. Who determines the purposes?
2. From what culture are the purposes derived?
3. Whose welfare is served by the purposes?
Dimension II: The Administrative Structure of the Education System
4. Who determines the administrative structure?
5. From what culture does the structure derive? ;
Dimension HI: Educational Personnel f
6. Who decides what system will be used for recruiting, training, and promoting |
educational personnel?
41

7 What influence do people's ethnic or cultural origins have on their chances of being
recruited, trained, and promoted?
Dimension IV: Composition of Student Population
8. Who decides what system will be used for selecting and for channelling students
through the school system?
9. What influence do youths' ethnic or cultural origins have on their opportunities to be
selected and channelled?
Dimension V: Curriculum and Instructional Methodology
10. Who determines the nature of the curriculum and teaching methods?
11. What are the cultural sources of the curriculum and teaching methods?
12. Whose welfare is served by the curriculum?
Dimension VI: Financing the Education System
13. Who determines how the system will be financed?
14. What influence do people's ethnic or cultural origins have on their role in financing
education?
4
These questions enable Thomas and Postlethwaite (1984) to compare those
countries that are still colonies with those that have obtained independent status, In
theory, after independence the residents of the region, through their selected
representative, are to make the decisions. However, in a case like Fiji where political
decolonisation occurred peacefully rather than the conthctual decolonisation processes
that occurred, for example, in India and Algeria, these questions are important. They are
important because the complexities associated with neocolonialism make it difficult to
give definitive answers to these questions. Maybe it is more a question of a continuum
rather than a binary yes/no.
Perhaps it is not so much an issue over what the answers are to these questions
but, more importantly, how these questions get reframed so they are more appropriate for
the postcolonial moment. It is pertinent that Thomas and Postlethwaite asked these
questions regarding educational institutions in 1984. Since then, there has been a shift in
postcolonial theorising. As well, there have been substantial material changes in
postcolonial conditions. It is therefore appropriate to find out what these questions will
look like in the postcolonial moment. Will they remain the same? Will they be
significantly reframed to counter the effects of colonialism? Given that the curriculum
should take cognisance of postcolonial and postmodern conditions, will these questions
significantly change? In short, how can these questions be reconceptualised and reframed
in order to be appropriate for postcolonial conditions? This set of questions will be dealt
with in the section on the postcolonial curriculum and in Chapter Eight.
Frantz Fanon (1967b), in The Wretched of the Earth, warns of the pitfalls of
national consciousness when the local elites which Fanon calls the "national middle
42

class" or "national bourgeoisie" take over the hegemonic control from the imperial power
at the point of decolonisation and then replicate the conditions they had rebelled against
in the first place. Fanon (1967b: 119) cautions:
National consciousness, instead of being the all-embracing crystallization of the
innermost hopes of the whole people, instead of being the immediate and most
obvious result of the mobilization of the people, will be in any case only an empty
shell, a crude and fragile travesty of what it might have been,.., These are the
cracks in the edifice which show the process of retrogression that is so harmful
-a*
and prejudicial to national effort and national unity. We shall see that such
r
retrograde steps with all the weaknesses and serious dangers that they entail are
the historical result of the incapacity of the national middle class to see into the
reasons for that action, (italicised sections my emphases)
Fanon describes so aptly the process of neocolonialism whereby the local elites,
who may be the intellectuals or the national middle class, assert the same kind of
hegemonic control over the masses in a similar way to the domination that the coloniser
had asserted over the colonised subjects. The "cracks in the edifice" highlight the
"process of retrogression" which is what happens when the "national middle class" fails
to mobilise the people at the point of decolonisation because of the powerful impact of
neocolonialism. Fanon (1967b: 36) also describes these local elites as vigilant sentinels
ever so ready to defend "the essential qualities of the West". In a neocolonial situation
then, it is a case of one of the 'other' othering the others. Thus, all "post-colonial
societies are still subject in one way or another to overt or subtle forms of neo-colonial
domination" with the "development of new elites within independent societies, often
buttressed by neo-colonial institutions" and independence has not solved this problem
(Ashcroft et al., 1995:2).
The 'Other'
Colonised people have always been considered the 'other' of Europe not only
because of their difference but more importantly, in stressing the cultural and racial
difference of the 'other', the colonisers asserted their domination and superiority over
them. This occurred in every possible facet of the lives of the colonised. Not only was
this evident in daily life in terms of (non)relations and (non)interactions between the two
groups of people, but stereotyping and discrimination against the colonised people
became institutionalised in the structures of colonial society. As well, the 'other' was
captured in the coloniser's imagination and discursive practices. Ashcroft et al. (1995:
85) put it this way:
43

In both conquest and colonisation, texts and textuality played a major part.
European texts - anthropologies, histories, fiction, captured the non-European
subject within European frameworks which read his or her alterity as terror or
lack. Within the complex relations of colonialism these representations were
reprojected to the colonised - through formal education or general colonial
cultural relations - as authoritative pictures of themselves. Concomitantly
representations of Europe and Europeans within this textual archive were situated
as normative. Such texts - the representations of Europe to itself, and the
representation of others to Europe - were not accounts of different people and
societies, but a projection of European fears and desires masquerading as
scientific/'objective' knowledges.
Both Abdul JanMohamed (1995) and George Lamming (1995) emphasise the
importance of colonial literary texts as sites of cultural control by colonialists.
JanMohamed argues that the colonialist literary text is highly effective in determining the
'native' by fixing him/her under the sign of the Other. "Faced with an incomprehensible
and multifaceted alterity" due to differences in race, language, social customs, cultural
values and modes of production, the colonialist literary text "valorizes the superiority of
European cultures, of the collective process that has mediated that representation"
(JanMohamed, 1995: 18-19). With his military superiority, the colonialist "ensures a
complete projection of his self on the Other: exercising his assumed superiority, he
destroys without any significant qualms the effectiveness of indigenous economic, social,
political, legal, and moral systems and imposes his own versions of these structures on
the Other" (JanMohamed, 1995: 22). Through the text, the moral authority of the
coloniser is articulated and justified by seeing the 'native' and representing him/her as
inferior in every regard, what JanMohamed terms the Manichean allegory. JanMohamed
contends that those in the category of Third World writers are in fact writing back in
terms of negating "the prior European negation of colonized cultures" as well as the
"adoption and creative modification of Western languages and artistic forms in
conjunction with indigenous languages and forms" by these writers (JanMohamed, 1995:
23).
Zia Sardar, Ashis Nandy and Merryl Davies (1993) describe how colonised
people were always defined as barbaric, uncivilised, savage, as 'them' rather than 'us' in
the European colonial literature. They point out that the process of generating Otherness
became a global project after Columbus first landed in the Americas in the late fifteenth
century. The colonised people became more "distorted and fictional", the further they
were from the European mainland. "Western tendency was to consider terra incognita as
44

being either empty or demonic" (Sardar et al, 1993: 40). These writers describe the
encounter between Europe and the Others of Europe as deadly because "Europe's
imposition of itself on the New World unleashed a myriad cultural and psychological
forces, many of them not yet fully manifest even after 500 years" (Sardar et al., 1993:
83), They identify three such forces: one, the social engineering of the natives' culture
and human nature to be as close to that of Europe in their manners, habits, mind and
impulses. The second is identified as the West portraying itself as the measure for
everything valuable both culturally and psychologically which the Others need to emulate
for progress and development. Third, the sense of identity of the Others in the modern
world has been displaced, Sardar et al. (1993; 90) sum it up this way: "In the modern
world,...the others have now been confronted by a dual incomprehensibility: the
difference between the West and their actual self; the difference between their actual self
and the invented self Europe gave them". Gayatri Spivak (1995: 24-25) describes the
Western project of constituting the colonial subject as Other as "epistemic violence".
T* is interesting and altogether not surprising that in cases where the ex-colonised
nation gains political independence, the non-indigenous people, if they are not the
dominant group, are othered more or less in the same way that the 'natives' had been
othered under colonial rule. After all, after many decades of being subjected to
discrimination and the blatant and subtle displays of power and domination, once the
roles are reversed for the colonised subjects, they in turn will display similar
characteristics they had learned from their colonial 'masters'.
Voice
Who can speak for the oppressed, the suppressed, the exploited, the marginalised,
the colonised? Who or what is the legitimate voice that can represent the history of a
people, a nation? These are critical questions in postcolonial studies. Colonialism
deliberately did not allow 'natives' or 'others', that is the colonised subjects, any space to
speak for themselves and of themselves in any form, whether in material or discursive
practices, in order to maintain domination and power over them. The postcolonial
project, therefore, is to provide colonised subjects with 'voice' to speak, to talk back to
the Western representation of them in the history books, in imaginary texts and in
colonial discourse and to be heard above the silencing that is characteristic of colonial
texts.
45

Commonwealth literature or Third World Literature for example, is a site where
postcolonial writers can have voice and can speak back to colonial representations of
them. It is also an important site for resistance to and subversion of colonial oppression.
Postcolonial theory is another site where postcolonial subjects can write back. However,
it is my view that the only ones privileged enough to get their work into print are those
'white' theorists and those 'black' intellectuals/writers who write from the metropolitan
centres that had once colonised them. They are either exiles or diasporic migrants who
have trained in the intellectual ways of the West. The privileging of text production, in
my view, automatically marginalises those who reflect on matters postcolonial in
disadvantaged production sites by denying them the written or speaking voice. But does
this mean that there are no other voices out there than can be heard, that can speak?
Spivak (1995), in her breakthrough article "Can the Subaltern Speak" argues that
the subaltern cannot know or speak itself because of its heterogenous identity. By
"subaltern", Spivak meant the oppressed subject or more generally, those of "inferior
rank" (Gandhi, 1998). Spivak says: "For the 'true' subaltern group, whose identity is its
difference, there is no unrepresentable subaltern subject that can know and speak itself
(Spivak, 1995: 27). Spivak is concerned here with articulating the difficulties and
contradictions associated with constructing a "speaking position" for the subaltern and for
her, the subaltern is in no position to "know and speak itself and if it did, it would
amount to essentialist fiction (Ashcroft et al., 1995: 8).
In contrast, Benita Parry (1995) is very critical of Spivak's theorisation on the
subaltern which disables the colonised and effectively renders him/her voiceless, She
puts it this way: "Spivak in her own writings severely restricts (eliminates?) the space in
which the colonized can be written back into history, even when 'interventionist
possibilities' are exploited through the deconstructive strategies devised by the post-
colonial intellectual" (Parry, 1995: 40). She adds "For Spivak, imperialism's epistemic
bellicosity decimated the old culture and left the colonized without the ground from
which they could utter confrontational words" (Parry, 1995: 43).
Dipesh Chakrabarty (1996: 223) problematizes "the idea of'Indians' representing
themselves in history", He argues that "in so far as the academic discourse of history -
that is, 'history' as a discourse produced at the institutional site of the university - is
concerned, 'Europe' remains the sovereign, theoretical subject of all histories, including
the ones we call 'Indian', 'Chinese', 'Kenyan'" and by extension, 'Fijian'. He adds:
"There is a peculiar way in which all these other histories tend to become variations on a
46

master narrative that could be called "the history of Europe". In this sense, 'Indian'
history itself is in a position of subalternity; one can only articulate subaltern subject
positions in the name of this history". What Chakrabarty seems to be saying is that all
histories outside of Europe are subordinated to European 'history' and can never really
stand on their own or have an 'authentic' position. It is clear to me that the hegemony
that is present in this instance is just an additional example of the neocolonial practices
that continue in ex-colonies despite political decolonisation but this time in 'natives'
representing their own histories. What this seems to suggest is that the power and
authority of Europe is still so subtly pervasive that one can only articulate one's voice
within a European framework, never outside of this.
I am particularly concerned about the written or spoken voices of the once-
colonised subalterns themselves who reside in their own countries. As Leela Gandhi
(1998: ix) has pointed out, postcolonial theory currently addresses the needs of the
Western academy and "what counts as 'marginal' in relation to the West has often been
central and foundational in the non-West", For ex-colonised subjects, the insider/outsider
and the self/other binarisms attacked and defended in Western academic discourses are
ones I would like to critique, I would particularly like to examine these binarisms from
the viewpoint of information and power and from the viewpoint of knowledge
production, publication and dissemination, Is it possible for subaltern voices to be heard
in the centres of intellectual debate such as England, America, New Zealand and
Australia, for example? I have no doubt that if they pushed hard enough, they would be
able to get their works published locally. However, in terms of making an impact on
postcolonial theory from the margins of empire so to speak, in privileged publication
centres, is it possible that works of indigenous intellectuals which are grounded in local
contexts, for instance, can be recognised as contributing to postcolonial theory? Can this
occur without using the weapons of the West such as the strict adherence to theoretical
and rigidly analytical papers that appear in academic journals? Is it indeed possible for
different ways of knowing and telling to be accepted in Western academic discourse?
For me, something of critical importance that I feel should be addressed by this
Western discourse artefact called postcolonial studies or theory is for it to branch out
from the academic arena to the public sphere. I would like to see people who are not
academics or writers participate more in postcolonial discourse. I think postcolonial
theory would have more credibility if, in addition to the theorising about the effects of
colonisation, we actually hear the voices of those colonised. An example of this would
47

be indigenous people talking or writing about their life experiences or life histories, or
specific excerpts which describe one particular experience. Of course, all this needs to be
grounded in the effects and after-effects of the colonial experience. I think it is the moral
responsibility of the intellectual, both locally and globally, to encourage, support and
facilitate the dissemination of works on the margins of production to the centre.
I thus would like to see more tangible contributions from people talking or
writing about the continual conflict in identity that they are undergoing as a result of the
effect that colonisation and today, modernisation/globalisation has on their lives. I would
also like to get the views of the older generation and their comparisons of the old and the
new way of life. I would like to see the once colonised subject talking or writing their
way through how they might in fact effect agency for themselves in order to understand:
• the process and effects of colonisation on their lives;
• how they have resisted this if at all (eg,, subversion, hybridity, opposition, duplicity);
• that they are empowered to do something about it.
The issue of voice is one of critical importance in postcolonial discourse. As bell
hooks (1989: 9) puts it, "moving from silence into speech for the oppressed, the
colonized, the exploited and those who stand and struggle side by side a gesture of
defiance that heals, that makes new life and new growth possible". While recognising the
ambiguities and tensions that are inherent in questions of representations, my thesis is a
deliberate strategy to create a space for speaking/writing voices for Indigenous Fijians; on
matters concerning their local contexts. 1 argue in Chapter Eight that this thesis is one
that enacts hybridity, is one where the academic binarism of analysis/narratives needs to
be dismantled, where it is possible, in fact, for indigenous voices to be spoken and be
heard, both in local and international sites. For as Gandhi (1998: 4) has put it:
Postcolonialism can be seen as a theoretical resistance to the mystifying amnesia
of the colonial aftermath. It is a disciplinary project devoted to the academic task
of revisiting, remembering and crucially, interrogating the colonial past. The
process of returning to the colonial scene discloses a relationship of reciprocal
antagonism and desire between coloniser and colonised.
It is the process of "interrogating the colonial past" to provide voice and space for
colonial subalterns in Fiji that is one of my concerns in this thesis.

Strategic Essentialism
Gayatri Spivak (1990, 1995) is credited with the term "strategic essentialism".
Essentialism is a characteristic that postmodernism shuns, In the multiplicities and
complexities that abound in every aspect of the postmodernist moment, it is
unfashionable to be essentialist, totalising or deterministic. So what does essentialism
mean in postcolonial theory? "Essentialism is the assumption that groups, categories or
classes have one or several defining features exclusive to all members of that category"
(Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1998: 77). Peter Childs and Patrick Williams (1997; 159)
identify three instances, the first to do with language having an essential meaning; the
second where there is a need by postcolonial groups or nations "to achieve an identity
uncontaminated by universalist or Eurocentric concepts and images"; and the third is in
terms of Spivak's consistent questioning of essentialism as a "globalizing, ahistorical
approach". With regard to the language example, Childs and Williams (1997: 159) note
that esccntialism is the belief that "language has an essential meaning—that there is a
concrete, specific, unchanging meaning for a term such as 'British' or 'West Indian': as
opposed to a belief that words take on their meanings through usage and discursive
power", They add that "Such essentializing becomes the basis for exclusion and
exploitation through a rhetoric of verisimilitude and authenticity that asserts what is 'real'
or 'true'".
However, at some contingent, historic-specific moment, it may be strategic to be
essentialist in order to effect agency or voice for disadvantaged or marginalised groups,
Spivak (1990: 109), in an interview, puts it this way: "It is not possible to be non-
essentialistic...; the subject is always centred". She adds that because of this point, a
person "can self-consciously use this irreducible moment of essentialism as part of one's
strategy" which can be used as part of a "good" as well as a "bad" strategy and "can be
used self-consciously as well as unselfconsciously" (Spivak, 1990: 109). A strategy is
not the same as a theory: it is directed, combative and particular to a situation (Childs and
Williams, 1997). Spivak (1990) also argues that no representation can take place without
essentialism.
Strategic essentialism is therefore "the political use of categories rooted in the
natural and the universal" and Spivak's argument is that one can make a choice "when
interrogating the border between the theoretical and the practical in certain situations"
(Childs and Williams, 1997: 157). A strategic use of essentialism is when "You pick up
49

the universal that will give you the power to fight against the other side, and what you are
throwing away by doing that is your theoretical purity" (Spivak, 1990: 12). However, a
key problem for postcolonial theory and historiographical practice is as follows: "When
almost all available accounts and documents are written by the colonizers, or an
indigenous elite, how does the historiographer give a voice or an agency to those sections
of the colonized who participated in anti-colonial resistance?" (Childs and Williams,
1997: 162). Notwithstanding this limitation, the strategic use of essentialism is one
which postcolonial theorists (for example, a written speaking voice in academia) and the
indigenous people, elite and otherwise (recovery of historica! voice), can use to effect
voice and agency for themselves in order to recover the voice, space and the dignity of
what I would call "knowing themselves and of themselves by themselves".
Cultural Identity
A person can have different identities: personal, physical, social, cultural,
economic, political and religious (Tagi, 1991). To these categories can be added ethnic,
racial and national identities. Linnekin and Poyer (1990; make the distinction between
Western nations and Pacific Island nation states regarding a person's identity. They
argue that the Europeans and Americans tend to see ethnicity as a matter of 'blood' and
ancestry (called the Mendelian model) whereas Pacific Island people generally identify
themselves according to the environment, behaviour and performance of others (called
the Lamarckian model). The latter is very much interactional and emphasises
relationships with others whereas the Western "paradigms of group identity rely both on a
biological theory of inheritance and on a psychological model of a discrete, bounded
individual" (Linnekin and Poyer, 1990: 7). However, the processes of colonisation and
westernisation have encouraged Pacific Islanders to define themselves according to the
Western model when it comes to defining themselves as ethnic groups. We can say that
the processes of colonisation, westernisation and now globalisation have produced (and
will continue to produce) hybrid human subjects
By contrast, Stuart Hall (1996a: 2) responds in two ways. First, he makes the
point that identity is a concept "operating 'under erasure' in the interval between reversal
and emergence; an idea which cannot be thought in the old way, but without which
certain key questions cannot be thought at all". Second, Hall asks "where, in relation to
what set of problems, does the irreducibility of the concept, identity, emerge?" (Hall,
1996a: 2). Hall sees the answer to this question "in its centrality to the question of
50

agency and politics". He emphasises that the concept of identity is not "an essentialist
but a strategic and positional one" (Hall, 1996a: 3).
In his discussion on cultural identity, Hall (1996b: 110420) offers two different
ways of thinking about it; the first in terms of one shared culture which "already exists,
transcending place, time, history and culture" and the second in terms of undergoing
constant transformation "subject to the continuous 'play' of history, culture and power".
In the first category, Hall (1996b: 110-111) defines cultural identity as:
a sort of collective 'one true self, hiding inside the many other, more superficial
or artificially imposed 'selves', which people with a shared history and ancestry
hold in common. Within the terms of this definition, our cultural identities
provide us, as 'one people', with stable, unchanging and continuous frames of
reference and meaning, beneath the shifting divisions and vicissitudes of our one
actual history.
Hall points out that his second conception of cultural identity refers to the
intervention of history which constitutes "what we have become". In this sense, cultural
identity "is a matter of 'becoming' as well as of 'being'. Cultural identities belong to
both the future as well as the past". And "Far from being eternally fixed in some
essentialist past, they are subject to the continuous 'play' of history, culture and power",
For Hall, then, cultural identities "are the names we give to the different ways we are
positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past" (Hall, 1996b:
112). In an interview with Kuan-Hsing Chen (Morley and Chen, 1996), Hall makes the
point that cultural identity is not fixed, that it is always hybrid. He puts it this way:
I think cultural identity is not fixed, it's always hybrid. But this is precisely
because it comes out of very specific historical formations, out of very specific
histories and cultural repertoires of enunciation, that it can constitute a
'positionality', which we call, provisionally, identity. It's not just anything. So
each of those identity-stories is inscribed in the positions we take up and identify
with, and we have to live this ensemble of identity-positions in all its
specificities". (In Morley and Chen, 1996: 502)
According to Padmini Mongia (1996: 11), Hall "emphasises the necessity of
understanding different notions of identity that remain sensitive to specific locations and
moments; he is thus able to argue for a strategic essentialism that has served a crucial role
in anti-colonial struggles of the past and continues to do so today". The notion, then, of
cultural identity and its relationship to a strategic essentialism is an important one.
What is obvious from the above discussion is that notions of identity need not be
essentialist as Hall (1996b) has put it. Rather, identity can be invoked in "a strategic and
51

positional" way. The important point that I feel Hall is making is that identities are
always hybrid because they are continuously subjected to the interplay of history, culture
and power. As he said, identity is "becoming" as well as "being". If one is, and is still,
in the process of becoming, the resultant effect would have to be a hybrid identity. If we
accept the above, then it is increasingly clear that there is no such thing as a 'pure' or
fixed identity, that in fact, each person lives an "ensemble of identity positions in all its
specificities" as Hall has described it. Cultural identities are therefore "always hybrid".
Hybridity/Third Space
Homi Bhabha's theorisation of the concepts of hybridity, ambivalence and
mimicry "have become touchstones for debates over colonial discourse; anti-colonial
resistance, and post-colonial identity" (Childs and Williams, 1997: 123-124). Bhabha
(1994: 112) defines hybridity in the colonial moment in this way:
Hybridity is the sign of the productivity of colonial power, its shifting forces and
fixities; it is the name for the strategic reversal of the process of domination
through disavowal (that is, the production of discriminatory identities that secure
the 'pure' and original identity of authority)....For the colonial hybrid is the
articulation of the ambivalent space where the rite of power is enacted on the site
of desire, making its objects at once disciplinary and disseminatory - or, in my
mixed metaphor, a negative transparency.
Bhabha (1994: 114) further notes:
Hybridity is a problematic of colonial representation and individuation that
reverses the effects of the colonialist disavowal, so that other 'denied' knowledges
enter upon the dominant discourse and estrange the basis of its authority - its rule
ofrecognition.
For Bhabha, hybridity does not indicate corruption or decline but rather, it is "the
most common and effective form of subversive oppositions since it displays the
'necessary deformation and displacement of all sites of discrimination and domination'"
(Ashcroft et al., 1995: 9). Ashcroft et al. note that Bhabha's argument is that the colonial
space is an agnostic one because the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised
"becomes one of constant, if implicit, contestation and opposition" (p. 9). In a paper
titled 'Cultural Diversity and Cultural Differences', Bhabha (1995) introduces the notion
of the Third Space of enunciation in this manner:
The pact of interpretation is never simply an act of communication between the I
and the You designated in the statement. The production of meaning requires that
these two places be mobilized in the passage through a Third Space, which
52

represents both the general conditions of language and the specific implication on
the utterance in a performative and institutional strategy of which I cannot 'in
itself be conscious. What this unconscious relation introduces is an ambivalence
in the act of interpretation....(p. 208)
According to Bhabha, it is this Third Space, this "in-between space" which
"makes it possible to begin envisaging national, anti-nationalist, histories of the 'people'.
It is in this space that we will find those words with which we can speak of Ourselves and
Others. And by exploring this hybridity, this 'Third Space', we may elude the politics of
polarity and emerge as the others of our selves" (Bhabha, 1995: 209). Robert Young
(1995: 22) says this about Bhabha: "For Bhabha, hybridity becomes the moment in which
the discourse of colonial authority loses its univocal grip on meaning and finds itself
open to the trace of the language of the other, enabling the critic to trace complex
movements of disarming alterity in the colonial text". Young (1995: 26-27) elaborates
on Bhabha's concept of hybridity by arguing that hybridity "makes difference into
sameness and sameness into difference, but in a way that makes the same no longer the
same, me difference no longer simply different". He further notes that hybridity
"consists of a bizarre binate operation, in which each impulse is qualified against the
other, forcing momentary forms of dislocation and displacement into complex economies
of agonistic reticulation" (Young, 1995: 26-27).
How does the theorising on hybridity or third space relate to cultural identity for
decolonised peoples in postcolonial sites? As Hall (1996b) has argued, cultural identities
are continuously transformed by the interaction of history, culture and power. One's
identity is, therefore, never static or fixed as such but is being continually transformed.
So while one can have a shared culture with a "shared history and ancestry" which
provide "stable, unchanging and continuous frames of reference and meaning" (Hall,
1996b: 111), at the same time, one's sense of identity is undergoing transformation. As
Hall (1996b: 112) so aptly describes it, "Cultural identity...is a matter of 'becoming' as
well as of 'being'". For me, Hall's conception of cultural identity fits in well with what
Bhabha is saying. Although Bhabha is talking about the hybridity in identity and power
relations when the colonised person subverts the authority of the colonial text and makes
the relationship an ambivalent one, one can apply this to postcolonial contexts in the
manner I have interpreted Hall, My interpretation of Bhabha is that the colonisers failed
to completely inscribe subservient subject positions on the colonised because the
53

outcome of any colonial-colonised situation will be a hybridised one: neither identity
staying quite the way the other perceived it to be.
The approach to third space or hybridity that is most appropriate for this research
project is provided by bell hooks (1990), an Afro-American intellectual. In her
discussion about issues of space and location she talks about "spaces of radical openness"
where one chooses to resist against notions of domination and oppression. In this
conception, "this space of radical openness is a margin - a profound edge" which is "also
the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance". And it is this marginality which she
names "as a central location for the production of a counter-hegemonic discourse"
(hooks, 1990: 149), hooks emphasises that for oppressed, exploited, colonised people, it
is critical to understand marginality as a position and place of resistance. She makes the
distinction between the marginality that is imposed by oppressive structures and the
choice of marginality as a site of resistance, She aptly describes it in this manner:
I am located in the margin. I make a definite distinction between that marginality
which is imposed by oppressive structures and that marginality one chooses as
site of resistance - as location of radical openness and possibility. This site of
resistance is continually formed in that segregated culture of opposition that is our
critical response to domination. We come to this space through suffering and
pain, through struggle....We are transformed, individually, collectively, as we
make radical creative space which affirms and sustains our subjectivity, which
gives us a new location from which to articulate our sense of the world, (hooks,
1990: 153)
Edward Soja (1996), a geographer, describes bell hooks' work on "Thirdspace" as
"the new cultural politics of difference and identity that is re-awakening the
contemporary world to the powerfully symbolic spaces of representation, to struggles
over the right to be different, to a new politics of location and a radical spatial
subjectivity and praxis that is postmodern from the start" (Soja, 1996: 84), It is works
such as this that create a space of radical openness from which "to build communities of
resistance and renewal that cross the boundaries and double-cross the binaries of race,
gender, class, and all oppressively Othering categories" (Soja, 1996; 84).
Postcolonial Curriculum
There has been very little theory and practice on the concept of the postcolonial
curriculum. For me, there are two critical issues that a postcolonial curriculum must
address. First, it must take into account the need to value the cultural identity of every
student in the class including particularly, Indigenous Fijian students (Hall's first
54

conception of cultural identity that is of "being"). As well, it should be concerned with
addressing the question of how all students, Indigenous Fijians included, are going to
reinvent themselves as hybrid, complex and dynamic human subjects in these new,
changing times. This would take cognisance of Hall's second conception of cultural
identity as a state of "becoming".
At this point, I refer the reader back to Thomas and Postlethwaite's questions on
educational institutions at the point of decolonisation (See page 43). I had asked whether
these questions were still applicable in the postcolonial moment or whether they should
be reframed, My view is that they need to be transformed into the following set of
questions:
• What constitutes a postcolonial curriculum?
• Why is there a necessity to reinvent such a curriculum?
• What values and ideals would it uphold? What would be the rationale of the
postcolonial curriculum?
• What are its aims?
• What knowledge, attitudes and skills would this curriculum emphasise?
• What language would this curriculum be taught in?
• Who would decide what the content is?
• Whose interests would such a curriculum serve?
• Who benefits from such a curriculum?
• What are the social, educational, economic and political implications of developing
and implementing such a curriculum?
The answers to all the questions I have raised here would form the framework for
a model of the reinvented postcolonial curriculum which will be discussed in the final
chapter.
After these questions are answered, another set of issues needs to be to addressed
to ensure that the curriculum is a democratic one that does not marginalise the knowledge
and cultural systems of any ethnic/cultural group living in Fiji. One such question has to
do with whether the needs and aspirations of all the communities living in Fiji are met.
Another critical issue concerns hegemony. How does a society ensure that the
hegemonic practices of the colonial past are not perpetuated and maintained in this
reinvented curriculum? As well, how does the society ensure that hegemony favouring
one group over another does not replace the old hegemony?
55

The curriculum in Fiji has gone through two phases: colonial (1835-1970) and
neocolonial (1970 to the present). My firm conviction is that the curriculum should
undergo another phase. I will argue in Chapter Eight that Fiji's present curriculum does
not meet the needs of all the communities and consequently needs to be overhauled and
transformed. I will also argue that another justification for this transformation or
reinvention is the need to meet the challenges of the 'New Times' that the global
community is facing, particularly in view of the dynamic technological and
communication 'revolution' sweeping the world. The Fiji school curriculum should
reflect the inescapable 'truth' that the people are living in different times.
Theorising Social Justice and AA in Postcolonial Contexts: the Case Study Proposed
I have argued in the first section of this chapter that traditional notions of AA in
the way they have been applied and theorised in Western educational contexts (and aped
in postcolonial societies) are limited. I argued in the second part that recent postcolonial
theory/discourse may provide conceptual and analytical resources and insights that
provide a more comprehensive notion of AA that is more appropriate for the Fiji context.
I now turn to a tentative exploration of how we might theorise AA and social justice in
postcolonial contexts with specific reference to the Fiji context.
In Western liberal democratic nation states, the concepts of AA and social justice
are intricately bound up with groups who comprise the minority population in terms of
numbers and opportunities open to them (Edwards, 1995). Not only are ethnic migrant
groups included in this minority category but indigenous groups also, The debate on AA
and social justice, internationally, has centred on whether or not specific legal and
institutional interventions aimed at increasing access for minority groups are desirable
and indeed essential. The idea of social justice, of which AA is part, as applied in the
West, is a contested and controversial concept (Rizvi and Lingard, 1996). Indeed,
proponents of AA are now arguing for a politics of difference that acknowledges and
affirms rather than marginalises difference, that promotes a heterogeneity of perspectives,
that is liberating and enabling for affected groups (I.M. Young, 1990, Yeatman, 1994).
However, the concept of AA as understood in Western countries is somewhat
different in the context of Fiji. It is true that AA was considered by two Postcolonial
Governments as necessary to provide equality of opportunity and access for the
indigenous population who were identified as disadvantaged in education and
employment. However, target groups in Fiji differ in two respects from that of minority
56

populations in Western countries. First, Indigenous Fijians are not a subaltern minority
like the Aboriginals in Australia, Maoris in New Zealand or American Indians in the
United States of America. At the point of decolonisation, Indigenous Fijians, together
with the Indo-Fijians, were the two dominant population groups in Fiji. Second,
**• Indigenous Fijians have always held political power from the point of political
decolonisation. In this regard, the question of AA in the Fiji context may or may not
have parallels with its framing in those contexts where the group seen to be the
.„> beneficiary o f A A is 'diasporic', or politically disenfranchised.
H o w then might w e theorise A A and s o c i a l justice i n postcolonial contexts? W h a t
n e w insights c a n this research project provide? This thesis is n o t only a critique o f A A
but, j u s t as importantly, it attempts to re-envision A A specifically in the Fiji context.
U s i n g a process of historical analysis and d r a w i n g o n the c o n c e p t u a l resources p r o v i d e d
by postcolonial theory, the thesis attempts to reconceptualise A A in n e w conditions in
n e w times, Using the case study approach, I h o p e to p r o v i d e a detailed and textured
»* description and micro-analysis cf AA in Fiji. T h e concept o f situated knowledges is o n e
that is critical in postcolonial theory, thus b y using the c a s e study approach, it is m y
intention to offer insights and new meanings that m a y b e useful in the generation o f
h y p o t h e s e s and theory building.
^ In t h e next chapter, I provide a detailed description a n d analysis of Fiji's colonial
history in order to set the contextual background of t h e s t u d y . Since t h e issue o f
representation is critical in postcolonial theory, I explore t h e w a y Fiji's pre-colonial a n d
colonial history have been textually represented. T h e i s s u e of resistance is also
1 important , thus , in th e next chapter, questions o f resistanc e a n d agenc y are also explored .
Since the primary instruments of colonial p o w e r a n d control a r e history, language a n d
i education, I particularly emphasise these in t h e next c h a p t e r t o show h o w they w e r e
^ manifested in the Fiji context, I also provide s o m e b a c k g r o u n d information on w h a t I
, perceive to b e important aspects of Fiji's c o n t e m p o r a r y c o n d i t i o n s , arguing in particular
I that Fiji is a colonial construct and that the neocolonial configurations of w h a t is h a s
arisen o u t o f what was, demonstrating that it is primarily F i j i ' s colonial history that h a s
shaped its past and present and will no doubt i m p i n g e on i t s future. In t h e last section o f
the next chapter, I specifically discuss Fiji's educational s y s t e m , focussing o n racial
inequalities in schooling and how A A was thought about, t a l k e d about, implemented a n d
w h a t s o m e o f its outcomes have been.
57

There are some important questions that this thesis attempts to answer. Was AA
in Fiji an historically appropriate response to the social and educational inequalities
created by its colonial past? Is it morally just for AA to be instituted for a majority
group? What are the implications for social justice when AA is race-based, rather than
based on gender and/or class? How was AA implemented and what have been its
outcomes? How does one counter the hegemony that is sure to creep in when race-based
policies are decided by the dominant beneficiary group? Are there other alternatives for
AA in Fiji that may be more appropriate for Fiji in the 1990s? The answers to these
questions will be addressed in Chapters Six and Eight.
Other questions also need addressing. For instance, what has been the basis for
AA in Fiji? The category of race continues to hold dominance in the social and political
fabric of national life. Since comparisons in the educational performance of Indigenous
Fijians and 'Others' have underpinned AA practices, the important questions to ask are:
How relevant or appropriate is the use of comparisons based on race in the 1990s
compared to the 1970s and 1980s? What is the nature of the 'educational gap' and is this
still an appropriate national strategy to use as an argument for the continuation of AA?
What are the underlying causes of racial inequalities in schooling? How useful are
explanations given for the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians and how do they hold
theoretically? This set of questions will be answered in Chapter Five.
Indeed, what should be done to counter inequalities in schooling? What reforms
to policy, people and school should be undertaken to improve on the lot of Indigenous
Fijians? What can different agencies do to improve on the educational performance of
Indigenous Fijians? Chapter Seven deals with reforms that informants have decided are
necessary if AA is to work and if Indigenous Fijians are to do better in schooling,
For a postcolonial thesis, issues of voice and agency are of critical importance.
As stated in Chapter One, one of the aims of the study is to enable informants to speak
and be heard. Just as importantly the questions of whether this is a subaltern thesis and
where it is heard and not heard are addressed in Chapter Eight. Other critical questions
asked in the thesis are how salient is the use of neocolonial educational structures to
explain underachievement, how colonially hegemonic is the current curriculum and can
there be another more appropriate and culturally democratic curriculum that is not
symbolically violent? These questions are addressed particularly in Chapter Eight.
In this chapter, I have explicated the theoretical frameworks that underpin the
thesis. I highlighted the limitations of traditional ways of thinking of AA in Western
58

capitalist nations and argued that postcolonial theoretical resources may be more useful
and appropriate in providing a broader and more comprehensive conception of AA in
postcolonial societies like Fiji, In the next chapter, I undertake a postcolonial
interrogation of Fiji's pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial contexts to lay the
groundwork for a better understanding of the way AA in Fiji was conceptualised,
implemented and talked about.
59

CHAPTER THREE
CONTEXTUALISING THE STUDY: PRECOLONIAL, COLONIAL,
POSTCOLONIAL FIJI
In the previous chapter, I laid out the theoretical frameworks that underpinned the
thesis. I first outlined the discourse on AA and demonstrated its limitations in
understanding AA in Fiji. I then explicated the postcolonial theoretical framework as it is
postcolonial conceptual resources that provide a broader and comprehensive
understanding of AA in decolonised or postcolonial sites. However, in order to
understand the origin and background of AA in education in Fiji, one needs to understand
Fiji's history because the need for AA arose in response to the educational and other
social inequalities created by Fiji's colonial history. This chapter, then, will explicate the
impact of Fiji's colonial history to lay this understanding. It has five foci.
First, I critically re-explore representations of Fiji's pre-colonial history, not only
as a privileging act, but more importantly as an act of resistance against the primacy of
colonial representations and discourses that constructed the category and entity called
Fiji. Second, I provide a brief overview of contemporary social, political and economic
conditions in Fiji. Third, I provide an analysis of Fiji's colonial history, including
resistance to colonial rule. Fourth, I argue that despite political independence, Fiji's
educational system is an instrument of colonialism and the practices of colonial
reproduction are still in play at this historical juncture. In particular, I analyse colonial
and postcolonial representations of Indigenous Fijian underachievement. Finally, I will
show that AA in education was a deliberate intervention on the part of a newly
independent government to assert Fiji's postcoloniality.
This chapter, therefore, will be a review of economic, political and social
conditions in precolonial, colonial and postcolonial Fiji. My principal intention is to
critically discuss Fiji's history using conceptual resources provided by postcolonial
theory. I will make the case that colonialism did not end at independence but that
neocolonialism continues to pervade all structures—economic, political, social, and
cultural. I will argue particularly that colonial reproduction is still part of Fiji's education
system which has maintained colonial structures of curriculum, pedagogy, organisation,
administration and assessment. AA policy, therefore, in education was Fiji's way of
countering the effects of its colonial history and asserting its postcoloniality.
60

Precolonial Fiji
Since there is no written historical record by Indigenous Fijians, information on
pre-contact conditions can be gleaned from the writings of Western historians,
anthropologists, archaeologists as well as the earlier writings of the colonialists in Fiji,
mainly in the form of missionaries and those working in the colonial services such as
governors and bureaucrats. Whether these writings are an 'authentic1 reflection of what
existed before contact with the white man is contested. There are no written records in
the language of the Indigenous Fijians by the Indigenous Fijians themselves to verify this
because they did not have a form of writing prior to Western contact. These writings by
non-Indigenous Fijians would also be problematic because their interpretations are drawn
from a perspective informed and influenced by Western cultural values, norms and
attitudes. They would also be problematic in the sense that what they write would be
accepted by the Indigenous Fijians themselves as an authentic and authoritative view of
themselves. In other words, what is represented by the English written word becomes
internalised as the 'real' and '[me1 representation of the history of the indigenous people.
While Western representations of Indigenous Fijian culture and world view are
problematic, the irony is that they nevertheless will be used, albeit critically, in this
attempt to try and describe what it must have been like during pre-white-man-contact
times.
It is erroneous to believe that Fiji had no history prior to contact with the white
'man'. The history books written from the perspective of the 'West' refer to the pre-
colonial period as 'pre-history'. This is problematic because it assumes a history relative
to contact with Western man. The pre-colonial history of Fiji is still being reconstructed.
However, archaeological and other evidence show that Fiji could have been settled as
early as 1290 BC (Frost, 1979: 65).
Where did the ancestors of the first Indigenous Fijians come from? This is still an
area of educated speculation, but archaeological and linguistic evidence seem to indicate
that they migrated from the direction of South East Asia, with Indonesia being the hiving
off point of the people in Oceania (Tudor, 1962; Derrick, 1946). One source postulates
that the ancestors of the present Fijians were first Papuan, then Melanesian and finally,
Polynesian, in that order (Tudor, 1962: 47). According to Tudor (1962), the Papuans
were the first to populate the Melanesian chain of islands, beginning with New Guinea
and continuing eastward. It is not certain whether they reached Fiji. Tudor (1962)
postulates that maybe seven thousand years ago, the Melanesians migrated further east,
61

reached Fiji and became the forefathers of the current Indigenous Fijians. Still according
to Tudor (1962), the Polynesians, sailing along on a different route, arrived in Fiji some
thousands of years later and settled mainly in the coastal areas of Fiji as well as in the
eastern islands of the island group. The first Indigenous Fijians sighted by the first
Westerners seem to be the products of the mingling of Melanesian-Polynesian 'stock'.
Other sources (e.g., Howard and Durutalo, 1987), drawing their conclusions from
archaeological and linguistic evidence, are in agreement that the ancestors of today's
Indigenous Fijians were 'Melanesian' and 'Polynesian' in origin,
Many Indigenous Fijians generally believe that they are directly descended from a
migration that brought the God chiefs Lutunasobasoba and Degei from the ancient
homeland and landed on the north-west coast of Viti Levu (Gravelle, 1980, Bk One;
Derrick, 1946). Indigenous legends report that Lutunasobasoba died and that Degei's
many sons founded families with the original Melanesian women and migrated to other
parts of Fiji. According to Peter France (1969), this widely known legend only made its
appearance in 1892 when a Fijian paper, Mar Mata, organised a competition to trace the
origins of the Indigenous Fijians and so out of the winning entry, the legend of Degei was
born. France (1969: 4) argues that this "myth" of Indigenous Fijian origins "seems to be
a product of acculturation and the growing Fijian national consciousness rather than an
indigenous tradition, and is significant of the needs, rather than the history, of the society
which produced and accepted it". But according to Tudor (1962), many Indigenous
Fijians are able to trace their descent back eleven generations to this migration. However,
this indigenous belief is in dispute because the so called 'experts* believe that this is too
short a period of time for the Indigenous Fijians to have reached the homogeneous state
that they were found in by the first Europeans (Tudor, 1962). Whatever the case may be,
it seems correct to conclude that the Indigenous Fijians had their origins in the many
migrations from Melanesia and Polynesia. In areas of Fiji where the Polynesian
influence was minimal, for example in the interior of Viti Levu, the 'Melanesian'
physical traits as well as social organisation are significantly evident. In other areas,
such as some of the eastern islands, the Tongan influence is physically, socially and
linguistically evident. What is also evident is that given the lack of 'evidence', it is
difficult to be certain about the origins of the Indigenous Fijian people. For as France
(1969: 8) describes it, "The thin mist persists in Fiji, and prehistorians are making
renewed attempts to penetrate it",
62

What of the social, economic, and political conditions of pre-contact Fiji? One
Westerner, discussing the plight of Indigenous Fijians soon after contact with the West,
has this to say about the effect of this contact on the old social structure (Coulter, 1942:
20):
The Fijians at this time had a stable social, political, and economic organization of
their own - one little understood by missionaries and other Europeans who visited
their shores or came to reside in their islands. So much of their old ways of living
has been misunderstood by Europeans, abandoned by them, modified, and spoiled
by Western contacts that we shall never know or appreciate the finer points in
their old social structure.
It is widely accepted that the education of the Indigenous Fijians was carried out
informally as part of day to day living. Learning was contextually derived and was
therefore relevant and meaningful. Indigenous Fijian children learned through listening,
observing, imitating and practising what their elders did. Cultural knowledge, values and
norms were transmitted from one generation to the next by the elders, be they
grandparents, parents, older siblings or other members of the extended family. The elders
would relate stories and legends to the young which would explain their history, their
origins, their value systems and their view of the universe (Baba, 1991). Cultural
knowledge was therefore passed on through these means with a lot of emphasis placed on
listening and memory, especially for knowledge of the past, lineage history and so forth.
My paternal grandmother (to whom this thesis is partially dedicated) - recently
deceased, the result of a union between an American beachcomber and an Indigenous
Fijian lady from one of the eastern islands - could trace my father's family tree back six
generations. She was almost ninety before she passed on but she still had a phenomenal
memory which had been trained acutely in the oral traditions, In contrast, the written
tradition is what indigenous people of my generation are trained in through the formal
schooling system and we lack the minute attention to oral detail that our forefathers and
foremothers were trained in. Knowledge and cultural values were therefore transmitted
in pre-contact times via the family and members belonging to the same community in a
rich oral tradition, This process, however, is now so mediated by the process of formal
schooling that many Indigenous Fijians, for example, are losing out on their cultural
knowledges and wisdoms, This is a consequence of the undermining and undervaluing of
indigenous cultural knowledges that began during colonial rule and continues in this
postcolonial moment. School learning is foreign, abstract and in many cases, irrelevant
for daily living and there is far too much emphasis placed on 'book learning'.
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Brij Lai (1992), an Indo-Fijian historian, points out that limited evidence disables
us from describing the diverse social and political organisation of the early Indigenous
Fijians, However, he notes that albeit risking some distortion and oversimplification,
early Fijian society can be said to be "hierarchical and based on the principle of
patrilineal agnatic descent" (Lai, 1992: 4). Deryck Scarr, a Western historian (1984: 3),
likewise notes that Indigenous Fijians "favoured definition of status and authority by
descent" with society ascribing functions whether it be chief, craftsman, fisherman,
warrior or priest. According to the Bauan dialect, which was the indigenous dialect
standardised during colonial rule, every Indigenous Fijian belonged to a yavusa 'clan'
defined by as an "extended patrilineal kin-group claiming descent from a vu, or founding
father" (Scarr, 1984: 5). This was regarded as the major building block of society. The
other units of Indigenous Fijian society have been identified in descending order as
mataqali or "family groups" where rank and power were determined by linear proximity
to the founding father (Lai, 1992: 4), and the / tokatoka, the smallest unit, comprised of
"the cicely related households living in a defined area of village and cooperating to
perform such communal undertakings as the building and maintenance of houses and the
preparation of feasts" (Lai, 1992: 5). Several yavusa might join forces to form a
confederation defined as the vanua or state. By the end of the eighteenth century,
according to Lai, many vanua had united into a larger state called the matanitu.
Lai points out that the leading matanitu were involved in a great struggle for
political supremacy complicated by external forces encroaching on Fiji at the beginning
of the nineteenth century. The point I would like to emphasise here is that the social and
political organisation of pre-contact Fiji varied substantially across the Fiji group- This
variation is not accounted for in many accounts of social and political organisation of the
Indigenous Fijian which assumes cultural homogeneity for all indigenous groups.
Another point also worth making is that the social and political organisation of pre-
contact (as well as post-contact) Fijian society is complex and well-developed and that
this brief definition does not do justice to the elaborate patterns of familial and political
relationships and allegiance that were well in place before the arrival of the first 'white
man', These complex relationships continue to play a significant role, not only in the
organisation of Indigenous Fijian social life, but also in the political structures of
postcolonial Fiji.
The early writings of the Christian missionaries describe Indigenous Fijians as
living in a state of spiritual darkness (France, 1969), as backward, uneducated,
64

uncivilised and ignorant. They were represented as evil heathens and savages: "the very
dregs of Mankind...quite unfit to live, but more unfit to die" (quoted in France, 1969: 29).
Writing in 1858, James Calvert (1858: 1) described Indigenous Fijian nature as "the
worst deformities, the foulest stains, disfiguring and blackening all the rest". It is
interesting that very little is known of what the Indigenous Fijians thought of these 'white
intruders'. France (1969) makes the point that the journals of traders, missionaries and
planters are filled with complaints that the natives did not appreciate the advantages of
adopting European ways. France records that some beachcombers were described as
"blind", "as resembling a pig with all the hair scorched off and the like. This
observation negates the ethnocentric and Eurocentric view that Indigenous Fijians, on
first contact, greeted the Europeans like "jubilant, awe-struck savages". As France (1969:
20) explains, the error of this view "lies in assuming that the natives of the Pacific judged
Western civilization, on its first appearance, by its own values". And as Coulter (1942:
20) observes, the social and religious practices of the 'natives' "can be understood only
witiiin ihe framework of their uwn social order" with European society on ihe continent
of Europe "no less obviously cruel" ,
Coulter describes pre-contact Fijians as a religious people with their own gods,
priests, witch doctors and temples. While what took place in the temples would be
termed barbaric, heathenistic and utterly cruel from the Western perspective, Coulter
explains that the "sacred beliefs and practices of the people were a function of their whole
economic and social organization" (Coulter, 1942: 20-21), In terms, therefore, of
Western civilisation these practices were absolutely evil, However, from the perspective
of the indigenous people, their practices were socially derived, accepted and practised.
The question arises, then, of which perspective can be deemed the 'right' one if
there can be such a thing. In the case of Fiji, Westerners came in with preconceived ideas
of the indigenous people viewed against their own cultural values. The missionaries, for
instance, were determined to change the existing practices so that they were closer to
Western ideals/ideas. They imposed their own moral/religious framework on the people
with scant regard for the repercussions on the old way of life that had been developed
over a period of time. I argue that the dramatic changes imposed on the Indigenous
Fijians beginning with Western contact is just as violent, cruel and barbaric as the cultural
practices that Westerners found so abhorrent.
What I have done is to describe some representations of the features of pre-contact
Fiji, with two principle motivations. First, it is a deliberate attempt to privilege this
65

neglected aspect of Fiji's history. As well, I have done this as an act of resistance against
the portrayal in Western history books of a 'pre-history', against the notion that Fiji's
history began at the point of contact with the coloniser, against the inherent assumption
by the colonisers (colonial bureaucrats, missionaries, etc.) that Indigenous Fijian history
prior to colonial contact was insignificant.
In so doing I am creating here a hybrid space, a 'Third Space' (Bhabha, 1995)
where "the discourse of colonial authority loses its univocal meaning" enabling me, the
postcolonial critic, "to trace complex movements of disarming alterity in the colonial
text" (R. Young, 1995: 22). Or better still, what I am creating is a Thirdspace (Soja,
1996) where I have chosen a space "of radical openness" to resist against notions of
colonial domination and oppression, as bell hooks (1990) so succinctly put it, that is
inherently reflected in the silence prevalent in colonial (non-)treatment of Fiji's 'pre-
history'. This "margin" which I have chosen to write from is one which is also "the site
of radical possibility, a space of resistance" against hegemonic colonial (and postmodern
academic) discourses. It is one that deliberately takes on a posHlonality that is
strategically essentialist, using Spivak (1995), and one where I hope to produce "a
counter-hegemonic discourse", in bell hook's words.
Having explicated what little is known of Fiji's history prior to the arrival of the
"white man" as a point of resistance to colonial hegemonic discourses, I now turn to a
brief description of 'contemporary Fiji' in order to set the 'present' scene before I carry
out an analysis of 'colonial Fiji'. In this section, I make the important point that Fiji is a
colonial construct. I then situate and locate Fiji on the 'global map' for those who have
very little idea of where Fiji is, I also describe the current economic, political and social
conditions that I feel are pertinent to mention in order to set the context for the
substantive discussion that will follow on colonial and postcolonial conditions in Fiji.
Contemporary Fiji
I have not included this section in the last section of this chapter on Postcolonial
Fiji for several reasons. The most important one is that at the outset, I wish to emphasise
that many current institutional, ideological, social, economic, political and cultural
practices are hybrid amalgamations resulting from the colonial encounter between
coloniser and colonised. Second, it is important to provide a brief general introduction to
Fiji's place in Western conceived notions of place and space, its population composition
and other information that does not quite fit into the specificities of Fiji's educational
66

system that I describe in great detail later. Third, a contextual description of
contemporary Fiji in terms of the bigger picture of economic, social and political life is
important to frame up later discussions on 'Colonial' and 'Postcolonial Fiji'. I must
admit that my primary intention to provide the information I have selected for this section
of the chapter is as much for convenience as for any analytic purpose. The principal
reason why the section on Fiji's colonial history sits in the nexus between the present
(Contemporary Fiji) and the recent past and continuing present (Postcolonial Fiji) is to
demonstrate that it is Fiji's colonial history that has shaped its past, present (and future).
This is my analytic starting point.
Fiji: A Colonial Construction
What constitutes the category commonly known today as 'Fiji? It is my view that
colonial practices—including the historical, imaginative, material, institutional and
discursive practices—constructed the phenomenon called Fiji. The impact of almost one
century of British colonialism on Fiji's physical, social, cultural, political and
psychological landscape has been enormous and far reaching. The process of
colonisation transformed many facets of life for Indigenous Fijians who, together with
peoples of Asia and the Pacific, were treated as the 'Others' of Europe. This othering
process manifested itself in many ways. For instance, the Indigenous Fijian traditional
learning systems changed from relevant, contextualised ones to foreign, abstract forms
that emphasised academic book learning. Their religious institution was transformed
with many Indigenous Fijians converting to Christianity so that in this postcolonial
moment, the majority are Christians. The political system follows the democratic ideals
of the British-based Westminster system of governance. The economic structure is
modelled on the capitalist market system. As a consequence of colonisation, many
people have internalised the 'Western' ways of doing things. The fact that English is the
language of schooling, official communication, administration, commerce, law and
politics speaks of the extent to which colonial structures still permeate the local in this
postcolonial moment, confirming the observation that one of the main features of colonial
oppression is control over language (Ashcroft et al., 1989). It is possible to argue,
therefore, that Fiji itself as we know it, perceive it, and indeed, name it, is a colonial
construct.
The process of naming and categorising the place and the people is one which
makes the unknown 'knowable' to the colonisers. This process constructs certain images.
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The image of an 'underachiever' or 'failure' in the school system is a constructed one for
Indigenous Fijians (see, for example, Education Reports during the colonial period)
which has continued in this postcolonial moment. The Christian missionaries and the
white community in general 'imaged' them as "savages" (Tudor, 1962) who had "the
worst deformities, the foulest stains" in character and they "stood unrivalled as a disgrace
to mankind" (Calvert, 1858: 1-2). At other times, Indigenous Fijians have been
constructed as "lazy" (Coulter, 1942), "happy-go-lucky" and "irresponsible" (Belshaw,
1964: 269) with "a lack of drive", "a lack of competitive spirit" which, according to
Belshaw (1964: 3-4), "constitutes a dangerous and destructive myth", In other words,
Indigenous Fijians are imaged as very much like irresponsible and playful children by a
colonising people whose assumptions of moral superiority evoke what JanMohamed
(1995) calls the "economy of the Manichean allegory". Through the written text, the
moral authority of the coloniser is articulated and justified by seeing the 'native' and
representing him/her as inferior in every regard. It is when images o f evil' are associated
with 'natives' that "fetishize a nondialectical, fixed opposition between the self and the
native" that evokes the economy of the manichean allegory (JanMohamed, 1995: 19). So
through the processes of categorisation, 'imaging* and 'naming', Indigenous Fijians are
effectively othered and constructed in discursive, institutional and material practices of
Fijian colonial formations.
Another manifestation of Fiji's colonial construction is what I want to term the
'homogenisation of heterogeneity'. Before the colonial encounter, Fiji consisted of a
diverse group of Indigenous Fijians and yet, for the purposes of control and ease of
administration when this encounter did take place, Indigenous Fijians were homogenised
through colonial methods of surveillance and categorisation: exploitation of an elite
group and the establishment of an Indigenous Fijian police constabulary to maintain
control over the local people, standardisation of the Fijian language so that one particular
dialect became the hegemonic language, and the creation of institutional structures such
as the Fijian Administration System and the Vola ni Kawa Buta (literally the Book of the
Living). The latter is a colonial structure that determines the identity of an indigenous
person. By implication, those not entered in this book cannot claim to identify as
Indigenous Fijians. We can see, then, that the colonial encounter attempts to make the
colonised visible, knowable and controllable: colonial administrative and institutional
practices are created and maintained to see that this occurs. Principal among these
practices is the construction of Indigenous Fijian identity.
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And yet, while the colonisers were homogenising the great variety that existed in
the indigenous human landscape, they were also emphasising the notion of difference as a
form of power play during the period of colonial rule. Those that were not European
were 'othered'. Colonial racialising practices ensured that there was a clear social
hierarchy with the white community at the top with all their power and authority,
followed by the local hand-picked indigenous 'elite'. The rest of the indigenous people,
the Indo-Fijians and other ethnic groups were at the bottom of the social pecking order
such that there were various layers of 'othering1. From the preceding discussion we can
see that domination and oppression, the twin colonial controlling strategies, played a
dominant role in the creation and maintenance of colonial power, authority and control.
We can also see that racialising processes ensured the maintenance of colonial power and
authority. It is my contention, then, that the Fiji of today is a colonial construct because
what it is at this historical juncture is a direct result of the colonial encounter. Many
institutional, ideological and epistemological structures instituted during colonial times
have continued in neocoloaial, hegemonic forms. Brij Lai (1992: 3), succinctly sums it
up in this manner:
Fiji entered the twentieth century firmly tethered to colonial policies put in place
in the late nineteenth century. The structures of Fiji's economy, polity, and
society were fixed by decisions made soon after the reluctant but unconditional
cession of the islands to Great Britain on 10 October 1874. The task, and the
tragedy, of modern Fiji has been to confront the twentieth century and the forces
of change it has brought while hobbled by political and social structures and
habits of thought that outlived their usefulness long ago.
Fiji's Place in Space
Having ascertained that colonial discursive and material practices constructed the
category 'Fiji', I move on now to a brief description of Fiji's place in space and of the
people that populate this space. According to the Western atlas (See Figure B),
determined by Western conceptions of measurement, place and distance, Fiji is located in
the south-west Pacific Ocean between longitudes 178 degrees 12' west and 176 degrees
53' east and latitudes 15 degrees 42' and 22 degrees south. The written records show that
Fiji is made up of 332 islands, approximately one third of which are inhabited, which
vary in size from 10,000 square kilometres to tiny islets a few metres in circumference.
Fiji's total land area is estimated to be 18,272 square kilometres with 87 per cent of this
total land mass made up of the two principal islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.
69


Fiji has been described as a small island state (Bacchus and Brock, 1987) with all the
problems associated with this status. Principal among these problems is its physical,
political and economic vulnerability which places it at great risk in the face of global
capitalism.
Who populates Fiji? On the basis of a census taken in 1986 (Bureau of Statistics,
1987), Fiji's total population in that year was recorded as 715,375. It is not possible to be
precise about these matters, but according to this census, the two major ethnic groups
were identified as the Indo-Fijians who comprised 48.7% of the total population and
Indigenous Fijians who constituted 46%. The 1986 census records the remaining 4.7
percent of the population as made up of Europeans, Part-Europeans, Chinese, Rotumans
and other Pacific Islanders. In fact, Indo-Fijians have predominated in numerical terms
since the 1946 census which has been a matter of concern for Indigenous Fijians.
However, the 1996 census has seen a shift in population. Indigenous Fijians have
outnumbered Indo-Fijians and this is a result of the continuing exodus of mainly Indo-
Fijians to metropolitan centres overseas. The coups of 1987 have probably been the
principal cause of these migrations. I will discuss the effects of these coups as well as
other social and political issues that have occupied bodies and minds in Fiji society in the
following section.
The Contemporary Social and Political Context
There is a huge body of literature on social, economic and political conditions in
Fiji, particularly for the post-coup period from late 1987 onwards. My intention in this
section is to develop an interpretation of post-coup social and political developments
based on my own experiences and my reading of some of the literature, As I will argue,
an understanding of these developments will be crucial to prognosticating the future of
AA in Fiji.
Fiji continues to be a racially divided society. From the racialising discriminatory
practices of British colonialism to the creation of state institutions, including educational
and political practices, the all pervasive thread running through these is the notion of
'race'. As Michael Ward (1971: 29) has observed,
Although the Fijians and Indians have lived together (but not, in most cases
literally side by side) in the same country for almost a century, a wide cultural and
attitudinal gulf still exists between them. Both groups have retained their separate
languages and dialects as well as religions.
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Social, cultural and political decisions are, as a matter of course, based on race
(AA policies in education and raced-based schooling are two such social examples; in the
area of politics, political parties are still formed on racial lines). The binary opposition of
European/non-European, coloniser/colonised, has been replaced by that of Indigenous
Fijian/Indo-Fijian, Indigenous Fijian/Other. This binary opposition has never been
manifested as clearly as it was immediately after the 1987 coups.
Despite the pluralism that is evident in Fiji, racialising practices continue to be
reflected in the hegemony that is inherent in the Indigenous Fijian political leadership
that has been maintained since decolonisation in 1970, Since this time, two
predominantly indigenous political parties have handled the reins of government which
operate along the principles and structures of the British Westminster political system,
The two coups carried out in 1987 by indigenous army personnel seemed to represent the
fear of the Indigenous Fijian community that they would lose control over their land and
destiny when the predominantly Indigenous Fijian party in power at the time was
defeated by a predominantly Indo-Fijian party in the 1987 General Elections.
Indigenous Fijians own the bulk of the land and it is generally believed that Indo-
Fijians are more involved in capitalism in terms of their more involved participation in
the market economy. According to government statistics, Indigenous Fijians own close
to 84% of all land with 10% being privately-owned freehold and the remaining 6% held
as Crown Land by the Government. It has been recorded that the best arable land was
owned by Westerners after contact with the indigenous people. Today, as in the past, the
Indo-Fijians own very little land but are categorised as independent, successful farmers
and businessmen, so much so that they are known to "dominate the economic activity of
the country" (Bureau of Statistics, 1989: 2).
Political (and academic) discourse in Fiji have highlighted the perceived success
of Indo-Fijians in education, the professions and business. The perception that Indo-
Fijians are successful business people and have a relatively better standard of life has
created a lot of resentment on the part of Indigenous Fijians. Indigenous Fijians have
been represented as the underdogs, as the victims in their own land. And as Fijian
nationalists like politician Sakeasa Butadroka (Leader of the Nationalist Party) and
academic Professor Asesela Ravuvu have consistently pointed out, Indigenous Fijian
interests needed to be protected. At least, that is one of the rationales put forward for the
coups of 1987. With a predominantly Indo-Fijian party winning the 1987 General
72

Elections, the thinking that led to the coups was that Indigenous Fijian rights had to be
protected whatever the cost.
However, it has been argued that this view may be too simplistic and that the
coups were really "a strike against democratic government by elements associated with
Fiji's traditional oligarchy seeking to hide behind a mask of populist communalism"
(Howard, 1991: i). According to this viewpoint, the composition of this oligarchy under
British colonial rule was the colonial administration, a large expatriate business elite and
the eastern Indigenous Fijian chiefly elite (Howard, 1991: 6). The contention here is that
after independence, the oligarchy necessarily changed hands to comprise of eastern elite
chiefs and wealthy Indian businessmen. Whatever the 'truth' of the matter is, the
material reality is the coups occurred, and they have had negative effects on all Fiji's
peoples, some of which continue to reverberate even as I write.
There is no doubt that the 1987 coups have had profound and long lasting effects
in all spheres of life - personally, nationally and internationally. First, the racial tensions
and policical instability in ihe period following the coups led to Fiji's expulsion from the
Commonwealth (Fiji was readmitted in 1998) and a downturn in the national economy
due to a lack of or withdrawal of investor confidence. In fact, unemployment and the
concomitant social problems have accompanied Fiji's poor economic performance and !
have intensified in the late 1990s. Second, the coups have led to a massive migration
pattern that has left huge gaps in the quality and quantity of available professionals, I
technocrats and other skilled workers. As an example of this, there was an estimated 'i
50% of unqualified and untrained teachers in the educational system in the mid 1990s
(from transcripts of interviews with officials of the two teachers' unions). Third, the so-
called peaceful co-existence of the different ethnic groups resulted in intense racial i
resentment and recriminations. The Indo-Fijian community was vilified, threatened and
made to feel unwelcome in a land which they had called home. Inter-racial relationships
that had been shaky since colonial days were under strong attack in the name of
Indigenous Fijian nationalism. Fourth, AA for Indigenous Fijians was intensified in
education, employment and business. Many Indigenous Fijians took up positions of
authority and power and state funding was expended to assist Indigenous Fijian !
participation in education and business,
Perhaps, an indication of the extent to which Indigenous Fijian power had :I
materialised in powerful (and dangerous) ways is evident in cases of corruption and abuse |
of power that have been brought to light in the last two years. The National Bank, the j
73 I

Ports Authority, the Housing Authority and other state-owned institutions faced financial
difficulties when it was revealed that through nepotism, bribery and corruption,
Indigenous Fijians in positions of power were able to exploit their positions to borrow
large amounts of money without following procedures that ensured accountability and
good economic sense. The National Bank of Fiji, for instance, ran up a debt of over
Fijian $220 million and there are still cases of corruption before the courts.
The new constitution drawn up after 1987 was a deliberate political intervention
that was not only AA at its extreme but also strong affirmation of postcolonial
nationalism and identity by the indigenous people, The post-coup constitution
guaranteed Indigenous Fijian paramountcy in government with the stipulation that the
majority of seats were to be held by Indigenous Fijians and the positions of Prime
Minister and President to remain in Indigenous Fijian hands in perpetuity. The logic
seems to be that if Indigenous Fijians held the mantle of government, then Indigenous
Fijian interests would always be protected. This view is problematic. The assumption
that Indigenous Fijians are a hegemonic, stable group with shared beliefs and values is
contested. What was overlooked in the post-coup constitution is the heterogeneity
inherent in Indigenous Fijian society. One such manifestation is the political affiliations
the people have outside of the Western mode of government. The allegiance people have
to their chiefs will determine who they vote for.
An Indigenous Fijian belongs to one of three matanitu or confederacies, already
predetermined by colonial and indigenous history, which is headed by a paramount chief,
What island or part of Fiji s/he originates from will determine which of these
confederacies and paramount chief s/he owes allegiance to. A postcolonial reading of
historical records implies that Indigenous Fijian chiefs were deliberately given
government positions that brought them in contact with their people by the colonial
government. It is generally accepted that these chiefs were deliberately cultivated by the
Colonial Government because of the control they exerted on their people. The allegiance
to chiefs by the indigenous people continues at this historical juncture and forms
undercurrents in the affairs of a country that is governed according to the political system
of the West and one where issues of race are pervasive. Another factor also overlooked
in the drawing up of the new constitution after the coups is that educational exposure,
particularly in overseas countries, would produce more and more citizens with a more
critical, analytical viewpoint that is Western in nature and would inevitably contradict

traditional frameworks. The perception of a unified, stable Indigenous Fijian group is
therefore a myth.
A safeguard inserted in the post-coup constitution, as a compromise to the non-
indigenous population, was a review of the constitution after a period of seven years. A
committee to review this constitution (with a New Zealander as Chair, an Indigenous
Fijian and Indo-Fijian making up the membership of this Committee) was formed in
1995. Its terms of reference called for recommendations on constitutional arrangements
which would meet the present and future needs of the people of Fiji, promote racial
harmony, national unity and the economic and social advancement of all communities
(Reeves, Vakatora & Lai, 1996). It is my view that seven years of national life after the
coups of 1987 saw a mellowing in nationalistic fervour and that many Indigenous Fijians
were ready to dialogue and communicate with other ethnic groups in Fiji, notably Indo-
Fijians.
Since 1996, a few issues dominated the political agenda: the expiry of
Agricultural Land Tenant Agreement leases (ALTA), finalising the reviewed constitution,
reviving a flagging economy and high unemployment. Arguably, it was debate on the
Constitution Report which formed the principal focus of national social and political
concern. In mid 1998, the constitution that had been reformulated after a two year review
was promulgated as the revised constitution that Fiji would follow. The Report of the
Fiji Constitution Review Commission, entitled The Fiji Islands: Towards a United
Future, specifically stressed that national unity was something to be commended. In the
words of the writers:
Progress in a multi-ethnic society is achieved when its citizens realise that what is
good for their neighbour must ultimately be good for them as well, when
difference and diversity are seen not as sources of division and distrust but of
strength and inspiration....National unity is a goal whose fulfilment will require an
abundance of patience, good will and understanding among all the citizens of the
Fiji Islands, It will require the nurturing of spiritual and human values which
sustain people in times of need and help them to adapt to situations of rapid
change. It will require building on the already considerable human and material
resources of these islands. And it will be the touchstone against which the people
will measure progress towards a strong and unified future for themselves and for
generations to come. (Reeves et al., 1996: xix)
In 1998, the emphasis seems to be on preparation for the 1999 General Elections
with the idea of radical coalitions becoming a reality. In an unprecedented development,
Indigenous Fijian parties are negotiating with the two Indo-Fijian parties to fight the
75

elections. Developments on the union front have witnessed mass demonstrations by the
workers against Government imposed wage limits. In mid-1998, Indigenous Fijian
landowners of the space on which the largest hydro-electric plant is built in Monasavu
staged roadblocks, These resulted in confrontations between the landowners and police.
One possible explanation for this development is that this is a reaction against the revised
constitution by nationalist Indigenous Fijians who resent what they perceive as the
disempowerment of Indigenous Fijians.
At this historical juncture, Fiji is a site of unfinished business. However, one
significant closure that has been achieved is the spirit of reconciliation, dialogue,
negotiation and compromise that has been forged between the two dominant ethnic
groups—Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijian politicians have crossed the racial divide and
are in the process of further dismantling it. In working toward finalising a constitution
that would be acceptable to all citizens, politicians found that they could work together
without invoking the category of 'race'. Nevertheless, there are many unresolved issues
at hand. Next to the constitution, the next national undertaking is working tlirough the
ALTA dilemma in such a way as to meet Indigenous Fijian, Indo-Fijian and national
interests. The social problems to do with unemployment, poverty, an increasing crime
rate and the like also need working on. Over and above all these, Fiji's flagging economy
needs revitalising in the face of such global matters as the Asian economic crisis.
I have here provided my interpretation of post-coup social, economic and political
development. While Fiji's constitutional crisis has been amicably resolved, there are as
yet many other social and economic crises to overcome. The uncertainty associated with
expiring land leases for Indo-Fijian tenant farmers will need to be settled. As well, the
problems that pertain to high unemployment (and unsettling social problems such as
increasing crime and poverty) demonstrate the trouble in Fiji's economy. In this context
of unfinished business, a major hurdle has been overcome - the finalisation of the
constitution. Events in Fiji have shown that racial barriers are in the process of being
dismantled. The important lesson perhaps to be learned from the aftermath of the coups
is the recognition that all the peoples of Fiji have to work together in a spirit of
cooperation, negotiation, tolerance and goodwill, This is necessary to forge the way for a
common future.
76

Colonial Fiji ]
i
Thus far, I have set the scene of this thesis, arguing that Fiji is a colonial construct I
and then describing current issues facing the nation. I now turn to an explication of Fiji's I
colonial history. First, I begin the analysis of Fiji's colonial history by a second act of |
il
resistance: I discuss acts of resistance against colonial rule before explicating in detail the
effects of colonial authority, knowledge and power as manifested in historical
representations, language and education. As well, I explicate its more tangible
applications as manifested in the policy of divide and rule, I also describe the colonial
curriculum to demonstrate that this has continued well into the postcolonial moment.
Colonial History: 1874-1970
World history has witnessed the quest of European nations to dominate and
exploit other nations (Sardar et al., 1993). The superiority complex that White
inhamtants have over people ditferent from them by virtue of their skin colour, religion,
language, and other cultural criteria have led them to believe that their cultural values are
far superior to those of Others. With the help of guns, alcohol, and under the guise of
Christianity, Europe carried out a violent conquering of 'uncivilised', 'savage1 and
'ignorant' societies. The environment and the social, political, religious and economic
structures of the colonised took a physical, material, ideological and psychological
bashing under the onslaught of colonialism. Whatever was in existence in a country that
was colonised, including natural and human resources, was believed to be provided by
providence for exploitation and utilisation by the colonisers. Additionally, the cultural
values of the colonisers were believed to be the only values worthy of keeping, so the
colonised were forced to assimilate these values or else be considered even more different
and alien, both to the coloniser as well as the colonised. All these apply to the colonial
situation in Fiji.
The history text books produced by Western writers have regarded three dates as
important in Fiji's historical development. The first date, 10th October 1874, marked
Fiji's introduction to colonial rule when the country was voluntarily ceded to Great
Britain. The second date, 14th May 1879, marked the arrival of indentured labourers
from India who were specifically brought in to work the sugarcane plantations. The third
date, recorded as 10th October 1970, marked the time that Fiji attained political
independence. This Western method of periodization is debatable because it wrongly
77

assumes that the entity that was named 'Fiji' by the colonising agent (i.e., Britain) had no
significant history before the advent of the white 'man' on its shores. It is problematic
because the colonising agent "unleashed a myriad of cultural and psychological forces,
many of them not yet fully manifest even after 500 years" (Sardar et al., 1993: 83). It is
problematic, too, because in taking on the belief that Fiji's history began only with the
arrival of the white man, the British colonisers were guilty, just like all colonisers, of
social engineering "to produce institutions and personalities that would be familiar to
Europe" in order "to render the colonized predictable and controllable" (Sardar et al.,
1993: 83-84). Periods/eras in history, therefore, provide emphasis on those times and
dates that are important from the perspective of the colonising agent, not from the
perspective of the colonised subject. This kind of periodization thus ensures legitimation
of historical domination by the West. The periodization and ordering of history is a kind
of inscribing control of history, and, ultimately, self-knowledge of the colonised.
Resistance to Colonial Rule
Considering that colonial rule occurred for close to a century in Fiji, resistance
was reported to be minimal, particularly from Indigenous Fijians. "Resistance to British
colonial rule and to the hegemony of the chiefs...was to be found mainly in inland and
Western Viti Levu" (Howard, 1991: 26). Colonial representations of resistance to
colonial rule portray these forms: armed revolt or millenarianism with serious opposition
occurring in the years immediately following cession. Colonial dealings with resistance
included the suppression of the Ra movement in 1878 and the Tuka Movement in 1892 in
the interior hills of Western Viti Levu. The Tuka Cult in Ra and Ba provinces were
perceived as a threat to the colonial administration such that Governor Thurston himself,
aided by an Indigenous Fijian chief, led the Armed Native Constabulary (the police force
made up entirely of Indigenous Fijian men) and crushed what was considered civil
rebellion. In 1894 the people of Seaqaqa in Vanua Levu physically resisted in protest
against a service imposed on them by colonial authorities by building a fort around their
village. Two constables were reportedly killed in the ensuing attempt to resolve the
matter. This prompted an attack by the Armed Native Constabulary which succeeded in
crushing the rebellion.
Howard (1991) reports that serious opposition to colonial rule had mainly come to
an end by the 1880s but had not disappeared completely, Another such example was
78

exhibited by a commoner named Apolosi Nawai who was compared to a prominent chief j
at the time in this manner:
If Ratu Sukuna was to become the statesman of Fiji, Apolosi R. Nawai was its '
underworld hero—the only man from the ranks of ordinary villagers who rivalled
the statesman for eloquence, personal mana, and a compelling vision of the Fijians
in their own country. (Macnaught, 1982: 75)
Nawai was portrayed as "a cultist and Degei worshipper; an anti-everybody-but-
Fijian militant who promised an end to taxation and the return of all land to the Fijians'1 I
(Gravelle, 1980 Bk Three: 9). He founded the 'Viti Kabani', an indigenous co-operative,
with the ultimate aim of monopolising all the commercial activity such that all stores i
would be completely owned by the indigenous people. 4000 people reportedly attended
the company's first general meeting in Tailevu in January, 1915. Ten indigenous
government-appointed officers were purported to have been sacked when they went
against government orders and attended the meeting. Nawai's success in gaining
widespread indigenous support angered not only the Colonial Government but also the
white settlers, the churches as well as the high indigenous chiefs. The latter were
reported to have been insulted by Nawai's usurpation of their power.
The Colonial Government arrested Nawai and 42 others. Nawai was gaoled for
18 months. However, his popularity and appeal were evident when 5000 people were
purported to attend the first meeting he called soon after his release from gaol which saw
his social standing elevated from chief to king (Gravelle, 1980 Bk Three: 12). Negative
reports at the expense of the Colonial Government and chiefs that filtered back to the
Government of what transpired at his meeting resulted in Nawai's arrest and exile to
Rotuma for seven years. He was exiled for a further ten years when, after his release, he
began preaching and making predictions that were viewed as harmful by the colonial
Government. This was the last reported serious attempt by Indigenous Fijians to resist
colonial rule and the power instilled in the chiefs by the Colonial Government.
In a book entitled Neither- Cargo nor Cult: Ritual Politics and the Colonial
Imagination in Fiji, anthropologist Martha Kaplan (1995: xii-xiii) notes that the concept
of cult, "the unbounded unnatural phenomenon, had its roots in colonial perceptions of
the unexpected or unwelcome response to a trajectory of Christianization, 'civilization',
or 'westernization' that the colonizers conceived as natural and inevitable". She argues
that cults exist as a category in Western culture and colonial practice. So what began as
neither cargo nor cult was created in the colonial imagination and became tied "not only
79

to the articulations of scholars and other observers, but also to the routinizing effects of
official powers making states" (Kaplan 1995: 18). Writing specifically about what the
official colonial records called the Tuka cult, Kaplan unpicks four different narratives of
Navosavakadua, the key person in the narrative, in an effort to write her own narrative of
"plural articulations, some defunct, some flourishing, some nascent, in a turbulent history
of power, ritual, and history-making" (Kaplan, 1995: 16). Kaplan makes the point that in
Tuka, the British believed they were encountering "events of an unusual character" which
"marred the natural and inevitable trajectory of their colonizing project, in which Fijians,
already Christian, were to become fully 'civilized'" (Kaplan, 1995: 69). What the British
perceived to be "unnatural" or "unusual" events were labelled "superstition",
"movement", "rebellion" or "cult". This was something they "labeled and reified as a
manifestation of Fijian disorder and irrationality" and they "tried to exorcise it from the
body politic through deportation" (Kaplan, 1995: 69).
Thus, the colonial response to what they perceived to be "Fijian disorder and
irrationality" was to control it. In the instances described above (i.e., the so called Tuka
cult and the Apolosi Nawai phenomenon), Indigenous Fijian resistance to colonial rule
was seen as rebellion and hence had to be crushed. Those seen to be leaders of these so
called cult or milleniarianism movements were exiled to a distant part of Fiji.
Resistance to colonial rule is reported to have come from the Indo-Fijian
community more so than from the indigenous populace. Brij Lai (1992: 106) points out
that Indo-Fijians "had no choice but to resist the European-dominated colonial order"
because of their resentment at being placed "at the bottom of the colonial hierarchy". The
Indigenous Fijians, on the other hand, were said to enjoy a cordial relationship with a
colonial government that was perceived to have their interests at heart. For example, the
reason indentured labourers from India were brought in to work the sugar plantations in
1879, five years after cession, was primarily because the first Governor of Fiji, Sir Arthur
Gordon, "refused to run the risk of a plantation system's effects on the Fijian way of life"
(Mayer, 1973). Gordon also institutionalised the administrative practices set in place by
his predecessor, the acting Governor Sir Hercules Robinson, by instituting a system of
'Indirect Rule' which saw the indigenous people with a separate system of administration
set apart from that of the rest of the colony. The Colonial Government utilised the chiefly
system already in place to administer the people and this effectively ensured compliance
from the people. Chiefs were given government positions to run the affairs of the
indigenous people. Perhaps this is one reason why resistance from the indigenous
80

population against colonial rule was minimal. Another reason perhaps can be attributed
to the fact that by a government policy of 'divide and rule', Indigenous Fijians and Indo-
Fijians were effectively kept from joining forces against the colonial 'masters'. In any
case resistance against colonial rule was reported to come principally from Indo-Fijians.
Gillion (1977: 18) reports that the "strikes and riots of 1920 were of great
importance in the history of Fiji: they had an important influence on later European,
Fijian and Indian attitudes in Fiji, and on opinion in India". With the end of the
indentured system in 1916, the Indo-Fijians who remained were free to either lease land
for sugarcane production or to work in the private and public sectors of the colony. In
1920 a strike occurred in response to Indo-Fijian labourers working in the Public Works
Department in Suva refusing to heed an order that they were to work 48 hours per week
instead of the usual 45. The strikers were joined by Indo-Fijian labourers in Suva, Rewa
and Navua. Those working for Europeans were called on to join the strike but not those
working for Indo-Fijians. A New Zealand armed troop of sixty arrived and the Governor
became confident of taking ^ome action against the strikers. In Samabula, on 12
February 1920, the police and military reacted to the crowd and opened fire. One Indo-
Fijian was reportedly killed in this incident. Armed retaliation by the colonial j
Government effectively brought to end this first show of resistance by the Indo-Fijian 'J
community. This resistance demonstrated to the Colonial Government that the Indo- j
Fijians were not going to be passive migrant workers and they began to be viewed as "the \\
Indian Problem" (Tudor, 1962: 71) for the duration of colonial rule.
A lot of unrest arose out of disputes between Indo-Fijian canefarmers and the
Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) which not only had monopoly over the sugar
industry since it began operations in Fiji, but the highest ranking CSR managers were
included in the top of the colonial hierarchy. This had implications for the involvement
of the Colonial Government in any disputes Indo-Fijians had with the CSR, After the
1920 strikes and riots, the Colonial Government kept a watchful eye on the Indo-Fijian
community, So in the words of Brij Lai (1992), the Indo-Fijian community had no
choice but to resist given their inferior place in the colonial social and political hierarchy.
Indigenous Fijians, on the other hand, had great admiration for Europeans and
European civilisation. Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna demonstrated this admiration by stating in
the Legislative Council in 1947 (quoted in Lai, 1992: 106-107);
Indians, like ourselves, have much to gain from European teaching on the
practical approach to life. This approach, based on the humanities, refined by
81

Christianity, steeled by economic and political encounters, tempered b y defeats i
and victories, this approach, I say, has proved itself, especially in the case o f t h e ',
British pattern, as the only effective approach to life. T h e attitude of mind created
by this experience, by meeting and overcoming of difficulties in the vicissitudes \\
of life, has in the course of centuries produced t h e spirit of co-operation, o f
moderation and of tolerance.
If speculation on what could have been is useful, perhaps there would have been
stronger resistance from Indigenous Fijians if the first Governor of the colony, Sir Arthur ;j
Gordon, had not developed a different system of administration for the Indigenous Fijians j
that officially institutionalised the authority and power o f the chiefs over their people. '•
Perhaps there would have been more armed revolts led b y the chiefs themselves if the
Colonial Government had not stamped down hard on t h e selling of indigenous land.
Perhaps there would have been open rebellion if the Colonial Government had prioritised
the needs of the European settlers from Britain, N e w Zealand and Australia at the \\
expense o f the indigenous way of life. Perhaps there w o u l d have been violence and \\
killings if Fiji had been taken by armed force rather than t h e peaceful signing of the Deed
of Cession in 1874. A n d there would certainly have been greater armed resistance from \\
Indigenous Fijians themselves if the course of history had b e e n different and Indo-Fijians
not been brought in to work in the sugar plantations but rather, the Indigenous Fijians
t
made to work in the appalling conditions that Indo-Fijians were forced to work under.
If Indigenous Fijians had been relegated to the bottom of the social and political
colonial hierarchy, there would probably have been greater nationalistic zeal from the |
i
indigenous population. Self-determination might have been wrested from colonial hands ,
(or not at all) in a violent revolution such as occurred throughout "Third World" ex- \\
colonies like Cuba, Algeria and Indonesia. In any event, none of these occurred. The '
presence of an immigrant population and the utilisation of Indigenous chiefs in the Fijian ,
Administration system specifically set up to administer and control the indigenous \\
population (although chiefly authority was limited by colonial rule), meant that a
complex, volatile situation existed in Fiji (Howard, 1991). Setting up specific institutions
for Indigenous Fijians, including the establishment of an armed police force solely made
up of indigenous men but under the authority of a white officer, effectively set the
indigenous population apart from the Indo-Fijians (as well as Indigenous Fijians from the
European population) in such a way that any combined efforts for rebellion against
colonial rule (assuming that the inclination was present in the first place) was very
difficult to arrange. Colonial policy in Fiji, therefore, not only exploited the indigenous
82

traditional political system that was already in place, but also was divisive and
discriminatory in its treatment of the people of the land. This discriminatory treatment
saw the white European population in the dominant position with the Indigenous Fijian
chosen elite next. The Indigenous commoner Fijians and the Indo-Fijians and other
minority groups were relegated to the bottom of the colonial social hierarchy.
Colonial Power and Control: Divide and Rule
The colonial policy of divide and rule was an effective mechanism to maintain
power and control. Two viewpoints can be said to apply to the way indigenous chiefs
were used by the Colonial Government immediately after cession. The traditional
viewpoint is that colonial rule in Fiji was benevolent and non-exploitative. The Deed of
Cession was viewed by the indigenous population "as a solemn charter for a British-
Fijian partnership premised on verbal assurances (the cession itself was unconditional)
that colonial rule would respect and maintain the interest of Fijian society as paramount"
(Macnaught, 1982: 1). Traditionalists view the chiefly system as the indigenous people's
main safeguard against the negative impact of the modern world. Colonial impact then,
according to traditionalists, would be minimal with this safeguard in place. For example,
Legge (1958: 202) argues that
In its modern interpretation administration through native rulers is but one part of
a system which is based upon growing knowledge of, and respect for, the closely
integrated structure of primitive societies, and of the difficulties likely to
accompany the changes which take place in these societies as they are brought
into sharp collision with Western civilization.
Likewise, Macnaught (1982: 49) observes that "Ultimately colonial rule itself
rested on the loyalty chosen chiefs could still command from their people, and day-to-day
village governance, it has been seen, totally depended on them". In a similar manner,
Roth (1973) and Scarr (1984) viewed the chiefs as central to the well-being of the
indigenous people.
On the other hand, the opposing perspective would view the use of the chiefly
system as an exploitative situation which maintained the supremacy and power of the
colonial 'masters' over the masses, Howard (1991: 25), for example, argues the first
Governor of the colony, Sir Arthur Gordon, "clearly saw that establishment of colonial
rule initially entailed working through collaborator chiefs" and Gordon "sought to create
83

a facade of responsibility among these chiefs, with European officials providing
supervision and ultimately being in control". Howard (1991) claims that:
Following the initial guidelines established by Robinson and Gordon, during the
remainder of the nineteenth century, the system of administering to native Fijians
was developed to serve the needs of an evolving colonial political and economic
order. At the upper level, hereditary chiefs slowly were turned into colonial
bureaucrats. During the initial period of colonial rule, chiefly power had been
consolidated and reformed and the rights of commoners diluted, (pp 31-32)
I am somewhat caught in a bind in this debate. Mine is an ambivalent self-
positioning. On the one hand, I am an indigenous female Fijian 'commoner' with strong
traditional allegiance to the chiefs of my village and island. On the other hand, I must
also profess the perspective of the postcolonial critic who uses the Western form of
academic theoretical analysis to lay open the oppressive effects of colonial rule. I view
the distinctive Indigenous Fijian Administrative system that consolidated the power and
authority of the chiefs as a clever attempt by the Colonial Government to maintain
control over the indigenous population. The formation of an armed police force
specifically made up of Indigenous Fijians was a masterpiece in tactical strategy because,
not only were indigenous people used to control the vagrancies of the indigenous people
themselves, but this method of control kept the white settlers out of the picture for there
would have been severe backlash against white settlers and Government officials if white
people had made up the police force. This was also a form of control over the Indo-Fijian
populace and was an effective way of keeping the two major ethnic groups apart with
very little opportunity for combined resistance,
So while I think that the Colonial Government was oppressive and had the self-
interests of the white settlers always at the forefront, yet on the other hand, I cannot help
but think that the indigenous people in Fiji would have gone the sad path that other
indigenous people have followed such as the Maoris in New Zealand, the indigenous
people in America as well as the aboriginal population in Australia if the Colonial
Government in Fiji had totally dominated indigenous society, allowed the settlers to buy
out indigenous land and caused the rapid disintegration of indigenous culture by insisting
on the assimilation policies it did in its other colonies which asserted white supremacy.
While I recognise that colonial rule is exploitative, oppressive and in many cases
inhuman because of the inherent assumption that what is Western is good and what
existed prior to contact with the white man is unimportant and therefore insignificant, I
84

am also grateful to the first Governors of Fiji in recognising the impact Western contact
may have on indigenous culture. On the other hand, I resent the very process of
colonisation which assumes domination, superior values and power display. I
particularly resent the self identity that I have been inflicted with which is by association
with colonialism, created and constructed by that very process. The identity crisis
therefore that I am undergoing (which will be evident in parts of my writing) is one that is
dislocated. It is a manifestation of a dual incomprehensibility: on the one hand, dealing
with the difference between the West and my actual self; and on the other, coming to
grips with the difference between my actual self and the invented self given 'Others' like
me by Europe (Sardar et al., 1993), particularly Britain and its other white-settler colonies
such as New Zealand and Australia.
Colonial Power and Control: Knowledge, History, Language and Education
I have described the domination and oppression of the colonial process that tried
to suppress any signs of resistance from the colonised. As well, I have outlined the
colonial policy of divide and rule that effectively set in place racialised practices that
continue at this historical juncture, I now turn to an explication of colonial control,
authority and power as manifested in historical knowledge and its representation,
language and education.
Historical knowledge is problematic in Fiji. This is not surprising given that the
only history Fiji knows is the one drawn up for them by the British colonial system. The
knowledge that is endemic to the people of Fiji is layered under Western interpretation
and represented that way in the guise of history, The history one gets, therefore, is not
the history of a particular people but how one or another 'orientalist' perceived it.
Western assumptions, knowledge and outlook formed the basis for the interpretation and
representation of the history of 'Others'.
The issue of representation is crucial in any discussion of the colonial condition.
European texts (anthropologies, histories and fiction) have "captured the non-European
subject within European frameworks which read his or her alterity as terror or lack"
(Ashcroft et al., 1995: 85). Through schooling and general colonialist cultural relations,
these representations were then projected back to the colonised as authoritative pictures
of themselves. The history of Fiji, as we know it, has been represented and written by
colonialists and after political independence, by Western expatriates. Our first glimpses
of what life in Fiji might have been like come from the logs of sea captains (e.g., William
85

Bligh) and memoirs, diaries and correspondence of British subjects such as those serving
in the colonial office (e.g., governors) as well as Christian missionaries. For example,
descriptions of Indigenous Fijian society have been provided by such titles as Fiji and the
Fijians (Williams and Calvert, 1858), Fijian Society (Deane, 1921), The Hill Tribes of
Fiji (Brewster, 1922), Fijian Frontier (Thompson, 1940), Deuba. A Study of a Fijian
Village (Geddes, 1945) and Fijian Way of Life (Roth, 1973), Works on the Indo-Fijian
society by Westerners include Mayer's Peasants in the Pacific. A Study of Fiji Indian
Rural Society (1973), Gillion's The Fiji Indians: Challenges to European Domination
1920-1946 (1977) and Coulter's Fiji: Little India of the Pacific (1942) and The Drama of
Fiji: A Contemporary History (1967).
Only since the early 1980s have Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians begun
seriously writing about the situation in Fiji in order to negate the Eurocentrism of colonial
writings, as a means of protest or resistance or even to confirm Western interpretations or
representations (e.g., Ravuvu, 1974, 1983, 1987, 1991; AH, 1980, 1986; Lasaqa, 1984;
Narayan, 1984; Durutalo, 1985a, 1985b; Lai, 1986, 1988, 1992). Even today, there is
still a proliferation of writings on conditions in Fiji by people who are not indigenous or
non Indo-Fijian (e.g., Howard, 1991; Lawson, 1991). I am not arguing that this is bad.
However, the point needs to be made that more ethnic people residing in Fiji need to
research and write about the prevailing and past conditions in this country in order to
write themselves into the history books, provide their own voice(s) about themselves, and
make prominent their place in the history books. This thesis, inter alia, is an attempt to
provide Indigenous Fijians with a voice that negates representations of Indigenous Fijians
as school failures. It is a tool that writes back/talks back to colonial representations.
Robert Young (1990) points out that myths about the Western world abound in
the colonies regarding power, knowledge and therefore history. He questions the myth
that white history is the History of the world and he articulates the need to deconstruct
"the concept, the authority, and assumed primacy of the category of 'the west'" (R.
Young, 1990: 19). He maintains that the long-term strategy of critiqueing the structures
of colonialism is "to effect a radical restructuring of European thought and, particularly,
historiography" (p. 119). This involves "repositioning European systems of knowledge
to demonstrate the long history of their operation as the effect of their colonial other".
This viewpoint is highly pertinent to Fiji. It is important that the history of the
country as written by Westerners, is deconstructed so as to place more emphasis on the
history of the country before and after contact with the West from the perspective of the
86

people in that country, not from an outsider's perspective. Indigenous Fijians, Indo-
Fijians and other ethnic groups living in Fiji need to be made aware of the long-term
effects of colonialism and attempt to find a constructive and practical way to "deconstruct
the concept, the authority, and assumed primacy of the West" as Robert Young (1990)
has put it. :
The primary instruments of control of colonised subjects were (and still are) ;
written history (texts), education and language. All these are evident in Fiji. The history i
of the country has been written by British colonialists, often governors or people in j
authority at the time, as well as missionaries. Even at this historical juncture, there is still j
much hesitation by Indigenous Fijians to write their own history. Perhaps this is because j
Fijian history has an oral rather than written tradition. Or perhaps it is because they have j
not been made to feel empowered or confident about writing about themselves. Their j
psyche has been so affected by the experience of colonialism that they would j
subconsciously feel that they are 'inferior'. After all Fijian history was written by the ;
British. \\
How then can Fijians better that history? Frantz Fanon so aptly described this }
mentality in his book Black Skins, White Masks (1967a), Indigenous Fijians, after been
made to feel inferior (through the ideological, political, economic and social structures \\
put in place by the British—96 years of this), may have internalised this attitude.
Consequently they may believe that anything Western is good for them and would strive
as much as possible to emulate Western behaviour and internalise Western values and
attitudes.
Language is a powerful control mechanism in a colonial situation. The English
language became the legitimate official language during colonial times in Fiji. The
Indigenous Fijian alphabet was constructed by Western Christian missionaries as a first
step in making the 'natives' more understandable to Western society. Next, the English
language became the language of the school with instruction carried out in this medium.
English texts were the source of knowledge about the world presented to the indigenous
people and other ethnic groups in Fiji. Fanon (1967a) argues that the best way of
controlling a people is through the institutionalisation of the colonial language. This is
certainly true for Fiji. Today, after almost three decades of independence, the colonial \\
situation is still evident in the official use of the English language in schooling, f
communication, law, commerce and administration. This dependence on the colonial |
87

language is an insidious legacy for a nation that has purportedly attained political self-
determination. 1
As explained earlier, Western history books represented Indigenous Fijians as
primitive and ignorant. Missionaries were intent on transforming the 'natives' and
'heathens' who were regarded as the "very dregs of Mankind, or Human Nature (sic),
dead and buried under the primeval curse, and nothing of them alive but the Brutal
part...." (cited in France, 1969: 29). It was envisaged that a Western-type education
would make the Fijian less primitive. The British curriculum was institutionalised during
colonial times. Missionaries, who were the initial teachers, did their best to inculcate
Western values and attitudes in their students. This was continued after political
independence by expatriate teachers from New Zealand and Australia (also British
colonies) who were recruited to teach in Fiji before local teachers were trained. At this
historical juncture, despite the fact that local teachers provide instruction, the curriculum j
is still pro-Western in its orientation, pedagogies and content. I
i
I
Colonial Curriculum ;
The education of Indigenous Fijians owes its beginnings to the Christian
missions. The main purpose of Methodist mission schools was to evangelise the 'natives' !
and for this purpose, the missionaries evolved an orthography for the Fijian language and
translated parts of the Bible into this newly written language, The early curriculum for
Fijians in the nineteenth century was therefore one which saw an emphasis on Christian
doctrine and learning to read and write in the vernacular but arithmetic and some
vocational education was also provided (Mangubhai, 1984).
The missions thus solely controlled educational activity in Fiji for eight decades.
This changed, however, when the Education Ordinances of 1916 and 1918 enabled the
Colonial Government to take direct control by providing grants-in-aid in exchange for
control over the curriculum, the language of instruction (it was stipulated that instruction
had to be in English after Class 4) and school registration. Thus began the process of
control that would ensure that the curriculum, school pedagogies and the way that
learning was evaluated would become hegemonic and normative. In this postcolonial
moment, the purposes of education, the curriculum, the educational administrative system f
and pedagogies remain of Western origin (Mangubhai, 1984; Thomas and Postlethwaite, j
1984). In the course of this thesis, I will return repeatedly to this historical legacy. |

The fact that English became the language of instruction is significant since one of
the main features of colonial oppression is control over language (Ashcroft et al., 1989),
The transmission of knowledge and culture is carried out through language. Language,
then, becomes the medium through which a hierarchical structure of power is
perpetuated, and the medium through which conceptions of 'truth', 'order', and 'reality'
become established (Ashcroft et al., 1989: 7).
Through the English language, English culture formed the heart of the curriculum
in colonial Fiji. For instance, a whole generation of primary school students in the 1940s
and 1950s grew up on the New Method Readers, a series used in most tropical British
colonies where they learned about such things as England's four seasons, King Arthur,
Rip Van Winkle and the desert crossing in Egypt (Lai, 1992). The secondary school
curriculum, set by Cambridge University, was heavily academic and exam-oriented. The
literature component consisted of Shakespeare's plays and the works of Charles Dickens,
Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and Robert Louis Stevenson (Lai, 1992). History students in
1951 were required to be laminar with topics ranging from the history of Fiji and the
organisation of the colonial government to British imperial history and the history of the
Renaissance and the Reformation (Lai, 1992). Local language, history and culture were
totally ignored in the curriculum.
Using the leverage of grants-in-aid, then, the Colonial Government was able to
impose the curriculum and the language in which it should be taught. Note here the
undermining of Indigenous Fijian cultural knowledge and wisdom in the school
curriculum. Note also the emphasis on English as the medium of instruction after class 4.
The secondary school curriculum was dictated by external examinations set in foreign
lands. New Zealand continued to set the exams and, consequently, the curriculum until
1988, eighteen years after decolonisation occurred. So it was during colonial rule that the
curriculum for primary and secondary schools was decided and this has continued in
neocolonial hegemonic forms after the point of decolonisation.
Postcolonial Fiji
So far in this chapter I have explicated the impact of British colonisation on Fiji's
physical, social, cultural, economic and political landscape. I have tried to show that no
matter how benign British colonialism may have seemed, the colonisation process was
oppressive, dominating and exploitative. Colonial assertions of control, authority and
power form the central pivot of colonialism, The process and practice of colonialism is,
89

therefore, one of epistemic violence (Spivak, 1995). In this section I reiterate the point
that what is at this historical juncture are neocolonial configurations of what was. Hence,
Fiji's colonial history has shaped in significant ways the ideological, epistemological and
material basis of Fiji society. In particular, I describe the neocolonial shaping of the
educational system after political self-rule became a reality and then focus on a
discussion of educational inequalities. This manifests itself in a fuller description of "the
educational gap" or underachievement of Indigenous Fijians. I then provide an analysis
of the development and implementation of AA policies which forms the last section of
the chapter.
After Fiji became a British colony in 1874 the people endured 96 years of British
values, attitudes and institutional structures. A century is long enough for the inculcation
of Western values into the fabric of every facet of life in the colony, The ideology of the
colony was British in flavour. Fiji's political, economic and educational structures were
(and still are) almost twin copies of Britain's, in essence if not in quality. Schools, for
example, were established along similar lines to those in the home ccunUy. Uniforms, a
formal curriculum based on Western knowledge and values, timetables, teachers,
buildings and other physical infrastructures, school fees, text books, a central
administrative system, school grants and the like became inherent features of Fiji's
educational system. The democratic form of political governance was set in place during
colonial times and continues today. The legal and judicial system was adopted from the
home country as well. Economic structures with an emphasis on capitalism set in place
prior to independence are firmly entrenched today. The assumption that seemed to be
held by the British colonialists was that their way of life was superior to that of the
'natives' therefore, if structures from the home country were set in place, life would be
much easier for them because of this familiarity. There was little consideration of how
these structures would affect the indigenous way of life. It was assumed that what was
good for the home country would definitely be good in the colony.
Colonial institutional and discursive structures, whatever form they may take, do
not necessarily end when a nation attains political independence. In a colony where the
coloniser was more than willing to hand over total responsibility to the people of the
colony, it would be extremely difficult for a new nation to dream up new ways of doing
things. In any case, 96 years of colonisation had firmly entrenched in the psyche of the
colonised the notion that what was British was good for them. The smooth transition
from one phase to another was facilitated by the existence of a local elite who had been
90

trained by the colonisers in the ins and outs of that value system. These were represented
by those in government positions, including persons of chiefly rank, who had been
cultivated by the colonisers. It is not altogether surprising that the old colonial structures
continued to play a prominent part in the workings of a newly independent nation. Today,
a quarter of a decade down the path of Fiji's postcolonial history, this still applies, albeit
in different forms,
Neocolonial Curriculum
Neocolonialism is the highest stage of colonialism where a politically
independent nation that was once under colonial rule, continues to be bound, whether
voluntarily or through necessity, to a European or American society, or to a Western
derivative society such as New Zealand or Australia (Altbach and Kelly, 1978).
Neocolonial educational practices continued in Fiji as manifested in the distribution of
foreign textbooks, the subtle use of foreign technical advisers on matters of policy, as
well as the continuation of foreign administrative models and curricular patterns for
schools, with very little alterations to the curriculum that was in place before
independence (Altbach, 1971).
The most insidious element of neocolonialism is that relatively little change to the
education system occurs after ex-colonised nations attain political independence. As
Ashcroft et al., (1995: 424) have put it, "Education is perhaps the most insidious and in
some ways the most cryptic of colonialist survivals, older systems now passing,
sometimes imperceptibly, into neo-colonial configurations", In this sense, educational
apparatuses can be described as hegemonic because once structures such as the
curriculum, assessment and school organisation become entrenched and institutionalised,
they have a totalising effect on the society. Education deeply saturates "the
consciousness of a society", as Raymond Williams (1976: 204) emphasises, and becomes
unquestionably what parents want for their children.
New Zealand, another British colony, has played an influential role in the
development of education in Fiji (Whitehead, 1981). This is evident particularly in the
nature of the curriculum and the presence of teachers, educational administrators and
head teachers from New Zealand prior to, and in the decade after, political independence.
The curricula offered in schools after independence were a continuation of those firmly
entrenched in colonial times. Up to almost two decades after independence, Fiji still
depended on New Zealand to prescribe the content of, and set the higher exams for,
91

Forms 5 and 6. The New Zealand University Exam, taken at Form 6, was phased out in
1988 with the New Zealand School Certificate following the year after.
The length of time taken for Fiji to move from an 'imported' curricula and
examinations to a more local one demonstrates the institutionalisation of colonial
structures. Fiji may have become independent politically but, in terms of education, it
has been very heavily dependent on content, pedagogies, school organisation and
assessment derived from European culture, notably of Britain and New Zealand. For
instance, the study of English literature at the senior level continues to emphasise
Western works such as Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, The
Tempest), Somerset Maughan's The Razor's Edge, Graham Greene's The Heart of the
Matter, Katherine Mansfield's Selected Stories, Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and
the Sea, G,B. Shaw's Androcles and the Lion and Tom Stoppard's Night and Day.
The themes for senior History include economic development (Fiji, 1930-present;
Japan, 1918-1970), social welfare (Fiji since 1945; New Zealand, 1891-1970), conflict
(Palestine/Israel, 1945-1967; China, 1921-1949), nationalism (Italy, 1848-1871;
Germany, 1848-1879), imperialism (India, 1875-1947; Europe and Southern Africa,
1870-1919), international relations (World War I; World War II) and government (United
Kingdom, 1832-1868; Russia, 1927-1957). The theme of cultural interaction includes a
study of Fiji and South Africa. Specifically, the topic Fiji Since 1874 has four foci: Fiji
after cession, 1874-1920, Adjustments, 1920-1970, The Integration Process and Post-
Colonial Period, 1970+. Two of the three recommended books for this topic are written
by Westerners - Fiji in the Pacific by Donnelly and Kerr, revised in 1994, and J.D.
Legge's Britain in Fiji, 1855-1880, published in 1958. The point I would like to make
here is that if the teacher does not adopt a critical pedagogical approach, s/he will present
to the students colonial representations of Fiji and students would internalise these
representations as an authentic interpretation of Fiji's history.
The other valid point to make is that the Form Six History curriculum that was
developed in 1987 was still in use in 1996 and may still be in use today. The same can be
said for the Form Seven History curriculum. This was a reprint of a version that was
developed in 1979 and was subsequently reprinted in 1982 and again in 1991. The
implication of this is that no changes have been made to the Forms Six History
curriculum for over 10 years and close to 20 years for the Form Seven History
curriculum.
92

I recall from my own experiences at a multiracial school, Suva Grammar, in the
late 1970s being taught by expatriate teachers from New Zealand and Australia. The
principal of the school was also 'European'. I studied for and passed the New Zealand
School Certificate (Form 5) and University Entrance (Form 6) Examinations. Sereana
Tagivakatini, Fellow in Science Education at the Institute of Education, USP, recalls
when she did her senior years in the mid 1970s at Lelean Memorial School, a
predominantly Indigenous Fijian school, that the principal was European and her teachers
were mainly New Zealanders, Australians and some Peace Corps from the United States
of America. Tagivakitini notes:
The language in and of schools was English. Students were actively discouraged
from talking in the vernacular. Culture was given a one-two period session once a
week and were largely used for meke practices, Never was culture integrated into
mainstream studies. Other coverage of history and culture was academic as and
when they cropped up in History or Geography lessons. (Tagivakatini, personal
email correspondence, 20/11/98)
Tt is interesting that the only other places where British-based educational
practices were adopted are Hong Kong, Singapore and even after decolonisation,
Malaysia. Only in recent times has Fiji become confident enough to specify its own
curricula and national examinations at the upper secondary level. Even so, Western
knowledge and values still play a dominant influence in these changes as the above
examples show. Many informants argue that the curriculum, pedagogical and assessment
systems are still Western-oriented (See Chapter Five). And this state of play is
maintained by the continued dependence on foreign educational aid and the utilisation of
so called foreign 'experts' or 'consultants' that such aid produces. This is one reason
why a neocolonial curriculum has continued after independence from imperial
colonialism. Other explanations for the continuation of hegemonic, neocolonial
educational structures will be explored a little later in this section.
The formal education structures that were put in place during colonial rule in Fiji
became the norm, with the society not really critically questioning whose knowledge it is
and whether it is relevant and appropriate. In any case, it was more a case of the local
people aspiring for the kind of education that the 'white masters had' and the mentality
seems to have been 'what was good for them must be good for us'. The aspirations of the
people in Fiji for a Western type education is put in this manner by Thomas and
Postlethwaite (1984: 299):
93

If advertising can be defined as 'making people dissatisfied with their present
condition, and proposing ways to surmount this dissatisfaction,' then the
Westerners' arrival can be viewed as a kind of advertising. The material culture
and learning they introduced served in many cases to cause islanders'
dissatisfaction with aspects of their own traditional modes of living, thereby
creating in them new appetites and goals to be fulfilled by embracing elements of
the colonisers' culture.
Despite attaining political independence in 1970, Fiji is in a neocolonial condition
because of its continued dependence on the hegemonic social, political, economic and
educational structures that had been instituted during the period of colonial rule. These
structures were maintained and perpetuated by the local elites who had power after
political independence was attained. In any case, what other alternative education
systems had Fiji known? Fiji was colonised for almost a century, That is long enough for
the people to internalise the British way of doing things. After all, Britain had not done
anything overtly destructive in Fiji to cause the people to rise up in nationalistic
resistance as had occurred in India. There is also the interrelated explanation where the
local elites were trained as clerks and public servants before independence to maintain the
colonial administration (Baba, 1991). Not only were these elites trained under colonial
bureaucrats, but those who received an overseas education did so in British-based
universities. These processes ensured the maintenance and perpetuation of Western
cultural values, knowledge and attitudes.
As discussed earlier, an added explanation for the continuation of neocolonial
hegemonic structures was the continued dependence Fiji had on Britain and New
Zealand. Fiji has a limited physical resource base and therefore a small industrial base,
hardly enough for economic sustenance. Fiji depends heavily on Western countries for
foreign economic and educational aid. Hegemonic neocolonial educational structures,
therefore, continue to be perpetuated by this economic dependence.
Fiji has maintained a neocolonial curriculum despite decolonisation. There has
been more focus on local content, including the inclusion of Fijian as a language of study,
but it is my view that this change is superficial and does not fundamentally change the
Western focus and orientation of the curriculum. In his comparison of education in Fiji
in 1925 and 1983, Mangubhai (1984), notes that in 1983, more than a decade after
decolonisation, the content, language and structure of education were still predominantly
derived from European culture. Just like the colonial curriculum, the neocolonial
curriculum devalued (and continues to devalue) Fijian knowledge and cultural values.
94

In sum, the educational system in place in this postcolonial moment is a
continuation of that set in place during the period of colonial rule, Not only is the
curriculum and examination system Western-based, but the pedagogies of schooling,
school organisation, administration and organisation are still foreign. As well, English is
used as the medium of instruction and this is a tangible manifestation of the continued {
effect of colonialism.
Racial Inequalities in Schooling
Thus far, I have set the context by analysing Fiji's pre-colonial, colonial and
postcolonial conditions. I particularly make the point that the educational system has
continued in neocoionial hegemonic configurations in the postcolonial moment and
continues to do so at this historical juncture, At this stage, I would like to describe the
framework that led to the development of AA as a strategic intervention and a counter
response to the effects of educational and social inequalities created by a colonial past.
This framework is underpinned by the notion of an educational gap between Indigenous
Fijians and children of 'other' ethnic groups in Fiji, notably Indo-Fijians.
This educational gap has been specifically defined as "any kind of disparity that
currently exists between Indigenous Fijians and Others in relation to access to education,
the nature of teaching and learning resources available in schools and the performance of
students in external examinations" (Cabinet Memorandum prepared by the Minister for
Education, August 1988). At the point of decolonisation, Indigenous Fijian
underachievement in schooling (Fiji Government, 1970) and their consequent under-
representation in "top and middle level positions in the public and private sectors of the
economy" (Fiji Government, 1975: 184) were problematised as national issues.
What were the reasons for, and the nature of, the educational gap that formed the
basis for the development of AA in Fiji? One of the main aims of this thesis is to answer
this question (See Chapter Five). Nevertheless, I would like to discuss the findings of the
1969 Fiji Education Commission Report. In this report, the views portrayed are basically
colonial representations of Indigenous Fijian underachievement which have been
perpetuated and reproduced in postcolonial official and academic discourses. This report
is also interesting because Fiji's educational development in the decades after
decolonisation has been shaped by the implementation of some of its recommendations.
It is pertinent to say that the blueprint of educational development in the postcolonial
period, including the development of AA policies, has found its basis in this report. As
95

well, official postcolonial government (Ministry of Education Annual Reports,
Parliamentary Debates, National Development Plans) and academic discourses have
reproduced these colonial representations of Indigenous Fijian underachievement.
In the years preceding decolonisation, the Colonial Government prepared local
leaders for political self-rule. An informal local Indigenous Fijian government structure
was in place that recognised the sovereignty of Indigenous Fijians while processes were
being finalised to see to official decolonisation (occurred in 1970) and the first general
elections (held in 1972).
In 1968, a Commission was formed to examine the state of Fiji's educational
system. One of the Commission's seven terms of reference dealt specifically with the
problems of Indigenous Fijian education. This term of reference specifically called for
recommendations to be made on
the special problems of the education of Fijians and the extent to which special
measures, including scholarship provision and the improved preparation for higher
education, may be necessary to solve them. (Fiji Education Commission, 1969: 67)
The composition of this Commission is interesting in that none of the six
members4 were local. The Commission noted that one problem which had concerned the
Colonial Government, the Education Department and Indigenous Fijian leaders was the
"disparity in educational performance between children of the two major racial groups -
the Indigenous Fijians on the one hand and those of Indian extraction on the other" (Fiji
Education Commission, 1969: vi). The Commission, therefore, defined the Indigenous
Fijian educational problem as the wide disparity in educational opportunity and
achievement between the two major racial groups. The Commission noted that the low
quality of Indigenous Fijian primary education was reflected in poor Indigenous Fijian
school performance at the secondary, and consequently, tertiary levels. The Commission
also noted the poor performance of Indigenous Fijians at overseas universities.
4 The chair of the Fiji Education Commission was Sir Philip Sherlock, Secretary General of the Association of
Carribean Universities and Research Institutes, The other five members were Mr G, Bessey, Director of
Education, Cumberland; Mr P. Chang MinPhang, Chief Inspector of Schools, West Malaysia; Miss Margaret
Miles, Headmistress of Mayfied School, Putney, London; Professor A J . Lewis, Chairman of the Department
of Educational Administration, Teachers' College, Columbia University, New York; and Professor O.H.K.
Spate, Director of the Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.
96

The following factors were identified by the 1969 Education Commission as
impediments to the education of Indigenous Fijians:
1. The scatter of Indigenous Fijian schools; consequently, these schools were identified
as too small for effective staffing and teaching;
2. Difficulty of supervision by Education Department officials because of (1) above;
3. Isolation of Indigenous Fijian rural teachers contributing to lack of intellectual
stimulus to help their own professional development;
4. Many Indigenous Fijian students were forced to be boarders because of the distance of
schools from their homes, usually in the rural areas which added to the burden of
costs;
5. Severe shortage of appropriately qualified Indigenous Fijian primary teachers;
6. Rural poverty made it very difficult for school committees to maintain adequate
standards and for parents to pay school fees;
7. Physical conditions in the village were not conducive to study: inadequate lighting,
liitle privacy, children often walked long distances to and from school, and many
social distractions.
H
Further, the Commission identified various intangible contributing factors to the
problem of Indigenous Fijian education. Once such cause was the social background of
Indigenous Fijians which manifested itself in their lack of perseverance and patience.
These attitudinal weaknesses coupled with difficulties in money management were
viewed as problematic. The Commission also viewed boarding schools as a hindrance to
performance at tertiary institutions because of their contribution to the slow maturation of
Indigenous Fijian students which could result in the students having difficulty in adapting
to the permissive atmosphere of the university. In addition, the lack of competition in
totally Indigenous Fijian schools was seen as a handicap to Indigenous Fijian educational
advancement, Moreover, the Commission identified the structural difference from the
English language to the Fijian language as a further handicap.
Having determined Indigenous Fijians educational problems, the Fiji Education
Commission made a number of general and specific recommendations to particularly
assist Indigenous Fijian students. Many of the general recommendations concerned rural
needs. The Commission, for instance, recommended that the Postcolonial Government
build six junior secondary schools of high standard in carefully selected areas. It also
recommended the improvement of teacher training and conditions of service, and the
localisation of the curriculum. Further, it recommended that pre-school and adult
97

education campaigns be conducted in rural areas to improve the attitude to, and
conditions of, children's study in the village.
The specific measures recommended by the Commission to help Indigenous
Fijians bridge the educational gap included scholarship awards. More specifically, the
Commission recommended that 50% of government tertiary scholarships be reserved on a
"parallel block basis" for Indigenous Fijians. What this meant was that Indigenous
Fijians were to compete for 50% of the scholarships while the non-Indigenous Fijian
component would compete for the other half. The Commission also recommended that in
the event of Indigenous Fijians not filling their quota, the un-allocated balance of funds
should be devoted to other specifically Indigenous Fijian educational needs such as
university students repeating courses. I will discuss AA policies in more detail in the
next section. What I would like to do now is to examine the statistical and other data on
Indigenous Fijian underachievement to see what the state and nature of the educational
gap is that has been the basis for AA.
Table 1: A Comparison of Indigenous Fijian and Inuo-Fijian Performance in the
NZSC Examination: 1966-69
Number of Candidates and Passes
Indigenous Fijians
Indo-Fijians
Year
Sat
Passed
%
Sat
Passed
%
1966
110
64
58.2
157
196
61.1
1967
158
77
48.7
504
186
36.9
1968
272
133
48.9
757
378
49.9
1969
487
223
45.8
1414
545
38.5
(Source: Education Department, Report for the Year 1969: 17)
The two national examinations prior to decolonisation were the Cambridge School
Certificate and the more popular New Zealand School Certificate (NZSC) Examinations
taken at the end of Form Five (Year 11) and New Zealand University Entrance (NZUE)
Examination taken at the end of Form Six (Year 12), Table 1 above provides a
comparison of Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian performance in the NZSC Examination
for the four-year period just prior to decolonisation in 1970. From Table I, we can see
that the concerns of the Colonial Government and Indigenous Fijian leaders may have
been correct. The concerns were mainly with regard to the actual number of Indigenous
Fijians accessing the final year of schooling. In 1969, the actual numbers of Indigenous
98

Fijians sitting the NZSC examination was almost a third of Indo-Fijians. In terms of the
numbers qualifying to enter Form Six in 1969, again, there were three times more Indo-
Fijians qualifying than Indigenous Fijians. For the four year period 1966-1969, only 497
Indigenous Fijians passed as against 1205 Indo-Fijians, a clear difference of almost two
and a half times more Indo-Fijians qualifying for Form 6.
Table 2 below illustrates that the problem of Indigenous Fijian attainment was
more serious at the University Entrance level. Not only was the number sitting this
examination disproportionably smaller but the number of Indigenous Fijians passing was
abysmally low. For instance, in 1969 only 44 Indigenous Fijians qualified for university
against 132 Indo-Fijians, giving it a ratio of 1 Indigenous Fijian pass for every 3 Indo-
Fijians. The small number of Indigenous Fijians qualifying for entrance to tertiary
institutions was a matter of great concern to the incumbent Postcolonial Government on
the eve of political self-determination. The number passing or graduating at university
level would be even smaller given the poor performance of Indigenous Fijians in overseas
universities. Hence, the concern of both the Colonial and Postcolonial Governments for
the education of Indigenous Fijians was justified since this meant that only a small
number of Indigenous Fijians were qualifying for decision-making positions in national
life. This was indeed a national problem confronting the newly independent Fiji
Government at the point of decolonisation.
Table 2: A Comparison of Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian Performance in the
NZUE Examination, 1966-69
Number of Candidates and Passes
Indigenous Fijians
Indo-Fijians
Year
Sat
Passed
%
Sat
Passed
%
1966
45
16
35.5
106
64
60,4
1967
88
22
25,0
200
78
39.0
1968
80
23
28.7
281
87
30.9
1969
131
44
33.6
404
132
32.7
(Source: Education Department, Report for the Year 1969: 17)
What is the nature of this educational gap, say 10, 20 and 30 years after Fiji
became independent? Has it remained the same or has it narrowed in the way that the
Postcolonial Governments have intended? Table 3 below provides comparative data of
Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian pass rates in the NZUE examination over a nineteen-
• M L .

H .
if
•A
year period from 1970-1988. The pass ratio for this period shows that the difference
between Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians has remained the same as in colonial times,
that is 1 Indigenous Fijian pass to every 3 Indo-Fijians. Between the period 1980-1988, a
yearly average of 598 more Indo-Fijians qualified for entrance to university compared to
Table 3: A Comparison of Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian Pass Rates in the
NZUE Examination, 1970-88
Indigenous Fijians
Indo-Fijians
Year
Sat
Passed
%
Sat
Passed
%
Difference
in Number of
Passes
1970
202
45
22
501
167
33
122
1971
224
55
24
585
146
25
91
1972
252
63
25
684
225
33
162
1973
202
58
29
709
232
33
174
1974
240
67
28
807
246
30
179
1975
293
76
26
912
299
33
223
1976
318
96
30
1107
322
29
226
1977
478
107
22
1405
411
29
304
1978
576
170
29
1710
647
38
477
1979
804
183
23
2037
681
33
498
1980
922
184
20
2305
771
33
587
1981
1000
219
22
2278
825
36
606
1982
1117
258
23
2512
837
33
579
1983
1300
334
26
2581
950
37
616
1984
1259
333
26
2597
947
36
614
1985
1433
391
27
2478
874
35
483
1986
1483
345
23
2447
933
38
588
1987
1622
368
23
2493
1077
43
709
1988
1951
441
23
2651
1047
39
606
NB. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
(Source: Ministry of Education Annual Reports)
Indigenous Fijians. This had implications for differential entry points to USP, for
instance, where Indigenous Fijians entered USP with lower marks as a result of the quota
placed on government scholarships. This will be discussed further in the next section on
AA.
100

Has there been a significant improvement in the educational gap in the period
1987-1996? We have seen that since decolonisation, the ratio of passes at the NZUE
examination has been 1 Indigenous Fijian to 3 Indo-Fijians, This has not changed from
the four-year period prior to political self-rule where the ratio was also 1:3. Tables 4 and
5 provide statistical data on pass rates for the Fiji School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) and
the Fiji Form Seven examinations. The FSLC programme, a two year programme,
replaced the NZSC and NZUE in 1988 with the first examination taken in 1989. It was
only in 1992, when the Government decided to stop sponsoring students into the
Foundation course at USP, that predominantly Indigenous Fijians schools expanded up to
Form Seven (Jitoko, 1995). Many Indo-Fijian schools had been offering Form Seven
courses for many years prior to that. The introduction of the Fiji Form Seven national
examination has increased schooling to 13 years for those who make it through the
system.
Table 4: A Comparison of Indigenous Fijian and Non-Indigenous Pass Rates in the
FSLC Examination, 1989-95
Number of Candidates and Passes
Indigenous Fijians
Non-Indigenous
Year
Sat
Passed
%
Sat
Passed
%
1989
2987
1247
41.7
4010
2179
54.3
1990
3366
1420
42.2
4006
2263
56.5
1991
3844
1595
41.5
4603
2618
56.9
1992
4317
1516
35.1
4894
3006
61.4
1993
4750
1806
38.0
5280
3217
60.9
1994
5012
1899
37.9
5340
3287
61.5
1995
5274
2062
39.1
5720
3458
60.4
(Source: Ministry of Education Annual Reports)
Table 4 shows a comparison in the pass rates of Indigenous Fijians compared to
all the other ethnic groups combined in the FSLC examination from 1989-1995. In terms
of the numbers accessing Form 6, Indigenous Fijian figures are becoming increasingly
comparable. In 1995, for instance, the ratio was 1:1.3 in favour of the non-indigenous
category. However, in terms of numbers passing and qualifying for Form Seven, a bigger
proportion of Indigenous Fijians are failing, The highest percentage of passes for
Indigenous Fijians has been 42% compared to 60.4% for the non-indigenous category. In
101

1995, only 39% of Indigenous Fijians passed compared to 60.4% of the non-indigenous
category. What conclusions can we glean from these figures? An interesting trend that
has occurred in the detailing of the results is the inclusiveness of the Indo-Fijian category
in the 'Other' category compared to the clear distinction made prior to the coups of 1987
between Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijians. The gap between students studying at the
Form Six level seems to be narrowing if ratios are anything to go by. The ratio between
Indigenous Fijians and the non-indigenous category has reduced from 1:3 in the decade
of the 1970s and 1980s to approximately 1:1.7 in the first half of the 1990s.
While the results at the end of Form Six may look encouraging, Form Seven
results illustrate a disproportionately large educational gap between Indigenous Fijians
and other ethnic groups. Table 5, which shows a comparison in the Fiji Seventh Form
national examination in 1995, emphasises the point that the educational gap between
Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups is still large, particularly where it counts
most—at university entrance level. The Ministry of Education (MOE) in a non-dated
paper entitled "Factors Affecting the Performance of Fijian Schools" highlights two
points: first, that a comparatively small number of Indigenous Fijians are accessing Form
Seven; and second, that the pass rate for Indigenous Fijian students is low compared to
other ethnic groups. Table 5 reveals that in 1995, for every Indigenous Fijian accessing
Form Seven, there were two Indo-Fijians. In terms of passes, the ratio was 1:3.5, that is,
1 Indigenous Fijian passing for every 3.5 Indo-Fijians. When one adds the 'Other'
category to the non-Indian category, the ratio is 1:3.8,
Table 5: A Comparison of Pass Rates in the Fiji Seventh Form Examination, 1995
Indigenous
Indo-Fijians
Others
Total
Fijians
Total Sat
871
1822
209
2903
Total Passed
387
1358
131
1876
% Pass
44,4
74.5
62.7
64.6
(Source: Ministry of Education paper titled "Factors Affecting the Performance of Fijian
Schools", n.d.)
These statistics indicate that the educational gap identified as a serious national problem
at the point of decolonisation is still serious almost four decades later.
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The MOE, in a non-dated paper that is post-1995, identifies the following as
factors affecting achievement in Indigenous Fijian schools:
(a) Teacher Shortage
(b) Isolation
(c) Management problems
(d) Leadership problems
(e) Teacher attitudes
(f) Lack of parental and community involvement
(g) Lack of prudent time management
In 1995, the MOE strengthened its Fijian Education Unit to specifically look at
the education of Indigenous Fijians. This unit, consisting of a Principal Education
Officer and a Senior Education Officer, began close liaison with Indigenous Fijian
schools and began a multi-pronged approach to tackle the shortcomings identified above.5
Since it was formed in 1995, this Fijian Education Unit has been proactive in conducting
workshops for Indigenous Fijian primary school headteachers and secondary school
principals as well as Indigenous Fijian school managers and education officers (Ministry
of Education, 1995). It has also been involved in school visits to advise teachers and
parents on their role in the education of Indigenous Fijian students.6
I have examined the Ministry of Education reports and statistical data to ascertain
the nature of the educational gap that the first Postcolonial Government had identified as
a national problem at the point of decolonisation, From the evidence of the data, the
educational gap that existed in 1970 is still evident in the mid-1990s. If its main purpose
was to narrow the educational gap so that Indigenous Fijians could be better represented
in "senior positions in the public and private sectors" (Fiji Government, 1966: 96) of the
economy, why has AA not made an impact on the underachievement of Indigenous
Fijians?
5 This information was provided by the two officers at the Fijian Education Unit of the Ministry of Education
during interviews I conduced in late 1996,
6 See Appendix A for a mission statement developed by the MOE detailing what it hopes to achieve in terms
of the education of Indigenous Fijians by the Year 2001.
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AA Policies in Fiji
The impact of recommendations made by the 1969 Fiji Education Commission on
the education of Indigenous Fijians was far reaching. The first Postcolonial Government
advocated twelve special measures to reduce the educational gap between the two major
racial groups. These measures were aimed at improving facilities (i.e., boarding, books,
equipment), encouraging more Indigenous Fijians through scholarship provision,
providing incentives for teachers to teach in rural areas (i.e., better quarters), improving
teacher education (i.e., better qualified teachers), establishing more junior secondary
schools, launching a 'public relations' campaign, easing the problem of travel, and the
acquisition of more vessels for field staff (Fiji Government, 1970), One of the long-term
aims of the Postcolonial Government, which it hoped to achieve by the mid-1980s, was
defined as "a marked improvement in the education of Fijians" in order to redress the
educational imbalance between the Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians (Fiji Government,
1970: 67). Five years later in 1975, the Government emphasised the need for special
measures if the nation was to "produce enough qualified Fijians to occupy a due share of
top and middle level positions in the public and private sectors of the economy" (Fiji
Government, 1975: 184).
AA policies, then, have been in place since the early 1970s to counter this
government defined problem of Fijian underachievement. At least six AA policies were
implemented by the first Postcolonial Government, especially at the tertiary level, in the
hope that the imbalance in educational attainment of the Indigenous Fijians and non-
indigenous students would be reduced. This, it was envisaged by the Government, would
somehow reduce, if not close, the occupational gap between the ethnic groups.
Specifically, these AA policies were:
(i) The establishment of junior secondary schools since the early 1970s to
specifically increase the number of Fijians at the secondary level and to
improve the education of Indigenous Fijians in general;
(ii) The reservation of 50% of Fiji Government university scholarships for
Indigenous Fijians since the mid 1970s;
(iii) The inauguration in 1971 of a 'public relations' campaign designed to
encourage in Indigenous Fijian parents, especially in rural areas, a greater
appreciation of the educational needs of their children.
(iv) The award of scholarships to all deserving Indigenous Fijian applicants
since 1975;
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(v) The establishment in 1984 of special funds for more scholarship awards
and institutional improvements of Indigenous Fijian schools. This was an
annual fund of $3.5 million; and
(vi) The conversion of a teachers' college into a residential college for
foundation students at the University of the South Pacific (USP) in 1984.
(Puamau, 1991:115-116)
From the above list, one can see that three AA strategies (ii, iv and v) were
devoted to providing Indigenous Fijians with scholarship awards to enable them to access
a university education, It is important to note at this juncture that AA strategies in Fiji
were not specifically aimed at addressing educational inequalities at the lower levels of
the educational system, Instead, the emphasis was on providing Indigenous Fijians with
the opportunity to access a tertiary education to enable them to be better represented in
middle and top level jobs in the private and public sectors of the economy. That is where
the perceived priority lay soon after decolonisation occurred in 1970, This point is
further discussed in the Interpretation section of Chapter Six.
I now turn to an examination of AA policies in education. What have been their
assumptions and rationale? How have they been implemented? What have been some of
the outcomes of these policies? I specifically focus on a statistical analysis of two AA
policies in play at this historical juncture: the allocation of half of all government tertiary
scholarships for Indigenous Fijians and the annual $3,5 million (increased to $4.7 since
1994) Indigenous Fijian Education Fund.
AA Policy: Government Scholarships for Indigenous Fijians
The AA policy of reserving 50% of government scholarships for Indigenous
Fijians was first proposed by the 1969 Fiji Education Commission. It was incorporated
into Fiji's Sixth and Seventh Development Plans for the period 1971-1980. In theory,
this policy was supposed to ensure that more Indigenous Fijian graduates would be in a
position to hold the middle and top level positions envisaged for them by the first
Postcolonial Government in the public and private sectors of the economy. A tertiary
education, particularly university training, was viewed as the means by which a
proportional number of Indigenous Fijians would participate actively in the economic and
social well-being of the nation. But more importantly, as Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the
Prime Minister from 1970-1987, argues AA was perceived as necessary to ensure that
105



can only speculate on the reasons why Indigenous Fijians have not been able to meet their
50% allocation of government scholarships. One reason could very well be the lack of
applicants with the appropriate entry marks. Another reason could be attributed to the
"bloody-mindedness" of bureaucrats determined to subvert the full implementation of
this policy as Dr Ahmed Ali7 puts it.
I have just discussed problems associated with the implementation of the 50:50
scholarship quota policy that was supposed to provide access to more Indigenous Fijians
at the tertiary level. I now turn to an examination of the second AA policy, the Special
Indigenous Fijian Education Fund, instituted by Fiji's first Postcolonial Government to
counter their lack of access to and representation in those processes that assure a more
representational participation in social and economic life. First I provide a brief
background to the conceptualisation behind the policy before detailing the two specific
foci of the fund which are the capital development of Indigenous Fijian schools and
scholarship awards for Indigenous Fijian students to access tertiary education.
AA Policy: The Special Indigenous Fijian Education Fund
The special annual fund of $3.5 million was established by Cabinet in late 1983 to
assist the education of Indigenous Fijians (Ministry of Fijian Affairs, Annual Report for
the Year 1988), It was first implemented for five years from 1984-88. Cabinet approved
the second phase from 1989-93. Since 1994, this fund has increased to $4,77 million. At
this historical juncture, AA for Indigenous Fijians in the form of this special annual fund
is a hegemonic feature of Fiji's social and political landscape.
The then Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara summed up the need for the
Special AA Fund in this manner:
I think the basic criterion that decided Government to allocate this fund and to put
it under the Ministry of Fijian Affairs is the fact that it is the Fijian people, as a
whole, who have been lagging behind in education. Many endeavours have been
made and the problem seems to have not been reduced. We hope that with this
injection of funds and activity that will arise from it, we will be able to hope to
alleviate the problem that is building up - the resentment of one section of the
«> community about their lagging behind in achievements in the professions and
educational attainments. (Parliamentary Debates, Oct/Nov/Dec, 1983: 1756)
7 Dr Ahmed Ali is a former Minister for Education (1982-1986) and is currently Director of the
Policy Analysis Unit in the Prime Minister's Office at the time of the interview, dated 4/10/96.
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Similarly, it was noted by a member of Parliament, Ratu Timoci Vesikula, in the
Parliamentary Debates of Nov/Dec. 1984 that the Special Education Fund was essential
...not merely for the benefit the Fijian people will receive, but also for the well-
being of this country and in this sense, for the welfare of all the people domiciled
in Fiji. By ensuring the Fijian people a fair share of the fruits produced in their
land, this country will continue to have the stability for which it has been noted
for everywhere. (Ratu Timoci Vesikula, Parliamentary Debates Nov/Dec 1984:
74)
The assumption of Cabinet, when setting aside this sum, was that special financial
resources were a prerequisite for any intended improvement in the education of
Indigenous Fijians (Fijian Education Committee, 1988). Better provision of adequate
school facilities, good teaching and suitable advisory services was considered to be the
means of improving Indigenous Fijian performance. Thus, one of the targets of the fund
was school development (e.g., upgrading buildings and facilities - classrooms, libraries
and science laboratories), resources (e.g., library books), and materials (e.g., science
laboratory chemicals and equipment) - particularly in rural Indigenous Fijian schools.
The second focus of the fund was provision of scholarships for tertiary studies in areas
such as Commercial, Scientific and Technological fields where Indigenous Fijians were
lagging behind.
The creation of this special fund as an AA policy to improve the education of
Indigenous Fijians arose as a consequence of the relative failure of special measures spelt
out in the first two postcolonial Development Plans (Fiji Government, 1970, 1975) to
significantly improve the educational performance of Indigenous Fijians. This fund is
administered by the Ministry of Fijian Affairs (MFA) which is synonymously referred to
as the Fijian Affairs Board (FAB). The implementing arm of this special fund is the
Fijian Education Unit at the MFA which is responsible for compiling information on
Indigenous Fijian education, making proposals for the use of the fund and monitoring its
usage (Ministry of Fijian Affairs, Annual Report for the Year 1987). It is the Fijian
Education Committee (FEC) that makes decisions on the disbursement of the fund. This
Committee, chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the MFA, comprises Indigenous
Fijians in key positions in the public and private sectors with relevant experience in
education.
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because the coups had a large impact. "Due to the state of affairs of the nation, $700,000
was returned to government and $786,575 vired to the Ministry of Fijian Affairs'
administration" (Ministry of Fijian Affairs, 1987: 32). In 1993 there was a significant
decrease in spending on school development. Only 4.45% of the total Fijian Education
Fund was utilised and I have been informed by senior officers at the MFA that the capital
development component of the Special Education Fund ceased in 1993. The emphasis in
the years since has been on manpower development. The emphasis, then, has shifted
from assisting Indigenous Fijian schools to an almost total focus on scholarship
provision. According to information provided by the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, $4.7
million is used for the further education of Indigenous Fijians and only $100,000 for
school text and library books.
Many of the Indigenous Fijian principals, as well as other educationists that I
interviewed, expressed concern at the abolition of this AA programme (See Chapter Six).
They thought this may be a premature move given that many Indigenous Fijian schools
still need a lot of capital work in addition to maintaining what the fund had contributed to
building in its first ten years of operation. However, a senior MOE bureaucrat pointed
out that the two main reasons for the shift in emphasis of the MFA administered Fijian
Education Fund has been the increase in university fees and the increased allocation in
the MOE budget for capital development of schools.
Scholarship Provision
As pointed out above, one of the programmes of the $3.5 million Special
Education Fund, which increased to $4,77 million from 1994, has focussed on the
physical development of Indigenous Fijian schools and the provision of resources and
equipment. I now shift to an examination of the second focus of the programme which is
to do with scholarship awards. An interesting feature of the awards of scholarships is the
inclusion of Rotumans in the category of potential beneficiaries.
Table 9 provides data on the number of Indigenous Fijians and Rotumans who
have won scholarship awards, both locally and overseas. Since the inception of the Fijian
Education Fund AA policy, a total of 4830 Indigenous Fijians and Rotumans have been
awarded scholarships to study both locally and overseas to get Certificate, Diploma,
undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications (See Appendix B for a listing of
programmes and awards that students on FAB scholarships have pursued). Table 9
i l l



have caused much concern, particularly for the provinces that are underrepresented. This
will be discussed in Chapter Six.
The criteria used for the selection of awardees of FAB scholarships has been
another area that has caused much concern because they have not been made transparent
to the public. The only information received is in the form of (a) an advertisement calling
for applications from Indigenous Fijians and Rotumans in particular fields of study and
(b) a list of applicants called to attend interviews at the MFA. Appendix H provides
information on the criteria used for the selection of awardees of FAB scholarships. The
four most important criteria rests on academic performance, choice of programme of
study, recommendation from Employers for working applicants and special consideration
of those from disadvantaged provinces.
An area that has been neglected in discussions on AA in Fiji is that of gender
equity in access to scholarships. This is primarily because of the following reasons: (i)
the secrecy surrounding policies which are race-based; (ii) the consequent lack of public
information; (iii) the emphasis on giving awards to Indigenous Fijians, irrespective of
gendei and (iv) the male biased nature of courses for which applicants can apply. Tables
12 and 13 provide data on the allocation of FAB scholarships over a 13 year period from
1984-1996 for local and overseas institutions based on gender. We can see from these
tables that, with the exception of several years, a significant number of both local and
overseas FAB scholarships have been awarded to males. In terms of local scholarships,
the highest percentage awarded to female Indigenous Fijians was 74.7% in 1990 and the
next highest in 1989 with females winning 52.4% of local scholarships. The average
percentage of local scholarships awarded to female students, however, has been 40.9%.
As Table 13 shows, the same holds true for the award of overseas FAB tertiary
scholarships. Females are significantly underrepresented in overseas training on FAB
scholarships. The highest percentage of overseas scholarships awarded to female
Indigenous Fijian students was 53,3% in 1992. However, the next highest was in 1985
when females scored only 25% of all overseas scholarships. The average percentage of
overseas scholarships awarded to females has been less than this at 23.9%, which is less
than a quarter of alt overseas FAB scholarships.
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doubtful whether these many Indigenous Fijian students would have accessed a tertiary
education in the absence of such a scholarship fund.
The quantitative data provided in the preceding sections indicate that the
educational gap that existed between Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups prior to
decolonisation is still present at this historical juncture, especially in terms of access to
and performance at national examinations at the Form Seven level. We have seen from
the analysis above that AA policies have taken shape in the form of scholarship provision
and school capital development. The important question to ask is: What impact have
these policies had on racial inequalities in schooling? Considering that very little AA
was provided to assist Indigenous Fijians directly in schooling, was it a misconception on
the part of the first Postcolonial Government to assume that there was a direct
relationship between the educational gap and the availability of state funds? The
Government's concern has been with regard to enabling Indigenous Fijians to attain
positions of authority and power in the public and private sectors of the economy. There
is no doubt that the scholarship provisions by PSC and FAB have made a significant
difference as the data on scholarship awards and graduates demonstrate. Precisely how
this has translated into employment prospects for Indigenous Fijians is yet to be
ascertained by further research. Precisely how to translate spending on school facilities,
resources and equipment into examination performance of Indigenous Fijians is again
difficult to ascertain.
My main concerns here are to find out why Indigenous Fijians are underachieving
in schooling, why AA policies have been ineffective in reducing or closing the
educational gap, what the nature is of the relationship between underachievement and
AA, and what impact neocolonial educational structures have on Indigenous Fijian
underachievement.
Summary
In order to understand AA, we need to see how these policies interact in specific
historical contexts. I have attempted to provide the shifting economic, political and
cultural context under which AA operates in Fiji. It is through this context that we
should view AA in Fiji.
I have examined Fiji's history in order to place in context the conceptualisation
and implementation of AA policies in education that followed immediately after the first
Postcolonial Government took up the reins of government from the colonial 'masters' in
117

one of its first bids at self-determination. It is pertinent to point out that although this
government was a multiracial one, the perception by the people was that it was a
predominantly indigenous party because the majority of the ministers were Indigenous
Fijians. I view AA, therefore, as a deliberate move by the government to assert Fiji's
postcoloniality and, in so doing, to counter the effects of a Western education that had
disadvantaged indigenous students in schooling.
Some important issues raised in this chapter pertain to Fiji's colonial history.
These issues include the problematics associated with the following: the use of categories
and Western periodization; historic forms of knowledge particularly in view of the
following: (a) the absence of a written tradition before pre-contact times; (b) dependence
on the historical representation by the colonialists/colonisers/western writers; (c) the
insidious effect of Western representation of Fiji's history on the people themselves; and
(d) the continuation of colonial educational structures and reproduction after the nation
had attained political self-determination.
I also provided a detailed account of the thinking that led to the development of
AA in postcolonial Fiji in the form of racial inequalities in schooling followed by an
examination of two specific AA polices: ihe 50% quota of scholarships for Indigenous
Fijians and the Special Annual Education Fund for the education of Indigenous Fijians
and Rotumans. I have provided quantitative data to show the nature of the educational
gap that the Postcolonial Governments said existed, as well as a statistical analysis of the
outcomes of the two aforementioned AA policies.
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CHAPTER FOUR
METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
This research project is a qualitative case study of policy in the Fiji context and
draws on interviews as its main source of data. In this chapter, I explicate the
methodological considerations I had in mind prior to, during and after data collection.
First, I review the literature on previous studies and procedures on research methodology
pertinent to this study. Specifically, I review the literature on qualitative research, the case
study approach, the interview and policy analysis. The second and third sections of the
chapter offer a description of the fieldwork, The final part of this chapter is a description of
the processes of analysing and interpreting the interview data.
Literature Review on Methodology
Qualitative Research Methodology
Qualitative research (henceforth referred to as QR) has been described as research
that studies talk, texts and interaction with the four major methods of QR identified as
observation, analysing texts and documents, interviews and recording and transcription
(Silverman, 1993). Put another way, qualitative methods are of three kinds: direct
observation, in-depth, open-ended interviews and written documents (Krathwohl 1993;
Patton, 1990). While there is "no standard approach among qualitative researchers", what
is common is that they "all share a commitment to naturally-occurring data" (Silverman,
1993:23).
Drawing on the work of sociologist John Lofland (1971), Patton (1990: 32)
interprets what Lofland suggests as four people-oriented mandates in the collection of
qualitative data as: (1) the researcher "must get close enough to the people and situation
being studied to personally understand in depth the details of what goes on"; (2) the
researcher "must aim at capturing what actually takes place and what people actually say:
the perceived facts"; (3) "qualitative data must include a great deal of pure description of
people, activities, interactions, and settings"; and finally, (4) "qualitative data must include
direct quotations from people, both what they speak and what they write down". The
qualitative researcher must be directly involved in the natural setting and must be actually
present to faithfully and accurately record what people say and do (this would exclude data
collection using written documents). This inherently means that the views and perceptions
of the participants are valued highly. Broadly speaking then, QR is that which "produces
descriptive data: people's own written or spoken words and observable behaviour" (Taylor
119

and Bogdan, 1984: 5). Or as Krathwohl (1993: 311) points out "Qualitative research
methods permit the description of phenomena and events in an attempt to understand and
explain them". He (Krathwohl, 1993: 311) adds:
Such descriptions may be used to seek principles and explanations that generalize.
Qualitative methods are inductive: they let the problem emerge from the data or
remain open to interpretations of the problem different from those held initially.
The data are accounts of careful observations, including detailed descriptions of
context and nearly verbatim records of conversation.
Another characteristic of qualitative data is that it contributes to hypotheses
generation and theory building. In QR, unlike the quantitative approach where data is
collected to test preconceived hypotheses, models or theories, there are no specific
hypotheses at the outset but the hypotheses are produced by the field research itself. The
strength of QR therefore lies in the flexibility this gives to design which is partially
emergent as the study occurs (Krathwohl 1993; Patton, 1990) and alternative analyses after
the data collection phase (Silverman, 1993; Krathwohl 1993).
While qualitative data contributes to the generation of hypotheses and theory
building, not theory testing, it is important to note that the selection of a methodology
depends upon the researcher's theoretical perspective. This does not mean that the research
study undertaken has initial theories that need to be tested in the field. Far from it. Rather,
what is referred to here is that the research method or tool that is selected for use will be
determined by the researcher's theoretical standpoint about the place of knowledge and how
this is translated from theory into practice. Thus, what research questions one is asking,
how one answers these and how they are interpreted depend on one's theoretical
perspective.
Quantitative research places an emphasis on numbers. On the other hand, QR
focuses on words, actions and records (Maykut and Morehouse, 1994). But this does not
mean that one method has to be used exclusively. In fact, one might want to combine both
approaches. As Silverman (1993: 22) points out: "[Tjhere are no principled grounds to be
either qualitative or quantitative in approach. It all depends upon what you are trying to
do". Similarly, C.W. Mills (1959: 245-246) urged researchers:
Be a good craftsman: avoid any rigid set of procedures. Above all, seek to develop and
to use the sociological imagination, Avoid the fetishism of method and technique,
Urge the rehabilitation of the unpretentious intellectual craftsman, and try to become
such a craftsman yourself. Let every man be his own methodologist; let every man be
his own theorist; let theory and method again become part of the practice of a craft.
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According to Silverman (1993: 21), most QR is concerned with describing and
illuminating "the meaningful social world as prescribed by the interpretivist paradigm".
"Achieving understanding" is how Maykut and Morehouse (1994: 34) define the goal of
qualitative inquiry. Or as Taylor and Bogdan (1984: 8) put it: "The phenomenologist views
human behavior, what people say and do, as a product of how people define their world".
They add that the task for the qualitative researcher "is to capture this process of
interpretation" because the "phenomenologist attempts to see things from other people's
point of view" (Taylor and Bogdan, 1984: 9). What these writers all have in common is
that they view qualitative methodology as a way of approaching and interpreting the
empirical world from the perspective of the participants in the study.
This far I have discussed the general characteristics of qualitative research. Four
points have been made: First, qualitative research is concerned with naturally occurring
data; second, these data contribute to the generation of hypotheses and theory building
which facilitate alternative analyses after data collection; third, one's choice of
methodology is influenced by one's theoretical perspective which can either fit into the
quantitative or qualitative theoretical framework or can be a combination of both; finally,
the ultimate aim of qualitative research is to gain an understanding of how people view
their world: the main role of the researcher is to interpret how people define their world.
QR draws on participant perspectives in order to gain a deeper insight and
understanding of social phenomenon unlike the positivist research tradition of generalising
results. Another specific feature of QR is that the research design evolves over time and the
emphasis is placed on the researcher as the main research instrument. Additionally, the
research sample is selected purposively and the researcher goes out into the natural setting
to collect the data. Moreover, data collection involves capturing people's words and
actions. As well, data analysis is ongoing and primarily inductive. Finally, research
outcomes are reported using a case study approach (Maykut and Morehouse, 1994).
The Case Study Approach
The qualitative case study is "an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a
bounded phenomenon such as a program, an institution, a person, a process, or a social
unit" (Merriam, 1988; xiv). According to Stake (1994), a case study is not a
methodological choice but is instead a choice of object to be studied because the researcher
chooses to study the case. A case study has also been technically defined as an empirical
inquiry that "investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the
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boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple
sources of evidence are used" (Yin, 1989: 23). The latter definition has been used to
differentiate the case study strategy from an experiment, a history and survey methods.
Stake (1994) emphasises that the case study is a specific, unique, bounded system.
He suggests that many researchers will gather data on all of these: the nature of the case, its
historical background, the physical setting, other contexts (including economic, political,
legal and aesthetic), other cases through which this case is recognised and those informants
through whom the case can be known (Stake, 1994: 238). Stake (1994) goes on to identify
three kinds of case studies: the intrinsic case study where the aim is better understanding of
a particular case; the instrumental case study where a particular case is examined to provide
insight into an issue or refinement of theory; and the collective case study where a number
of cases are jointly studied in order to inquire into the phenomenon, population or general
condition. For Stake, the purpose of case study is to represent the case, not the world.
Providing us with more information on the case study, Yin (1989: 13) makes the
point that the case study strategy is generally appropriate "when 'how' or 'why' questions
I
are being posed, when the investigator has little control over events, and when the focus is f
on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context". He categorises case studies I
into three types: explanatory, exploratory and descriptive, although he cautions that there
are large areas of overlap among them. It is pertinent to point out at this point that my own
research case study is a combination of all of these three categories. This study is
principally explanatory, attempting to explain the causes of Indigenous Fijian
underachievement and the reasons why AA policies have not had a significant impact on
reducing educational inequalities. But it is also descriptive since I have made the
methodological decision that informant perspectives are valuable and incipiently
meaningful. This is borne out by the heavy emphasis I have placed in Chapters Five
through to Seven on what informants say. It is the tentative nature of QR that also makes
this thesis an exploratory one as well, So as Yin has described it, there are large overlaps in
case study types.
Merriam (1988: 17-20) stresses several characteristics of QR which feature
prominently in case study research. First, she makes the point that the primary focus of
qualitative researchers is process rather than outcomes or products. The second point she
emphasises is that meaning is what qualitative researchers are interested in - "How people
make sense of their lives, what they experience, how they interpret these experiences, how
they structure their social lives". The third point Merriam makes is that the researcher "is
122

the primary instrument for data collection and analysis" and that the data are "mediated
through this human instrument" in the form of the researcher. The fourth obvious
characteristic of QR that Merriam discusses is that QR usually involves fieldwork, where
one physically goes "to the people, setting, site institution ("the field"), in order to observe
behavior in its natural setting". Two additional features that Merriam attributes to QR are
qualitative description and induction. In the former, because QR is concerned wiih process,
meaning and understanding, words or pictures are used to describe the phenomenon under
study. In the latter, QR is inductive because it "builds abstractions, concepts, hypotheses,
or theories, rather than testing existing theory" as is the norm with quantitative research.
Another feature of QR is that qualitative work is generally written up as a case study
(Maykut and Morehouse, 1994; Krathwohl, 1993; Yin 1989).
Yin (1989: 146-151) outlines five general characteristics of what he calls "an
exemplary case study". The first point he makes is that the case study must be significant.
For example, the case study is significant in terms of the individual case or cases being
unusual and of public interest. Another example he gives is that the underlying issues are
nationally important either in theoretical, policy or practical terms or as he puts it "both of
the preceding". A second characteristic of an exemplary case study, Yin claims, is that it
must be "complete" and this can be carried out in three ways: (a) the boundaries of the case,
defined as "the distinction between the phenomenon being studied and its context", are
given "explicit attention". This can occur throughout the analytic and reporting phases of
doing case studies and can be achieved by showing "through either logical argument or the
presentation of evidence, that as the analytic periphery is reached, the information is of
decreasing relevance to the case study"; (b) in the collection of evidence, the researcher
should demonstrate convincingly that (s)he was exhaustive in collecting the relevant
evidence; and (c) the absence of a severe time or resource constraint because this a
reflection that the research design was planned around such constraints and should not then
arise in the middle of the case study. A third characteristic of an exemplary case study
identified by Yin (1989) is that the case study must consider alternative perspectives that
most seriously challenge the design of the case study. This can occur for instance in
alternative cultural views, different theories or variations among the people who are part of
the case study. As Yin (1989: 149) puts it: "In fact, the exemplary case study anticipates
these 'obvious' alternatives, even advocates their positions as forcefully as possible, and
shows - empirically - the basis upon which such alternatives can be rejected".
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The last two characteristics of an exemplary case study, according to Yin (1989),
are that the case study must display sufficient evidence and that it must be composed in an
engaging manner. For the former, the "exemplary case study is one that judiciously and
effectively presents the most compelling evidence, so that a reader can reach an
independent judgment regarding the merits of the analysis" (Yin, 1989: 149). The latter,
that is writing of the final case study report in an engaging manner, should engage, entice
and seduce "the eye" of the reader. This would necessitate enthusiasm on the part of the
researcher who would impart the impression that the case study "contains earth-shattering
conclusions" (Yin, 1989: 151).
For Patton (1990: 461), credibility issues for qualitative inquiry, which are equally
applicable to case study research, are as follows. First, rigorous techniques and methods for
gathering high-quality data need to be made and the data carefully analysed with particular
attention placed on issues of validity, reliability and triangulation. Secondly, there is the
issue of the credibility of the researcher, which is dependent on training, experience, track
record, status, and presentation of self. Third, the researcher needs to have a philosophical
belief in the phenomenological paradigm in the sense that s(he) has a fundamental
appreciation of naturalistic inquiry qualitative methods, inductive analysis, and holistic
thinking. Patton (1990: 461) sums this up by maintaining that credible qualitative study
will thus need to address the following issues: (1) What techniques and methods were used
to ensure the integrity, validity, and accuracy of the findings? (2) What does the research
bring to the study in terms of qualifications, experience and perspective? and (3) What
paradigm orientation and assumptions undergird the study?
What criticisms have been made about case study research? Yin (1989: 21-23)
identifies three problems: lack of rigour, very little basis for generalisation and the tendency
towards massive, unreadable documents. In answer to the first criticism, Yin points out
that bias can enter into conduct of experiments or in the design of questionnaires for
surveys and that it is possible to minimise bias. Yin's response to the second criticism is
that "case studies, like experiments, are generalizable to theoretical propositions and not to
populations or universes" (Yin, 1989: 21). In answer to the third criticism, Yin points out
that case studies need not necessarily be massive, unreadable documents and spends a
whole chapter outlining how this can be done. He also notes that case studies need not take
a long time and says that confusion may have arisen between the case study strategy with
ethnography or participant-observation, which is a specific method of data collection that
does take a long time to carry out.
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It is clear, therefore, from the preceding discussion that the case study approach is
appropriate to use when one wants to study bounded phenomenon occurring in its
naturalistic setting, in the field. The boundary of the case being studied is local and
therefore non-generalisable because case studies deal with situated knowledges. This
concept of situated knowledges is critical in postcolonial contexts, as I have explained in
Chapter One, in this chapter and in Chapter Eight. The final outcome, that is the case study
report (like this thesis), would yield a textured and detailed description of local
phenomenon that is specific to that situation under study, The case study approach is also
useful to use when one wants to generate hypothesis and for theory building.
This particular research study is a qualitative case study of policy in Fiji using the
interview as the main source of data. The phenomenon under study, that is, AA policies, is
a bounded phenomenon because it is specifically in the context of Fiji that it is examined.
Not only is this study bounded in terms of place, it is also bounded in that the 74 interviews
conducted provide 74 different 'cases' to the overall case study and offer a rich and
complex description of phenomenon that is specific and local to Fiji. What is critical here
is the potential each viewpoint has for developing critical theoretical insights into the case
under study,
In this section, I reviewed the literature on qualitative case study. The next section
examines the interview as a qualitative research method because, as mentioned earlier, this
study is a case study of public policy in the Fiji context and specifically uses interviews as
its main source of data.
The Qualitative Interview
This particular section reviews the literature on the interview with special emphasis
on what it says about the qualities or characteristics of the qualitative interview, what its
strengths and limitations are, and the issues pertaining to data analysis and interpretation.
An interview is not only a conversation but a conversation with a purpose (Maykut
and Morehouse 1994; Lincoln and Guba 1985) or as Holstein and Gubrium (1997: 113)
describe it "interviews are special forms of conversation". The qualitative interview has
also been defined as "interaction" (Fontana and Frey, 1994: 361), and "talk" (Silverman,
1993), Alternatively, qualitative interviewing has been defined by Mishler (1986: vii), who
proposes a reformulation of the process after finding standard views and practices of
interviewing limited, as a "discourse shaped and organized by asking and answering
questions". As he has described it, "An interview is a joint product of what interviewees
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and interviewers talk about together and how they talk with each other. The record of an
interview that we researchers make and then use in our work of analysis and interpretation
is a representation of that talk" (Mishler, 1986; vii).
The main purpose of an interview "is to obtain a special kind of information"
(Merriam, 1988: 72); it is a method of trying to understand our fellow human beings
(Fontana and Frey, 1994; "it provides us with a means for exploring the points of view of
our research subjects, while granting these points of view the culturally honoured status of
reality" (Miller and Glassner, 1997: 100), McCracken (1988:9) puts it this way: "The long
interview gives us the opportunity to step into the mind of another person, to see and
experience the world as they do it themselves", Perhaps the best description of the purpose
of an interview is given by Patton (1990: 278), who makes the assumption that "the
perspective of others is meaningful, knowable, and able to be made explicit".
In terms of types of interviews, Patton (1990) distinguishes between the informal,
conversational interview, the general interview guide approach - what Lofland (1971: 76)
has called "intensive interviewing with an interview guide11 - and the standardised open-
ended interview. This corresponds with Merriam's (1988) classification of unstructured,
semi-structured and highly structured interviews. Similarly, Maykut and Morehouse (1994)
refer to interview types as the unstructured, the interview guide (semi-structured) and the
interview schedule (structured). What is common in all these types of interviews is that
one, the questions are open-ended, and two, they are conducted in some depth, hence the
phrase "depth interview" or "in-depth interviewing" (Maykut and Morehouse, 1994; Jones,
1985; Taylor and Bogdan, 1984) or the "long interview" (McCracken, 1988). The third
commonality in these types of interviews is "that the persons being interviewed respond in
their own words to express their own personal perspectives" (Patton, 1990:287).
In terms of interview content, Patton (1990: 290) points out that many decisions will
have to be made such as what type of interview to carry out, what questions to ask, how to
sequence questions, how much detail to ask for, the length of the interview and how to
word the questions. As well, Patton addresses the issues of asking clear questions, being
careful about asking 'why' questions as well as the issues of rapport and neutrality.
Merriam (1988) emphasises that to ask good questions is essential to getting good data.
Issues surrounding asking the interview questions, before and during the actual interview,
are therefore critical to getting the data sought in the quality that is required. As well, it is
recommended that interviewers record the interview on a good quality tape recorder and
126

that transcriptions are made of the interview because that is the data that will be utilised in
the analysis and the interpretation (Merriam, 1988; Patton, 1990; Silverman, 1993).
Many social scientists regard the interviewer as the research tool or instrument in
the collection and analysis of data (McCracken, 1988; Taylor and Bogdan, 1984; Patton,
1990). As such, the interviewer plays a critical role in the interviewing process. After all,
the interviewer determines what questions to ask, when to ask them, and is in control of the
structure of the interview and the way the data are analysed and interpreted. In addition,
Miller and Glassner (1997: 101) point out: "The issue of how interviewees respond to us ;
based on who we are - in their lives, as well as the social categories to which we belong, }
such as age, gender, class and race - is a practical concern as well as an epistemological or f
theoretical one". j
Power relations are supposed to be equal in the interview situation, that is, where no j
one is dominant and in a context where both are participating in what is supposed to be a f
I
social interaction. However, dynamic power relations are at work in this relationship. |
What is important is to ask who has power at which point and what does that power consist I
of For me, the interviewer, in using himself or herself as the tool or instrument for data |I
collection, has control over the questions that are asked in the interview, directs the | j
interview in the direction s(he) considers appropriate to the kinds of data sought, and has ? !
the final say on what to do with the data in terms of their analysis and interpretation. On |
the other hand, the interviewee (I use the term informant in subsequent chapters) also has I1
power because s(he) determines what s(he) says to the extent that what s(he) says will |I
influence the quality of the data. If one takes this a step further, the interviewee has a great
deal of control in the sense that s(he) determines how much to reveal and what to hide from
the interviewer. The interviewer, therefore, has to ensure that nothing in manner or dress or
demeanour or overall presentation, including the kinds of questions asked, will offend or
hurt the interviewee, This has implications for the preparation that the interviewer makes
prior to and during the data collection. Furthermore, issues of power in the interview
situation can be taken further to ask questions about what position does the interviewee
hold in relation to the interviewer (e.g., is s(he) superior or a subordinate) and how does the
ethnicity, class, age and gender of the interviewee impact on the data collection. I will take
this up in relation to my interviews.
Interview data analysis has been described as "hard, sometimes, tedious, slog" (sic)
(Jones, 1985: 56) or as Merriam (1988) put it "tedious and time-consuming work", On the
other hand, it has been described as "a dynamic and creative process" (Taylor and Bogdan,
127

1984: 130). Data analysis "is the process of making sense out of one's data" (Merriam,
1988: 127). One point that is made about data analysis is that data collection and data
analysis should occur simultaneously (Miles and Huberman, 1994; Merriam, 1988; Maykut
and Morehouse, 1994; Taylor and Bogdan, 1984) although it is usual for the researcher to
concentrate most on analysis and interpretation after all the data is collected. Taylor and
Bogdan (1984: 129) recommend that intensive analysis begins soon after the data has been
collected. However, they make the point that the researcher may be forced to postpone
analysis for the simple reason, for example, that the transcription of interviews took much
more time than initially anticipated.
Much has been said about how to go about analysing the data. For example, Taylor
and Bogdan (1984: 130) point out that combining insight and intuition with an intimate
familiarity with the data is how researchers gradually make sense out of what they are
studying. They argue that the researcher must learn to look for themes by examining the
data in as many ways as possible. In a similar vein, Maykut and Morehouse (1994) outline
some of the processes involved in preparing the data for analysis in terms of coding data
pages to their sources and unitizing the data. They then discuss the "constant comparative
method" of analysing qualitative data which draws heavily on the work of Lincoln and
Guba (1985), utilising such sequential strategies as inductive category coding, refinement
of categories, exploration of relationships and patterns across categories and the integration
of data and writing up the research. With regard to the latter strategy, they point out that
"writing up one's research is part of the analytic process" and that "[p]ondering the
substance and sequence of the report requires a rethinking of the data, often yielding new
insights and understanding" (Maykut and Morehouse, 1994: 145).
Taylor and Bogdan (1984: 81-82) point out three drawbacks of interviewing that
they note arise from the verbal statements or talk that interview data consists of. The first
drawback they highlight is that "as a form of conversation, interviews are subject to the
same fabrications, deceptions, exaggerations, and distortions that characterize talk between
any persons". What this means is that the interview may provide insights into how people
perceive their world and how they behave, but one thing that needs to be remembered is
that what people say and what they actually do may be different. That is, the interviewer
must not accept the interviewee's description of events as if they were facts. The second
limitation that Taylor and Bogdan point out is that "people say and do different things in
different situations". Thirdly, they (Taylor and Bogdan, 1984: 82) say that interviewers
make assumptions about things that could have been observed because they "do not directly
128

1984: 130). Data analysis "is the process of making sense out of one's data" (Merriam,
1988: 127). One point that is made about data analysis is that data collection and data
analysis should occur simultaneously (Miles and Huberrnan, 1994; Merriam, 1988; Maykut
and Morehouse, 1994; Taylor and Bogdan, 1984) although it is usual for the researcher to
concentrate most on analysis and interpretation after all the data is collected, Taylor and
Bogdan (1984: 129) recommend that intensive analysis begins soon after the data has been
collected. However, they make the point that the researcher may be forced to postpone
analysis for the simple reason, for example, that the transcription of interviews took much
more time than initially anticipated.
Much has been said about how to go about analysing the data. For example, Taylor
and Bogdan (1984: 130) point out that combining insight and intuition with an intimate
familiarity with the data is how researchers gradually make sense out of what they are
studying. They argue that the researcher must learn to look for themes by examining the
data in as many ways as possible. In a similar vein, Maykut and Morehouse (1994) outline
some of the processes involved in preparing the data for analysis in terms of coding data
pages to their sources and unitizing the data, They then discuss the "constant comparative
method" of analysing qualitative data which draws heavily on the work of Lincoln and
Guba (1985), utilising such sequential strategies as inductive category coding, refinement
of categories, exploration of relationships and patterns across categories and the integration
of data and writing up the research. With regard to the latter strategy, they point out that
"writing up one's research is part of the analytic process" and that "[pjondering the
substance and sequence of the report requires a rethinking of the data, often yielding new
insights and understanding" (Maykut and Morehouse, 1994: 145).
Taylor and Bogdan (1984: 81-82) point out three drawbacks of interviewing that
they note arise from the verbal statements or talk that interview data consists of. The first
drawback they highlight is that "as a form of conversation, interviews are subject to the
same fabrications, deceptions, exaggerations, and distortions that characterize talk between
any persons". What this means is that the interview may provide insights into how people
perceive their world and how they behave, but one thing that needs to be remembered is
that what people say and what they actually do may be different. That is, the interviewer
must not accept the interviewee's description of events as if they were facts. The second
limitation that Taylor and Bogdan point out is that "people say and do different things in
different situations". Thirdly, they (Taylor and Bogdan, 1984: 82) say that interviewers
make assumptions about things that could have been observed because they "do not directly
128

observe people in their everyday lives" therefore they are "deprived of the context
necessary to understand many of the perspectives in which they are interested".
But in order to examine the interview data on AA in Fiji, it is important to have a
good idea about what we mean when we talk of policy and policy analysis. In what follows
I review the literature on policy and policy analysis.
Policy Analysis
What is policy? Many writers agree that defining policy is not an easy task (Ham and I
Hill, 1984; Cunningham, 1963). Taylor, Rizvi, Lingard and Henry (1997: 24) make the j
point that policy is very difficult to define because of its ongoing and dynamic nature,
because we are trying "to capture and pin down something which is continually in process", :;
By contrast, according to Considine (1994: 3), the standard view of public policy is "an I
action which employs governmental authority to commit resources in support of a preferred ;
value". Alternatively, he suggests another definition of policy as "the continuing work done |
by groups of policy actors who use available public institutions to articulate and express the I
things they value" (Considine, 1994: 4). Hogwood and Gunn (1984: 13-19), operating
within a traditional framework, categorise ten different uses of the word policy as "policy as
a label for a field of activity", "policy as an expression of general purpose or desired state of
affairs", "policy as specific proposals", "policy as decisions of government", "policy as
formal authorization", "policy as a programme", "policy as output", "policy as outcome", |
"policy as a theory or model" and "policy as process". Policy has also been defined as \\
"what governments choose to do, or not to do" (Dye, 1987: 2). Thus, public policy, as j
distinct from the activities of private enterprise which has self-interest as the main ^
motivation, forms the focus of this thesis.
Policy is both process and product; it is certainly much more than just a specific
J
policy document or text (Taylor et al., 1997). In this conceptualisation of policy, policy ,
involves not only the production of the text and the text itself, but also ongoing
modifications to the text as well as processes of implementation into practice. Policy
processes are, hence, viewed as complex, interactive and multi-layered. Bowe, Ball and '
Gold (1992: 19-20), in their discussion of the policy cycle, envisage three primary policy
contexts of policy making: the context of influence, the context of policy text production and r
the context of practice. Ball (1994: 26) adds two more contexts to the policy cycle
formulation: the context of outcomes and the context of political strategy. \\
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What is policy analysis? What are the purposes of policy analysis? And how does
one go about analysing policy? These are three key questions that writers about policy
analysis attempt to answer (for example, see Dunn, 1994; Ham and Hill, 1984; Hogwood
and Gunn, 1984; Wildavsky, 1987). The study of policy is a highly contested field because
the ideological or philosophical positions that one holds are reflected in the way one thinks
not only about policy but also the nature of civil society (Taylor et al.t 1997).
Taylor et al. (1997: 35) define policy analysis very simply as "the study of what
governments do, why and with what effects". By contrast, Wildavsky (1987: 15-19, 385-
406) uses the metaphor of policy analysis as both art and craft rather than providing a
definitive definition. He argues that policy analysis is an art whose "subjects are public
problems that must be solved at least tentatively to be understood" (Wildavsky, 1987: 15)
and that analysis is imagination. He (1987: 389) reiterates the point that "Without art,
analysis is doomed to repetition; without craft, analysis is unpersuasive". He notes:
Policy analysis is creating and crafting problems worth solving. What is the clay of
which recalcitrant experience is shaped into problems and how is the form of the
problem determined? By understanding the material with which analysts work, we
can better understand the limits and potentials of the craft. (Wildavsky, 1987: 389)
Taylor et al. (1997) have identified two models of policy development and analysis:
the traditional or rational model and the more recent model of critical policy analysis. In the
traditional or rational model, the main focus was on determining the technically best course
of action to adopt in order to implement a decision or achieve a goal. The policy scientist,
therefore, was supposed to clarify the possible outcomes of certain courses of action as well
as choose the most efficient course of action in terms of available factual data for the
government of the day. A criticism of this model, Taylor et al. point out, is that issues of
power and the ways in which the state might exercise this power were mostly ignored. As
well, these researchers point out that the traditional view of policy analysis was based on a
particular view of knowledge which assumed that any knowledge, to be of any use, "must be
scrupulously value-neutral, grounded in the essential facts provided by the most systematic
observation possible" (p 18). This process of policy making, therefore, adopts a measure of
rationality, this view claims, which would "counteract the special pleading and special
sectional interests which might otherwise dominate the political processes" (p 18). Policy
analysts, according to this view, advise policy makers on the most efficient course of action
to take to achieve a particular goal, but are not deemed to be qualified to assess the morality
or the legitimacy of the goal itself.
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On the other hand, the critical policy analysis model contradicts this traditional view
of policy analysis. First it contends that social scientific knowledge cannot be value-neutral.
Taylor et al. (1997: 18) put it this way:
In our view, observations are inevitably informed by our theories and values in ways
which make any absolute distinction between policy analysis and policy advocacy
hard to sustain. What we 'see' when we examine the processes involved in the
development and implementation of any particular policy is framed by larger
questions, which are themselves linked to the normative positions we might adopt
about education and its role in creating conditions for social reproduction or
transformation.
Second, it views critical analysis as overtly political and sees "a major task of critical
policy analysis as investigating the ways in which key terms are used, and the extent to
which particular policies are consistent with our moral vision for education" (Taylor et al,,
1997: 19). Third, critical policy analysis should pay attention to both the content of the
policy as well as to the processes of policy development and implementation. The fourth
claim made by the critical analysis model is that an examination of the manner in which
power is exercised in the making of political choices is central to critical policy analysis.
Fifth, an understanding of the context in which a policy emerges is important in this model
of policy analysis.
It should be noted that this study aims to utilise the critical policy analysis approach
rather than the traditional approach to policy analysis. Following Taylor et al. (1997), it
recognises that policy is complex in the following ways: it is more than the text, it is multi-
dimensional, it is value-laden, it exists in a particular context, it is a state activity, it interacts
with policies in other fields, policy implementation is never straightforward and that policies
result in unintended as well as intended consequences. Policy processes therefore are
complex, interactive and multi-layered. Some of the salient points of the critical policy |
analysis approach worth reiterating are that social scientific knowledge is value-laden, and |
that in examining the processes involved in the development and implementation of any |
educational policy for instance, one's thinking about the role of education in perpetuating f
social reproduction or transformation will influence the analysis. Additionally, critical II
analysis is overtly political. As well, the content and the processes of policy development
and implementation should be given attention. Furthermore, the exercise of power in the
making of political choices is a central focus of critical policy analysis. As well, an
understanding of the context in which a policy arises is also important.
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I have just provided an explanation of what policy is and how policies are analysed.
As mentioned earlier, this study is a qualitative case study of policy using interviews as the
principal source of data. The context surrounding AA policies in their local, bounded
context will be discussed in detail in Chapter Six. The questions which guided the policy
analysis are discussed in the summary section of Chapter Six.
Preparing for the Fieldwork/Data Collection
Thus far, I have examined the literature on the interview as a qualitative research
method of data collection. 1 discussed what the literature says about what a qualitative
interview is, the purpose of the interview, the features of the interview, what is involved in
analysing and interpreting the interview data, some of the limitations of the interview
method as well as what policy analysis entails. The next section is concerned with a self-
reflexive description of the decisions I made regarding the method of data collection and
the reasons I made certain decisions prior to the data collection phase of the study.
Reflexivity: Assumptions of the Current Research Design
Three ways have been identified where researchers display setf-reflexivity; (a)
describing decisions that went into selecting methods, (b) laying out limits of knowledge
(or threats to validity) in a particular study and (c) laying out the researcher's personal
biases that might influence the conclusions (Potter, 1996: 294). The first definition of self-
reflexivity will be described in the following sections, The second approach to self-
reflexivity will become apparent in the course of the whole thesis where I will lay out the
limitations of the study at appropriate junctures. The final approach to self-reflexivity was
discussed in some detail in Chapter One where I laid out my personal biases in terms of the
assumptions I made before, during and after data collection that are intricately woven into
the research design. My personal biases and perspectives will also be explicated in the next
sections in decisions I made regarding the interview categories and sample, in the kinds of
interview questions I decided on, the actual processes of the fieldwork and the analysis and
interpretation of the data.
My theoretical perspective of research design hinges around the qualitative research
method that assumes that data collected in its natural state, in the field with real people
whose experiences, values and knowledge of the world is valuable, will provide worthwhile
data that play a pivotal role in the outcome(s) of the study. My decision to use case studies
of interviews with 74 participants to provide illumination on the research aims and
132

questions arose out of the critical role I felt that the case study approach and the interview
method had in providing the understanding that I sought.
The next three sections will be a self-reflexive examination of the decisions I made
and why I made these decisions in relation to the research design before, during and after
the data collection phase, culminating in a discussion of how I went about analysing and
interpreting the research data.
The Preliminary Stage
I began preparing for the fieldwork in January of 1996. During my first year of
studies the previous year, I had decided that this project would be qualitative and that the
specific tool I would use would be interviews with people whose experience and knowledge
about AA policies and education in Fiji would form the main part of my research data. I
had decided that I would use this "flexible strategy of discovery", what Lofland (1971: 76)
calls "intensive interviewing with an interview guide". According to Lofland, the purpose
of this method of inquiry is "to carry on a guided conversation and to elicit rich, detailed
materials that can be used in qualitative analysis" (p. 76). It is the search for these "rich,
detailed materials" that I sought through the interview method of data collection.
In summary, prior to the data collection phase, I made decisions regarding the
interview categories, the ethnic and gender composition of my interview sample, obtained
ethical clearance to proceed with the fieldwork, corresponded with potential informants
(See Appendix K for a sample of the initial letter of contact), finalised interview questions
and conducted several trial interviews (See Appendix L for a fuller account of the
administrative activities I conducted prior to the fieldwork). I also made the decision that
the language of the interview would be English since the discourse of communication is
English in both official and every-day circles. An important reason for this decision to
conduct all interviews in English was that strategically, it would enable less work after data
collection, that is, I would not have to spend hours transcribing the interviews verbatim and
then translating them into English, I thought it was better, under the circumstances, to get
the informants' exact words, rather than my interpretive translation. In other words, it was
a strategic decision to conduct the interviews in English - since the thesis is written in
English, it would be easier all around if the interviews were conducted in English.
Ethical considerations were also important aspects of the research, Participation was
voluntary and informants were assured that they could withdraw from the study at any time.
As well, their anonymity was protected unless they wished specifically to be named in the
133

thesis. They also had a choice about having their interviews audio-recorded. Furthermore,
each informant was given the opportunity to make amendments to the interview transcripts
prior to my utilising them. Finally informants were informed of where they could access
the thesis in its final form.
Selection of Questions for the Interview
As a guide to the interview I selected six general questions (See Appendix M). I
sent these questions with my first letter to potential participants to make them aware of the
kinds of questions I would be asking them. Questions 1 and 2 were intended to put the
participants at ease and let them talk about their understanding of what in their view AA
meant, as well as their knowledge of AA policies in Fiji's educational system. Questions 3-
5 were concerned with participants' views on AA policies and the final question on the
general guide was concerned with the reasons for continuing Indigenous Fijian
underachievement. However, after three trial interviews conducted before the fieldwork,
this list was translated into 17 points in the actual interview (See Appendix N for the
detailed interview guide).
It was important that I thank each participant for agreeing to be interviewed and
emphasise how important their contribution was to my research project. This became the
first point in the Detailed Interview Guide. I followed this with a brief introduction of what
I was doing and the purpose of the interview. The principal reason for questions 2-3 was to
get the participants to feel at ease by talking about themselves and their contribution to
education in Fiji,
The reason for questions 4-8 on the Detailed Interview Guide, which corresponded
with questions 1-5 on the General Interview Guide which was sent with my first
correspondence to potential participants, was to get the interviewees1 views and perceptions
on what their understandings were on the concept of AA, what they knew about AA
policies in education to specifically assist Indigenous Fijians, how these policies were
implemented, what the outcomes of these policies were and what importance they placed
on AA. These questions were critical as they are central to the research topic and the main
research question which I reiterate here: After over two decades of AA to assist Indigenous
Fijians in education, why are these students still underachieving compared to the non-
indigenous population? Questions 9-11 were specifically on participants' views on why
they thought Indigenous Fijian students were generally not doing as well as other ethnic
134

groups in Fiji. The bullet point items in questions 9 and 11 are reminders to me to ask their
views on these aspects if they do not mention them in their answer.
It is pertinent to note here that I stopped asking questions 4 and 12 altogether when I
realised that this posed problems for some participants. Question 4 called for the
participant's definition of AA and question 13 was too difficult a question for many of the
participants to answer as reflected in some of the answers that I received. At some point in
the interviews, I realised that it might be important to ask Indigenous Fijians why they
succeeded in school. This question replaced question 12 but was only asked of Indigenous
Fijians.
The two elements in Question 14 were important to gauge the participants' views on
other agencies that can be involved in Fijian education. The main purpose of questions 15
and 16 was to determine how, in the participants' views, AA policies can be made to work,
The final question was a hypothetical one, and the most difficult. Its purposes were not
only to seek participants' views about how the whole issue of Fijian education could be
improved, but it also acted as a summing up to the whole interview.
Selection of Interview Sample: Interview Categories
After initial discussions with supervisor Professor Rizvi, I decided on six categories
of people to interview: Politician, Bureaucrat, Community Representative, Academic,
Secondary School Principal and Teacher. The sample was also to include expatriates who
have worked in education in Fiji under any of the categories. The main reason I selected
these six categories was that I wanted to get as wide and comprehensive data as I could in
order to take account of the different perspectives that people might have. I thought that
these categories would add complexity to the data that might not be evident if, say, only
two categories were selected. I had decided that I would interview five in each category
and the total number of participants would be 30. However the reality was that I ended up
interviewing more than double this number of people for the following reasons: more
names were suggested to me by participants and other professionals and I felt I had to
interview all the key people at the Ministry of Education (a total of 11 comprising almost
16% of the sample).8 (See the beginning of the thesis for a complete list of Informants)
11 did this because not only did I consider their viewpoints important, but I did not want to risk offending
anybody in the ministry by excluding them from the interviews.
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Initially, I had wanted to interview people out in the rural areas who might fit under
the categories of principal, teacher or community representative but because of time,
logistical and financial constraints, I had to drop this idea altogether. However, in
determining the people to be interviewed, I built in a tacit requirement to interview people
who had had experience teaching in the rural areas. Why the rural area? When one speaks
of Indigenous Fijian education in Fiji, one is basically referring to the rural area because the
bulk of the Indigenous Fijian population is rural by nature. I had also wanted to interview
students themselves for their perceptions about why students fail in school but, again
unfortunately, the problematics associated with this made it an inappropriate category,
In terms of ethnic and gender composition, I decided that the range for the former
would be 60% Indigenous Fijian and 40% non-indigenous and that the gender make-up of
my sample could range from 70% males to 30% females. I needed to consider the inclusion
of expatriates in the non-Indigenous Fijian category as well. Why did I decide on these
details? Since the study mainly was concerned with the educational achievement of
Indigenous Fijians, I thought it was appropriate to interview more Indigenous Fijians hence
the decision to have a ratio of 60-40.
As it developed, I interviewed Indigenous Fijians and Rotumans who comprised
69% of the sample, while non-Indigenous Fijians made up 3 1 % (see Table 14). From Table
14, one can see that 64% of the sample was male and 36% was female. I interviewed close
to 7% in the expatriate sub-category of the non-indigenous category. Table 15 gives a
summary of the number of participants in each category.
I would have preferred to have interviewed some more politicians and fewer
bureaucrats but this proved difficult. In the first instance, it was difficult accessing
politicians since the Parliament was in session for most of the time I was in Fiji for the field
Table 14 Participants in the Interview by Ethnicity and Gender
Ethnic Category
Gender
Total
Male Female
Indigenous Fijians and Rotumans
27
24
51(69%)
Non-Indigenous Fijians
20
3
23(31%)
Total
47 (64%)
27 (36%)
74(100%)
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perspectives of the two Prime Ministers since independence, Unfortunately I was not able
to interview either of them due to difficulty of access. I also thought that it would be
important to obtain the viewpoints of the politicians who were part of the Opposition
Political Party, Again it was unfortunate that I could not interview certain key politicians
because of difficulty of access since the Parliament of Fiji was in session for most of the
time that I was in Fiji for the fieldwork, Additionally, Fiji was in the process of deciding
prominent political and social issues such as the Review of the Constitution (a special
parliamentary sub-committee was formed to examine the Report of Fiji Constitutional
Review Commission) and the expiry of land leases (ALTA)9, two issues which preoccupied
the whole country as I have described in Chapter Three.
In terms of deciding on people in the bureaucrat category, I felt I had to interview
people in the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Ministry of Fijian Affairs (MFA) and the
Public Service Commission (PSC) as these were the three agencies involved in developing
and implementing AA in education. It was not possible to interview a few key people at
the MFA due to access problems (interviewing of students for overseas scholarships was
taking place). However, a few key people were facilitative in answering a set of written
questions regarding the implementation of the $3.5 million annual fund (see Appendix O
for the questions). For this I thank the Permanent Secretary of Fijian Affairs, Ratu Jone
Radrodro, the Acting Permanent Secretary for Fijian Affairs Mr Isoa Tikoca and the staff at
the Fijian Education Unit (FEU) once again for providing invaluable data that are
unavailable elsewhere,
Academics, all of whom were teaching at the University of the South Pacific (USP)
based in Suva, Fiji, were selected in terms of who I thought might be able to contribute to
the debate on AA. Most of the expatriate informants came from the academic category.
Community representatives were those people who I thought were not only involved as
parents and sat on some committees, but were also key people in the community in terms of
the positions they held. For this, I included church leaders, leaders at the University
Extension who worked in distance education, the University librarian, business leaders and
key people in the two teachers' unions—the Fijian Teachers Association (FTA) which
caters for Indigenous Fijians and Rotuman teachers and the Fiji Teachers Union (FTU)
which is primarily for Indo-Fijian teachers.
» ALTA stands for the Agricultural Land and Tenant Agreement. This agreement is managed by the
Native Lands Trust Board (NLTB). Indigenous Fijians are landlords while the Indo-Fijians form the bulk
of the tenants.
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1
Those in the principal category were selected either as current or past principals and
included are two principals at tertiary institutions, namely a teachers' college and the only
medical school in Fiji, The participants in the teacher category were selected if they had
held heads of department positions in a secondary school or had taught for a number of
years in secondary schools. Eight participants who come under this category were
interviewed in three group sessions because of time pressures on both their and my part.
Some of those interviewed were either lecturers at a teachers' college or at a TAFE college
or were professionals at the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU), but the reason they were
selected under this category was because they had all taught at a secondary school before
taking up these positions.
The Actual Fieldwork
The Processes Involved
Data collection was carried out in Fiji over a period of 15 weeks from 24 August to
6 December 1997, In total, I interviewed 74 people: 66 individually and the remaining 8
were interviewed in three separate group sessions, This included the two pilot and trial
interviews carried out in Brisbane prior to the commencement of the field study. The group
interviews were carried out because of time constraints both on the interviewees' and my
part. The participants in the group interviews belonged to the same peer and friendship
group and were comfortable about being interviewed together.
Each interview was an average of one to one and a half hours long. Four interviews
with key female participants took up to three hours. There were only two interviews that
lasted less than an hour. The majority of the interviews took place at the working place of
the interviewees during the working week, some extending well into the evening. Seven
interviews were carried out at the interviewees' home, two of which took place over the
weekend. The bulk of the interviews were completed by the end of the eleventh week. The
largest number of interviews occurred in week seven where 14 interviews were scheduled,
of which 10 were completed and four postponed.
My first two weeks in Suva, where all the data was collected, were spent sorting out
financial matters, making arrangements for the telephone to be installed at home and an
office space to work from at my former workplace (the Fiji College of Advanced Education
- FCAE - in Nasinu), making arrangements for phone messages, meeting relatives and
friends and getting in contact with people who had already agreed to be interviewed prior to
my arrival in Fiji. The latter was a critical component of my early weeks in Fiji because not
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only did I need to confirm interviews and thereby get started with the interviews, the
telephone calls were my way of re-establishing links that had begun with the initial letter
that each one of them had received.
The number of interviews I carried out varied from week to week. I conducted my
first interview on Thursday of the second week. I found that I was very uncomfortable and
stilted; the data from this interview probably reflects this limitation. However, I found that
by the fourth interview, I was not referring to my notes and could ask questions without
much difficulty. I knew most of my interviewees and could go straight into the interview
without having to build up a sense of trust and rapport that is a normal part of the
preliminaries when interviewing relative strangers. I did not need to spend as much time at
the beginning to persuade the participants that I was not a threat, and that whatever
contributions they could make to the research project were valuable and, unless they
otherwise stated, confidential. This is not to say that I did not have to build up rapport with
some participants I knew but the point I hope to make here is that it seems relatively easier
to talk with familiar rather than unfamiliar people and that one does not spend as much time
getting introductions and explanations done before the interview proper.
Telephone calls were an integral part of the interview process. From the first week,
right up to my last day in Fiji, I was liaising, arranging, organising, postponing and calling
for information I was missing.
I used an excellent quality walkman Sony tape recorder which had an unobtrusive
microphone. Tape recording was not a hindering factor in data collection. This was
partially because I had specifically requested that the interview be tape-recorded when I
first wrote to the participants so all the participants were aware, before the interview, that I
needed to tape-record our sessions. This was also due to the fact that the quality of
recording was so good that it was not distracting in any way. In all the cases, the
participants did not seem intimidated by its presence. There was one case where a
participant had written in his consent form prior to the fieldwork that he was cautious about
being tape recorded because of the sensitivity associated with the research topic. I noted
this but took along the tape recorder just in case. In the preliminaries before the actual
interview, I mentioned that everything he said would be strictly confidential and that if I
tape recorded the interview, I would send him a copy of the transcript before I utilised
anything in the interview. I also mentioned that I would not mention him by name, 1 took
notes for the first 10 minutes of the interview and was pleased when he suggested I tape
record the interview given that it would be so difficult to record the interview with paper
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and pen. I found that in all cases, the participants quickly forgot about the recorder once
they became engrossed in what they were saying.
Language of the Interview
All the interviews were conducted in English. As mentioned earlier, I had decided
to conduct the interviews in this medium because all the participants could speak English
relatively fluently. English is the language of the discourses of schooling, public
administration, formal communication, bureaucracy, politics, law and so forth. All the
informants were sufficiently conversant with the English language to enable us to have
meaningful conversations.
I also mentioned earlier that the use of English as the medium for interviewing was
a strategic decision. It was strategic because the interview language would be compatible
with the language of the thesis, I did not think it was a worthwhile exercise to conduct the
interviews in Fijian only to spend double the transcribing time on translation work. I also
did not want to colour the translation with my own interpretation of what the interviewees
actually said and meant.
It was also for the sake of consistency that I conducted the interviews in English.
Not all the informants were Indigenous Fijians. As 31% of informants were non-
indigenous, it was strategically and practically convenient to conduct interviews in English.
If I had interviewed Indigenous Fijian parents who had little knowledge of English, then I
would have had to conduct the interviews with them in Fijian, As it was, I did not come
across any informants who were not fluent in English,
Some informants, particularly Indigenous Fijians, switched codes from English to
Fijian when they wanted to emphasise a point. This seemed to occur naturally in the course
of the conversation. Other instances where code switching occurred were in cases where
the discussion centred around the content of the Fijian curriculum and on the role of the
church and parents in the education of Indigenous Fijians, It is interesting that those Indo-
Fijians who could speak some Fijian also used Fijian words and phrases to make a point. I
did not discourage the informants from code switching. Where Fijian was used, they were
transcribed verbatim but were translated into English in the thesis so that non-Fijian
speakers can understand what was said,
It should not come as a surprise that I opted for English as the language of the
interview. This demonstrates the extent to which the process of colonialism has colonised
my thinking space. Even if I had made the decision to conduct interviews with Indigenous
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Fijian informants in Fijian, it is uncertain whether this would have increased the speaking
voice that I claim to be giving them in this thesis. The reality is that this text has to be
written in English. Hence, it was strategic to conduct the interviews in the language of the
thesis.
Problems in the Field
Most of the interviews were carried out satisfactorily, There were three, however,
where I felt that the participants had not given the questions adequate thought and were
therefore not as prepared as I would have liked them to be. This was understandable, given
the busy schedules that they had.
All researchers who conduct fieldwork must have their repertoire of blunders they
committed. In my case, I fouled up on two occasions with the tape recording machine.
They were not due to any lack of preparation on my part. In each instance, I had checked
that the batteries were not flat, carried an extension cord and an adaptor just in case they
were needed, had the appropriate blank tape in the machine and had switched on the
machine at the right time.
My first blunder occurred with a very lengthy interview with the Minister for
Education, Women and Culture, the Right Honourable Ms Taufa Vakatale. The Minister
had postponed our interview several times until Thursday 3rd October so that she could
give me two and a half hours of her time. On my arrival she put me at ease and we
proceeded with the interview, I left her office at 12.50 p.m. and made a hasty dash in a
taxi to the bus stand to catch the 1.00 p.m bus out to Sawani, a journey of some 45 minutes
for another interview scheduled to begin at 2.00 p.m. As soon as I arrived I sat down
outside the office to put the Minister's tapes away and prepare for the next interview. I had
not completed this when my interviewee came out of her office and saw me. In the ensuing
confusion, I inadvertently put the Minister's first tape back into the machine thinking that it
was a blank tape as it was not yet labelled. You can guess the rest. I taped my next
interview over the Minister's tape. On the third day after this interview, I managed to
reconstruct part of the interview with the help of the notes that I had made during the
interview. It took me a long while to gain enough courage to call the Minister's office to
request another interview. Unfortunately, I left it rather too late because I was informed by
her secretary that she was very busy with parliamentary sittings, attending prize, opening
and closing ceremonies and the like. The Minister's secretary assured me that she would
inform the minister about my request and would get in touch with me. I had actually
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sought advice from an elder about how to make the approach. I had obtained a tabua10 for
the purpose of seeking her forgiveness and asking for a reinterview. It was not until three
days before I was to return to Brisbane that I received a call from the Minister's office
informing me that the Minister could squeeze me in for 45 minutes. At the second
interview, I was very apologetic but Ms Vakatale laughed my mistake away and I asked
those questions that I felt were the more important ones and had been absent in the
reconstructed text.
The second blunder occurred when I was interviewing a school principal. It was not
until close to the end of the interview that I realised that the machine was still in the pause
mode and that I had not activated the machine at the beginning of the interview.
Fortunately, the interviewee was very pleasant about it and agreed to be reinterviewed. I re-
asked the questions and she gave a summary of her answers which I managed to record
without any further mishaps. She also gave me the notes that she had prepared for the
interview.
I also faced several other problems in the course of the fieldwork. For the first five
weeks, making contact and confirming interviews were quite problematic. The telephone
was not installed at home until the sixth week and I had to rely on the telephone at the
FCAE for messages from the interviewees, On several occasions, I found that because I
had missed messages left for me I arrived at the scheduled interview venue only to find out
that the interview had been postponed. As far as possible I called ahead to reconfirm a day
or two before the scheduled interview, but in some cases this was difficult, particularly
when I had two or three interviews to attend each day over several days and the interviews
were in different locations. Another problem was with postponements of interviews and
then rescheduling times suitable for me and the participants. In my fifth week, for example,
five out of eight interviews were postponed. In four cases, because of the nature of the
participants' jobs, I had to reschedule other times to complete the interviews, two of which
were eventually not completed. As well, five key people were not interviewed because of
the constant rescheduling and the mismatch in their times and mine: two Indo-Fijian
politicians from the Opposition political party, two senior bureaucrats and one Indigenous
Fijian school principal. I was rather sad that I could not interview two opposition
1(1 A tabua is a whale's tooth, an article of special value amongst Indigenous Fijians. It is used as a
presentation on all special occasions, such as the installation of a chief, a means of acquiring property, to
assuage the temper of a person of rank, weddings, funerals, welcoming important dignitaries, etc. (CapeH,
1941). I would have used the tabua to seek the Minister's forgiveness for messing up her interview. On
the advice of the Minister's Personal Secretary, I did not present the tabua.
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parliamentarians, Mr Mahendra Chaudry and Mr Shiu Charan, because of scheduling
difficulties.
It was also unfortunate that I could not interview some other key players because of
their very busy schedules: the President, His Excellency Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara who was
the First Prime Minister of Fiji under whom the AA policies in education were established;
the Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Brigadier General Sitiveni Rabuka, who is also
known as the leader of the two coups instituted in 1987; the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
The Right Honourable Mr Filipe Bole, who was also a previous Minister for Education, and
Leader of the Opposition, The Right Honourable Mr Jai Ram Reddy. The timing of my
data collection, perhaps, was not very good given that the Parliament was in session most of
the time I was in Fiji.
The Personal and Socio-cultural Contexts
Discussion on the personal or social context under which the field study is carried
out is generally absent from the literature on research methods. Some western researchers
do indeed acknowledge the personal aspects of research but in the main, the general
absence or neglect by writers of research method literature is a serious limitation because
there should be recognition that the personal/social context can impinge on the data
collection. In my case I took my youngest child, a boy of five called Manoa, with me while
my husband and three older children remained behind in Australia with my mother. I feel
that extra stress is placed on a researcher who goes overseas for data collection for an
extended period of time, especially when the nuclear family is absent, and particularly
when one has the extra care and responsibility of a child during the data collection exercise,
Additionally, extra financial stress was placed on me because Manoa and I stayed with my
sister (who a few weeks before our arrival had become unemployed), her two children, a
sister-in-law and her son Daniel who is the same age as Manoa. Yet Manoa accompanied
me to Fiji and I consider him a valuable and important part of the data collection stage.
What impact did my personal circumstance and the social and cultural contexts have
on the data collection? Would this negatively reflect on the quality of the interviews and
would the data then be contaminated in some way because of this? Would knowing the
interviewees affect the quality of the data as compared to interviewing people I had not met
i
144 I

before? Would my missing out on interviewing some key people affect the richness and
complexity of the overall data? These are some crucial questions that need addressing.
In. terms of answering the first question regarding the personal and socio-cultural
context under which the field study was carried out, more elaboration is needed in order to
gain a better understanding of the answer I am going to give. I had been away from Fiji for
two and a half years and it was a wonderful experience returning for three months and re-
immersing myself in the culture and the language. Just as importantly, Manoa and I were
re-acquainted with the extended family, friends, soil, land and sea. I cannot describe how I
felt as we neared Nadi Airport and I got my first glimpse of the land. Actually walking on
Fiji soil and knowing that I was home again was a wonderful feeling. For a student
studying in a foreign land, the fieldwork gave me an opportunity for re-immersion, re-
acquaintance and replenishment to prepare me for the last phase of the PhD. For me, the
fieldwork phase was not simply for data collection purposes. Just as importantly, it
rejuvenated me physically, culturally, and spiritually. And since Manoa was part of this
journey back home, he is bound up intrinsically with the peace of mind I had whilst
carrying out the fieldwork. In this way, Manoa facilitated rather than hindered the data
collection.
The social context where I was carrying out my fieldwork, amidst the extended
family and close friends, could have affected the productive time I might have been
spending intensively listening to the day's interviews and preparing more thoroughly for
the next day's interview(s). It is critical therefore, in my view, that consideration is given
to the social and cultural context under which the field study took place as this may have
implications on the analysis and interpretation of the data undertaken later.
Despite the shortcomings that might be associated with going into the field where
one 'fits' comfortably but where the personal and social context might be inhibiting to the
Western way of conducting research, I feel even richer for going home because of the
contributions I made. I presented two papers at the University of the South Pacific, where I
did both my first and second degrees: one was as guest speaker in a postgraduate course
and the second was to staff and students at a lunch time seminar.
As well, I attended many functions including the graduation ceremony at the FCAE,
the funeral gathering of an uncle, three birthday parties and many luncheon/dinner parties
with friends and relatives. These all contributed to my well-being since I was considered an
integral part of the community. Furthermore, the interactions with people enabled me to
freely discuss what I was doing and I received constructive feedback and advice which
145

contributed, I feel, to the relative success of the interviews. Drawing on the strengths of the
informal and formal networks that I had contributed greatly to the relative success of the
fieldwork. In fact 40% (28) of interviewees were interviewed as a result of suggestions
from people I knew. Forty-two out of 63 people who I had written to agreed to be
interviewed and the remaining 28 interviewees were a result of the snowball effect created
by those I knew and those I interviewed,
Does it affect the data when a researcher interviews many people she knows? On
the contrary, I think interviewing people we know dispenses with that period of building up
trust and is more enabling in situations where the interviewee has nothing to fear from the
interviewer. In many of the interviews I carried out, the participants were senior in terms of
position and age, and I would like to think that I had prepared them relatively well for the
interview in the initial letter I had written to them and when I telephoned to first arrange
and then confirm the interview, I hope that any ambiguity that may have arisen from lack
of knowledge about my research study, the purpose of the study, what the general questions
were and so forth would have been reduced before the interview even started. In fact, quite
a few people thanked me for selecting them and seemed pleased to be providing me with
valuable knowledge derived from their particular values and years of experience.
Thirty-four percent of the participants were unknown to me before the interview. I
found that I had to work really hard at gaining their confidence and trust before they
became more open in their answers. Despite this, I do not think that either knowing or not
knowing participants before the interview has a powerful effect on the actual interview.
What is more important is that the interviewer builds up a rapport and gains the trust and
confidence of the participant. What is also important is that there is no ambiguity in the
questions that may keep the participant guessing at the reason for a question. In the first \\
instance, the researcher has to be up front about what the study is about, why the need for
the study, why the need for the interview, what the questions are, and issues of
confidentiality which need to be sorted out and so forth.
Despite the advantages that accrue from knowing informants, there were some
instances where the informants seemed to exert their authority. For example, one
participant who obviously had not thought about the questions before the interview gave me
the equivalent of a 'telling off when she was unprepared for one of the earlier questions. I
found in general that those who had not given the general questions I had sent out with the
first letter much thought were the ones who were annoyed at some of the questions. But
these were isolated cases. In a few other cases, the participants had other prior
146

commitments immediately after the interview and I had to hurry through the final questions
in order to bring the interview to a quick close.
What is the impact on the study when key players are excluded due to time
constraints or for other reasons? I believe that while the study could have been richer by
their inclusion, the amount of data that I have accrued from the 74 interviews is extremely
rich and offer some very useful insights into the questions I was asking. The complexities
that appear in the data come from the different perspectives participants take to the
questions put to them. So I do have a significant proportion of data that demonstrate the
complexities and tensions that exist in the different perspectives and positions that the
participants have taken in the interviews,
After the Fieldwork
I found my experience in the few months after my return from data collection
debilitating and unproductive. It was a time that I found myself in limbo and it was a slow
process to adjust back into the culture of the reading and writing associated with academic
work. In the 15 weeks away in the field, I had not done any serious reading despite one of
my supervisor's advice of the need to flex the mental muscles - as explained in the previous
section, this was difficult for me because of the socio-cultural context I was operating
under. So adjusting back to academic life after the fieldwork was a slow and painful
process, particularly when part-time tutoring work impinged on my thesis-working time.
In the following sections, I will discuss the process of transcribing the interviews
and how I proceeded with the analysis and interpretation of the data.
Transcribing the Interviews
My immediate concern on returning from my fieldwork was to convert my
interview data into a retrievable, written text for these were to be my main research data. I
returned to Brisbane from Fiji in December 1996. I did not begin any transcription work
until late February 1997. There were several reasons for this. The first was that there was
no transcribing machine available for my use and the first one became available only in mid
February of 1997. Secondly, I had five relatives staying with my family over the Christmas
holidays and the last did not leave until the middle of February. Third, I had not realised
that I would be so tired after the field study and I needed to recover from the intensive data
collection that I had just come through. However, the most important reason for me was
spending time getting reacquainted with my immediate family after the longest separation
147

period we have ever had. After all, three months away from husband and children is a
considerable amount of time by any standards.
I found the transcription work an extremely painful affair, both in terms of my time
and pocket. The tedious, painstaking and time-consuming transcription work took longer
than the six months I had anticipated for this purpose. By the end of April I had personally
transcribed 17 interviews. In total, I transcribed 43 interviews in their entirety, On
average, one hour of interview took six hours to transcribe. As many of my interviews
were about one and a half hours long, the hours that went into transcribing the 50
interviews totalled 450 intensive hours. Additionally, I had to spend more time listening to
and correcting those transcripts that had been prepared by the three people who I had hired
to carry out some of the transcription work for me, As two of the transcribers were not
familiar with the Fiji context, I spent hours making the necessary corrections to these
transcripts before sending the draft off to the interviewee to check.
Since I had run out of transcription funds, I made the decision that for the remaining
31 interviews, I would only transcribe those portions which had potential for usage.
Because I had the moral conviction that I would let each informant 'speak' in some way in
the thesis, I felt I could not leave out any of the interviews. After all, each informant had
given me the privilege of hearing their 'speech', Thus, I spent a considerable amount of
time listening to the remaining 31 interviews, selecting the sections that resonated with
what I thought was important, and transcribing them.
For all the transcripts, as soon as one was completed, I would make two copies,
keep one and send the other off to the interviewee with a covering letter (See Appendix P)
and a consent form. In the letter, I had asked the interviewee to send back the amended
version of the interview, if they had made any amendments, as well as the consent form
which was a statement of whether they agreed to be quoted by name or whether they
wished to remain anonymous in the thesis. As soon as I received a reply, I would make the
necessary amendments and print out three copies of the final interview transcript. I opened
up three files—one file for permanent copies of the interviews, one file for analysis
purposes (for writing on, highlighting, etc.,) and one for cutting up purposes.
Analysing and Interpreting the Data
In addition to one year of transcription work, many hours were spent in data
analysis and interpretation. It is important to stress that the two processes are not separate
but can occur simultaneously. In fact, the process of making sense of the data had begun
148

during the interview proper. I found that on reflecting on the interviews, I had a fair idea of
the kinds of themes that were occurring. This process was continued during transcription
work. I found that as I listened to the interview tapes, I began to get a clearer picture of the
issues that were emerging.
I would take out each transcript from the analysis folder and pore over it, reread it,
make notes in the margin down the left, and put a one word or several-phrase summary of
what the theme was for different quotations down the right margin. Prior to this I had
formulated on paper what I thought some of the themes would be. These were added to as I
came across new themes that did not fit into the prior list, I opened up many files with its
theme written on the front.
As soon as I had 'completed' analysing a transcript, I would take out a 'clean'
version from the cut up file and transfer the theme to the appropriate place on the right
margin. I would classify or code each quotation with the following information on the left
hand margin: name, interview category, gender and race and the page number. When this
was done, I then cut up the appropriate quotations and sections and placed them in the
folder that contained all the quotations that had the same or similar themes. I opened up
many new files as new or different themes emerged, What I did not think was relevant I
placed in a trash file thinking that I might have some use for them later on.
I found that once I became familiar with my data, I could make connections
between what interviewees said that was similar and that which differed, etc. I wrote down
my observations in an analysis folder and continued with this running commentary for all
the interviews. This folder was to play a most critical role when I had to put the data
together and try to interpret what they meant to both the interviewees and to me, As I was
building up my folders of data using a thematic approach, I would prioritise the quotations
according to the value I placed on them with the most important at the top of the pile. In
other words, I was categorising the data when I was analysing them.
Does it make a difference to the quality of analysis and interpretation if there is a
big gap in terms of time of data collection and intensive analysis work? The literature
suggest that it is best to simultaneously carry out analysis while collecting the data (e.g.,
Miles and Huberman, 1994). The quality of data analysis may also be affected by the gap
between completion of data collection and intensive analysis. I did not really begin
intensive analysis work until six months had elapsed after my return from data collection.
As I explained earlier, this was due to the fact that transcription of interviews took far
longer than I had anticipated and I also experienced personal problems during this time
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coupled with my tutoring commitments in three different courses at the university. Despite
these shortcomings, I do not think the analysis is affected too negatively because once I
began poring over the transcripts and reacquainted myself with field notes I had made, this
lack was accounted for.
In terms of interview data description and interpretation, it is pertinent to note that I
have made a distinction in the way I have presented these in Chapters Five, Six and Seven.
In other words, I let the informants speak and built up a narrative based on their 'speeches'
without trying too much to analyse and interpret what they meant. It is in the latter part of
each of the data chapters that I provide an in-depth analysis and interpretation of the data.
While this distinction may be theoretically problematic, it is nonetheless analytically useful.
In Chapter Eight, I explicate the reason why I have chosen this format. Basically, my
purpose in separating the data description from its analysis and interpretation is due to the
strategy of privileging Indigenous Fijian voice(s) that I consider methodologically
important. This is in keeping with one of the aims of the thesis where I wish to provide the
space for Indigenous Fijians to speak, to have a voice from which to articulate their place in
the world. I, therefore, have privileged the narratives provided by the informants of the
study by separating what they say from my interpretations of their narratives. However, I
acknowledge that the 'freedom' of my informants to speak is mediated by my selection and
ordering of interview data as well as the accompanying commentary.
Summary
This chapter has described and explicated the methodological framework and
considerations that underpinned this research project. In particular, I discussed QR,
narrowing down to the case study approach and then, focussed specifically on the
interview.
The important point that I make in this chapter is that the case study approach that I
have adopted in this thesis is non-generalisable because the case under study is local and
case studies deal with situated knowledges. This is particularly critical in postcolonial
contexts. The final outcome should yield a detailed and textured description and analysis of
locally specific phenomenon (i.e., AA policy and racial inequalities in education in Fiji).
Moreover, another important point that I make in this chapter is that by utilising the case
study and interview methods. I have sought to "enter into the other person's perspective"
with the assumption that "the perspective of others is meaningful, knowable and able to be
made explicit" as Patton (1990: 278) has put it. This approach is in keeping with the
150

emphasis that I have placed on the perspectives of the informants, particularly with the
view that providing a voice for 'locals' is important. However, I have made the important
point that the informants' ability to speak 'freely' has been mediated by my choice of
interview extracts.
In the following three chapters, I present, analyse and interpret the interview data.
First I discuss explanations for racial inequalities in education (Chapter Five) followed by
viewpoints on the conceptualisation, implementation and outcomes of AA (Chapter Six). I
then discuss the portrayals of the informants regarding reform in terms of people, practice
and policy (Chapter Seven).
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CHAPTER FIVE
EXPLANATIONS FOR RACIAL INEQUALITIES IN SCHOOLING
The following three chapters provide a summation, analysis and interpretation of the
interview data. In this chapter I examine what the interview data reveal about explanations
for the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians under three broad themes: socio-cultural
deficit, psychological and historical structural models. The first two categories give
deterministic, essentialistic explanations for failure in school and basically hold the victim's
physical, social and cultural environment responsible for his or her underachievement in
schooling. The third category shifts from an emphasis on the underachiever's social and
cultural environment to a focus on educational structures in place, such as the curriculum,
assessment and pedagogical systems, as a possible explanation for underachievement.
Socio-Cultural Deficit Models
Many informants attribute the academic underachievement of Indigenous Fijians to
deficit in, variously, their physical, social or cultural environment. Rurality, or the problems
associated with distance from urban spaces, is identified as a serious impediment to the
performance of Indigenous Fijians in schooling. The home background of these students,
their socio-economic status, the cultural orientations of their parents and school variables,
such as teacher quality and resource availability, have also been identified as important
factors contributing to their performance in formal schooling.
Rurality: Spatial Disadvantage
The issue of the disadvantages associated with distance from urban spaces has been
consistently raised by the informants. For instance, Sefanaia Koroi, Chief Education Officer
in charge of Primary Education, draws our attention to spatial disadvantage in this manner:
In Fiji, what has been...foremost in policy..,is the rural concept because there is a
tendency to look at the two sectors of the economy, rural and urban and look at the
disadvantaged area - the rural. Most of the schools are in rural areas, most of the
Fijians live in rural areas and the disparities in performance tend to point to the fact
that rural education seems to be the starting take-off point of modern education for
our Fijian children. (T9: 2)
Koroi makes several points here. First, the rural area is disadvantaged relative to
urban centres. Second, a significant proportion of Indigenous Fijians live in rural areas and
third, because of this, many Indigenous Fijian children begin their schooling in this
economically and educationally disadvantaged environment.
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Another informant who is concerned about the problems of spatial disadvantage is
Sakeasi Butadroka, the Leader of the Fijian Nationalist Party. Butadroka highlights the
problems associated with rurality by asking, "How can you expect high passes from Fijian
youth when most of the Fijian parents are still in the rural area without any provision for
electricity, for medical services, for roading and for good housing?" (T36: 5).
Focussing specifically on the rural Indigenous Fijian school, Veniana Lovodua,
Principal of ACS who worked as a curriculum officer and has had vast experience visiting
rural and urban schools, reiterates the point about the lack of adequate educational
equipment, materials and resources. As she has put it, "There is a lot of struggle in the rural
areas, struggle for the children because their facilities are non-existent". She notes that
"There would be one book among six or seven if they're lucky". As well, according to
Lovodua, "there is no electricity hence no duplicating machine or photocopier" (T44: 1).
Filimoni Jitoko, Principal Education Officer in charge of the Fijian Education Unit at
the MOE, particularly highlights the issue of rural poverty and how that impacts on the
school. He argues that "the lack of funds in the community" would be a "hidden factor" that
would explain the "difference in the resources available for Fijian schools...when we
compare this with the resources available in the Indian secondary schools". Emphasising the
struggle that Indigenous Fijians face, he points out that "Parents face a lot of difficulties" so
that "fees for students in Fijian schools are paid very late if they are paid at all". This creates
problems for the school management who "can't do a lot in terms of school development
because funds are not readily available". The "scarce cash available" then affects
"resourcing the teachers in their teaching work" as well as general school development (T13:
2).
What is the underlying cause of the poverty of Indigenous Fijians in the rural areas?
The subsistence economy of the rural areas is raised by Joeli Nabuka, currently Manager of
Academic Services at the Fiji Institute of Technology. Nabuka was principal of several rural
Indigenous Fijian schools for a period of twelve years and spent three years as Principal of
the Lautoka Teachers College. Nabuka's emphasis is on the reasons for the poor economic
base of the rural area which affects the quality of resources, teachers and so forth. As he
explains it, "The only sources of employment...in the rural areas are actually for those who
have come out from the urban areas, for example teachers. It is "economically inactive...in
the sense that there is no source of basic employment there" (T10: 2).
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A senior educator at USP also emphasises the issue of poverty and survival in the
rural area, particularly as faced by women, which in turn impacts on the children's education.
She notes:
Another issue is hardship at home, affordability....For...women in rural areas, a lot of
time is spent trying to survive. What is education when you're spending hours getting
food...getting firewood...getting the daily sustenance which most urban people are
spared from....I think in many Third World countries, most of us haven't sorted out
our basic needs and this is a hindrance to schooling or to taking advantage of
opportunities offered in the schools and the formal educational system. (Tl 1: 7)
The key theme here is the portrayal of spatial disadvantage associated with distance
from urban centres. Because the rural economy is mainly subsistence-oriented, there is not
much scope for the kind of economic development that would bring a reasonable level of
financial prosperity and security for the inhabitants. As the informants above have
consistently pointed out, poverty and the struggle to survive are a way of life in the rural
area. Consequently, teaching and learning resources are scarce. This, together with lack of
formal education on the part of adults, perpetuates the cycle of ignorance and poverty which
is not conducive to school success for Indigenous Fijians in niral areas. The issue of
uneducated Indigenous Fijian parents will be discussed in more detail in Chapter Seven. For
now, I would point out that educational deprivation in rural Indigenous Fijian schools is a
key focus of my informants. Many Indigenous Fijians start their formal education in rural
primary and junior secondary schools, and the poor economic and educational base that they
encounter is purported to have serious implications for their education, particularly when
they move to the urban centres for a high school education.
Many informants have pointed out that rural schools face another disadvantage: that
of poorly trained, underqualified teachers. For example, Taufa Vakatale, the Minister for
Education, argues that poor living conditions in the rural area are a deterrent to attracting f
qualified teachers. Because teachers are not considered a priority, their "houses, for example,
are sub-standard compared to the housing that other government officers who go out to serve
in the rural area". As the Minister for Education puts it, "Unfortunately, most of the rural
schools are committee-run schools and the responsibility for providing houses for teachers
would rest on the rural community". There is then "a serious problem with the kind of
quarters that teachers are provided with" (T14: 2).
The point that is worth reiterating here is that almost all rural Indigenous Fijian
schools are owned and managed by local communities. In fact, about 96% of all educational
institutions are community or privately owned. By and large, community owned Indigenous
154

Fijian schools are economically poor, What this means is that many local Indigenous Fijian
communities in the rural area are not in a financial position to build adequate houses for their
teachers, let alone build schools that are equipped with adequate teaching and learning
facilities and resources. This is further exacerbated by the problem of remoteness. The
further the school is from the closest urban centre, the more problems there are with the
transport of people and goods. The Minister for Education states:
Another problem faced in rural education is that some schools are remote and very
difficult to reach. It is very difficult to get materials, furniture, etc out to these
schools and they, as well as other schools in the islands, have problems with
equipment and transportation. How to transport materials out to these schools, given
the transportation difficulty, is a serious problem, especially in interior areas which
can only be accessed by horse transport. Teachers may want to improve their living
standards out in the rural areas but may be constrained by remoteness and
transportation problems. (T14: 2)
She also raises the problem of young, inexperienced teachers having to teach multiple
classes. This problem is further exacerbated by the lack of professional networking between
these teachers and their colleagues in the urban ce...res because of the problem of
remoteness. As the Minister notes, "They...lack professional networking with their
colleagues because of the problem of remoteness from the centres and many of them are
forgotten once they go out the rural areas to teach" (T14: 2).
Vakatale's views about substandard facilities and lack of professional support are
reiterated by Divendra Nath. Nath is currently Assistant Principal at Mahatma Gandhi
Memorial School. An Indo-Fijian teacher, who in his first year out of training taught in a
remote rural Indigenous Fijian school, Nath recollects:
When I went out in my first year, I did not receive any professional support. The
Ministry posted us and left us to sink or swim, The housing was substandard. I was
told that there was electricity but this was provided by a generator. I was told there
was water supply but this consisted of only one tap outside for washing and
everything. (T52: 2)
What Vakatale and Nath have said about the problems faced by new, inexperienced
teachers is supported by Veniana Lovodua, Principal of Adi Cakobau School. She goes a bit
further to argue that many teachers in rural schools are "not graduates, not teacher-trained"
and some are "fresh school leavers". The very young untrained and inexperienced teachers
had the problem of "their students...treating them as colleagues...And they don't have control
and they teach the way they were taught" (T44: I).
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The challenges associated with the disadvantage of location have been addressed in
various ways by the Ministry of Education, Hari Ram, former Permanent Secretary for
Education, served in the education sector for many decades as teacher, secondary school
inspector, and a senior bureaucrat. Currently the Director of the Institute Social and
Administrative Studies at USP, he points out that when he was Deputy Secretary for
Education, "one of the major aims of the Ministry of Education was...to reduce the
educational gap between Indigenous Fijians and others". This included improving "teaching
facilities in rural areas - the buildings, the libraries and..,to increase the supply of educational
materials to rural schools" including "better laboratories...more equipment for practical work
in science subjects" as well the improvement of the "staffing to those schools" (T5: 2).
The emphasis, since independence, on rural education policy seems to have been the
improvement of schools facilities, the provision of adequately trained teachers and
educational resources. Amraiya Naidu, the current Permanent Secretary for Education,
points out that for the three years between 1996-8, a total of $3,45 million was earmarked for
science education in the rural area. He notes that this fund will be used "in the teaching and
learning of science in rural schools for rural children" and would include the building of new
laboratories or the upgrading of old ones. As well, chemicals and science textbooks would
be provided to rural schools. Refresher courses are also planned for science teachers and in
areas where there is no electricity, generators would be provided, particularly for the teaching
of Physics. Naidu also points out that the MOE has been concerned about teachers'
conditions in the rural area and were assisting in building teachers' quarters. Moreover, the
Ministry was providing a rural allowance to attract teachers and an incentive allowance to
retain graduate teachers in the rural area.
The Minister for Education identifies inequities in the allocation of the per capita
grant of $30 per primary child emphasising that remote and small schools in the rural areas
were greatly disadvantaged because of their small enrolment numbers, She notes that the
MOE is in the process of trying to bring about financial equity through a provision of an
additional grant over and above the per capita grant. This, she maintains, will need to be
worked out in such a way that the more remote schools with small enrolment numbers are not
further disadvantaged by their isolation from the urban centres.
The issue of the disadvantage associated with location, therefore, is one that has been
identified by the informants as a major deterrent to Indigenous Fijian school performance.
The poor economic conditions associated with the rural subsistence economy and the
isolation of rural school communities from urban centres seem to be the two major factors
156

that provide negative conditions for the Indigenous Fijians to perform well in schooling. The
conditions are not conducive to attracting well-qualified, adequately trained teachers to teach
in rural schools. As well, local communities are generally too poor to provide the necessary
teaching and learning resources and facilities that are found in the relatively more affluent
urban settings, According to government officials, the MOE has recognised the
disadvantages associated with rurality and have attempted to address them through school
capital development and the provision of teaching and learning resources such as books and
chemicals. For a little over a decade, the MOE's efforts were supplemented by special funds
provided through the AA policy implemented by the FAB. This took the same form of
assistance as the MOE but the target specifically was rural Indigenous Fijian schools. So the
disadvantages associated with living far away from urban spaces has been identified as a key
factor in the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians in schooling.
Home Background
Many informants have identified some deficiencies in the home background of
Indigenous Fijians to account for their poor performance in school. For example, a senior
academic at USP highlights the cycle of disadvantage associated with low socio-economic
status. He points out:
We have a vicious circle situation....On average, unfortunately, Fijian students come
from lower socio-economic background or homes with much less money for books,
for study space that perpetuate itself in their lack of achievement. (T50: 2)
Similarly, Sir Len Usher, former mayor and editor of the 'Fiji Times' who has had
many years experience as principal of Indigenous Fijian schools during the colonial period,
agrees that the problem facing Indigenous Fijians in education is associated with home
background factors, what he terms 'environmental'. He points out that "It's not made easy
for Fijian children to study at home because of the environment at home and also...the
disposable income of Fijians is probably lower than Indians...Chinese and Europeans and so
they haven't the same access to books" (T26: 4).
Many informants have argued that Indigenous Fijian parents may have educational
and career aspirations for their children but may not know how to facilitate school success.
Adi Litia Qionibaravi, Chief Accountant at the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, points out:
The way our home is structured, we don't provide for facilities to enable our children
to study and parents also do not know or do not understand that they have an
important role to play in our children's education like assisting the children, making
sure that they do their homework...be there to answer their questions...make sure
157

that.,.they attend school interviews, attend fundraising for the school and things like
that. (Tl:8)
Mere Tora, Acting Principal Education Officer responsible for Secondary Education,
also argues that Indigenous Fijian parents value education but lack the knowledge about how
to meet the educational needs of their children. She maintains that Indigenous Fijian parents
definitely value education. Their problem is that "they are ignorant" and "need to be
guided...to have the attitude to be able to give that support". (T19: 15).
To counter the problem of ignorance and poverty, a senior Indigenous Fijian educator
at the USP points to education as the answer because "education is self-supporting, self-
sustaining". As she puts it, "If you're educated, you make sure your kids get educated". She
maintains that "as more Fijians get educated at whatever level they leave school, they will
ensure that their children go to school. They will have adopted a new set of values, a new
system altogether and they'll go for education" (Til: 5).
Moreover, a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat suggests that if Indigenous Fijian
parents provided a supportive environment for their children, they may do well at school. In
her view, this would be possible if Fijians looked "at themselves as individuals" in the sense
that if the parents were concerned about "their own children, their survival, their future,
parents will begin to wonder about where they're going, where their children are going".
This self-reflexivity would enable Indigenous Fijian parents to think "I must not drink grog
too much. I must go and work and get income to be able to support my children, to pay bus
fares, fees, lunches. I must set space aside for them to study at night because I want my
family to succeed, I want my children to succeed" (T56: 1),
A low social class, then, has been identified by the informants as impeding the
educational development of Indigenous Fijians. A low level of education on the part of
parents and the concomitant low socio-economic status associated with lack of formal
education are two factors perceived to be militating against Indigenous Fijian academic
achievement. This applies in both the rural and urban areas. Parents who are poorly
educated and are economically.poor are not taken to be in a position to understand what is
required of them to assist their children to achieve their maximum potential in schooling.
According to these informants, because of this lack of knowledge, many low-income, little-
educated Indigenous Fijians do not understand the conditions that are essential at home to
assist their children such as providing time and privacy to study, making the educational
15S

needs of their children first priority by paying fees on time, buying school books, attending
teacher-parent evenings and so forth.
Excessive drinking of yaqona" by Indigenous Fijian adults has been identified by
some informants as a major social problem that impedes the social and educational
development of the Indigenous Fijian community, For instance, Adi Kuini Speed identifies
the yaqona as "the curse of the Fijian society" when it is used excessively in both the village
and urban areas. Adi Kuini is an executive member of the Fijian Association Party, Chief of
the Naikoro District in Navosa and is a member of the Great Council of Chiefs. She
maintains that
yaqona drinking cripples the energy of our people to such a serious extent, especially
the men-folk, that the whole traditional social system is becoming a burden to a few,
especially the women who have had to carry a lot of the burden...and that's why
things are slowing up. (T32: 11)
Several other informants have referred to grog drinking by the adults taking
precedence over the educational interests of the child. In both the rural and urban areas, for
instance, if people come to visit, the adults will drink grog and there will not be a place for
the students to study, particularly since many low socio-economic status Indigenous Fijians
live in one- or two-room houses. In this instance, the main living area will be taken up by
adults drinking grog. And in the rural area, the only good light would most likely be used for
the grog session, thus depriving the student from the best light for study purposes.
Sir Len Usher endorses this viewpoint:
I think one of the problems...is the general way of life. It's very difficult for children
to study in the evenings because in most village houses, the light is not very good and
also there is very little privacy....[W]ith grog sessions going on, it's very difficult for
children to study or do homework. The general way of life doesn't make it easy for
children to spend a lot of time in study except when they're actually in school. (T26:
2)
Another home background factor identified by a few informants is in terms of a
conflict of values between the Indigenous Fijian student meeting the needs required for
success at school, on the one hand, and the demands placed on the child in the rural area to
carry out daily chores, on the other. For instance, Dr Nii-Plange, an expatriate from Ghana
who is the Head of Sociology at USP, observes that "the young kid in school becomes a
11 The yagona plant (Piper methysticum) is a tall, leafy plant that grows to about Five feet in height. Its
roots are dried, pounded or pulverized, then mixed with water to form a drink. It eventually produces a
soporific effect. Yagona is found, not only in sacred settings, but at almost every social gathering (Katz,
1993). The yaqona is referred to as 'grog' in English.

victim of this conflict because more time is allocated for him to do other things than to do
what he really needs to do to get through in the school system" (T20: 7).
The issues I have discussed so far seem to apply mainly to Indigenous Fijians in rural
areas, although they are equally applicable to urban areas. In what follows, I would like to
examine some of the data on urban poverty, Susana Tuisawau is a teacher-educator at FIT
and President of the FT A. In her case-study research into the Indigenous Fijian urban poor
and the reasons for low retention at school, she explains that the urban poor with a low socio-
economic status cite the effects of poverty as the main reason why they dropped out of
school. One such example is that students could not do their homework because they could
not afford the textbook. They could then be in trouble with the teacher at school and this
would be a vicious circle resulting in the students becoming too embarrassed about attending
school. Eventually, the students would drop out of school altogether.
Another effect of poverty is said to be lack of privacy in the home. The students
might not have anywhere to do their homework because they lived in a one-room apartment
or in a squatter settlement. Yet another effect of poverty is the problem of bus fares. If there
is no money available for bus fares to school, the student would miss a lot of school and
would eventually be too far behind to catch up. As Tuisawau explains, "The economic status
would determine the quality of the home environment because [this], in as far as provisions
for study are concerned, would determine whether the students can do the back-up at home or
will determine whether the students can have access to education where it has been offered".
For Indigenous Fijians in the urban area who are poor, their inability to attend school is seen
to lead to a lot of absenteeism which "progressively becomes worse to the point where the
students just drop out of school altogether" (T30: 9).
By contrast, some informants have raised the point that the urban-rural divide is not a
simplistic and unproblematic division. For instance, Dr Vijay Naidu, Head of School of
Social and Economic Development at USP and Pro Vice Chancellor, maintains that there are
some categories of Indo-Fijians such as "cane cutters, workers and the like" who "don't
really care too much about what their children know" (T6; 10). Similarly, Krishna Datt,
member of Parliament, trade unionist and former school principal, argues that there are
categories of Indigenous Fijians in the urban centres, very much like those described in the
study by Susana Tuisawau above, who are "more underprivileged" and disadvantaged than
some Indigenous Fijians in the rural areas. Both Naidu and Datt are highlighting the
important point that social class would be a more appropriate category to explain the
disadvantages that students face, irrespective of which ethnic group one belongs to and
\\60

irrespective of whether one is located in the rural or urban area, This point repeatedly occurs
in the data and is something that I will discuss later. 'I
In sum, then, home background factors considered to be impediments to the
educational progress of Indigenous Fijian students are; low socio-economic status, little or no
formal education on parents' part, and the kinds of priorities that parents have for their
children. The ignorance of poorly educated Indigenous Fijian parents about what is needed
to facilitate the educational needs of their children has been particularly emphasised by some
informants, The excessive drinking of yaqona as well has been identified as another
impediment. Another important point emerging from the data is that the distinctions between
rural-urban and Fijian-Indian ethnic divisions are not as clear-cut as people think. In other
words, the demarcation between rural and urban is not as strong as some informants have
made them out to be. This is borne out in the sense that rural Indigenous Fijians are a
heterogenous group as are those in urban centres, Similarly, the homogeneity that is
accorded to Indo-Fijians by some informants in terms of the disadvantages they face is not
borne out in the data. As the informants have poin^d out, socio-economic class and level of
education reached are far better indicators of how children will do at school than whether one
lives in the urban or rural area or whether, indeed, one is Indigenous Fijian or Indo-Fijian.
Cultural Factors
In addition to the disadvantage associated with location and home background
factors, many informants have identified some cultural factors as impediments to the success
of Indigenous Fijians at school. A poor attitude towards education is one such impediment.
Evidence of this is provided by Adi Kuini Speed who argues that Indigenous Fijians are
underachieving because of the low priority they place on education. She argues that the
traditional way of life requires that social functions, such as deaths and weddings, take
precedence in their lives, even for the more educated ones. She puts it this way;
They're doing badly in school because of our traditional way of life...because Fijians
are never taught the importance of education. We never really appreciate, never
connect why education is important and vital so we don't apply it. Even for
reasonably educated Fijian parents, there's still a question mark there. We don't
devote enough time for our children,.,,Our social calendar is more important - the
ogan, solevn" so education comes as a low priority. (T32: 9)
12 Oga is an Indigenous Fijian word for social obligations such as a wedding, a funeral, a birthday or any
other customary obligation.
13 Solevu refers to a large gathering of people for the ceremonial exchange of food, etc., with feasting
(Capell, 1941) to celebrate a wedding or to mourn a death, for example.
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1
In addition to Indigenous Fijians spending more time and effort on the "social
calendar" with families demonstrating a lack of emphasis on education, Adi Kuini maintains
that school committees, particularly in rural schools, also "don't function as effectively as
they should". The low priority placed on education by the parents and the community
therefore does not make conditions conducive for good teaching and learning.
This viewpoint is supported by Ted Young, General Secretary for the FTA, who
agrees that the cultural obligations of Indigenous Fijians take precedence over education. In
his view, "education is the last priority" because "the first priority is the vanua14, second '
priority the church and if there is anything left, it's for our children". Young argues that this
attitude is prevalent in the rural area while some of the more educated Indigenous Fijians in
urban centres have more flexibility. Unfortunately for "the common Fijian in the village, in
the rural set-up, they can't do that" because the "way the culture is set-up, they'll be
ostracised" (T29: 6),
Like Young, Professor Tupeni Baba emphasises that Indigenous Fijians, particularly
in the rural areas, cannot opt out of cultural obligations because of the social sanctions in
place. This contributes to education coming "out a poor third". Professor Baba argues:
I think [for] a lot of the rural people, given the small setting, the small community
they're in, it's very difficult to get away from this kind of obligation because
everybody knows if they opt out, if they don't contribute to ceremonies, if they don't
pull their weight with the church or the vanua or the community, they will stand out.
All sorts of social sanctions are there in the village for them to observe this so
education comes out as a poor third, (T8: 9)
On the other hand, Sahu Khan, an educator at the FIT, elaborates on the difference
between Indo-Fijians and Indigenous Fijians regarding their orientations towards the value of
education. Khan maintains that "Indians,..are more conscious of education and Indian
parents will not spare anything to ensure that their children are educated. They'll make all
the sacrifices because that's one of those things that they consider of the greatest wealth -
education" (T58: 1). Similarly, Dr Jimione Samisoni, Dean of the Fiji School of Medicine,
admits that the Indo-Fijian students "have a different mentality" and "they're brought up in
that way", in other words to succeed in school (T 55: 1-2).
By contrast, a senior Indigenous Fijian educator at USP maintains that it is the child-
rearing practices of Indigenous Fijians which disadvantage them in the school system. She
14 Vanua literally means land, region or place. Politically, it is a confederation, a land oxyavusa (the
largest kinship and social division of Fijian society) under a strong chief, in its turn combinable with
other vanua under a matanitu (kingdom) (Capell, 1941).
162

argues that because children are not valued as a human being in their own right, the way they
are treated could affect their self-esteem which would be disadvantageous in school. As she
has put it, "Children are not supposed to articulate in the Fijian society. [They] are told what
to do all the time. They don't discover for themselves " (Tl 1: 7).
This point is taken further by Dr Vijay Naidu. Naidu maintains that Indigenous
Fijians are not encouraged to question, to experiment, to be innovative which affects the self-
confidence and sense of independence of the child. He notes:
Children brought up in many ethnic Fijian communities, also amongst Indo-Fijians
but more so ethnic Fijians - these children are not encouraged to really find out why
things are happening. They're supposed to know almost sort of implicitly that these
are the conventions.,,the taboos,...The systematic learning and questioning and the
development of self-confidence is not something that is widely encouraged. (T6: 8)
A further explanation provided for Indigenous Fijian underachievement in formal
schooling is the view that Fijian culture discourages individual success. Josevata
Kamikamica, is the Leader of the Fijian Association Party and the director of Fijian
Holdings, a business arm for Indigenous Fijians. Also a former Minister of Finance and
General Manager of the Native Lands Trust Board, Kamikamica argues that Indigenous
Fijians are "easily satisfied". He argues that "they probably approach the school with the
attitude that as long as they pass they move on to the next stage, that's fine", and that "there
is not the urge to get to the top of their class", He attributes this lack of ambition in school to
the fact that "right in the homes and maybe in our society, individual success is not
encouraged". Instead, "the norm is that everyone remains about the same" (T16: 6),
Similarly, Dr Michael Davis, Lecturer in Sociology at USP, observes that "there was
a culture of ordinariness, a culture of mediocrity, a culture where they were not supposed to
excel compared with their mates" among unemployed Indigenous Fijian males (T66; 1),
Like Susana Tuisawau's study on the urban poor already described earlier, Davis provides
another insight into the low self-esteem of young male Indigenous Fijian males "on the
streets". As he has pointed out, "these boys are competing to go to jail...not because they
wanted to go to jail but they wanted the experience behind them" in order to "get gain a
higher reputation amongst the group" (T66: 2),
By contrast, the group orientation of Indigenous Fijians is raised by the Minister for
Education, who argues that "our communal way of life is at odds with school success" (T14:
3). She notes that Indigenous Fijians "do well in sports because it's team work, we do well
in fund raising because it's team work". However, when "it comes to individual
performance.,.then we don't do as well" (T14: 9). On the other hand, Sefanaia Koroi argues
163

that Indigenous Fijians do not do so well because they "do not have a tradition of academic
background unlike the Indians who have had a long tradition carried over from India". As he
explains it; "Traditionally [Indigenous Fijians] have not aspired as hard as we can to achieve
something better, something like education" (T9: 9).
Some informants have indicated that Indigenous Fijian culture should not be made
the scapegoat for poor performance in schooling. For instance, Unaisi Nabobo, Lecturer in
Education at the FCAE, points out that "Culture is used as an excuse to be lazy because that
is how the missionaries and the colonial master defined us and that is how people are using
that as an excuse to be lazy" (T45: 2). She argues that "real Fijian culture is excellence in
thinking of tomorrow, in seeing there is ample provision for tomorrow and the future". Her
main argument is that the perception that Indigenous Fijians are lazy has come out of the way
missionary and the 'colonial master' had represented them.
Similarly, a senior academic at USP argues that "there is not enough sensitivity to
different cultural contexts and the Fijian cultural context is so different in many ways
although there are some interesting similarities but the Fijian context is so different from the
so-cailed Indian context" (T50: 1). His main point here is that criticisms about Indigenous
Fijian culture should take account of the different cultural contexts that abound in Fiji. What
he means by this is what he perceives to be the enormous social and cultural differences
between Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians that disadvantage Indigenous Fijians more than
others.
The cultural orientations of Indigenous Fijians, then, have been identified as other
factors that disadvantage them in schooling. For example, the low priority they place on
education, their adult-centred practices which creates dependence and lack of confidence and
the discouragement of individual success have been identified. As well, their lack of an
academic tradition and the lack of goal setting and ambition are additional cultural setbacks
to the indigenous child at school. In sum then, some lack on the part of the culture of
Indigenous Fijians and their children has been identified as an impediment to their success in
school.
School Factors
School factors such as time management, the availability or otherwise of suitably
qualified teachers, and inferior educational facilities and resources are emerging as key
external factors that affect the quality of education that students receive. In this section,
164

some informants have identified a deficit in the school environment as detrimental to the
success of Indigenous Fijian students in particular.
In terms of school organisation, time management has been defined as a major factor
contributing to performance. Kolinio Rainima Meo, Deputy Secretary of Administration and
Finance at the MOE, argues that Indigenous Fijians in predominantly Fijian schools do not
perform well in examinations because their time is not spent efficiently on learning activities.
Surveys conducted by the Ministry to determine the number of hours spent on academic
activities have shown that those Indo-Fijian schools that had excellent examination results
spent more time on learning activities than those predominantly Indigenous Fijian schools
that did not have 'good' results, Meo maintains that predominantly Indigenous Fijian
schools concentrate a lot of learning time on sports and other extra-curricular activities
compared to predominantly Indo-Fijian schools. As he puts it, "one of the biggest reasons
for the decline in Fijian education is the misuse of time" (T41: 6),
Amraiya Naidu, the Permanent Secretary for Education, reiterates Meo's point about
efficient use of school time on learning activities. Naidu was principal of Ratu Kadavulevu
School (RKS), an Indigenous Fijian boys' boarding school, for four years. He has also
served as principal in predominantly Indo-Fijian schools. He attributes success to actual
contact time in the classroom between the teacher and the students. He states:
From my perspective, the only difference I can see between a traditional Fijian school
and a non-Fijian school is the extent of time that children have in contact with the
teachers because of the importance...we place on extra-curricular activities, as a result
of which there is an enormous sacrifice of the actual teaching time between the
teacher and the children. (T3: 5)
The Permanent Secretary for Education pointed out that in his four years as principal
at RKS, the external examination results improved dramatically because of the emphasis he
placed on contact time between the teacher and the students in the classroom. As well, he
changed the focus from sports to academic pursuits. For instance, he increased study time,
subject teachers supervised during study time and, during the third term prior to final exams,
there were extra tutorials and additional morning study for external examination forms.
The importance of time management is supported by Jagdish Singh of Rishikul
Sanatan College and Dewan Chand of Bhawani Dayal High School who are both currently
principals of predominantly Indo-Fijian schools, They both maintain that time management
is a critical factor in academic achievement. Like Naidu's experience at RKS, both
principals increase the academic emphasis in the final term of school, In Singh's case, he has
165

even gone to the extent of preparing a home study timetable for the students which "tells the
child what to study, when to study, when to eat and when to sleep" (T7: 5). Both maintain
that this academic emphasis, where sports and other extra-curricular activities are excluded
for examination classes, has resulted in an improvement in exam results,
Much has already been said of the lack of resources in predominantly Indigenous
Fijian schools, particularly those in the rural area. Tokasa Vitayaki, a curriculum
development officer who has visited many schools in the country, highlights the difference in
the school infrastructures and resources of Indo-Fijian and Indigenous Fijian schools, In the
former, she notes, they "have just about everything". In contrast, the facilities available in
the Indigenous Fijian schools "are not very conducive to learning as far as the students are
concerned". Vitayaki draws our attention particularly to the lack of library facilities and
books in many Indigenous Fijian schools, particularly in rural areas. This is supported by
Professor Konai Thaman, Head of the School of Humanities of USP who emphasises that
"you need books if you want to succeed in academic studies, you need books. There is no
simple way around that" (T4: 3).
The issue of the lack of kindergartens in the rural area is introduced by Joeli Kalou,
Member of Parliament and former Minister for Education. In his view, emphasis should be
placed on early childhood education. He points out that kindergartens are the result of
community initiatives and are basically urban-based because these communities can afford to
establish and maintain them. In contrast, rural areas do not have the financial capacity,
technical expertise or trained pre-school teachers to establish kindergartens so "Fijian
students mainly from the rural areas [will continue] to miss out...until kindergartens become
part and parcel of the national education system" (T33: 3).
An insight into the availability or otherwise of resources in rural Indigenous Fijian
boarding schools can be gleaned from what Sister Genevieve Loo experienced in one.
Currently Principal of St Joseph Secondary School in Suva, Sr Loo reminisces on her
experiences at a rural Indigenous Fijian boarding school. On her arrival, she recalls:
That was my first shock, there was absolutely nothing in the school. There was just a
bare table and the chairs. I asked for a typewriter and they didn't have it and in terms
of equipment there was just nothing and there was not even a library. So the students
depended entirely on what the teachers gave. (T21: 6)
Sister Loo also raises the point that basic needs such as water, decent sanitation and a
balanced diet are not generally met in rural boarding schools. As she puts it, "We were even
short of water and the food was so shocking. The diet was not balanced, there was too much
166

starch and a lot of carbohydrates....How can the students learn?" As she explains it, the
shortcomings in rural boarding schools are not just due to lack of funds but just as
importantly to a lack of knowledge about what is important on the part of adults in charge.
The spotlight seems to be on the lack of proper resources and facilities in rural
Indigenous Fijian schools, However, because of this emphasis on rural Indigenous Fijian
schools, Indigenous Fijian urban schools and Indo-Fijian rural schools, which are just as
impoverished, are understated. As Ledua Waqailiti, Head of Languages at Nabua Secondary
School points out, some urban Indigenous Fijian schools are also impoverished in terms of
resources, She notes, "The school simply can't afford to buy the textbooks and the students
can't afford to buy their own textbooks. So we were working on photocopies. Now our
photocopier goes kaput every three months" (T24: 10). Similarly, as Krishna Datt points out,
rural lndo-Fijian schools are just as disadvantaged as rural Indigenous Fijian schools. He
notes:
i :!
When you put through rural Fijians, you've got to pitch them against rural Indians for
a comparison. The Indo-Fijians are just as disadvantaged in the rural area compared
to the Indo-Fijians in the urban area (T28: 16).
The consensus of these informants is that rural Indigenous Fijian schools do indeed
face many setbacks. Many of these revolve around the general lack of funds in the
community. As well, the further away the school is from an urban centre the more difficult it
is to obtain needed supplies. And as Sister Loo pointed out, how can students learn in
unsatisfactory living conditions such as lack of water, lack of proper sanitation, lack of
physical facilities and educational resources, poor diet and a relatively uneducated school
community? Add the problem of untrained, underqualified teachers and the odds are stacked
against the students succeeding in school.
Irrespective of its locality, racial make-up or racial ownership - facilities in schools
depend on what the community can provide. Thus, a school attended by many Indigenous
Fijians who come from low socio-economic backgrounds could be just as disadvantaged,
whether they are in the rural or urban areas. The same can be said of lndo-Fijian schools.
They are not all advantaged in terms of facilities and resources, particularly in rural areas.
What matters, then, can be summed up by Tahir Munshi, Chief Education Officer Secondary,
who notes "the communities which provide the right kind of educational environment for the
children in terms of books, resources and the classroom.-.play a very important role in
creating that education background,...atmosphere,..and motivation" (T42: 2),
167

starch and a lot of carbohydrates...,How can the students learn?" As she explains it, the
shortcomings in rural boarding schools are not just due to lack of funds but just as
importantly to a lack of knowledge about what is important on the part of adults in charge.
The spotlight seems to be on the lack of proper resources and facilities in rural
Indigenous Fijian schools. However, because of this emphasis on rural Indigenous Fijian
schools, Indigenous Fijian urban schools and Indo-Fijian rural schools, which are just as
impoverished, are understated, As Ledua Waqailiti, Head of Languages at Nabua Secondary
School points out, some urban Indigenous Fijian schools are also impoverished in terms of
resources. She notes, "The school simply can't afford to buy the textbooks and the students
can't afford to buy their own textbooks. So we were working on photocopies. Now our
photocopier goes kaput every three months" (T24: 10). Similarly, as Krishna Datt points out,
rural Indo-Fijian schools are just as disadvantaged as rural Indigenous Fijian schools. He
notes:
When you put through rural Fijians, you've got to pitch them against rural Indians for
a comparison. The Indo-Fijians are just as disadvantaged in the rural area compared
to the Indo-Fijians in the urban area (T28: 16).
The consensus of these informants is that rural Indigenous Fijian schools do indeed
face many setbacks. Many of these revolve around the general lack of funds in the
community. As well, the further away the school is from an urban centre the more difficult it
is to obtain needed supplies, And as Sister Loo pointed out, how can students learn in
unsatisfactory living conditions such as lack of water, lack of proper sanitation, lack of
physical facilities and educational resources, poor diet and a relatively uneducated school
community? Add the problem of untrained, underqualified teachers and the odds are stacked
H
i
against the students succeeding in school,
Irrespective of its locality, racial make-up or racial ownership - facilities in schools
depend on what the community can provide, Thus, a school attended by many Indigenous
Fijians who come from low socio-economic backgrounds could be just as disadvantaged,
whether they are in the rural or urban areas. The same can be said of Indo-Fijian schools.
They are not all advantaged in terms of facilities and resources, particularly in rural areas.
What matters, then, can be summed up by Tahir Munshi, Chief Education Officer Secondary,
who notes "the communities which provide the right kind of educational environment for the
children in terms of books, resources and the classroom...play a very important role in
creating that education background,...atmosphere...and motivation" (T42: 2).
167

The quality of teaching has been identified as another school factor that affect
students' academic performance. Adi Kuini Speed, for instance, maintains that it is the
combined effects of poor facilities and poorly qualified teachers that contribute to the
continuing underachievement of Indigenous Fijians, She also raises the issue of the politics
of location where "the Indo-Fijian teachers don't go out to the rural areas for some reason"
(T32: 15). Indo-Fijian teachers prefer to remain in the urban centres so it is the Indigenous
Fijian teachers who are posted to teach in rural Indigenous Fijian schools. Adi Kuini's
conclusion is that Indo-Fijians "are getting the better of Fijians at every level - the parenting,
the social commitment to progress, the better facilities and the better teachers" T32: 15-16).
Susana Tuisawau explains that inequalities in teachers' qualifications is "one of the
contributing factors to the poor performance of Fijians in secondary schools". She points out
that Indigenous Fijians teaching in rural schools face difficulty in qualifying for Government
in-service award scholarships because of the difficulty in doing extension or distance courses
at USP. A teacher is given an in-service scholarship if he or she has completed a required
number of extension courses. Tuisawau mentions that at one point, the number of required
courses to qualify for a scholarship was fourteen units which seriously disadvantaged
Indigenous Fijians teaching in the rural areas. She points out that non-Indigenous Fijians are
urban-based and have access to the university or to the postal service and so forth. In
contrast, Indigenous Fijian teachers had to contend with the problems associated with
distance. She notes;
Most of the other races are urban-based and they [have] access to the extension
service here and to a good postal service if they [are] doing extension. Our teachers
are in the secondary schools of the rural areas like Yasawa, Rotuma, Lau, Kadavu, the
interior. They don't even have a regular postal service, they cannot do units, or come
here. These people who stay around here...go to USP and out of hours. But these
people out in the outlying areas, they can't even use the extension service because of
the difficulty with the post. The people in the interior don't even have a regular bus,
don't even have a bus service going up to the schools. So whenever they want to
come to town, like Namosi Secondary School, they have to hire a truck. So the Fijian
teachers in Fijian schools are in very remote areas and it's very costly for them to
come. Hence the quality of the teaching...must be one of the very significant factors
that has perhaps caused the poor performance of students. (T30: 5)
It needs to be explained here that the majority of teachers in the rural area would
either have teaching certificates or diplomas and in order to qualify for a scholarship to
pursue a degree, they are required to take a certain number of extension courses at the USP.
In her comments above, Tuisawau raises some pertinent issues to do with the politics and
problems associated with distance, Non-Indigenous Fijians are urban-based and have ready
168

access to the university where they can either do extension courses in order to qualify for '<
government scholarships or pursue a degree using their own resources. Indigenous Fijian
teachers in rural schools, on the other hand, are greatly disadvantaged by distance. The
further away one is from the university, the more problematic it is to do distance education
(Wah 1997a, 1997b). There are problems with the postal system to the islands, in particular,
and in some schools on the main island, transportation poses a major problem as well. As
Wah (1997a: 57) has put it, "The problem is not only one of getting the message to its t
destination but also of getting it there in time, and of getting a confirmation that the message ,
was indeed received".
Hari Ram highlights the need to have well qualified teachers who would be able to
adapt their teaching style to particular locational contexts. He points out that "a good teacher
[should] be able to teach a particular subject in a somewhat different way in a rural area from
the way he uses it in an urban centre, using examples which students are familiar with in the ;
rural area" (T5: 7). Unfortunately, the quality of teachers that Ram raises here is difficult to
attract in rural Indigenous Fijian schools. One of the reasons for this is their level of teacher
training. As mentioned earlier, many Indigenous Fijians in rural schools are certificate or
diploma holders and are in need of further training.
Another reason is the lack of professionalism evident in rural Indigenous Fijian f
schools. For instance, Krishna Datt points out that he found a difference in the i
professionalism of Indigenous and Indo-Fijian primary schools during his visits in his g
capacity as curriculum development officer. He observes that Indo-Fijian school !
headmasters would generally be in readiness for the inspection visit. In contrast, he found g
that Indigenous Fijian school headteachers would generally not be ready. Datt observes: "*
"you see him from a long distance, coming out of his home wrapping this sulu[i, having
grogged whole night and not having got up till 10.30, walking to school". As he puts it:
This kind of slackness and unprofessional ism makes you wonder....The walls are
dirty, the floor has been unswept,...How would students walking in there find it
conducive to learn...be excited and want to know about the rest of the world?
Everything is so dampening and sad (T28: 12).
i
Officials at the Fiji Teachers Union (FTU) have highlighted problems associated with j
a shortage of suitably qualified teachers. For instance, Pratap Chand, General Secretary of ^
the FTU, highlights the shortage of teachers in middle-level decision-making positions. He
argues that teacher quality has been a major problem in the last decade and "it's going to
15 A sulu is a piece of cloth worn as casual wear in the home by Indigenous Fijian men and women,
169

worsen". He points out, "Now we don't have about 140 Heads of Department in our schools,
particularly in key areas like Maths, Physics and Commerce, If you don't have good teachers
to teach our kids, they will have no chance....Here anyone walks into teaching now" (T35: 2).
This is reiterated by Jagdish Singh, Principal of Rishikul Sanatan College and the
President of the FTU. Singh emphasises that the FTU survey has found "fifty per cent of the
teachers who are untrained, inexperienced, underqualified" (T7: 6). Singh maintains that
some schools have no choice, particularly out in rural areas but to hire people who have [
reached form five, six or seven to teach the upper levels of secondary school. As well, Singh
notes that school managers hire untrained, underqualified people to save funds which is "bad
because you cannot compromise the qualification of a teacher with quality education" (T7:
In sum, the poor quality of teachers, combined with poor teaching facilities and j
resources and the actual time spent on learning activities are school factors identified as
playing a significant role in Indigenous Fijian underachievement. The emphasis placed on
sports and other extra-curricular activities by Indigenous Fijian schools was raised. The lack
of basic facilities and necessary educational resources, particularly in rural areas, has been
emphasised. Note that rural disadvantage features prominently in the data here. The politics
of location, in relation to teacher placement, is seen as significant. The high level of *
untrained, underqualified teachers is particularly noted as a contributing factor to Indigenous j
underachievement. £
The whole of section one, then, has examined the data on physical, social and cultural s
factors perceived to impinge on Indigenous Fijian achievement. It particularly looked at g
4
spatial, social, cultural and school factors identified by the informants as significant. I now „'
shift the focus to informants' psychological explanations reported to impact on school
performance.
j
Psychological-Deficit Models
In the literature on underachievement in the United States (e.g., Gould, 1981) and
Australia (e.g., de Lacey, 1974), the failure of indigenous groups was historically based on
models of mental deficit, psychological lack or low IQ. In these discourses of mental deficit,
the dominant idea was that the fault for failure was due to internal deficiencies in the mental
make-up of students, that is, students were perceived to be internally flawed. Historically,
the ideology of colonialism is based on mental deficit models as I have outlined in Chapter
Three. "Natives" were perceived as savages, unparalleled in their physical, cultural and
170

mental ugliness. This abhorrence for indigenous peoples everywhere rested on the belief that
the internal mental processes of these people were deficient. The 'science' of phrenology or
craniology was used in the latter part of the nineteenth and early twentieth century by 'white
scientists' to legitimate the beliefs of'white' society that indigenous or 'black' people were
mentally deficient, All this was done in the quest of Western science for 'new knowledge1.
But equally repulsive was the legitimation, by any means, of colonial power and authority to
represent the colonised as psychologically deficient. To show indigenous peoples how
different they were to the ideal (i.e., European/white, usually male) was to demonstrate the
cultural, social and mental superiority of white men and women.
What is remarkable is the absence or silence of psychological/mental deficit in the
accounts of the informants. There seems to be an across the board agreement that Indigenous
Fijians are not mentally deficient. For instance, Indo-Fijian Dr Vijay Naidu emphatically
states that "in terms of intelligence and aptitude, ethnic Fijians are as good as anybody else
so there's no inherent mental attributes which disadvantage them" (T6: 7). Similarly, an
Indigenous Fijian informant who is Chief Education Officer, TVEd at the MOE argues that
"we [Indigenous Fijians] are slow learners, not slow as in dumb but slow to mature". Adi
Kuini Speed, another Indigenous Fijian informant, argues that the assumption of AA that
Indigenous Fijians are lacking intellectually "as if there is something wrong with us...is
flawed" (T32: 5). Expatriate Europeans also share the same sentiments. For instance, Sir
Len Usher, now a Fiji citizen, maintains: "I don't believe for one moment that it's due to any
inherent intellectual inferiority" (T26: 4). This resonates with Professor Randy Thaman who
argues "in general, Fijians do worse but it is not because of their ability",
When we talk about psychological models in the Fijian context, then, there is
consensus that the capability of Indigenous Fijians is not linked in any way to mental
deficiencies but are strongly associated with problems in attitudes, which in turn, are tied to
culture and location. I now turn to an examination of informant representations of attitudinal
deficit. This will be followed by what informants perceive to be another issue that poses
psychological problems for Indigenous Fijian students: that of living away from
home/boarding with relatives in urban centres, Finally, I will examine what informants say
about parallels and distinctions between Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians about
psychological explanations for success in school.
171

Attitudes
Much has already been said in the previous section about the attitudes of Indigenous
Fijians to education in terms of priorities in life and their cultural orientations. The
consensus from the data seems to be that for Indigenous Fijians who have not had much
formal education, they have let cultural and social obligations take precedence over the
education of their children. As pointed out earlier, rural Indigenous Fijians are obligated to
participate in ceremonies and social functions otherwise they are ostracised.
Another point that has emerged from what informants say is that while many
Indigenous Fijians might value education, their lack of formal education disables them from
knowing what is required to facilitate the educational needs of their children. A senior
academic suggests that "Fijian parents, on the whole, lean more towards the school and say
that is the responsibility of the school for my child to achieve and it's not my responsibility"
(T50: 2). As well, a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat notes that the awareness of the
importance of education is lacking in Indigenous Fijians (T 56:2).
There also seems to be a consensus that something needs to be done about inculcating
in Indigenous Fijian parents a greater appreciation of the schooling process if AA policies in
favour of Indigenous Fijians are to work. There is the recognition that if AA policies are to
work better, then Indigenous Fijian attitudes towards education need to change. For
example, Bessie Ali, Principal of Yat Sen Secondary School, argues this
boils down to this day to day detail that somehow we have to reinforce. There have to
be somehow more educational programmes for them about daily routines, what to do
for their children when they are home with them for the first five years because those
are the most important years....! believe there should be less emphasis on fundraising
and more on advising parents what to do, how to improve their children's
performance. (Tl8: 1-2)
Likewise, a high ranking Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat at the MOE argues that AA
policies will not work unless people's attitudes are changed. As she has put it, "We can
address certain issues like capital infrastructure, like resources, like books. We can only go
so far in affirmative action but the more important half,,.is the people's attitudes". As she
explains it, "It's been a battle because you're working with people's culture, with people's
attitude to learning and education in general, with how they view life. It's their view of life
you're up against". In her view, "Without parental support, without teacher support, without
family support and student willingness to learn, all these affirmative actions are just useless"
(T15: 5),
172

Using a comparative approach, Dr Ahmed Ali, Minister for Education from 1982-
1986 and currently Director of the Policy Analysis Unit in the Prime Minister's Office,
highlights the difference between the communal orientation of Indigenous Fijians and the
Indo-Fijian individual emphasis. According to Ali, "some of the responsibilities towards the
overall community will work against the needs of the immediate family". As Dr Ali puts it:
I think very often there are greater demands on Fijian family members...Fijian society
is more fluid, more communal, more community oriented, too flexible..,,I think the
responsibilities of the extended family in the Fijian community sometimes work to
the disadvantage of the immediate family members whereas the rest of us are more
selfish, My kids are my own kids, my own concern but if something happens to them
then I cannot rely on my family automatically whereas with in the Fijian community
it's already assumed that help will come.,,.(T2: 12-13)
Esther Williams, Librarian at the USP, provides us with an insight into how
Indigenous Fijian parents in urban areas value education in the same way that Indo-Fijians
and the Chinese community do, whereas Indigenous Fijians in rural areas would value the
church above all else. She carried out a survey of parents of all ethnic groups in both the
urban and rural areas to assess their perceptions of the value of education relative to the
church and government. She notes:
Of course, the Indians will say education, and the Fijian will say the church, and
that's an obvious kind of answer you'll get, But it was interesting in the urban areas
all the Fijians said it was education which was very important, and they felt that
education opens up a lot of areas for everyone. So in a way you can compare the
Fijians in the urban areas similarly to the Indians and the Chinese,(T27: 4)
Yet another factor that has been identified as contributing to Indigenous Fijian
underachievement is the idea that too much security leads to complacency. As evidence of
this, Ratu Mosese Tuisawau, Rewa High Chief and former Member of Parliament, argues
that too much security is a demotivator and does not encourage individuals to work hard in
school. As he puts it, "The non-Fijians, mainly the Indians, are raised in an environment
where their minds are suffused with ideas of security...where in the Fijian koro16, there is
generally an attitude of laissez faire, why worry about the morrow..,where the preservation of
cultural values is more important than the future of the young" (T53; 3),
Similarly, a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat wonders whether it is the fact that
Indigenous Fijians own land which gives them security that they are not driven to work hard
16 A koro is an Indigenous Fijian village or settlement.
173

to achieve in school, He draws our attention to those land owners who collect lease money
whose attitude towards education is dubious. He observes:
I don't know whether it's because this is our land, our country.,,that we don't seem
driven to be able to achieve whereas with the Indians who come from a system where
they're tenants and so the imperative for them is so much greater....You take the
Western division, you take the province of Ba which extends from Ra, you take
Nadroga as well - these places have collected millions in lease money and so their
attitude is why should they go to school, they have all this money, and the attitude is
'why should I invest it, it's money that I didn't sweat for1, (T31: 8)
An agency that has been identified as impeding the educational progress of
Indigenous Fijians is the church, particularly the Methodist church. For instance, Ratu
Mosese Tuisawau argues that the demands by the church impinge on educational priorities of if
Indigenous Fijians. He points out that Indigenous Fijian parents "have a vague notion about |J
what education might mean for their children". In his view, "a factor that moulds this kind of
attitude comes in from activities generated by church leaders so a lot of time is used up
because of church activities". For him, church directives "grip the minds of parents in a very
significant way and take away the kind of attention that they should be giving, focussing...for
the future of their growing children" (T53: 3).
A more extreme view is taken by a senior educator at USP who maintains that "the
church has become the biggest exploiter of Fijians" in the sense "they have taken a lot more
resources from Fijians and the church has become almost an opium kind of role" (Til: 13).
A similar view is taken by Pratap Chand, the General Secretary of the FTU. Chand is of the
view that Indigenous Fijian parents are too involved in church activities in terms of both time
and money which can act to the detriment of their children. He refers to this as "over-
churching".
To emphasise the hold the Christian church has on Indigenous Fijians, Dr Ahmed AH
compares it with what the Indo-Fijians went through under the indentured labour system
during the period of colonial rule. He notes, "The Indians went through the sub-imperialism
of the CSR company and that oriented them to success in this world and the Fijians went
through the sub-imperialism of the Methodist church which prepared them for salvation in
the next world" (T2: 14).
This is similar to what Josevata Kamikamica observes about the church, In his view,
the church does not encourage the valuing of education. As he puts it:
If we hear sermons in the church, they run down education. Na vuli, qori e na sega in
vakabulai keda. Na vakabulai keda ga o Jisu. Eda sa kila ni sa vakabulai keda tiko o

174

Jisu. But we all know that God has also called us to understand his creation. That is
so we can make better use of what is available to us. (T16: 7)
!
The Fijian phrases here are translatable as "Education will not save us. Only Jesus
can save us. We all know that only Jesus can save us". What Kamikamica is referring to
here is the notion that the Methodist Church seems to generate resignation on the part of the
followers that their and their children's education is unimportant. Religion is more
important. This seems to negate the Protestant work ethic which the Roman Catholic Church
is renown for. According to Adi Kuini Speed, we must not treat different Christian
denominations as a homogenous entity. As she puts it:
...Catholics [who] attend the Catholic schools.,.tend to do better than the
rest...because of the emphasis that the church gives to education. And because the
church gives emphasis to education within their social community in terms of the
congregation and the teaching...this rubs off from the parents to the children and so
they work as a team. Whereas in the Methodist Church, my church, this doesn't
happen. Our social calendar is more important, where we going to meet next Sunday,
who are we going to entertain, where are they from, can you get some food.. (T 32'
11)
Kamikamica also argues that Indigenous Fijians may have the natural resources in
terms of the land, sea and mineral resources but it is the Indo-Fijian community that has
"power" in terms of the information that they have gained through an education. He argues
that education is critical for Indigenous Fijians because "information is power". He points
out that Indo-Fijians "rely mainly on education" which "has been their strength" (Tl 6: 8).
Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere, President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, endorses
Karnikamica's view by saying "education is power" and "whoever is educated has power in
today's society" (T12: 3). He goes on to say that the "the church should be a liberating force
in Fijian society", in every area including education. He notes:
It should not run its business as usual...just preaching and things like that. We should
attempt to interpret the faith so that it becomes a living force addressing the realities
of the day, what our children are facing and that is what should be happening to the
church. And we should be honestly asking ourselves as to what aspect of culture is
inhibiting progress and growth and we say 'this is the weak part of our culture' as
well as affirm those aspects of culture that encourage growth and progress. (T12: 3)
In sum, then, Indigenous Fijians are perceived to lack the appropriate attitudes that
lead to success in education. One way that this is manifested is in the prioritising of their
' 1
daily lives. It would seem that education is not viewed as the number one priority in their
lives, particularly as it cuts across lack of formal education and low socio-economic status.
175

This is exacerbated by the obligations and demands expected of Indigenous Fijians by their
traditional leaders, kinship community and the church. There is general agreement that
education needs to become top priority if AA policies are to work (AA policies will form the
focus of the next chapter). Another psychological factor identified to explain Indigenous
Fijian underachievement is to do with landowner leasers who have managed to attain
financial security from lease income at the expense of a 'good' education for their children.
Why should they bother with education when they are financially secure? However, there is
recognition that many Indigenous Fijians, particularly in the urban areas and some island
communities, consider education to be very important for the future well-being of their
children.
In this section, I have examined the data on portrayals of Indigenous Fijian attitude to
education as one psychological explanation for Indigenous Fijian underperformance at
school. The next section examines the data relating to the psychological impact of living
away from home for those Indigenous Fijian students, particularly from rural areas, while
attending a secondary school.
Living Away From Home
Many Indigenous Fijian students are sent to the urban or semi-urban schools for a
secondary education. This is because there might not be a secondary school in their area or -,
parents might perceive the quality of an education obtained in an urban school as superior. ; 4,
As a result of the great distance from their homes in the rural areas, these students either
board at school or with relatives. The psychological impact of this separation from the
immediate family is provided by some informants as an added explanation for the
underachievement of Indigenous Fijians in formal schooling.
There is the belief that children from the rural areas, who are sent to live with
relatives in the urban centres to pursue a secondary education, generally find that their
adopted home circumstance is not conducive to producing good results in schooling because
of the tendency by their relatives to consider their educational needs of secondary
importance. Ted Young, for example, draws our attention to this problem where these
children "become an additional problem". He points out:
A lot of rural parents...send their children to...live with their relatives and really, it's
quite difficult for their relatives in Suva, Lautoka, Nadi. They are not policed, not
monitored very well. Time is not given to them to spend on their school work.
Relatives use them as house girls....Urban families meet the usual problems and when
these relatives come to stay with them, they become an additional problem, (T29: 6)
176

This viewpoint is supported by Ameen Sahu Khan, a Senior Lecturer and Coordinator
of the Centre for Professional Development at the FIT. Drawing on his experiences teaching
in an all girls Indigenous Fijian school, Khan argues that Indigenous Fijian girls, in
particular, are considered "a burden on the family they were living with". He notes that
"they were obliged to do housework at home and all the errands" and their educational needs
were "regarded as a secondary matter by their hosts" (T58: 1),
Tokasa Vitayaki maintains that children who live away from the immediate family
are more likely to perform "poorly than the one who comes from home every day". She
explains that the emotional psyche of these students, whether at boarding school or living out
with relatives, is affected to such an extent that they develop a 'no care' attitude to
schooling. With that kind of attitude, they do not work too hard and consequently do not do
too well in examinations.
Asinate Gadolo, Curriculum Development Officer in Primary English taught for
thirty years, mostly in rural Indigenous Fijian schools. She argues that "boarding still has its
place in the school system" despite their shortcomings. However, committed and dedicated
teachers need to teach there. These teachers almost become surrogate parents so need to
possess caring and nurturing qualities. Recalling her experience in a boarding school, she M
notes:
I remember when I first came out, m y first school w a s a boarding school. The teacher T ?
on duty for the week is up twenty four hours. Y o u were the first to wake in the *»
morning at 5 a.m, run assembly at 6.00 then you supervised the morning work from jjjj
6.30 to 7.30 a.m. Then you supervised the students while they have their meals. You , | !
need committed teachers who would show concern for the students....So we need
really dedicated teachers who not only teach well but also look after the students. At *<*
boarding school, part o f the responsibilities we have as parents should be shouldered i
by these teachers so that should be recognised in t h e school. This should apply both
in the classroom and in the hostel. (T40: 4)
Here, Gadolo also raises the demands placed on teachers not only to be good teachers
in the classroom but also to b e good surrogate parents. W h a t she is indirectly pointing out is
that extra care needs to be taken in the selection of teachers who go out to teach in boarding
schools if there is to be an improvement in examination results of Indigenous Fijians in
boarding schools..
Those students who are accepted at boarding school may face problems of isolation
and loneliness as they are separated from close family, There are many adjustments to be
made and when these are compounded by loneliness, the students are not likely to succeed in
177

school. Sister Genevieve Loo expounds on the problems faced by students who board. She
has taught for twenty six years, ten of which were spent in a rural Indigenous Fijian boarding
school. Sister Loo talks particularly about the problem of loneliness and the tack of a
listening adult ear faced by students who are at boarding school. For instance, she notes:
The boarders, as a group...appear to be happy but if you delve right into their
psychological needs, you find that many of them are lonely.,.are unhappy....[TJhey
have personal problems but they have no opportunity to share that. Sometimes they
get letters from home and maybe a parent is sick.,..So there are personal problems.
Unless the students are courageous enough to share or if there is somebody willing to
listen, they very often kept their personal problems.
Sister Loo draws out the difference between those students who live at home with
parents and those who board in that the former have the listening ears of their parents
whereas those at boarding schools do not. She notes that the difference between boarding
school and day school is that "In a day school the students go home every day. They have
the opportunity there to go over their problems with their parents, whereas in boarding school
they don't and this contributes to poor performance" fT21: 4).
This problem, as explained by Sister Loo, is a significant one. Not only are there no
teachers who take on this role but there are no trained counsellors in boarding schools. There
is a lack of adult support in boarding institutions, The students are not willing to talk to
teachers of the same ethnicity because they are "limited by cultural expectations and so on",
As well, Sister Loo explains that teachers with families do not really have the extra time to
listen to students' problems. Another problem raised by Sister Loo associated with boarding
school is the lack of support from home in terms of pocket money for the students, This
creates anxiety which sometimes leads to stealing. In Sister Loo's words "Sometimes they
don't even have pocket money. They are short of things. They write home and the money is
slow in coming then they end up stealing from one another" (T21: 4). Sister Loo points out
that students at boarding school also contend with un-met basic needs, This could be in the
form of water shortage and an unbalanced diet full of starch and carbohydrates. As welt,
students have a lot of difficulty with English which, compounded by difficult and foreign
content, makes learning problematic. Boarding school experiences, therefore, do not seem
conducive to good academic achievement,
To sum up then, those students who live away from parents seem to face a lot of
difficulty in adjusting to the new situation in which they are placed. Those who live with
relatives find that their educational needs are perceived as secondary and those in boarding
178

school have to contend with many difficulties to do with loneliness, un-met basic needs and
problems with understanding complex curriculum delivered in an unfamiliar language.
An important finding of this chapter is that in Fiji, informants are in consensus that
AA is a response to social, cultural and locational disadvantage, compounded by attitudinal
limitations on the part of Indigenous Fijians. Why is there such a significant absence or
silence in psychological explanations in terms of attributing underachievement to lack of
innate ability or mental skills? There are three possible reasons. First, the majority
positioning/positions of Indigenous Fijians may have generated the situation where the
political consensus is that people do not see Indigenous Fijians as inferior, that is, it might be
politically risky for people to be saying that Indigenous Fijians are underachieving in school
because they are inferior. In other words, a Fijian version of 'political correctness' might be
an explanation for the significant absence of psychological models historically espoused in
Western nation states like the United States and Australia. Second, there may be a genuine
belief that Indigenous Fijians have proved, through their achievement and participation in the
public sphere, that they are just as capable as anyone else. Third, this might signal a genuine
postcolonial shift in terms of people deliberately shedding the discourses of inferiority
inherited from colonialism.
The next two sections examine some ot" the explanations for the success of non-
indigenous and Indigenous Fijian students in schooling to see whether there are parallels in
their experiences that might shed some light on these issues of school achievement and
underachievement.
Success of Non-Indigenous Fijians in Schooling
It is interesting to note that throughout my interviews with the informants, almost all
of them drew comparisons and contrasts between Indigenous Fijians and the Indo-Fijian and
Chinese communities. It is pertinent, therefore, to examine some of the explanations for the
success of non-indigenous students at school.
One factor that has been identified as a contributing factor to non-Indigenous Fijians
doing well at school is the belief that an education would provide a secure future. For
I
instance, Hari Ram maintains that "Educational success is considered to be very important
and to be the means of success in the future". To achieve this, "they make a lot of sacrifices
to ensure that their children are very well educated, very much more I think than Fijian
parents do" (T5: 10). Similarly, Dr Vijay Naidu points out that Indo-Fijian parents generally
have a very deep appreciation of education and they encourage...and motivate...have a sense
179

of competition for their children and a great interest in how they perform academically" even
to the extent that "there is this constant pressure on the child to do well at school" (T6: 10),
Here, Naidu and Ram are talking about the motivation many Indo-Fijian parents have to see
that they facilitate the educational interests of their children even to the extent where they
make sacrifices. They provide the necessary support, including the facilities needed like a
quiet study area, books and so forth. And as Naidu says> it puts a lot of pressures on the child
to perform well at school,
Ameen Sahu Khan explains how this pressure affects the Indo-Fijian child, even to
the extent that they commit suicide if they fail exams. He points out that "failure in the
exams means a lot of embarrassment for the students and it brings embarrassment to the
family as well" (58: 2). This is in contrast to Indigenous Fijians where, according to the Uai
Kuli, Member of Parliament, "Failure in the Fijian home is not taken seriously" (T71: 1).
Another factor identified by some informants is to do with the lack of security that
Indo-Fijians have in terms of land ownership. A strong motivation for Indo-Fijians to see
their children do well at school arises out of the situation where Indigenous Fijians own the
bulk of the land, thereby disabling other ethnic groups from purchasing any land, Indo-
Fijians, therefore, look to education to provide future security. Hari Ram points out that
"Indians do feel that because they don't have security in the area of land ownership, they
need to do something else that will compensate for it, And I think there is a grain of truth in
1 1
the saying 'education is to a non-Fijian what land is to the Fijians'" (T5: 10),
!
Similarly, Filipe Tuisawau explains the difference between Indigenous Fijians and
Indo-Fijians in land security and the motivations to pursue an education. He states:
Indians strive more to survive because I think they have this feeling of insecurity as
most of the land is owned by Fijians....The only security for Indians is
education....Once the son or daughter has a good job, they can look after the
parents...whereas for Fijians, their attitude is 'this is our country, we own the land, we
can go back to the land' so the urge or motivation in Fijian society to complete an
education, to strive for higher education, is not at the same level as the Indian
population. (T46: 1-2)
An additional explanation given for Indo-Fijians pursuing a good education for their
children is the struggle Indo-Fijians faced during the indentured labour period. As Krishna
Datt has put it, "the psychology of Indians,..springs from the indentured experience".
Education was perceived as "the only way out of all this quagmire and the recycling of the
same experience" (T28: 7). Datt goes on to elaborate that now that Indo-Fijians are no longer
under the indentured system, the other challenge that they face is the threat of expiring land
180

leases every thirty years. This situation has made Indo-Fijians more determined to get a good
education in order to get off the land and education is seen as the only way out for them,
what Professor Konai Thaman calls their 'safety net' when they attain an education and get a
job (T4: 17). And as Inosi Naga, Principal of Latter Day Saints Technical College, has put it,
Indo-Fijians and Chinese "work hard and desire to be successful" (T69: 2).
Moreover, many informants have identified the individual orientation of the Indo-
Fijian culture, as well as their ability to adapt, as factors that facilitate the success of Indo-
Fijians in education. Professor Tupeni Baba, Head of Education and Psychology at the USP,
for instance, points out that "The school culture is very much in line with the way they live
their own culture, not only with their own culture but also their ability to adapt" (T8: 3). In
his view, "Indo Fijians have shown great adaptability to cultures wherever they have gone.
They retain their own but they're very good at adjusting and adapting" (T8: 4).
Dr Ahmed AH maintains that Indo-Fijians and the Chinese are nuclear-family
oriented which advantages the children because their educational needs are provided for. He
notes:
Many of the Indian children and many of the Chinese students who are doing well
come out of situations where they receive greater attention. I think one of the things j k
that may favour the Indian and the Chinese student is the family structure. [It] is i %
m u c h m o r e a nuclear family. A n Indian kid goes h o m e - h e has a room to himself and >
he c a n switch on the light at 5.30 in the morning w h e n h e wants to study, (T2: 12)
T h e point that Ali is making here is that c o m p a r e d to the extended, c o m m u n a l
n e t w o r k s that Indigenous Fijians are renown for, Indo-Fijians and the Chinese c o m m u n i t y
are m o r e individually oriented. Resources are therefore contained within the nuclear family
in contrast t o t h e commitments to the extended family o f Indigenous Fijians. Indo-Fijians,
for e x a m p l e , are then able to provide m o r e for their children like a room for each child and
other m o d e r n amenities that children in the rural area are not accessible to. Indo-Fijian
children then, because of the individual orientation of the family, have better chances of their
educational n e e d s being met.
A s well, informants have pointed out that the Indo-Fijian and Chinese communities
are urban dwellers which m a y give them an edge over a significant number of Indigenous
Fijians w h o live in rural areas. As an example of this, Susana Tuisawau points o u t that t h e
experiences o f the Indo-Fijian and the Chinese child is complementary to school learning as
t h e y live in o r near urban centres. Their exposure to m e d i a and educational resources is far
greater than t h e rural indigenous child and hence have m o r e advantages that facilitate their
success in formal schooling (T30: 13).
1S1

Furthermore, Una Nabobo argues that the Indo-Fijian and Chinese child are
advantaged in that they have a culture of academic scholarship which Indigenous Fijians do
not have (T45: 2). This is supported by Dewan Chand. Chand notes that "Indians have a
very long tradition and history of education. In the Indian cultural set-up, respect for
education is an in-built thing" (T23: 4). Dewan Chand (principal) and Krishna Datt
(politician) both expound on their religious Scriptures which reinforce the importance of
knowledge and learning. This provides the conditions that make it easier for Indo-Fijian
children to adapt to school.
Explanations for Indo-Fijian success in school have implications from accounts of the
informants on Indigenous Fijian underachievement. One explanation given for Indo-Fijian
success at school is attributable to a strong individualist orientation. As their resources are
centred around the nuclear family, they are generally able to cater for the educational needs
of their children. This is in contrast to the communal nature of Indigenous Fijian families
and communities. Indo-Fijian school success is facilitated by the high premium placed on an
education. Indo-Fijian parents are perceived to have the 'appropriate' attitude to education
which facilitates their children's success in school. As well, Indo-Fijians are identified as
having an academic tradition which gives them a head start over Indigenous Fijians. tt|||
Furthermore, the point has been raised that Indo-Fijians and the Chinese communities are '(!
clustered around the urban or semi-urban areas compared to the wide scatter of Indigenous
Fijians, mainly around the rural areas. The advantages, therefore, associated with close
proximity to opportunities provided for by the infrastructures, facilities and educational and \\
•f
other resources that are located more in the urban than rural areas have been highlighted. By i
the accounts provided this far, it needs to be reiterated again that rurality (spatial
disadvantage), low economic status and lack of formal education (social class) have worked
in complex ways to disadvantage Indigenous Fijians.
Success of Indigenous Fijians in Schooling
With all the emphasis placed on the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians, one
almost forgets that there are successes, that there are Indigenous Fijians who have made it
through school, even the rural low socio-economic status child who has conditions militating +|,
against their success. What are the factors that contribute to Indigenous Fijians passing '
school examinations and even making it through the tertiary system? Are there parallels in f
their success and the success of the Indo-Fijians and Chinese students? What are the i
implications of these for the education of Indigenous Fijians? How relevant are these i
\\
1
182 (

findings on the implementation of AA policies in education? These are pertinent questions
that will need examination.
First, let us take a look at what 'successful' Indigenous Fijians identify as factors that
have contributed to their doing well academically in school and passing the relevant national
exams. A sense of struggle, parental encouragement and support, and hard work have been
identified as three factors that contribute to the motivation to succeed in life. For example,
Filipe Tuisawau notes that "We struggled to survive....That was the motivation in my life not
to go through that again and to make sure I succeeded" (T46: 3).
Similarly, Josevata Kamikamica points out that it was the support he got from his
parents, his inner desire to do well, and seeing his father working very hard to support his
education that spurred him on to the best he could. He points out that the element of struggle
"is centrally critical. We need to feel that we have to compete, that the world is not going to
fight for us or the Fijian society. We have to work hard, we have to do better" (T16:2). As
well, Kolinio Rainima Meo, Deputy Secretary for Education, attributes his father's struggle
to put him and his brothers through school as a motivating factor to succeed. As he puts it,
"where the parents were being driven to believe in education as the solution for anything, the
children are successful". Like Kamikamica, Meo believes "there is no substitution for hard
work" (T41: 17-18). Moreover, Mere Samisoni, Managing Director of Samisoni Enterprises
Ltd, points out that it was her mother's role model and the inculcation early in life of "an
ethic for work, an ethic for an education and an ethic for family" that contributed to her
success at school and in life (T22: 11),
Another 'successful' Indigenous Fijian is Mere Tora, who has a senior position at the
MOE. She attributes her success to her hardworking father who strove hard to put nine
children though school. Life was a struggle and her father saw education as a way out for his
children. She also saw hard work as necessary to succeed and her father was a role model for
her, She says "It was right from an early age that I saw he was a very hard working man
and...we emulated him at hard work. Right from an early age I associated hard work with
success" (T19: 12).
By contrast, Aloesi Vucukula, a Senior Lecturer at FCAE, attributes her success in
school to two factors: her family background and good teachers. She notes:
For me, the most important thing is my family background. I think that has given me
an edge over the other students, There was a lot of support from home and then my
parents were able to economically provide for me,...Also as a student I wasn't
burdened with...domestic duties, The schools I went to later played an important role.
183

I went to ACS and Natabua and in those two schools, the most important thing was
the teachers. I had really good teachers. (T47: 3)
This is supported by Professor Tupeni Baba. Drawing on his "own personal
experiences and some studies done by my own students that followed up a number of Fijian
achievers" he identifies "very good teachers, very good supporting environment in schools
and very good support from the parents" as significant factors for school success of
Indigenous Fijians, As well, he identifies another factor which has been raised earlier, that of
role models, what he calls "significant Fijians or significant others",
What seems to be emerging from the data is that Indigenous Fijians who succeed do
so for several reasons, For some, it is the economic circumstance of the family that provided
the impetus to work hard in order to succeed in life, This is very much like the experiences
of Indo-Fijians who were motivated to work hard to escape the drudgery of farming on leased
land, It is the element of struggle, of overcoming poverty, that provided the impetus of f
making a success in life, For some other Indigenous Fijians, whose socio-economic status
was better, it was parental support that provided the conditions for success in school. Two [
factors that cut across class and ethnicity are home support and good teachers. For '
Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians alike, a home environment that provided for the
educational needs of the children facilitated success. As well, for both categories, good
schools, but particularly good teachers, provided them with the conditions to succeed, For
some Indigenous Fijians, it is the internal desire to improve themselves that enabled them to
do well at school and in life. And for others, it is the role model of their parents and
"significant others", as Baba puts it, that have driven them to work hard and succeed at
school.
What I have done so far is to examine what the data has revealed to explain
Indigenous Fijian underachievement. The first main category of possible explanations has
been covered under the first section—Socio-cultural deficit models—where disadvantage of
location (rurality), home background, cultural factors and school variables were identified as I
some of the key components that impacted on achievement. The second main category to ^ \\
explain why Indigenous Fijians are not doing too well at school has been covered in this , f'
section. This focussed on psychological factors that affect the success or otherwise of
students at school and covered areas such as attitudes, the impact of living away from home
and a more specific look at the reasons for school success of non-indigenous and Indigenous
Fijians. A significant absence in the accounts of the informants that cuts across all ethnic \\

groups is the acknowledgment of the mental capability of Indigenous Fijians. Thus,
psychological models in the Fijian context are articulated as attitudinal problems, which in
turn, are intricately tied to culture and location,
Historical Structural Models
This section examines informant accounts of neocolonial educational structures that
are still in place, decades after the political and physical severance of colonial power. I begin
by examining what is said about the impact of colonialism on the Indigenous Fijian mind and
social institutions. Then I examine the data on the effects of a predominantly English-based
curriculum, pedagogical approach and assessment. As well, an examination of the impact of
the language of instruction is undertaken.
Colonial Historical Experiences
Dr Ali argues that "The so-called benign colonialism of the British was devastating in
its impact. There was a great deal of discrimination. The whole philosophy was that we
were not as good as the white man" (T2: 9). AH maintains that the "colonial experience has
worked against Fijians", Josevata Kamikamica elaborates on this by arguing that under the
period of colonial rule, Indigenous Fijis were protected by colonial policy in such a way that
independence was not encouraged. As he has put it, "after cession we have been subjected to
live within a controlled and protected environment and we were given the assurance that
everything will be looked after by the government, Her Majesty the Queen" (T16: 6).
One who shares this viewpoint is Dr Reverend Ilaitia Tuwere who argues that "the
protective principle that guided the colonisers" meant that "in some ways [Fijians] were
over-protected". Tuwere maintains that it was this overprotective policy on the part of "those
in authority during the colonial days" that was detrimental because it has led to the
development of a strong sense of dependence on outsiders to provide for the needs of
Indigenous Fijians. As Tuwere puts it, "When we had independence,..we did not
feel...independent" because "we were not really allowed to try to swim and.,,struggle" (T12:
1-2).
This protectionist policy of the Colonial Government is described by Dewan Chand,
Principal of Bhawani Dayal High School, as the policy of segregation, Chand also points out
that it is this policy which has kept Indigenous Fijians from competing with other ethnic
groups in social and economic terms. As Chand has put it:
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When you look at the history of Fiji, for a very long time Fijians were segregated
under colonial rule. They were put into their little koro, they were not allowed to mix
much with the Indian communities, they had a school of their own, a church of their
own, very Fijianised communities. And this is one of the reasons why they have
missed out in the socio-economic competition of which Indians are a part. (T23: 5)
Adi Kuini Speed endorses this view and argues, like Kamikamica, Tuwere and
Chand, that Indigenous Fijians have led a "sheltered life" since the period of colonisation by
the British. She notes that this sheltered life has endured after independence with the advent
of AA. The "handout mentality" is prevalent today because government has continued to
provide assistance to Indigenous Fijians to the detriment of initiative and independence. As
she puts it, "it's the sheltered life that we've led under the colonial system and admittedly
after independence that we haven't really been given a chance to think for ourselves, do
things for ourselves, to use our own initiative" (T32: 6).
Noting the problem of dependence during colonial rule is Professor Asesela Ravuvu,
Director of the Institute of Pacific Studies at USP. Ravuvu identifies communalism as "the
biggest problem among Fijian communities" and argu^ that this was instituted by the
Christian church and the Colonial Government, in particular, to attain and maintain control
over the indigenous people. He then explains that it is this creation of communities that has
i\\
led to the development of "a sense of dependency", not on themselves as was previously the
case, but on the Colonial Government and the church for their survival. He continues by
arguing that it is the security given Indigenous Fijians by the Colonial Government that has
led to the demise of their survival instincts, their sense of independence and self-confidence.
This is how he describes it;
The ethos of the Fijian family has changed tremendously through the communal
aspects that has been imposed upon them. Before, the families were out there in the
rural areas, in the communities, up on the hills and suddenly the government came in,
the church came in. They created new communal communities which were wider and
have taken away from individuals the need to sustain themselves individually or as a
family and to be increasingly dependent on communal institutions like the church, the
school, the province, the tikina17, the koro. All these are communal institutions
created by the Colonial Government and the religious institutions have also created
communalism that has given all these people continued protection and continued
influence in relation to the individual to do things for themselves. I think this is
where the whole problem lies today and that is the overemphasis on communalism to
the detriment of the individual's ability to do something for his own survival. (T34: 2)
17 A tikina is a district, a subdivision ot&yasana or province (Capell, 1941).
186

On the other hand, another perspective is provided by Mere Samisoni who points out
that an elite group was used by the colonial power in such a way that their power is firmly
entrenched today. As she describes it, "To support colonialism...the colonial powers
appointed some elite, including the chiefly system to support their policies", According to
Samisoni, the British also "institutionalised the feudal system of production" and rewarded
the elite and chiefs for their assistance. Explaining the role of the elite, Samisoni notes, "The
elite were to support the 'core' (colonial power) so that in the event the core interests were
violated by the workers, by the proletariat, the elite would protect them and so today the elite
are still there". Samisoni believes that "the colonial powers really froze our development in
time because some of the chiefs justify their role today in the sense that they are contributing
to the economy". She asks, are chiefs "really helping the economy or are they just a group of
people who are paid once a year to sit in council and make decisions reinforcing feudalism
that is irrelevant to our economy?"
This section has presented some of the data that demonstrate the devastating
psychological impact of the process of colonialism. The policies of the Colonial
Government discouraged the development of independence, competitiveness and initiative
and created a dependency syndrome instead. As Ravuvu puts it, the creation of |
communalism by the church and the government has led to the demise of those *|
characteristics which enabled them to survive prior to the advent of the British to Fijian
shores, An elite group was also utilised by the colonialists, as Mere Samisoni has pointed
out, "to support colonialism". The impact of colonialism was covered in Chapter Three. In
what follows, I examine the data on the impact of one of the neocolonial educational
structures—the curriculum—on the achievement of Indigenous Fijians.
Curriculum
Several informants have identified a conflict in the culture of the school and that of 11
the home as an explanation as to why Indigenous Fijian students do not perform particularly * |
well at school. For example, Filimoni Jitoko makes the point that the home environment of
the Indigenous Fijian, particularly in the rural area, is not compatible with what occurs in
schooling. He notes:
I think [the curriculum] is disadvantaging...Fijian students mainly because their home
environment is different from the home background of other races and so their i
experiences when they go back to their home is different. It might be familiar for the
other races when they go back home in the sense that what they learn in school is
there also in the home. But you look at a student in Gau, or Koro or in Lau, he learns
something about dynamos in the Physics curriculum about motors and that's it.
187
jj

That's the only place that he's told. When he goes back to the village, he sees the
kerosene light and nobody is there to help him explain. (T13: 5)
Jitoko here points out that there is a conflictual relationship between what is taught in
school and the experiences of the rural Indigenous Fijian child at home. Many things that
students are taught at school are alien in the rural environment. The example given, of
dynamos and motors in a Physics lesson, is far removed from the local experiences of the
rural child. In an environment where cars are not commonplace and the only form of
electricity comes from a generator that is sacrosanct to the village community, how can this
student's learning be reinforced, let alone explainable, without having some experience of the
object under study? The implication of Jitoko's comment is that the child's very limited
experience of what is taught at school, when not reinforced by the experiences at home, is not
conducive to success at school.
Calls have also been made by some informants for the curriculum to become more
relevant and less academically oriented. As evidence of this, Josevata Kamikamica points
out that the curriculum needs to be less abstract and to be in keeping with the way Indigenous
Fijians learn. He describes Indigenous Fijian learning styles as thinking " in terms of the
totality of things. We want to know why things happen in a certain way". As he explains it:
We are more comfortable with relating ourselves to the totality of our existence. That
is to say that 'I handle this, this is a table, I can see it, I can handle it and if it's broken
I see why it's broken'. In a theoretical mode, in an abstract mode, some Fijians
generally find that a bit difficult to handle because we are not developed to think in
that frame of reference because if a young person in the village starts to ask those
kinds of questions earlier in life, tikolo1*, via kila na ka™ will be the answer he or she
gets. (T16: 9-10)
Here, Kamikamica also suggests that Indigenous Fijians are more practically-oriented
in their learning. This in reinforced by their world view and childhood practices which
discourage questions. As reiterated by a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat, Indigenous
Fijians are supposed to know their place, whether as child or adult. This bureaucrat adds,
"Constantly one hears 'oh he doesn't know his place, he's too cheeky' or 'you're over-
educated, that's why you don't know your place'. This is a very strong social thing that also
needs to be overcome" (T31:11). \\
Many informants are of the view that the curriculum is too academically oriented.
Joeli Kalou, for instance, maintains that "In essence, our education system is actually training
18 Tikolo is translated as 'shut up' or 'be quiet'.
19 Via kila na ka is translated as 'you want to know too much'.
I
188 I

students to become failures at the end because our academically oriented system only caters
for thirty or forty percent of students who are being taught". Like Kamikamica, Kalou would
like the curriculum to "be more practical" (T33: 10).
Moreover, as Professor Konai Thaman argues, because the formal school system does
not value other kinds of learning aside from academic book learning, this sets up many
Indigenous Fijian students for failure. She raises the point that a person is judged according
to his or her performance in examinations even when he or she is successful in other spheres
of life. She states:
If you take Fijian...kids who grew up in a semi-traditional situation the whole
socialisation, the goals of learning, just about everything is in opposition to the
school. There's just no valuing within the formal structure of anything that is done in
the informal structure. Now when that happens, unless you're an extraordinary kind
of person to live a kind of double life, it's very difficult for kids to adapt and when of
course they can't adapt, that means failing the exam. And they keep
failing....Eventually you're going to think you're a failure when in fact the only thing
you've failed in is the school in the formal education system. But this has been
translated into other spheres and unfortunately, the whole society looks at you now
and judge you according to whether you've done well at school or not. (T4: 4-5)
Arguing along the same lines as Professor Thaman above, Josevata Kamikamica
notes the contradictions between Indigenous cultural values and school values. As he has put
it, "the values of our system are not the same as the values that the educational system
encourage". He also compares the notion of success in the traditional system with that of the
modern system. In the former, he points out, "success means someone who can fit in very
well in society, does all the work that society requires and is prepared to perform when called
upon, whereas in the education system and the world outside.,.success means doing better
than someone else" (T16: 8).
Like Thaman and Kamikamica, Sefanaia Koroi reiterates the point that the curriculum
is foreign and does not put much worth on the cultural values of Indigenous Fijis, As he put
it, "The curriculum brought in were mere replicas of curriculum from other countries so
therefore we...have done away with some of the cultural values that children can understand"
(T9: 10-11). In consequence, Koroi argues, the curriculum could be inappropriate, especially
when an educated person finds that he or she cannot find a job and judges himself or herself a
success only in terms of passing exams,
Indirectly, what Thaman and Koroi are referring to here is that the curriculum in place
today is a replica of the curriculum in Great Britain or New Zealand (a past colony of Great
Britain), Despite its foreign nature and academic orientation, it continued on in neocolonial
189

hegemonic formations even after Fiji attained political independence in 1970. And as
Filimoni Jitoko has pointed out, teachers have not contextualised the curriculum to local sites
despite efforts to localise it after independence. As Jitoko puts it:
We have said that we have localised the curriculum but how far [is] the local flavour
there which the students are familiar with in terms of their experiences? I think we're
still far from attaining that. We might have localised it because it was produced
locally but the content might still be foreign...particularly for the students in the rural
areas.,.,[W]e haven't really localised to the extent that students can be confident or
familiar with it. And teachers don't give local examples when they teach..., We need
to tailor every aspect of the curriculum to the local context. (TI3: 4)
Picking up on the theme of rural disadvantage, Viliame Saulekaleka, Member of
Parliament and a former President of the FTA, maintains that the curriculum "disadvantages
Fijians out in the rural area". He stresses that the academic nature of the curriculum seems to
suit those in the urban areas more. As well, Saulekaleka raised the issue of failure in school
and Indigenous Fijians committing crimes which results in many of them ending up in
prisons, what he calls "the Republic's College".
Susana Tuisawau also believes that the curriculum is too urban-based. However, it is
her view that rural Indigenous Fijian students are disadvantaged primarily because of
inequities in access to resources. She says "We're using a common, a national curriculum
dictated from the centre. However, there is no equality of access to resources because of the
geographical location of the schools and the students,,.[and] this would always disadvantage
the Fijians" (T30; 8).
Taking a different perspective, the Minister for Education agrees that the curriculum
is urban-based and that the knowledge that rural students have is undervalued. Conversely,
Vakatale argues that the curriculum in place does not prepare urban students to survive in the
rural area. Using the concepts of efficiency and productivity as examples, Mere Samisoni
takes the Minister for Education's point about using Indigenous Fijian knowledge further by
arguing that the knowledge Indigenous Fijians have can be incorporated into the school
curriculum so that they can "apply the learning in today's market economy". This is how
Samisoni puts it:
[W]hen we talk about concepts, we have efficiency and productivity. They are both
in our culture. We see it growing up. For example, when we pull the tavioka20 out,
we cut the branches, we plant it again, to me that is efficiency. And then the leaves,
these are placed around the plant so that is waste management and
productivity.,..Those concepts should be worked through to present day environment,
20 Tavioka translates into tapioca, a tuber plant that is one of the main root crops for Indigenous Fijians.
190

to present day content so that our people can understand what it's all about and
understand where they've come from to apply the learning in today's market
economy. (T22: 3)
Similarly, Bessie Ali believes that the curriculum should be less Western-oriented
and should utilise more Indigenous Fijian knowledge. As she puts it, "I think the curriculum
could be a lot less Western-oriented. It could be a lot more Fiji-based so that Fijian students
with their knowledge of their background have an opportunity to express themselves" (T18:
3), This view is supported by Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere who calls for a balance between
"the particular and the universal", between 'Fiji-oriented' and 'English or European based'
cultural knowledges. He points out:
It (The curriculum) has become part of our heritage, part of our history,...I'm not
saying it's necessarily bad....I think we have gained a lot from that too and it has
helped us as a nation. But I think there also is a point in saying that there is a balance
to be drawn...a balance between the particular and the universal. If the curriculum is
weighted in favour of the universal and the quality of life is not coming forth.,.then
we must explore that kind of curriculum that can be called essentially ours, that is
Fiji-oriented and not only English or European based, (T12: 9)
I began this section on historical structural explanatory models by introducing some
of the data to show the psychological impact of colonialism on Indigenous Fijian
independence, initiative and sense of competition, This section has examined the data on the
impact of the curriculum on Indigenous Fijian achievement. Two things are clear. First, the
issue of spatial disadvantage is a recurrent category of analysis in the informants' discussion
on Indigenous Fijian underachievement, Second, a foreign and academically oriented
curriculum is seen to disadvantage those students whose learning styles and cultural
orientation are different from that of the school. Calls have been made to make the
curriculum more relevant and practical. As well, calls have been made for the curriculum to
value indigenous knowledge and cultural values, This will be discussed further in Chapter
Seven. In the next section, another educational structure, the 'Western' pedagogies of
schooling are examined to demonstrate the impact they have on Indigenous Fijian
underachievement.
Pedagogical Methods
Several informants have identified the pedagogical methods of schooling as a
contributing factor to the poor educational performance of Indigenous Fijians. One
pedagogical issue identified is the contradiction between the culture of schooling and that of
191

Indigenous Fijian homes. Another concerns the conflict between the learning styles of
Indigenous Fijian students and contemporary teaching methods.
The contention that there is a contradiction in school culture and that of the
Indigenous Fijian home is made by several informants. For instance, Professor Tupeni Baba
argues that "the culture of the school is very different from Fijian cultures and ethos". A
serious problem for Baba is the notion that "the individual orientation of the
curriculum...emphasises largely academic learning and does not recognise the community-
based, home-based learning". What is more serious is that "the pedagogy, the whole
teaching approach on which the whole curriculum, the teaching-learning process of the
school is based, makes that assumption that...school based learning is important" (T8: 1).
What Baba is raising here is the subordination of "learning that is done in the community that
is brought into the school by the children, particularly their own cultural learning".
Indigenous knowledge systems are considered 'unimportant' in school because of the
assumption that "school based learning is important". And as discussed earlier in the section
on the curriculum, many informants have pointed out that the neocolonial curriculum in place
is Western-oriented, foreign, too abstract, too urban-based and, in many cases, irrelevant.
Professor Baba also criticises curriculum design where the assumption is that those
who develop curriculum know what is to be taught and that the teaching process is merely an
inculcation of what developers have designed, He finds this "a totally unacceptable way of
approaching teaching and learning". He argues:
That kind of approach does not acknowledge that the people...are coming with...
legitimate knowledge from their communities, legitimate knowledge which should
also be part of the curriculum. They should contest the knowledge that we have but
we don't encourage that. (T8: 3)
More importantly, Professor Baba calls for more critical pedagogy. As well, he
suggests a change to the whole ethos of schooling otherwise the Indigenous Fijian would
"remain on the periphery even though he is now in the majority in his own country". The
critical pedagogy that Baba envisages is one where "the form of teaching and learning would
have to be altered from more rote into a facilitateve..,process and examinations will have to
be based on how students articulate what they feel, what they think rather than what we want
them to think and feel" (8:3).
Another informant who thinks that school pedagogical practices are at odds with
Indigenous Fijian achievement is Professor Konai Thaman. Thaman argues that students do
well in school if their home culture is compatible with the culture of the school. She argues
192

that some research should be carried out into the learning styles of Indigenous Fijians to
determine how they learn best and that these findings should then be incorporated into
teacher training programmes. She specifically points out that Indigenous Fijians should not
necessarily change their culture and make it more European but that the teachers should
change their teaching methods to take into account the experiences of the Indigenous Fijian
students. She states:
[T]he teachers should change their methods of teaching to take into account
experiences of the Fijian kids so I think this is a problem, We have been looking at
Fijian culture as if it is so negative so that we say 'well you know you should become
kind of an honorary Palagi so that you could succeed in school'. That to me is the
wrong way to go about it. It's to say to the school what can you do to accommodate
these kids rather than saying these kids must change so that they can pass the exam.
(T4: 3)
Thaman maintains that culture should not be viewed as a negative thing but should be
considered a privilege. She disagrees strongly with the deficit models that blame the victim
for his or her failure but recommends that it is the schools that should change to
accommodate the students rather than the Indigenoi:: Fijian students changing so they can
pass examinations. As she puts it:
I hope that in the future we move into a scenario where culture is looked upon as a
privilege and not a negative variable in the whole education process because if we're
on about improving learning then ycu are going to have to find out from the learner
by whatever methods how you can bring about better learning. And you have to find
out the best way of bringing this about and therefore the deficit model is definitely out
as far as I'm concerned....(T4: 9)
Other informants have also noted this contradiction between the culture of the school,
which is more individualistic, and that of the Indigenous Fijian home, which is more
communally oriented. For instance, Filimoni Jitoko, in a similar argument to Professor
Thaman, contends that Indigenous Fijians "have failed in the system because...we have a
conflict in schooling and the culture of the student". As Jitoko explains it, students are
taught "in the school to work individually" which is reflected in the teaching methods used.
And yet, "when they go back to their homes, they are put back in the context of a communal-
type work environment". In his view, "we have two conflicting worlds where the student is
trying to learn" (Tl 3: 4).
Like Thaman, Jitoko suggests that the learning styles of Indigenous Fijians be
considered in teaching, particularly their cultural trait of working communally. He
recommends that teachers consider encouraging "students to work in groups" rather than the
current emphasis on individual exercises. Similarly, Davindra Nath, argues that the
193

curriculum is too individualistic and, therefore, disadvantages Indigenous Fijians who learn
better in groups. As he has put it, "the curriculum has very little place for cooperation for
which the Fijian culture is renown [and they] are really good at". He maintains that the
curriculum "places a very high priority on individual achievement and there is no reward for
collective achievement".
Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere argues that because some subjects like Maths, Science
and Commerce are "late arrivals" for "a large number of Fijian students", a new way of
teaching them that accounts for their learning styles should be found. He points out: "Indians
have been exposed" to these subjects for a long time whereas they are "late arrivals" for I
Indigenous Fijians. He suggests that "another way of teaching them should be found...a
better methodology or simply more time or attention to be given to them in the school
system" (T12: 7-8). Here, Tuwere is indirectly referring to the academic culture associated
with Indian learning and their familiarity with Maths, Commerce and the Sciences which
gives them an advantage in school. In comparison, Indigenous Fijians are unfamiliar with
much of the language and concepts. As such, he suggests that some AA is provided, perhaps
in the form of more time and attention. Even better, he recommends that teaching methods
take this point into consideration,
In sum, then, many informants are concerned that colonial academic curriculum and
teaching styles ignore the learning styles of Indigenous Fijian students. As well, a call has
been made for changes to be made to both the curriculum and pedagogical styles (as one
cannot separate the two) in such a way that they become more appropriate and culturally
sensitive. In the next section I discuss what informants say about another educational
structure that is a powerful legacy of colonialism, the assessment system.
Assessment
Many informants consistently agree that Fiji's educational system is too heavily
examination oriented and that performance in examinations has become the criterion to judge
a person's 'success' in life. Professor Konai Thaman points out that the process of formal
schooling has caused Pacific societies to reconceptualise what an educated or learned person
is. The meaning has changed from "a very pragmatic one, one that is closely related to
survival in a particular society, to someone who has a string of degrees". The perception is
that a person becomes a total failure if he or she fails national examinations because people
have "been conditioned to think that schooling is more important than any learning outside of *"• i
the school which is very unfortunate" (T4: 5).
194

Sefanaia Koroi argues that school success is measured in terms of success in
academic-type exams and that the school system disadvantages those Indigenous Fijians who
have many talents and skills outside of the academic arena, In his view, the curriculum needs
to be restructured in order to cater for students who are not academically inclined, so that
"everybody can be recognised for the potential and skills that they have rather than their
ability in reading and mathematics" (T9: 11). In a similar way, a senior academic at USP
argues that people are labelled failures just because they are not successful at national
examinations and cannot attain a job in the professions, what he calls "a two-edged sword".
They may have other talents and be successful in areas that are non-academic and yet they
are perceived as failures because of the assumption "that the only success is to score high
marks in exams and become a professional" (T50: 3).
Highlighting the negative aspects of examinations, Tamarisi Yabaki, curriculum
development officer in charge the Social Studies curriculum for primary schools, argues that
the examination system can affect both teachers and students. On the one hand, failure in
exams stigmatises students in that they "have nothing to fall back on". On the other, exam i
results drive the teaching-learning process and also stigmatises teachers if the classes they
teach attain poor results. As Yabaki puts it:
[A] major factor that...affects Fijian performance is the examination system because
there is no alternative for failure. Once you drop out after failing these exams, there
is nothing else that you can fall back on to get you going. I think it affects the
teaching of subjects in school because if you are teaching an examination class, the
teacher is psyched up to think that the bottom line in teaching is the exam, You've
got to produce good results so that you're in the good books of the community. If
you're a grant-in-aid teacher, you can easily lose your position if the committee says
that you haven't performed well. (T38: 5)
Arthur Crane, Principal of Gospel High School, disapproves of examinations because
teachers teach to the examination at the expense of good teaching. He points out that "too
many teachers are able to just come along with the textbook, teach what it is and emphasise
the examination...and use the exam as a stick over the kid's back for the last...six weeks
before the exam". In placing an emphasis on exams, teachers " can almost sit back and be
satisfied with a mediocre performance for the large part of the year" (T55: 7),
Like Crane and Yabaki, Sister Genevieve Loo highlights the intense pressures put on
students and teachers in preparation for national examinations. She points out that "an awful ^
lot of rote learning and drilling" occur in these classrooms which do not prepare students to >
think for themselves when they reach senior level (T21: 9-10). What Sister Loo is raising [I
195

here is something she personally observed when she spent ten years teaching in a rural
Indigenous Fijian boarding school. It is her view that junior secondary schools prepare
students to be rote learners rather than independent thinkers mainly because of the demands
placed on teachers and students by an exam-oriented educational system. Similarly, Dr
Vijay Naidu reiterates what Sister Loo is saying by maintaining that examinations encourage
rote learning and are "a stumbling block for most people because it is very competitive" (T6:
14). Moreover, he argues that examinations make people competitive and if one does not
have a spirit of competitiveness, one cannot succeed in school.
A different approach is taken by Una Nabobo who raises an issue to do with
assessment procedures. She talks about the contradiction between what is required in exams
and the socialisation patterns of the child. As Nabobo puts it, "Not only are we exam-
oriented but I think the assessment procedures encourage people to speak their minds, to
express themselves. Now the socialisation of the Fijian child is not like that. The assessment
procedures are written and the Fijian is a very oral person" (T45; 3).
A similar perspective is provided by Susana Tuisawau who points out that Indigenous
Fijians do better at the practical application level but unfortunately, they are assessed on their
knowledge of theory. She notes, "They're more field oriented but the kind of assessment that
J*
we do is...paper assessment" (T30: 11). She adds: [\\
I think we need competency-based assessments, criterion-referenced rather than
norm-referenced....I think that would bring out a lot more because...[the Fijians are]
more practically oriented. They are not people who would carry this much
information in their head and then regurgitate it....[They] are quite often concrete f*
learners. I notice that Fijians would like to see where something is applied and we *
learn by doing, experientially and then we learn. (T30: 11-12) J
I
Tamarisi Yabaki would like to see internal assessment as an alternative to
examinations but raises some practical issues associated with such a move. As she explains j
it, "We can have other alternatives but the problems are resources, finance and administering I
the internal assessment" (T38: 6).
A few informants have seen the need to abolish two national examinations, one
conducted at the end of year six and the other at the end of year eight. Krishna Datt describes
these exams as "just nonsense" and Ted Young describes them as "two of the most
destructive exams". Similarly, Hari Ram supports the abolition of the two exams but he
recommends the use of tests in the primary school purely for diagnostic purposes, and not for
the purpose of elimination. As he puts it, the main role of tests "at the lower levels is to find
out how effectively one is teaching and to adjust teaching styles in accordance with the test
196

results". However, Ram is of the view that exams at the higher levels are necessary "where
access to the next level of education is not possible for all" (T5: 8-9).
In sum then, the emphasis on national examinations drives the way the curriculum is
taught. In many cases, as many informants point out, rote learning in classrooms has become
the norm as a response to the focus the educational system places on exams. There is
recognition that more practical-based assessment and more internal assessment might better
accommodate the learning styles of Indigenous Fijians. However, the problems associated
with resources and administration have been raised. The point has also been made that
school learning is perceived to be the most important kind of learning and therefore success
in exams has reconceptualised the way Indigenous Fijians now view themselves and others.
Unfortunately, when a person fails national exams, this is perceived by society as that person
having failed in everything. The feeling seems to be that exams are there to stay because the
educational system does not have the scope nor the resources to implement a different
assessment system,
Language of Instruction
There are many contradictions in informants' views of English as the language of the
curriculum, of schooling and of learning, On the one hand, there is the view that English
should not be the language of instruction because it disadvantages Indigenous Fijians,
particularly out in rural areas. On the other hand, many informants believe that English >j
should remain the language of schooling as it is the international language of communication [|
and hence, students have a head start when they learn in English. As well, there is the view "
that since teaching in the vernacular is impractical in multi-ethnic Fiji, English should be \\
r
retained as the medium of instruction.
One informant who argues that those Indigenous Fijians who do not have a good ,
grasp of the English language are disadvantaged when teaching is done in English is
Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere. He argues that English is an "intellectual language" and has
"tremendous power in shaping our children, shaping their ideas". He maintains that "the
Fijian who hasn't got the capacity to grasp the English language,,.will be greatly
disadvantaged in school and society" since "English is the ruling language in the judiciary,
the law, commerce, information, education" (T12: 8).
Adi Kuini Speed agrees with Reverend Tuwere but argues that this should not be used
as a justification to explain failure because Indigenous Fijians are just as capable as students
of other ethnic groups in attaining good academic results, She notes. "English is a foreign
197

language. It's loaded with concepts that are foreign to our tradition and culture and we are
measured by those foreign concepts and they are foreign expectations made on our
performance and our thinking". However, she believes that " while there may be some basic
problem to do with a foreign language...we shouldn't use it as a justification because...Fijians
have the capacity...to adapt to any kind of conceptual demand...that's why we've produced
people with PhDs"(T32: 12).
Some informants hold the view that people in Fiji have no choice but to have English
as the medium of instruction. For example, Sefanaia Koroi maintains that judgements on
school success or failure are based on how well one knows the English language and how
well one learns through the medium of language. Because Fiji has "adopted a Westernised-
type of curriculum and that the key to success lies in the language that everybody has to
speak which is English", the people "have no choice because that is the language of the
,
curriculum, that is the language of the books" (T9: 10).
Similarly, Filipe Tuisawau argues that teaching in the English language disadvantages
Indigenous Fijians because it's "a second language for Fijians who speak Fijian all the time"
but he makes the case that we have no choice as it is the medium of communication in Fiji
and internationally, At the same time, Tuisawau maintains that "the Fijian language should
•i
not be undervalued". He points out that in "emphasising the English language, there is the J
danger.,.from the perspective of the children...that they might think the language, the Fijian ,,
language, is inferior" (T46: 2).
Una Nabobo points to the disadvantages that Indigenous Fijians who make up "the
rural majority" face, particularly where English is taken to pass exams but yet is not spoken I1
V
in the home as "they don't have the reason to be speaking English anyway". As well, she J1
raises the dilemma that teaching in the vernacular does not seem a viable choice given the
financial constraints and the fact that "English is something that you are made to do to pass f
school" (T45: 3).
On the other hand, Esther Williams argues that rural students should learn English
from an early age so that they are not disadvantaged at secondary school: "English is the
main means of communication so the earlier the start we get, the better". By contrast,
Tamarisi Yabaki contends that teaching in the English language disadvantages Indigenous
Fijians as it is not the first (dialect) or even second (standard Fijian) language that they have
to master. She envisages a day when rural students can learn in their own dialect and sit
exams written in their dialect:
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In this model, socio-cultural, psychological and historical structural factors all play a
part in producing racial inequalities in schooling,
I now turn to a discussion of some of the important issues that have emanated from
the data. I first elaborate on the concepts of space and history as important categories of
analysis in the Fiji context. The notion of symbolic violence is particularly examined. I
then discuss the parallels in the data regarding the factors that contribute to school success of
Indigenous Fijians and 'others'. Moreover, I identify key silences in the data, such as the
lack of discussion on the disadvantages faced by non-Fijians minority groups. The issue of
gender is also underemphasised by the informants. Finally, I discuss some of the unresolved
issues that the data have not cleared.
Space as an Analytic Category
The dimension of space is significant because the bulk of Indigenous Fijians are
dispersed in rural locations compared to non-indigenous communities who are more urban-
centred. From an analysis of the 1986 Census Report, 67.3% of the Indigenous Fijian
population was rural-based. As a result of the many disadvantages associated with distance
and isolation from urban nerve-centres, Indigenous Fijians in the rural area do not perform
well at school. Of course, the notion of rural disadvantage is relative to what is defined as
urban advantage. Rural disadvantage is a reality that interacts in complex ways with the
dimensions of race, gender and class. As well, all these would further interact with
historical, social, cultural and political forces in just as complex and multi-faceted ways. The
issue of rurality is a very real and troublesome one because we are looking at rurality against
economic models of development and the constraints of the capitalist market economy,
Demographically, therefore, rural disadvantage was identified by my informants as a
major challenge to the academic achievement of Indigenous Fijians, The further away the
student lives from urban centres (with the assumed availability of educational resources,
better teachers and schools), the greater disadvantage he/she faces. The low socio-economic
status of rural Indigenous Fijians, in particular, has been pin-pointed as one of the major
contributors to poor performance in schools. The informants have noted that many rural
Indigenous Fijians are materially poor because they have not attained an education that
would enable them to migrate to those urban areas where they would earn a living.
There are not many opportunities for economic enterprise in the rural areas.
Indigenous Fijian rural dwellers are basically subsistence workers, growing enough for daily
sustenance and selling whatever is excess in order to buy the extras that would make life a bit
202

more comfortable, as well as pay for educational necessities. The poor economic base of
rural areas, coupled with the general lack of education of rural dwellers, then, are two factors
that have been identified as contributing to the poor performance of rural Indigenous Fijians
in rural Fiji,
In any discussion of the condition of spatial disadvantage, the dimension of place
should also come into play, The reason the bulk of Indigenous Fijians are dispersed in rural
localities is because of their close affinity to their land, Their village is where their place in
the world is, it is where they physically and spiritually belong. Many of them are bora there
and that is where they will be buried. Since success in life is increasingly redefined in terms
of succeeding at school, many Indigenous Fijian families are uprooting from traditional to
modern spaces. It is the perception that a good life can be obtained from getting a job that
has spurred the movement into the urban centres, So those who remain in the rural area do so
because of the strong sense of place associated with land ownership.
It is timely that we reconsider space and spatiality as a new way of viewing social
realities (Gregory, 1994; Soja, 1996).The category of space (and place) should be viewed as
seriously as the normative categories of race, class and gender in discussions of social
realities. As Sakeasi Butadroka has put it, how can Indigenous Fijian compete with other
ethnic groups when "most of the Fijian parents are still in the rural area without any provision
for electricity, for medical services, for roading, and for good housing" (T36: 5). Or as the
Minister for Education, Taufa Vakatale has argued, "Rural Fijians are disadvantaged".
The important issue raised by informants is how can rural communities be empowered
through education, decision-making processes, cultural emphasis and institutional changes, to
name a few, to ensure their access and participation in national life? The data consistently
identified spatial disadvantage as problematising and complicating the traditional notions of
class, race and gender. And yet, there is enough tension in the data to suggest that rurality
need not necessarily be considered in a negative light There are enough indications that
there are positives in the rural environment that can be harnessed, affirmed and developed.
For instance, there are references to the stress that middle-class Fijians undergo in urban
centres that are associated with a materialistic kind of lifestyle. The quest for a house (with
high mortgages) and the materiality that go with this ownership, such as furniture, bank loans
(with high interest rates) and the stress of keeping up with bills associated with urban living,
have been alluded to by several of the informants. As Rainima Meo has put it,
What do you mean by quality of life? Suppose somebody who has reached form
six...has gone to the village...they don't pay an electricity bill, they don't pay any bills
203

at the end of the day.,..Compare this to a better educated person...with a car, a fridge, a
washing machine and at the end, you scratch your head. Did you pay this? You pay
for everything and what does this bring you? Only hypertension and stress. (T41: 11)
As well, there is the suggested romanticism associated with niral living that may not
be borne out by rural dwellers. For example, the notion that there are no bills, etc, in the rural
areas might be counterpoised by the subsistence economy that would make life such a
struggle for many rural dwellers. A top ranking educationist at USP has argued that "Fijians
spend a lot of time in rural areas....Women in rural areas are spending a lot of their energy
trying to survive, getting the daily sustenance which most urban people are spared from" (Tl:
7).
In any case, the emergence of rurality as a prominent feature in the discussion on
underachievement and AA adds complexity because it is clearly not an issue of race, class or
gender. Rather, rurality cuts across these arenas so that there is ambiguity and contradiction
in the overall discussion. In the Fiji context, description and analysis of any social
phenomenon should not only include the categories of race, class and gender but should also
include a fourth category, that of spatiality or rurality.
History as an Analytic Category
The discussion in the third section of this chapter - historical structural models -
highlights an important category that is missing from discussions on racial inequalities—that
of history. The impact of a colonial past—socially, culturally, politically, psychologically,
ideologically—has been discussed in great depth in Chapter Three. The point has been made
that educational structures in place, at this historical juncture, are neocolonial in form and
content.
It is interesting to look at educational structures as a possible explanation for
underachievement because it takes the emphasis away from the underachiever. The focus of
examination moves from the student to the school to see whether structures, such as the
curriculum, school organisation, pedagogies and assessment, might disadvantage categories
of students. This argument holds the structures responsible because they disadvantage those
students whose culture, language, styles of learning, knowledge systems and epistemologies
are different from those desired by, and zealously guarded by, the school system,
I would like to revisit the literature review carried out in Chapter Two, where I
foregrounded the conceptual resources provided by postcolonial theory that were pertinent to
this thesis, The hegemonic neocolonial educational structures in play at this historical
204

juncture demonstrate how powerfully colonial metaphysical and epistemological 'realities'
are embraced by the ex-coloniser. As Raymond Williams (1976) has described it,
educational institutions are the main agencies for the transmission of an effective dominant
culture. In the case of Fiji, the dominant culture is the 'Western' culture that became
institutionalised during the period of colonial rule. The British-based system of 'knowing'
and 'doing' have so totally and deeply saturated 'the consciousness' of Fijian society that the
educational structures inherited from a colonial past have continued in hegemonic forms.
And as Michael Apple (1979: 6) has emphasised, schools not only process knowledge, they
also process people by acting as "agents of cultural and ideological hegemony".
Educational and political leaders in Fiji need to reflect on the answers to the questions
that Apple (1979) has asked regarding the supposedly "legitimate knowledge" that is taught
in schools. For instance, whose knowledge is it? Who selected what is taught in the
curriculum? Why is it organised and taught in this way? What knowledge is made available
and just as importantly, unavailable to students? Much local and national reflection needs to
be undertaken to examine closely the curriculum, pedagogies, school organisation and
assessment that are in play at this historical juncture, almost four decades after political
decolonisation occurred, *
Thomas and Postlethwaite (1984) also asked some questions that would assist leaders
in thinking about the continuing impact of colonialism on educational institutions. For ,
instance, in terms of the purpose or role of schooling, they asked who determined this, from !
what culture is this derived and whose welfare is served by the purpose of schooling. In
terms of the curriculum and instructional methodology, they asked Who determines the J
nature of the curriculum and teaching methods? What are the cultural sources of the \\
curriculum and teaching methods? Whose welfare is served by the curriculum? These are
important questions that need deep examination otherwise colonial hegemony will continue
to hold power in supposedly politically decolonised nations.
One thing is clear. Educational structures in play, even at this historical juncture,
have not been decided by 'local' people. The curriculum and pedagogies or "teaching
methods", as Thomas and Postlethwaite (1984) have described it, are definitely 'Western' in
origin and content and have not been designed to serve the welfare of the people. During
colonial rule, they served the purposes and welfare of Western people in Fiji. They were
certainly not designed to serve the welfare of 'locals'.
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Symbolic Violence
I would like to draw your attention to the notion of "symbolic violence" that I
introduced in Chapter Two. Sultana (1993), drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdiue, a
French philosopher and sociologist, emphasises the point that schools that do not value the
"realities, language and dignities" of their students are guilty of "symbolic violence". As
Sultana points out, these schools are violent and powerful in their labelling of who a school
failure is, and it is the experiences they provide for students who are 'different' that
marginalise and exclude. So powerful indeed are the people who do the labelling that those
students who are labelled failures internalise this attitude and are seriously marked for life,
Bourdieu and Passeron (1977: 18) define symbolic violence as "any power that
succeeds in imposing meanings and in imposing them as legitimate in disguising the relations
of power which are at the root of its force, adds its own force, that is a specifically symbolic
force, to those relations of power. It is the "violence which is exercised upon a social agent
with his or her complicity" (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992: 167-168). Symbolic violence,
then, is the power to dominate the disadvantaged groups by imposing "instruments of
knowledge and (sic) expression of social reality...which are arbitrary but unrecognised as
such" (Bourdieu, 1977: 115). Bourdieu's work in education has been to describe and account
for the objective processes which continually exclude underprivileged children (Harker,
1984). Schooling becomes the monopoly of those classes capable of transmitting through the
family the instruments ('habitus') necessary for the reception of the message of schooling.
As Bourdieu has put it:
The culture of the elite is so near to that of that school that children from the lower
middle class...can acquire only with great effort something which is given to the
children of the cultivated classes - style, taste, wit - in short, those attitudes and
aptitudes which seem natural in members of the cultivated classes and naturally
expected of them precisely because (in the ethnological sense) they are the culture of
that class. (Bourdieu, 1974: 39)
I argue that the neocolonial educational structures that are an inheritance from British
colonisation with their alien ideologies, epistemological bases and orientations represent a
form of symbolic violence. The curriculum, pedagogical methods and assessment do not
value the cultural knowledge, expertise and wisdoms that Indigenous Fijian students, and
indeed students of other ethnic groups, bring to the classroom. The fact that English is the
language of schooling, and the tokenism given to the teaching of the vernaculars, is testament
to the dominating presence of colonial authority and power. Because Fiji has continued with
Western models of assessment, those who do not pass the national examinations carry the
206

label of 'failure' in education. As Professor Konai Thaman has noted, the tragic outcome of
this labelling is when this is carried over to mean a failure in all aspects of life.
The curriculum, assessment and pedagogies that are in play in this postcolonial
moment are more or less a continuation of what was prior to 1970, that supposedly magical
moment when Fiji became a politically independent nation-state. The curriculum and the
ensuing pedagogies and assessment system are still 'Western' in focus and emphasis and are,
in many cases, considered too foreign, inappropriate, irrelevant and impractical. There has
been some measure of localisation of the content to include material on Fiji and the South
Pacific, However, the focus is still very academic, theoretical and fashioned after offerings
in the New Zealand and Australian curriculum,
This raises the question of social and cultural relevance and appropriateness. The
undervaluing of Indigenous Fijian language, knowledge and culture has been picked up by
some of the informants and is something I would like to discuss in detail in Chapter Seven.
As well, alternatives to the current educational system will be pursued later. I will, therefore,
pick up on this argument about hegemonic, neocolonial educational structures in greater
depth in Chapter Seven, The important question to ask is what would be an appropriate
hybridised curriculum that would be relevant in the Fiji context. This question will be
addressed in the final chapter where I will explore a vision of the postcolonial curriculum.
Success in Schooling
Given that educational structures generally do not serve the welfare of decolonised
nations, how and why do Indigenous Fijians, and 'other' ethnic groups in Fiji, succeed in
schools? The data seem to show that school success is contingent on several factors. First, !
there is an element of struggle, whether the student is Indigenous Fijian or not. The desire to
succeed in order to move out of poverty is one such motivator. Second, having parents who
value what a 'good' education brings, and no matter how poor, will strive to provide a
facilitative environment for the educational success of their children is seen as another
element that leads to success in school. Having this home support was cited as an important
contributing factor for both Indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian. Third, 'significant others', in
the form of 'good' teachers or role models of the same 'race', were reported to contribute to
the success of Indigenous Fijians in school.
An element that has been highlighted by several informants is the closer the home
culture of the student is to the culture of the school, the more advantaged that person is.
Children who count as middle-class are included in this category, as are those who live in
207

urban spaces compared to their rural counterparts, Students who have educated parents and
speak English in the home are perceived to have an advantage over those students who come
from low socio-economic backgrounds, particularly if they live in rural spaces.
The categories of location/place and social class have more salience in explaining
school success and failure than the overrated category of race. As consistently emphasised in
the data, the category of space (rurality) has intersected the normative analytical categories of
race, class and gender and as such, to explaining Indigenous Fijian underachievement.
Silences in the Data
Another point I would like to expand on is the silence amongst the informants
regarding the underachievement of non-indigenous children. With so much emphasis on
Indigenous Fijian failure, one does not hear about the large numbers of non-indigenous
students who do not do too well at school. As well, one hears very little regarding the
reasons why this category of students also faces the problem of inequalities in school inputs
and outcomes, What are the reasons for this silence? Is it because there is too much rhetoric
about indigenous failure that this drowns the 'others1 out? Why is there such an emphasis on
Indigenous Fijian underachievement to the exclusion of all other ethnic groups? In fact, why
is there a continuation of the notion of 'othering' that was the mainstay of the process of
colonialism? Is this because of Indigenous Fijian political hegemony that was a result of the
transfer of political power from the colonial 'masters' to Indigenous Fijians? My intention is
to explore many of these questions in Chapter Six.
There is also a silence in the data regarding gender, Only several female informants
have mentioned gender issues. Is this because the underrepresentation of females in
education and employment is seen as acceptable? Is this because male dominance is
perceived the hegemonically accepted practice? Is the silence in the data regarding gender
issues a result of the lack of available comparative statistics on the same? It is difficult to
decide what the reason is for this silence. Whatever the reason, the 'fact' is that Indigenous
Fijian women are heavily underrepresented in scholarship awards and consequently in
university admissions, and in middle to top positions in the private and public sectors. Local
and national leaders will need to decide whether this situation should be allowed to continue
or whether gender-based AA should become part of race-based AA. Or indeed, whether
gender-based AA is necessary.
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Other Unresolved Themes
The analysis has raised more questions than there are answers. These questions relate
to the issue of comparisons, the status of current educational structures, the place of
vocational and technical education and the cultural orientations of Indigenous Fijians
juxtaposed against schooling and so forth. Is it appropriate to compare the educational
performance of Indigenous Fijians with those of other ethnic groups? Does the Indigenous
Fijian community need to change its cultural attitudes and orientations to provide more
success stories? Even if Indigenous Fijians changed their ways and attitudes and there was
an upsurge in their academic performance, is the economy able to provide them with gainful
employment? Should there not also be a restructuring of educational structures to ensure that
Indigenous Fijians, and indeed students of all ethnicities in Fiji, are not disadvantaged by the
structures? Can vocational education take an equal place with academic education in
people's perceptions and in practice?
Other unresolved questions relate to the issues of employment, the place of
indigenous knowledge and cultural value systems and the impact of globalisation. With the
limited resources available to a small nation state like Fiji, can it not have a vision where
there are alternative paths for students to take so that there is not such a high rate of
unemployment and the concomitant increase in crime perpetrated mainly by Indigenous
Fijians? Can the curriculum value Indigenous Fijian cultural and knowledge systems? Can
all community knowledges and cultural value systems be accommodated in the curriculum?
With regard to the explanations cited for the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians in
formal schooling, should not the current policies of the government, AA policies included,
be re-examined and re-directed if need be? And given the insidious and blatant impact of the
process of globalisation, where everything is ruled and judged according to the global market
economy, what is the status of all these questions? These are pertinent questions that need to
be addressed by Indigenous Fijian leaders in all walks of life and other ethnic communities in
Fiji. I will certainly attempt to answer some of these questions in the following chapters.
Summary
This chapter has documented and thematised informants' commentaries on the
underachievement of Indigenous Fijians in formal schooling. I have argued from a parallelist
position which recognises the interplay between the dynamics of race, class, gender and
location working with each other and amongst social, cultural, political and historical forces
to explain racial inequalities in education. Note here the addition of two additional
209

categories of analysis: those of space and history. I have argued against deterministic,
essentialistic, mono-causal explanations because on their own, they hold very little salience.
However, when one puts all these explanations together as in a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces
interweave into a multi-faceted, multi-layered, comprehensive, holistic and complex
explanation that begins to make meaningful sense of the issue of Indigenous Fijian
underachievement in schooling.
In terms of socio-cultural deficit models, some deficit in students' physical, social
and cultural environment was emphasised as the main contributing factor for Indigenous
Fijian underachievement. In particular, the disadvantages associated with location and space
from urban nerve-centres, the home background of students, their socio-economic status, the
cultural orientations of their parents and school variables, such as resource availability, time
management and teacher quality, have been identified as significant socio-cultural factors
that impact on Indigenous Fijian school performance.
The factors that were reported to have a significant psychological impact on
Indigenous Fijian educational performance were parental attitudes (deemed to be inadequate,
particularly amongst the poorly educated) and living away from home. Since a predominant
number of secondary-aged Indigenous Fijian students are either in boarding institutions or
live with relatives in urban centres, this has been identified as a major psychological factor
that impacted on school performance in negative ways. The "overchurching" of Indigenous
Fijian parents in terms of their time and funds, as Pratap Chand describes it, demonstrates the
psychological hold that the Methodist Church continues to have over a significant number of
its congregation.
Moreover, I outlined some reasons for the success of students in schooling,
irrespective of ethnicity. The common themes emerging for school success of both
Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians (measured in terms of passing national and university
examinations) are the element of struggle (to get out of a negative situation such as poverty
or the indentured inheritance, i.e., cane farmers), a supportive home background, conducive
school conditions, such as 'good' teachers and/or the role models provided by "significant
others", as Professor Tupeni Baba puts it. Moreover, as an informant has described it, "there
is no substitute for hard work".
Racial inequalities in education, therefore, need to be seen as complex, contingent
and historically specific. As I suggested in Chapter One, the myth of Indigenous Fijian
underachievement needs to be dismantled in the same way as misperceptions abound of
Indo-Fijians and Chinese students being high school achievers. In the next chapter, I will
210

examine the data on AA policies to see whether they are an appropriate historical response to
the issue of racial inequalities. I will particularly take a look at the way the policies were
conceptualised and implemented. As well, the positive, negative and unintended outcomes
of the policies will be assessed.
i ]
i

211

CHAPTER SIX
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION POLICIES: CONCEPTUALISATION,
IMPLEMENTATION, OUTCOMES
In the last chapter, I explicated the informants' representations of the
underachievement of Indigenous Fijians. Racial inequalities in schooling were
represented in terms of socio-cultural deficit, psychological-deficit and historical
structural models. An important finding of the previous chapter is that taken singly, these
explanations are guilty of the "fallacy of the single factor", as Parekh (1986) has put it, or
of "essentialism" in McCarthy's (1990) terms.
In this chapter, I examine the interview data in terms of perspectives provided by
the informants regarding the conceptualisation, implementation and outcomes of AA
policies in education in Fiji. As explained in the latter part of Chapter Three, the two
policies that remain in place at this historical juncture are the allocation of half of the
government scholarships in any given year to Indigenous Fijians students (begun in the
mid-1970s and administered by the Public Service Commission) and the annual
allocation of $3,5 million, which increased to $4,7 million in 1994 (established in 1984
and administered by the Fijian Education Unit of the Ministry of Fijian Affairs), to
specifically assist Indigenous Fijians in education. It is the conceptualisation and
implementation of the latter that has attracted substantial criticism from the informants,
Conceptualisation of AA Policies in Education
In analysing any public policy, it is important to understand the context
surrounding the development of that policy, who the main stakeholders were, who made
the policy, whose values are served and in whose interests the policy was made. As well,
it is important to understand the processes before, during and after the production of the
policy. Just as importantly, it is critical to have an understanding of how power is
exercised in the policy decision. It is clear that policy is both process and product so, in
order to understand a policy, we need to understand the contexts of policy text
production, of practice, of outcomes and of political strategy. I now focus particularly on
the context of policy text production in terms of informant understanding of rationales
that underpinned the conceptualisation of AA policies in education and the use of 'race'
as a category to make comparisons.
212

Rationales for AA
The rationales for the conceptualisation of race-based AA in Fiji are explained by
Dr Ahmed Ali, an Indo-Fijian who was Minister for Education from 1982-1986. As well
as holding a senior academic position at USP, he has served in the diplomatic Corps as
Ambassador to Malaysia and Consul General in Auckland. Dr Ali is currently the
Director of the Policy Analysis Unit in the Prime Minister's Office. He points out that on
taking up the minister's position:
It was my task to help improve Fijian education because.,.there was a great
concern over [their] performance.,..They were significantly absent from important
areas of our life, particularly our economy as well as our social life. So there was
this tremendous disparity. The task was in one sense to improve the performance
of the Fijians in examinations...and also to somehow bridge the tremendous gap
that existed in the teaching profession because many of the Fijian schools were
staffed by Fijian teachers..,,So we had to work towards uplifting the whole
performance, and improving the whole structure of Fijian schools. (T2: 1-2)
Here, Ali highlights the underrepresentation of Indigenous Fijians in tertiary
education and employment in positions of responsibility i:i the private and public sectors
of the economy, an issue of national concern in the 1970s and the early 1980s. His
mandate was to improve the education of Indigenous Fijians at the school level. The
quality of teachers and staffing of rural Indigenous Fijian schools in particular, and the
quality of Indigenous Fijian schools in general, were some of the areas that Ali felt
needed improvement.
Ali argues that given this tremendous disparity between Indigenous Fijians and
others in social and economic life to the detriment of the Indigenous Fijians, AA is
i
essential, not only because of its "moral imperative", but also because it was a
"pragmatic" social policy. He views AA as "an insurance policy" against social strife,
particularly in a society which has two major ethnic groups, one being the Indigenous
Fijians who need special assistance, and the other a migrant community who is perceived
to be ahead in education and in terms of economic advancement. He states:
There is this moral imperative and there is also the pragmatic reality....It's a
pragmatic policy. When you get a gap between two communities, particularly in
an ethnically fragmented society, what happens then is that you get dissatisfaction
and at the end of the day, you have collision so we used this remedy. Morally it
was important to bring up the Fijians. Secondly, it was important because in one
sense by giving the extra, you're taking out an insurance policy for the other
communities. I think that was essential. (T2: 3)
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The specific "remedy" or policy that Ali is referring to here is the $3.5 million
annual fund that was established in 1984 to look after the educational interests of
Indigenous Fijians. In our interview, Ali explained that when he became Minister for
Education in 1982, there was another AA policy already in place, namely the allocation
of 50% of all government scholarships to Indigenous Fijians. On seeing the poor quality
of education in predominantly Fijian schools in terms of substandard facilities and
equipment and inadequately trained teachers, he felt that additional assistance was needed
beyond government scholarships to help redress the inequalities that existed in the
education of Indigenous Fijians. The main assumption, therefore, behind the
development of the policy of an annual fund of $3.5 million to assist Indigenous Fijian
students in education was that the problem, identified specifically as resource lack in
terms of school physical infrastructure and educational resources, could be addressed or
resolved by pouring in more money. As Ali notes,
I realised that Fijian schools were tremendously disadvantaged....fO]ne of the
factors affecting Fijian performance was,.,a tremendous lack of resources and we
had to do something about equalising,...You can't have a society where there are
wide gaps and the gaps keep widening, The Americans were forced to resort to
affirmative action - they're evaluating it now. The Malaysians did it to bring up
the Bumiputras and we've done it. So we had to find a way and you know 50-50
was not adequate. (T2: 2)
Ali adds
You couldn't leave the situation be because you were then headed for a collision
course socially as well as in political terms. So you had to rectify it but I think
that twelve years is too short a time for us to say now, okay throw it out. You
know if you look at a country like Malaysia which had an upheaval in 1969 and
even more rigorously has implemented affirmative action and that's 27 years now.
It's still doing it to a large extent because there's a generation gap and a
generation gap is about 30-35 years. So it will take a while...,(T2: 4)
Here, Ali is rationalising the creation of the special fund. He contends that extra
financial resources were needed to counter the physical and educational resource
problems in Indigenous Fijian schools. He sees the main positive social effect of this
policy, therefore, as the prevention of a collision course, both socially and politically,
between the educationally disadvantaged Indigenous Fijian community and the non-
indigenous community. Using the examples of America and Malaysia where AA is still
being played out, he argues that twelve years is too short a time to judge the effectiveness
214

of the special fund policy and that at least 30 years is needed for AA to make its impact ,-.'
felt.
Others share this sentiment regarding the timing and duration of the Special Fund
of $3.5 million. For instance, Winston Thompson, a retired Permanent Secretary of the
Public Service Commission who has also served in various very senior positions in other
government departments, as well as Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, and
is now currently the Managing Director of Telecom Fiji, has this to say about the time
frame of the 3.5 million fund policy:
It's a total misconception, I think what was trying to be addressed by the
affirmative action isn't something that was going to go away in a short time. It
was a fundamental problem of the system and the $3.5 million was really not
enough to address it, but it was a major input at the time, and to expect it to go for
only five years was really totally unrealistic. It was something that would have
had to be put in train and go on for a long time. (T17: 6)
Thompson here refers to the initial time frame of five years in the initial phase of
policy formulation. He, like Dr AH, recognises that AA policies were not going to have
an impact in a short period of time and that a much longer period is needed for AA to
work as intended. Thompson contends that putting a time frame, and a short one at that,
on AA was ill-conceived and unrealistic.
Sefanaia Koroi is a proponent of AA. He was Head of the Fijian Education Unit,
which is the implementing arm of the Ministry of Fijian Affairs for the $3.5 million
annual fund, from 1988-1991. Koroi argues that without AA, the educational gap would
have been wider than what it is today, And like Ali, Koroi maintains that Fiji would have
experienced political instability and upheaval, what he describes as "turbulent times
politically in this country" (T9: 6),
A senior Indigenous Fijian community representative at USP supports the
principle of AA to assist a disadvantaged group in society. She argues that Indigenous
Fijians are "Johnny come lates" to formal schooling and therefore the government is
"morally obliged to look at Johnny come lates into a system or a minority.,.in terms of
numbers or a minority in terms of opportunities" (Til: 4).
There are those informants who support AA but feel that the rights of other people
should not be compromised. Evidence of this is provided by Hari Ram who points out
that it would be in everyone's interest "if this gap in the educational attainment of
Indigenous Fijians and others was...reduced", Arguing for the reduction in the
educational gap and a better representation of Indigenous Fijians "in the professions
215

where they're conspicuously absent like engineering, law, medicine, etc, there will be less
resentment between the races and there would be better prospects for harmony and
cooperation". He points out that "what needs to be done when any special measures,
particularly measures aimed at helping a particular group are introduced, is to make sure
that the measures are working and..,do not take away the rights of other people who have
access to education" (T5: 4-5).
Here, Ram highlights several important aspects of AA, First, that a disadvantaged
group who happen to comprise the Indigenous people of Fiji, needs to be assisted so that
they do not feel resentful about their lack of representation and participation in the
professions, by implication in education, and by extension in positions of responsibility in
the public and private sectors of the economy. Like Dr Ali and others, Ram also
highlights the need to maintain harmony and cooperation within ethnic communities but
he also makes two other points: first, that the policies should be made to work and
second, they should not compromise the rights of others in accessing education.
Adi Kuini Speed also believes that AA is necessary because of the social and
economic disadvantage faced by Indigenous Fijians but she argues it is timely that this is
brought to an end because of the assumption behind AA that Fijians are lacking
intellectually. Adi Kuini supports AA because "Fijians are so backward socially and
economically...and there is indeed a genuine need to close the gap in numbers of
academically trained Fijians" (T 32: 2). However, Adi Kuini is of the view that AA
should not be continued, first, because of the inherent assumption of intellectual deficit or
lack on the part of Indigenous Fijians and, second, because of the lack of independence
that comes from the spoon feeding that is a characteristic of AA. As she has put it, AA
affects "the whole ability or capacity of the whole community to use its initiative in
fending for each other in terms of education, socially, economically and otherwise" (T32:
6).
By contrast, on the policy of scholarship awards to tertiary institutions, Professor
Konai Tharnan, argues that AA is necessary but additional assistance should be given to
those students who enter USP with lower marks in order to level the playing field. She
states:
I think affirmative action is necessary...but other things should be in place and
you can't just give scholarships to students without assistance. The reason why I
think there is a place for affirmative action [is the] fact that people don't start off
equal. It's not a level playing field for everybody. (T4: 6)
216

Thus far, the informants have indicated that they all support AA to assist
Indigenous Fijians, even if they had some reservations about race-based AA. But perhaps
the most vocal criticism of AA has come from Professor Baba. Baba argues strongly
against AA policies saying that at the political level, they are "absolutely immoral"
because the policies are not based on. consensus or approval from the bulk of the populace
which would create "a lot of dissatisfaction". As well, he criticises AA policies because
they "create inequalities among Fijians themselves". However, his most scathing
criticism is that AA basically is a way of maintaining "political hegemony". As well, he
notes that accountability has not been built into policy text production. He puts it this
way:
I think that,,,what is going on at the moment...is the maintenance of hegemony,
the maintenance of power, the maintenance of a bureaucracy. It's the bureaucracy
to maintain what's going on. There is no attempt to seriously look to whether this
is effective or not. There is no attempt to be accountable either to the Fijians or to
the whole community. I find that absolutely unsatisfactory. (T8: 10)
In the main, then, the bulk of informants from all six interview categories and
different ethnicities support AA for Indigenous Fijians who they acknowledge as
educationally and economically disadvantaged. The rationales for the conceptualisation
of AA policies are to do with levelling the playing field, as Professor Konai Thaman has
put it, or because it is a moral imperative, as Dr Ahmed Ali describes it, to assist
disadvantaged groups in society who are underrepresented in higher education and
employment. An additional rationale, identified by Dr Ali, Hari Ram, Sefanaia Koroi and
others, for the development of AA is the prevention of civil strife or social disorder that
would arise if social and economic inequalities that Indigenous Fijians faced were not
dealt with, On the other hand, as Professor Baba has pointed out, AA has created
inequalities amongst the supposed beneficiaries as well as created a bureaucracy intent on
maintaining political hegemony. In the next section, I outline comments on the poor
conceptualisation of AA policies, before examining perspectives on comparisons of
educational performance upon which AA policies were based.
Poor Conceptualisation
Many informants hold the view that the AA policy of a special annual fund
specifically for the education of Indigenous Fijians was poorly conceptualised. For
instance, Hari Ram has made the observation that it is a flaw of this policy to assume that
217

pouring in more resources would bring about a significant difference in the educational
gap between Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups,
Another perspective is provided by a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat in
Government. He argues that "there has not been an integrated approach" in the
conceptualisation of the $3.5 million annual fund policy. He argues particularly that the
focus on scholarships is shortsighted without a parallel strategy to change Indigenous
Fijian attitudes towards the value of education. As he has described it, "There has not
been enough thought given to affirmative action...there has not been an integrated
approach to see whether this is really working and whether their actual targets have been
accomplished", As well, he notes "I don't think much thought was given to actually
looking at an integrated approach like involving the family from the very beginning and
trying to change attitudes" (T31:1).
He argues further that the development of a time frame and proper targeting were
not part of the conceptualisation process as they should have been, He notes that AA is
"open ended,..and it's just pouring endless amounts of money [down the drain]". These
criticisms have been made regarding the AA of allocating a special education fund for the
education of Indigenous Fijians. By contrast, Winston Thompson argues that the
Government had no choice because what was needed was to get as many qualified
Indigenous Fijians through in the quickest possible time. By implication, this was to
enable them to hold positions of responsibility. As Thompson describes it:
The system had no option. The Government had no option but to start at the top
levels because you had to try to pick up people to push through who would then,
give you the quickest turnaround in terms of somebody coming back with a
qualification..,,It was a practical reality you had to deal with and ideally you
might have wanted to do it in ways that would have addressed the whole thing.
Government is a thing of compulsions, of priorities that you have to deal with
them. You can't deal with it on a proper, logical, systematic, rational basis.
You've got to deal with it as you find the situation. (T17: 6)
It is interesting that Thompson talks about governments working on
"compulsions", on "priorities". He provides us with an understanding of why AA was
conceptualised in terms of human resource development by starting at the top level. He
acknowledges that the better approach would have been the systematic, logical and
rational strategy that would 'ideally' be a holistic approach. However, as Thompson
notes, the "practical reality" was to get as many Indigenous Fijians through the tertiary
21S

system as quickly as possible, and scholarships awards by both the PSC and the MFA
were perceived as the means to do this.
Comparisons in Educational Performance
The basis for AA policies has been the comparisons made between the
educational performance of Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups. Based on these
comparisons, specific government assistance was given to narrow the educational gap21
that was perceived to be the problem inhibiting Indigenous Fijians from playing a more
significant part in social and economic life. It is interesting that 'race' (not gender or
class) should be seen as the category for comparison.
Informants are divided on whether a comparison should be the basis for AA. For
instance, the Minister for Education, Taufa Vakatale is very supportive of comparisons
being made between the educational performance of indigenous and other communities
because this "encourages them to perform". As she puts it, "if we just compare Fijians
and Jtujians, they won't ever compete with the best so we must compare them with other
races". She emphasises that Indigenous Fijians "must hurt to see that they are not doing
so well" and must be made to feel "guilty as well because they get the same
opportunities, in some cases, they get better oppotunities" (T14: 6).
In contrast, Professor Baba (T8: 12) contends that comparisons should not be
made because AA is based on the "cultural deficit model" which defines Indigenous
Fijian students as failures in the school system because "they're deficient in the culture of
the school, in the language of the school, in the ethos of the school, in everything of the
school". As Baba points out, it is unfortunate that "the basis for affirmative action is
based on their performance at school". He goes on to argue that this is inappropriate but
that unfortunately because of the influence of modernisation, "Fijians have to be dragged
into the modern sector. They're supposed to be accountants and lawyers, they're
supposed to be good in business and the private sector as well and they're not". He also
makes the important point that because Indigenous Fijians do not succeed in school, they
are perceived to be
a failure in society at large. It's a replication of what is going on in the school.
So what is happening is the school becomes a microcosm of society. The Fijian is ^
seen to be deficient because he doesn't have the modern values, modern attitudes
211 have provided a detailed coverage of the concept of 'the educational gap1 in the section on Racial
Inequalities in Schooling in Chapter Three.
219

for competing now in the global economy. So the Fijian will never catch up in a
global economy unless there is a total transformation of Fijian society. (T8: 12)
Baba has drawn a picture here of the critical relationship between schooling and
the wider society. Because Indigenous Fijian home culture is at odds with the school
culture and they do badly at school, this is transferred to the economic sector where they
are seen to be deficient in terms of modern values and attitudes. Here, the Indigenous
Fijian is perceived to be a failure just as he is a failure at school. If we draw the
extension further, the values that are encouraged at school, like competitiveness and
individualism, are the same as those that are encouraged in order to survive in a market
economy. Because the Indigenous Fijian orientation does not resonate with that which is
encouraged in the school and survival in the modern economy, he is deemed a failure on
both counts. The alternative, for Baba, is to determine the "proportion of success" that
Indigenous Fijians have had in schooling instead of using other races "as yardsticks" for
success. For Baba, the focus needs to change to look at the progress that Indigenous
Fijians have made over the years in terms of numbers and proportions in the last twenty
years, for example. Baba concludes by saying that the Fijians, unfortunately, are
"beginning to judge themselves as failures" because they are compared with other races,
An Indigenous Fijian in a senior position at USP maintains that if comparisons are
made to show a disadvantage, then that is positive but "If you're comparing for political
purposes...it's very frightening" (Til, 4). She thinks "it's almost immoral to compare"
and that considering that Fijians are "Johnny come late" into the educational system, they
have done very well since the first schools were set up in Fiji. This resonates very closely
with what Professor Baba is advocating with regard to examining how Fijians have
progressed over the years and that without any comparison with other ethnic groups, they
have done very well indeed. This is also echoed by Professor Konai Thaman who argues
that it is wrong to think in terms of gaps because "we are interpreting success in life as
synonymous with success in school". As she has put it;
It could be that we have to stop thinking of the notion of the gap and just say there
are some things that Fijians can do very well.,.they don't have to catch up with
anybody. I think it's wrong to think of gaps [but] this is because we are
interpreting success in life as synonymous with success in school and as long as
do you that, maybe you couldn't narrow the gap or close the gap because
everybody is not the same. (T4; 15)
220

By contrast, Hari Ram maintains that it is "unavoidable" to make comparisons
given the presence of different racial groups in Fiji. However, it is the "unrealistic
conclusions" that are drawn from making such comparisons that become a problem.
According to Ram, the flawed assumption or conclusion that is drawn from such
comparisons is that more financial support will ensure the improvement of Indigenous
Fijian performance in education. If what Ram is saying holds salience, what implications
does this have for the AA policy of giving additional resources to specifically assist
Indigenous Fijians in education? As Dr Ali has said, one of the underlying assumptions
behind the $3.5 million annual policy was that the Indigenous Fijian community was
"deprived and disadvantaged" in terms of resources. On the other hand, Dr Ali argues
that "Affirmative action, by being timely, has prevented the kind of conflict that has
existed in other places" (T2: 5).
There is a complexity to AA that is not evident on first sight of the policies but, as
one delves deeper into the context and the arguments put forward by differing
perspectives, it becomes evident that matters are nor as straightforward as they appear to
be. On the one hand, a huge educational gap had to be redressed, otherwise racial
tensions and conflict would arise. On the other hand, if there were flaws in the way the kr
t
policies were conceptualised and implemented, does that make AA inappropriate or
irrelevant? Or is it not so much what assumptions are made and what action is taken but ,.
more a question that some action is taken, whatever it may be? As long as the i<
i
disadvantaged group is appeased and the threat of civil strife averted? :j
i
i
Implementation of AA Policies
I have provided a narrative of the perceptions of the informants about their
understanding of the context in which race-based AA policies in education were ]
conceptualised. There have been many criticisms made about the lack of clear
conceptualisation, the lack of clear targets, the limitation in the initial time frame for AA,
and so forth. In delineating different perspectives on the necessity of AA, we can see the j
ambiguities and contradictions already emerging from the data. One thing is clear; AA
policies, wherever they are implemented, are controversial and draw many criticisms. It
is particularly in the area of policy implementation in Fiji that AA has many critics.
My purpose in this section is to draw out the complexities and ambiguities that
surround the implementation of AA policies in education, not only in terms of what
emerges from the data but also in the informants' perceptions of the actual policy process,
221

First, I begin by examining the debate on differentials in admissions to tertiary \\
admissions. Second, I examine informant perspectives on who really benefits from AA. [
Third, I look at criticisms of the way the special education fund administered by the MFA •
has been implemented. This is with regard to such issues as transparency, accountability,
monitoring, communication/liaison, assessment and review. Provincial inequalities are
perceived to be an effect of implementation so I will examine these as well. In addition, I
explicate the views of the informants regarding the issues of means testing and emphasis \\
on school development. Finally, I examine the data on why AA has failed and what \\
constitutes this failure. ]
Differentials in Admission to Local Tertiary Institutions |
An effect of the AA policy to provide opportunities for Indigenous Fijians to
access higher education has been the differential in entry marks between Indigenous
Fijians and others. Because of the stiff competition for the limited government .•
scholarships available to the non-indigenous community. Indo-Fijian students, for }
example, have entered tertiary education with much higher marks than Indigenous ;;
Fijians. Indigenous Fijians, on the other hand, have not scored highly on the Form seven |
exams and there are fewer of them in terms of numbers so in granting them tertiary g
awards, the FAB, in particular, have had to accept students with lower marks in order to |
meet its quota. Dr Vijay Naidu explains that the minimum entry mark to the university is fI
not compromised but there is indeed a differential in entry point marks between |
Indigenous Fijians and others. He puts it this way j
USP's entry requirement is 250 marks for Form 7 and there are particular areas j
where we say that [students] need...a pass in this...or that subject in addition to the j
250....And all of our students come at that level irrespective of their ethnicity or f
nationality, Where the problem arises is when PSC determines its policy or the §
Fijian Affairs Board....Because the number of ethnic Fijians passing Form f
7...examinations is much less than non-ethnic Fijians, the competition for the j
scholarships is not as intense as that...allocated to non-ethnic Fijians, So as a f
result of that...the cut-off point for scholarships has thus far been lower on the part j
of ethnic Fijians than on the part of non-ethnic Fijians. (T6: 5)
One of the criticisms of AA that it benefits a group of people at the expense of
those that do not, is raised by Sir Len Usher. Sir Len notes two effects of the AA policy
of scholarship awards, One is the lowering of standards that comes about "because you
have children who are not fully qualified for higher classes and they don't do very well
because they're not really ready to", The second effect of this AA is non-beneficiaries
222

becoming "resentful or.,,unhappy because they feel that they are discriminated against"
(T26; 7).
Like Sir Len, Winston Thompson is of the opinion that one of the reasons
Indigenous Fijians do badly at university level is their relatively lower entry marks. He
points out that "there is no comparison" between Indigenous Fijian and the non-Fijian
groups because the latter "is way, way ahead". And "because Indigenous Fijians come
from the bottom end,,.many of them are not going to perform", This contributes to the
high drop-out rate which "becomes a compounding problem" (T17: 12).
By contrast, the view that the problem does not lie in the selection process but in
what happens to the students once they get into university is taken by Professor Konai
Thaman. She argues that if not many Indigenous Fijians are graduating from university,
"the problem is not affirmative action, [therefore] I would question the process". She
points out that
Affirmative action is not saying we'll just take any...Fijian student and put them at
VSP. They have to atta«" a minimum standard and they have attained that. And
if they are failing...then I'm not going to say there's something wrong with AA.
I'm going to say what's happening to the Fijian students at USP because, to me,
that's where the problem lies, not the selection process. (T4: 6-7)
For Thaman, the answer lies in recognising that not everyone is the same and that
some students will need extra assistance once they get into tertiary institutions. She
points out that "Part of the problem with AA, certainly at USP, is that those of us who
deal with the students treat them as if they are exactly the same and that's where the
problem lies. They're not the same. They didn't start out the same and they won't end
up the same" (T4: 2-3). For those Indigenous Fijian students who get to USP with marks
close to the minimum entry mark, Thaman's position is that the AA policy of scholarship
awards is insufficient on its own. Alongside this government policy should exist policies
at the institutional level to assist those who will need extra assistance. In this way,
students who need help will be affirmed and the policy will then be made to work better.
There is also recognition by some informants that careful monitoring of the
progress of AA beneficiaries should be made by both PSC and FAB, if AA is to be more
efficiently utilised. For instance, Dr Nii-Plange, Head of Sociology at USP, argues that
what is needed for these beneficiaries is "Serious talks in the beginning...to be followed
through carefully" and "for their performance to be monitored" (T20: 4). Nii-Plange
advocates that the "inculcation of a strong sense of responsibility and a commitment to
223

work need to be put into the students who get this affirmative action programme money".
And for the policy to work, he recommends that some way is found to make beneficiaries
"realise that this is not just there for grabs...it is there to be attained, to be earned" (T20:
5).
This view is shared by Professor Randy Thaman, Reader in Geography at USP.
Thaman maintains that the scholarship officers "both in Fijian Affairs and in the PSC
don't monitor progress, attendance, effort and behaviour closely enough" (T25: 3).
Scholarship officers, according to Thaman, "have got to be much tougher in terms of
ensuring that they [the beneficiaries of AA] are serious students". Otherwise, Thaman
argues, "if we turn a blind eye to underperformance or indiscipline, then we will pass the
problem on to the society as a whole" (T25: 5). He suggests that scholarship officers
"have to be much tougher and when the student is mucking around, give the scholarship
to someone else".
Many of the comments on differentials in admission to university have come from j
academics. One point of view is that lower entry marks result in poor performance that in i
many cases would lead to wastage, Another point of view is that there is nothing wrong j
i
with the student; instead, it is an imperative for tertiary institutions to activate strategies I
of assistance that would make AA work more efficiently, As well, there is the argument j
that close monitoring of the academic progress of beneficiaries is required in order to j
maximise the returns from AA. In the next two sections, I examine informant [
perspectives on who really benefits from AA by also going into the area of means testing, \\
something which is not currently part of AA.
Who Benefits from AA? j
A strong criticism emerging from the informants about the implementation of AA \\
policies is that the policies are not helping those Indigenous Fijians who are seriously
disadvantaged, those who really need them. For example, Dr Vijay Naidu argues that
"some of the people who could well afford to pay their own way in a number of areas
have been given awards.,.because of the absence of means testing" (T6: 2).
This resonates with comments made by the Minister for Education, Taufa
Vakatale. She notes that it is the already privileged Fijians, children of the educated
middle-class, who are being given scholarship awards. This is how she puts it;
[W]e are inclined to give out scholarships to people who have access to
education...the educated Fijians, the middle class Fijians who are the ones making
224

use of this. So we are widening the gap even further [between rural and urban
Fijians]...1 was looking at the awards that the Ministry of Fijian Affairs has been
giving. I see familiar surnames, these are children of ministers...parliamentarians
and professionals who are getting the scholarships. (T14: 6-7)
Another group of Indigenous Fijians has been identified as disadvantaged by the
AA policy of providing financial assistance for the purposes of school development. This
group are those who attend predominantly Indo-Fijian schools. No assistance has been
provided to these schools because of the criteria that the school has to be predominantly
Indigenous Fijian in composition and ownership. As Vijay Naidu puts it, Indo-Fijian
owned schools like Suva Sangam and Suva Muslim should be assisted through the AA
programme if the intention is to help "rank and file ethnic Fijians to get ahead and get
training" (T6: 4). A senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat in the government calls for more
creativity in the way the fund is implemented, what he calls a "broad perspective".
In a similar vein, Hari Ram adds that there should be a mechanism in place to
ensure that the assistance provided is used specifically for the development of Indigenous
Fijian students at the school. Ram does not specify in which ways, probably in
recognition of the problematics associated with such a move. Given that resources in a
school are developed for the benefit of all groups in the school irrespective of their race,
how this suggestion could be implemented is problematic. Whatever the assistance given
to assist Indigenous Fijian students schooling in Indo-Fijian owned schools, what is clear
is that the focus of AA will have to be changed to take on board this new direction if, as
the informants claim, the aim of AA is to assist all Indigenous Fijians who are
economically disadvantaged, In other words, the target groups within the category of
Indigenous Fijian need to be reconceptualised.
A large number of informants have identified rural Indigenous Fijians as
disadvantaged because it is those in the urban centres, mainly from middle-class families,
who are benefiting from AA while these rural students generally miss out on
scholarships. The category of space is consistently raised as the principal category of
disadvantage. For instance, the Minister for Education, Ms Taufa Vakatale argues that
rural people are not "on a level playing field" therefore they should get AA. In her view,
"urban Fijians are not disadvantaged". It is rural Fijians who "are disadvantaged".
Similarly, with regard to material resources, Viliame Saulekaleka, Member of Parliament,
argues that schools out in the rural areas are disadvantaged. According to Saulekaleka,
225

"The basic problem is that they don't have learning materials" and "books and reading
materials are out of the question" (T57: 2).
In this section, what is emerging is the 'fact' that it is not those who are
economically disadvantaged that are the principal beneficiaries of AA. Rather, it is the
'advantaged' middle-class Indigenous Fijians who are winning scholarships. A related
issue to do with who benefits from AA appears in the next section. Many informants in
the academic, politician and bureaucrat categories support the notion of means testing of
parental income to determine that it is indeed 'poor' Indigenous Fijians who are the
beneficiaries of AA, not middle-class, well-to-do people. As a result of the
underrepresentation of Indigenous Fijians in education and positions of authority and
power, means testing was never a consideration in scholarship awards, One reason given
for this is the urgent need to get as many Indigenous Fijians through the tertiary system.
Nevertheless, some academics think that it is timely that AA targets those Indigenous
Fijians who are economically disadvantaged and they strongly support the use of means
testing.
Means Testing
Dr Vijay Naidu is adamant that before any scholarship is awarded, at least for the
first qualification, means testing should be carried out so that those students who are
disadvantaged economically are assisted. For him, a redefinition of the concept of
'disadvantaged' is necessary, particularly when there are ethnic minorities in Fiji, like the
Kiribati and Solomon Island communities, who are not assisted by the government in the
manner that Indigenous Fijians are, As well, he would like the concept of 'disadvantage'
reconceptualised in the light of privileged Fijians getting assistance when there are
categories of Indo-Fijians who clearly are disadvantaged. As Naidu has put it:
[T]he first scholarship that people receive should be means tested...otherwise how
do you define 'disadvantage'? When you say people are disadvantaged and
Fijians require affirmative action then do [privileged Fijians] get their children in
on that basis? These are the kinds of questions I would raise,, .when we know that
there are other minorities in Fiji, for example, the Kiribati community, the
Solomon Islander community who are very, very disadvantaged but who, under
current circumstances, never get access to such affirmative action. There are also
categories of Indo-Fijians, the sons and daughters of canecutters, who clearly
don't have any money at all and they're being penalised because they happen to
belong to the Indo-Fijian community....(T6: 2)
226

Arguing from a resource management perspective, Hari Ram believes that means
assessment is necessary in the allocation of scholarships because of the limited resources
that the government has. As he puts it, "I support the idea that students who have a
difficult financial background and whose parents are impecunious, need much greater
assistance than children whose parents are able to pay for their education". Where
resources are limited, it is therefore the "government's prime responsibility to help those
people who are in greater need of help and who cannot help themselves" (T5: 4).
Professor Tupeni Baba agrees that means testing should be part of the criteria for
the award of the FAB managed scholarships but he makes two points: one that the
concept of income should be extended to include the income generated from the lease of
land by Indigenous Fijians and secondly, where there is excellence, students should
receive full scholarships irrespective of their parents' income. He calls for "a thorough
examination of what you regard as income" and this should "not merely be based on
work-income because a lot of income would have come from the rent of land". He
particularly notes that we "must not rule out excellence" and that scholarships should be
set aside for "those people who are the high fliers...because it would be good for the
nation" (T8: 8).
In defence of the absence of merit testing, Sefanaia Koroi, a senior bureaucrat
who was head of the implementing arm of the special fund for Indigenous Fijians, points
out that means testing was never a consideration because tn the initial stages of policy
implementation, there was a difficulty in getting enough Indigenous Fijians to qualify for
scholarship awards to tertiary institutions. He explains the emphasis was on getting
Indigenous Fijians through to tertiary institutions irrespective of socio-economic status.
He puts it this way:
[Means testing] was not part of the criteria [for selection] because the policy was
provided for Fijians irrespective of whether they were sons of Ratus22 or villagers.
If they qualified for the course they're applying for, they get it [if the committee
decides]. (T9: 8)
Similarly, Josevata Kamikamica, a former member of the Fijian Education
Committee that made decisions on the disbursement of the Fijian Education special fund,
12 Ratu is a Fijian term to describe a male who is of chiefly rank.
227

argues that the objective of the policy was to bridge the educational gap and
considerations outside of merit and interview performance were not taken into account.
As he puts it, "the objective was to bridge the gap and..,in my time on the Committee, we
looked at performance irrespective of where they're from, not only in terms of their
academic marks. We also looked at their interview performance" (T16: 4).
According to Kamikamica and Koroi, then, the main consideration in the early
stages of the policy was getting qualified Fijians on scholarship irrespective of their
economic circumstance. Means testing, therefore, has never been a part of the
implementation of the $3,5 million special annual fund policy. However, a growing
number of informants across all categories are of the view that socio-economic status
(social class) should be an important criteria for scholarship awards.
Lack of Transparency and Accountability
In the previous two sections, I examined views on who benefited from AA. This
narrowed down to a discussion of the reasons why m°^ns testing was not part of the way
the special education fund for Indigenous Fijians was implemented. In so doing, I have
outlined some of the views on who truly benefits from AA and the conclusion seems to
be that AA should be given to those Indigenous Fijians who are economically
disadvantaged, There is thus the widespread belief that social class should be a
determinant in the award of scholarships. In this section, I examine another criticism
regarding transparency and accountability issues. A significant number of informants are
of the view that there is a marked lack of transparency and accountability in the
implementation of the AA policy administered by the MFA.
As evidence of this claim, a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat points out that the
there is a lack of accountability where the $3,5 million fund is concerned. He explains
that the secrecy that surrounds the way this policy is implemented is to do with
Indigenous Fijians coming from "a hierarchical society" where "questioning at any level
isn't encouraged". So when one goes up to ask a legitimate question of officials at the
Ministry of Fijian affairs, there is no compulsion for officials to give this person an
answer. Instead, "they're eternally given the run around". He is particularly concerned
when the decision making and implementing bodies take on the attitude that "they're not
really accountable" to the public (T31: 2),
He continues by asking "how open the authorities in the Ministry of Education
and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs have been in providing information on how the
228 L

resources have been allocated". In his view, "it appears in papers when they go to the
BoseLevu Vakaturaga2i but beyond that, there's no openness about it" (T31:3).
What is emerging from what this informant is saying is that here was a race-based
public policy that was not transparent to the general public. As many of the informants
have said, the criteria for scholarship awards have never been made public. What would
explain this lack of accountability in terms of the way the MFA administered the special
education fund? An answer is provided by Dr Ropate Qalo, Lecturer in Sociology at
USP, who refers us back to the coups of 1987. As Qalo and others have put it, AA is
political. Qalo argues that the coups "gave people a false image of authority because the
coup is a perversion of authority" and when politics "become overt...affirmative action
taken on those terms becomes dicey" (T63: 2). Jn this case, Qalo argues "There is no
accountability" and "There is no conscience", Qalo goes on to point out that "Fijian ego
is okay for Fijian-ness with its social control in position... [but] if social control and
cultural parameters are absent, it's dangerous. That's what the coup did", What has
occurred, then, is described by Winston Thompson, who maintains that "People have not
always been selected on the basis of open competition among the Fijians. There has been
a certain amount of favouritism,...nepotism...[and] political interference" (T17; 4).
What Thompson, Qalo and others are referring to here is that the Indigenous
Fijian hegemony and the assertion of their authority and control (especially after the
coup) encouraged the development of the attitude that they were not accountable to the
rest of the population. There seemed to have been the attitude that because they had
political control, they could treat the special education fund as if it were their own funds,
and not like the public funds that they were. Consequently, if we accept this explanation,
lack of transparency and accountability will become ingrained as a hegemonic feature of
the policy.
Lack of Liaison/Communication between Agencies
Yet another criticism made in relation to the implementation of the MFA
administered special education fund is the thinking that because the special education
" This is a reference to the Great Council of Chiefs, a legally mandated institution that makes major
decisions for Indigenous Fijians, According to this informant, the Great Council of Chiefs is privy to
any information on resource use. Outside of this, according to this source, there is no transparency in
the use of these funds, nor is there any sense of accountability,
229 L

fund was meant for Indigenous Fijians, then decisions for its disbursement had to be
made solely by Indigenous Fijians at the MFA. It becomes clear from what the
informants say that there was a lack of communication and liaison between agencies such
as the FTA, the Fijian Education Unit at the MOE, and the Fijian Education Unit at the
MFA that had the interests of Indigenous Fijians at heart.
For instance, Susana Tuisawau points out that there has never been any liaison
between the FTA, which looks after the interests of Indigenous Fijian teachers and
students, and either the MFA or the MOE when it came to the implementation of the
Fijian education fund. She maintains:
There wasn't [any liaison], None whatsoever,..and every year when we [the
Indigenous Fijian teachers] have our conference...[w]e would identify all these
needs and...send the feedback to the Ministry of Education...year in, year
out...hoping this would help but there doesn't seem to be any improvement. (T30:
3)
The implication of what Tuisawau is saying is that the MOE and the MFA should
have liaised closely with other agencies involved with rhe education of Indigenous
Fijians, such as the Fijian Teachers Association. Her argument is that a concerted effort
would be beneficial for the standard of Indigenous Fijian education.
A senior bureaucrat at the MOE, Filimoni Jttoko, echoes this. Jitoko is the head
of the Fijian Education Unit at the MOE which was established in 1995 but does not have
a recurrent budget. This unit has nothing at all to do with the Fijian Education Unit at the
Ministry of Fijian Affairs which manages the special education fund. From our
discussions, it became obvious that there has not been any liaison between the two units
and yet their common interest is looking after the interests of Indigenous Fijian students.
It is interesting that these two ministries have a unit called the Fijian Education Unit and
yet, there is no communication between the two in terms of professional advice and
consultation. The special unit at the MOE does not have an operating fund, and unlike
the Fijian Education Unit which manages the special education fund, encourages
participation and resource sharing with any agency that wants to make a contribution to
the education of Indigenous Fijians. Jitoko describes it this way:
One of the sad things,,.is that...we don't have any specific allocation for our
work....Whenever we want training, for example, we would ask CDU because
they have training funds, When we travel, we make use of the travel vote for
Research and Development and we are working with the FTA very closely in
terms of workshops....[T]hey provide the funds, we provide the manpower so
we...conduct the workshops while they, through their network, provide the
230

venue...the funds for the catering and subsistence for the teachers...Anybody who
wants to contribute to Fijian education, we encourage...and share resources
because that is the only way to go. [W]e feel that if we isolate ourselves and do
things on our own without any coordination, we can't achieve anything but if we
work together then we can achieve something. (T13;9)
The implication of Jitoko's comments is that a concerted approach needs to be
taken regarding the education of Indigenous Fijians. All the agencies involved with the
education of Indigenous Fijians, including the MFA, should be brought together and their
efforts coordinated to maximise the benefits arising out of this combined involvement.
Another implication of what Susana Tuisawau and Jitoko have said is that the MFA has
worked in isolation in implementing the Fijian education fund. This could be detrimental
to the welfare of Indigenous Fijians.
Tunnel Vision: Lack of Input from the non-Fijian Community
A related issue to the lack of communication between relevant agencies in the
education of Indigenous Fijians is what Winston Thompson has called "tunnel vision".
Some informants have suggested that the isolationist policy of the MFA should be
replaced with one that not only utilises the contribution of agencies concerned about the
welfare of Indigenous Fijians but, just as importantly, utilises the knowledge and
expertise that non-Fijians have.
Thompson, for one, believes there is too much "tunnel vision" in decisionmaking
about the education of Indigenous Fijians. He suggests that "a greater universality is
brought in [and examined] from a broader context" in order for AA to work better (T17;
16), He particularly recommends that "a much larger group of non-Fijians" who would
help in terms of providing "a broader set of expertise, a broader philosophical approach"
be involved in decisionmaking regarding the selection of Indigenous Fijians for
scholarships.
This view is shared by Hari Ram He argues that those people who deal with
policy making issues in relation to the use of the Fijian education fund "should have
advice from a variety of sources, including advice from our [MOE] people who are not
directly connected with Fijian education, people who are experts in particular fields,
including advice from non-Fijians as well" (T5: 3).
Similarly, a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat argues that Indo-Fijians should
also participate in decisionmaking regarding the education of Indigenous Fijians because
231

their taxes contribute to the Fijian education fund. The reason he gives for the 'tunnel
vision', to use Winston Thompson's words, that is characteristic of decisionmaking on
Fijian education is that no one from within the Fijian community has actually thought
otherwise, that is, to include other ethnic groups in policy decisions for the problem that
is defined as distinctly Indigenous Fijian. The senior bureaucrat puts it in this manner:
I couldn't agree more [to including non-Fijians in decision making on Indigenous
Fijian education] because we live in a multi-ethnic society and they're tax payers,
they're also funding Fijian education. I think why it hasn't been done is that no
one has really thought about it and they've just been doing...[because] they're
comfortable with it and they all know each other and this goes on and on...which
is very unfortunate....[The record of Indo-Fijians] speaks for them and they offer
so many valuable lessons. (T31: 6)
In sum, there is acknowledgment by both Indigenous Fijian and non-indigenous
informants that wider consultation with the non-Fijian community would contribute to
the expertise and advice that would enhance the quality of decisionmaking in the
implementation of the Fijian education fund policy. There is also the notion of
Indigenous Fijian political hegemony, where the status ^uo becomes established early
and followed to the extent that "it saturates the consciousness", as Raymond Williams
(1976) has described it, of the Indigenous Fijian psyche and becomes a hegemonic fixture
of implementation. This is reminiscent of what Professor Tupeni Baba said earlier about
his view of the way AA is now implemented which is "the maintenance of hegemony, the
maintenance of power, the maintenance of a bureaucracy".
Need for Proper Assessment/Review
Yet another criticism levelled at the way the Fijian education fund is implemented
is the lack of policy assessment and review. Since the policy was established in 1984, the
informants have indicated that there has not been a review carried out to take stock of
progress and weaknesses.
For example, Sefanaia Koroi points out that one of the negative aspects of
implementation has been the lack of direction. He maintains that "constant evaluation of
the policy is not taking place and therefore you cannot redirect it, you cannot reevaluate
to see where you're going right and where you're going wrong". He argues for "a
constant review to relook at these policies" (T9: 16).
This opinion is echoed by a senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat who claims that
"From the beginning, it has been the conclusion that the way to address this is to give
232

scholarships to students at this level and that's it". He goes on to argue that the
advantage of a review is the capacity to say "we got to this and obviously it's not
working" and the potential to "sit down and think about ways of doing it [better] or
scrapping that" (T31:4).
Provincial Inequalities in Scholarship Awards
In the early to mid-1990s, there was much controversy over what was perceived to
be provincial inequalities in scholarship awards. For some informants, merit should be
one criteria for scholarship awards, and if the fund is to be apportioned according to
province, then these informants argue there are conditions which should be met. Several
informants would like to see a provincial distribution of awards. But a significant
number of informants, however, believe that scholarships should not be distributed
province-wise.
Professor Baba attributes "the hue and cry of the provinces" for scholarships to be
equally distributed to the fourteen provinces as a response by Indigenous Fijians to the
inequalities they perceived in policy implementation, As he explains it "certain provinces
who have been behind, who haven't got too many people in secondary schools, are also
losing out [on] scholarships". It is these provinces which are seeking "a way of
redressing these inequalities" and if funds are provided province-wise, then "they will put
the money to which they think is appropriate and they will seek advice from their
educated people from the province" (T8> 7).
The Minister for Education, Taufa Vakatale, would like to see two uses for the
funds; first, the Government, through the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, should decide on
national priorities in terms of manpower training which would be awarded on merit; and
second, she thinks that a proportion of the fund administered by the Fijian Affairs Boards
should be allocated to the fourteen provinces and Rotuma who "will set out their own
priorities" in this manner:
For example Lomaiviti might decide...to develop their marine resources, Namosi
might want something in forestry or mining or they might just want to send their
students to Form 7 because they haven't got Form 7 students. Their priority
might be just at the higher secondary school. (T14: 7)
In a similar vein, Hari Ram agrees that funds for scholarships could be allocated
province-wise but he stipulates that certain conditions will need to be met, First, he
argues that "a proper needs assessment would have to be made" which "is quite an
233

enormous exercise". Second, he suggests that "a very carefully thought out set of criteria
will have to be formulated before this sum of money is apportioned to different
provinces". He maintains that "allocating the same amount to every province" is not an
answer and neither is "allocating sums of money in proportion to the population of each
province" as "a province with a relatively small population may need more help". Ram's
main concern is to ensure that a proper study is carried out and criteria for provincial
distribution carefully considered so that funds are "utilised most efficiently" (T5: 3-4).
On the other hand, a senior Indigenous Fijian government bureaucrat is
ambivalent about the call for scholarships to be allocated on a provincial basis, asking the
important question "where does one draw the line?" He points out that "mediocrity"
would result. He also argues that "The problem of pandering to provincialism is that
somewhere along the line, bright students just become statistics". He would like to see
that provincial allocation is carried out on "a case by case basis" rather than a rigid "cast
iron rule" (T31:3).
As well, Josevata Kamikamica argues that scholarships should not be given out on
a provincial basis because it would downplay the role of merit in scholarship awards or as
he puts it, "In the long run, it is going to dampen our [Indigenous Fijian] ability to
compete at the very highest levels". However, he points out that if there is an allocation
for provincial scholarships, there should also be a separate provision for those on merit,
irrespective of province. As well, he would like some assistance to be given to those
provinces which are lagging behind so that the recipients of the scholarships act as "role
models" to the rest of the community.
Amraiya Naidu, the Permanent Secretary for Education, argues that scholarships
should not be allocated on a provincial basis because Fiji is "too small a country to put in
such fragmentation". He makes the point that Indigenous Fijians who get scholarships
should be viewed as people of Fiji, as Fijians, rather than by province" (T3: 9).
A senior educator working at USP, who views AA as a 'political tool', does not
agree with the idea of allocating scholarships to provinces because it is her belief that
scholarships should be awarded according to merit, not province. As she puts it:
People go to university not because they come from a province but because of
their academic eligibility....That bit of having to satisfy a quota, apportioning a
quota to a province has always bothered me because the distribution of
intelligence in a population has nothing to do with geographical barriers or is not
provincially based. (Tl 1: 4)
234

A very senior bureaucrat from the MOE disagrees with the idea of allocating
scholarships to provinces because "the bulk of the Fijian people will never be educated"
as the money will "probably go to some place else". Her advice is for the fund to be
"better coordinated centrally" (T15: 8), What is being implied by the senior bureaucrat is
that there is a high possibility that instead of utilising the fund for education purposes, the
money may be utilised in other provincial development projects, As well, it is her view
that a central coordinating body should be responsible for determining national
manpower needs, which is very similar to what the Minister for Education has said above.
In sum, there is a varied response by the informants on whether AA should be
distributed according to province. On the one hand, some informants think that it is
necessary in order that provincial inequities are addressed. On the other hand, some
informants believe that AA should not be provided on a provincial basis because this
would compromise the merit principle and would lead to "mediocrity" as one informant
puts it, or as another informant has put it, this would lead to more "fragmentation". In
between these viewpoints are nvo more variants: on the one side are those informants
who believe that it is possible to have two uses of the fund: one directed by Government
in terms of national manpower planning and the other at the micro-level by the provinces
who would determine their own educational needs. The other variant is provided by
those who believe that provincial allocation of funds should only be made once strict
conditions are in place. Two such conditions have been identified as a thorough needs
assessment of each province and the development of specific criteria for the distribution
of the funds.
Having thus discussed views on the provincial allocation of AA funds, I now turn
to representations of the way the Fijian education fund was monitored. I will follow this
with a discussion on the way informants have reacted to the change of focus from human
resource development and capital development of Indigenous Fijian schools to purely
human resource development.
Poor Monitoring
Another criticism of the implementation of the Fijian education fund is the
perception that there was poor monitoring of AA beneficiaries, particularly at overseas
tertiary institutions. Winston Thompson, for instance, notes that:
Once [the students] have been selected and have gone away, [they] have quite
often been left in a state where they don't get their allowances on time. I would
235

imagine it would be frustrating so these students start off with a disadvantage,
who come from fairly protected backgrounds, not able to compete in an open
scholastic situation. They go away with quite a considerable mental trauma and
then they don't get their allowances. It's a pretty upsetting sort of situation. (T17:
4)
There are two points that Thompson is making here: first, there is the problem of
adaptation to a new environment, coupled with the late arrival of living allowances.
Thompson explained that when he was Ambassador in New York, he would get frequent
phone calls from students on FAB scholarships asking him to liaise with FAB regarding
their allowances as sometimes they would go several months without receiving their
living allowance. Dr AH highlights the same problem when he was Consul General in
New Zealand. He contends, particularly, that students' progress should be monitored
•?'
:\\t
with the view to helping those who need additional assistance and maintaining a 'positive 1
approach' to students and their problems (T2: 14). Similarly, Josevata Kamikamica calls i
for more efficient implementation where the payment of allowances to overseas students i
is concerned. He points out that "there is a need to ensure that the administration of that |
policy is more efficient" (T16: 3). j
Besides criticisms of poor monitoring of students on overseas scholarships, there j
has been much criticism of the way the capital development programme, that was part of
the Fijian education fund, was implemented, For instance, a very senior official at the
MOE points out that a "methodical assessment and appraisal of the whole scheme" j
(Fijian education fund policy) needs to be undertaken. She explains that that is difficult I
due to the cumbersome bureaucratic red tape involved and that school development, in ]
particular, should have been better coordinated. She argues that "there was so much I
abuse" and suggests that "there needs to be a proper appraisal before you give out
money". As well, there needs to be better coordination between agencies involved in the
implementation of the school capital development programme. She notes;
You really need to have support, a team....At the moment, the infrastructure is j
such that there is one agency which is giving out the money, there is another
agency...which does the building....[I]t takes a lot of time and there is a lot of loss J
incurred in between of a lot of money,...There are too many people with different j
fingers pulling the string and it's not good...,The will to do affirmative action is
there but it is not properly coordinated. (T15: 3-4)
Likewise, Professor Baba outlines the problems of implementation as "very little
assessment of the needs of the schools and students, very little monitoring of what goes
236

on in the schools after money has been given and very little examination of what comes
out at the end of it all". He notes, in particular, that "the belief seems to be that money
can solve the Fijian education problem" (T8: 6).
What all these informants are referring to is the utilisation of the special education
fund specifically provided for the education of Indigenous Fijians in terms of school
capital development. As explained in Chapter Three, from 1984 to 1993, the $3.5 million
special fund has been utilised in two ways—on human resource development through the
provision of tertiary scholarships, both locally and overseas, as well as the physical
development of Indigenous Fijian schools, particularly in the rural areas. The latter has
been in terms of assistance with the building of classrooms, toilet blocks, boarding
facilities, science laboratories and school libraries as well as the provision of educational
teaching and learning resources, such as books, science chemicals and the like.
A summing up of this section is best represented by this quote from a senior
Indigenous Fijian government bureaucrat who argues that:
there's really no careful monitoring of the way policies are administered. The
government is constantly being asked to approve anothti $3 million or $4 million
every four or five years for Fijian education, It has become an end in itself and
you've got this large bureaucracy to support these officials...but that
becomes...removed from the problem. And then of course there is the question of
whether it's the proper use of resources which I think is an important question in a
country like ours where funds are always an issue. (T31: 2)
This informant is referring to the political hegemony I raised earlier. With the
hegemony of Indigenous Fijian political control, there is the tendency to continue with
AA without strategies in place for monitoring, for review or for public accountability.
The problem was considered a peculiarly Indigenous Fijian one which was not perceived
by decisionrnakers to require input from other communities. The "tunnel vision" that
Thompson has referred to has become an entrenched feature of race-based AA policies.
As the informant above has noted, the important question that has to be asked and
answered is whether AA makes "proper use of resources".
Emphasis on Human Resource Development
In 1994, Cabinet approved an increase in the Fijian education fund from $3.5 to
$4.7 million a year for an undefined period of time. Since then the focus of disbursement
has changed, almost exclusively, to human resource development. This effectively
brought to an end assistance that Indigenous Fijian schools were getting for
237

infrastructural development and the provision of educational resource materials, This
move by the MFA has raised much criticism with calls made for less emphasis on human
resource development and more on assisting disadvantaged Indigenous Fijian schools.
As evidence of this, the Minister for Education, Taufa Vakatale has argued that
one third of the funds should be provided as grants to rural Fijian schools while two
thirds be maintained for scholarship awards. As she says, "we should really cut down on
the number of scholarships that we give out" so that "$3.5 million [is used ] for
scholarships and $1.2 million for grants to schools in rural areas" (T14: 6),
Similarly, Adi Kuini Speed questions the emphasis of the fund on human resource
development at the expense of school development. As she puts it, "We seem to be
i
thinking of affirmative action only at the tertiary level but [it] is drastically needed...at the
communal level, with primary.,,and secondary schools". In her position as Chief of the
Naikoro District, she makes these observations:
The village district school is unbelievable,...Louvres [and]cei!ings are missing,
dormitories are overloaded, the toilets are not working, there are no typewriters
for the teachers to type their exam papers. How do you expect our children to ? |
perform in such a situation? And then you come to the secondary school, Navosa \\
College, the same sort of situation prevails. And of course we don't have I
qualified teachers so all these reinforce each other and to just think of affirmative {
action by giving scholarships in the urban situation to those who come to know j
about the scholarship system, to me, is not addressing the problem....You will |!
always be left [with] the Fijian education problem. (T32: 7-8) j
| i
In these comments, Adi Kuini emphasises the problems faced by rural Fijian |;
schools which do not have the financial capacity to upgrade facilities and provide
educational resources for both teachers and students. As well, the lack of qualified f:
1
teachers reportedly exacerbates the problem of underachievement in rural Indigenous
Fijian schools. Another point made by Adi Kuini pertains to the urban Fijians in the
'know' who gain from the scholarship awards at the expense of school development in
the rural area. For Adi Kuini, a better way of "addressing the problem" is to focus on
school development and the provision of qualified teachers in rural schools. This would
entail AA that would "introduce kindergartens in the village system, improve the
facilities and the teachers at the district schools" as well as "the Fijian secondary
schools".
By contrast, the argument for maintaining the special fund on scholarships is
provided by a ranking bureaucrat at the Ministry of Education who comments that tertiary
scholarships are costly. The problem of affordability for Indigenous Fijian parents to pay
238

for their children's tertiary education is one of the reasons why there is almost exclusive
emphasis on scholarship awards, in comparison to Indo-Fijian parents, who make
sacrifices to send their children to university as private students. A second reason given
for this emphasis is that the Ministry of Education's capital investment budget has
significantly increased. As this senior bureaucrat explains:
When [the $3.5 million] is translated to scholarship terms, it really is
very...small.,.It's only a handful of scholarships....! think the idea of movement
away from capital [development] to scholarships is that...the average Fijian parent
can afford the cost of primary education...can afford even a secondary
education...but a tertiary education is really without the reach of most Fijian
parents, even the well to do. So the whole idea was to support that area because
Fijian parents cannot otherwise afford a tertiary education whereas the Indian
parents are able to save. They live very frugally and then support their own
students through USP, even overseas on a private basis. How many Fijian parents
are able to do this? I think that's why they've moved away from capital
investment because also the Ministry's capital development budget has grown,
has been increased several times. (T15: 6)
Thus, we have seen differing perspectives on the abolition of capital development
to an almost total focus on human resource development in the form of more scholarship
awards for Indigenous Fijians. One group of informants (politicians) decries this
development and would like to see a move back to the physical development of
Indigenous Fijian schools. On the other hand, there is the explanation by bureaucrats that
tertiary education is unaffordable for many Indigenous Fijian parents and hence, this view
holds, focussing exclusively on scholarship provision is justifiable. The context
surrounding the substantial increase in the MOE's own capital development programme
also contributes to an understanding of the decision by the MFA to concentrate on
scholarships. Since the MOE could assist Indigenous Fijian schools using their own
funds, the decision was made for more emphasis to be placed on human resource
development.
Why the Educational Gap Has Not Closed
Much has been said by the informants about why the educational gap between
Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians has not closed, as was the intention behind AA.
These explanations have ranged from deficiencies in policy conceptualisation and
formulation and poor implementation to social, cultural and psychological differences
between Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups.
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Arguing from a perspective of social and cultural difference, Reverend Dr Tuwere
attributes the non-closing of the educational gap to what he terms "theories of life" of
Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians. He maintains that "Indians are an accumulative race
while the Fijians are distributive". He claims that "While the Indians go to the bank to
deposit money, the Fijians are bringing the money out". As he puts it;
It is more than that. It is within the system, our own way of life..,the way we look
at the world and how we situate ourselves socially. How we understand ourselves
socially is quite different and this partly explains why there is still a gap because
theoretically, we are governed by two different theories of life. One is
accumulative, one is distributive. (T12: 8-9)
By contrast, Professor Konai Thaman contends that the gap has not closed
because "it is based on the deficit model...and it's like the whole stage development
thing...everybody trying to catch up with the Joneses so you certainly can catch up but by
the time you get up here, they're moving along over there" (T4: 15). This is similar to
Winston Thompson's explanation. His argument is along the lines of a "moving
continuum" where the gap remains the same because "people have moved on, they
haven't stayed still" (T17: 8).
Also arguing from a social and cultural difference perspective, Dr Ahmed Ali
explains the existence of the gap to the fact that Indo-Fijians have had a "tremendous
start" over Indigenous Fijians because "the imperative with the Indian family was that
education was the means to success". Through education, Indo-Fijians "were going to
catch up with the white man". As Ali has put it:
[T]he Fijians didn't quite move at this pace so we've got a head start and it's
going to take a while for Fijians to catch up with us. And we went into the
professions, We were going ahead, and still are; we are not waiting for others to
catch up, we want to stay ahead. (T2: 14)
On the other hand, some informants have used psychological models to explain
the educational gap. As evidence of this, Hari Ram attributes the continuing existence of
the gap to the explanation that those who are not beneficiaries of AA will be
"psychologically motivated to work harder to make up for that lack of assistance which
the community feels should have been made available". They see the situation as a
challenging one and will consequently be "psychologically motivated" to work just as
hard, if not harder, As Ram has put it, "it could be the fact that indigenous students have
been helped more than non-indigenous students that has led the group that is not so much
assisted to work even harder" (T5: 11).
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Focussing more on policy formulation and implementation issues, Adi Kuini
Speed, politician, attributes the failure of AA policies in narrowing the educational gap to
two factors: one, to the problems of conceptualisation where "the policy has not been
thought out carefully"; and two, to the lack of communication between the grassroots
village level and those who make decisions. She points out that it may be a lack of
assertiveness and education on people's part, "the lack of strong leadership", that leads to
the suppression of problems faced by villages, districts, provinces from the political
agenda. It is this lack of communication of problems at the local (villages, district,
tikina) and national (Great Council of Chiefs and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs) levels,
according to Adi Kuini, that leads to the Government not knowing "because they are not
told" (T32: 14-15).
Arguing also from a policy perspective, Professor Tupeni Baba maintains that AA
have not succeeded in narrowing the educational gap for the following reasons: "they
have been ineffective, ill-conceived, are directed at the wrong place" (T8: 11). Similarly,
a senior Indigenous Fijian government bureaucrat attributes the failure of AA to poor
conceptualisation and the lack of an integrated approach to take into account the
corresponding need to assist Indigenous Fijian parents, particularly out in the rural area,
to understand the value of an education and strategies of facilitating their children's
education, He puts it in this manner;
I don't think the philosophy behind [AA] has been well developed. And neither
have the policies in themselves.... [TJhere has been little analysis as to the nature
of the problem and how it is to be addressed. And then there's been very little
done to actually put in place plans and policies beyond giving
scholarships...,[T]here's been nothing to see how this can be integrated with other
considerations like how to improve rural schools, how to improve getting families
to change attitudes. So it's not really surprising that they have not worked as well
as one might have thought. (T31: 9-10)
What is obvious is the heterogeneity and complexity in informant perspectives
regarding the conceptualisation, formulation and implementation of AA policies. The
policy administered by the MFA is the one that has attracted the most criticism,
particularly regarding conceptualisation and implementation issues. This chapter has
explicated the different perspectives regarding such topics as the rationales for AA, the
use of comparisons and 'race' as a category of difference, who benefits from AA, means
testing as well as transparency, accountability and evaluation issues. Other topics covered
have included provincial inequalities, entry differentials to USP and reasons why the
241
Jj

educational gap has not closed. These are key issues used in an understanding of the
processes involved in policy development and implementation. As well, we have seen
that these processes are not only complex but are interactive and multi-layered. Finally,
we have seen how Indigenous Fijian power and influence (political hegemony) have been
used in making political choices about what AA should comprise of, who should benefit,
who should implement it and the processes of implementation,
Outcomes of AA
I have already examined perceptions by the informants of the ways AA policies in
education have been conceptualised, implemented and played out. An analysis of AA
policies would be remiss if a discussion was not made of their outcomes, In this section,
I examine portrayals by the informants on the positive, negative and unintended outcomes
of the policies.
According to the informants, the outcomes of AA have been rather mixed. On the
one hand, there are positive outcomes such as a significant number of Indigenous Fijians
gaining access to tertiary institutions, and consequently, to positions of power and
authority in both the public and private sectors of society. As a result, racial inequalities
in education and employment between Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups are not
as stark as in the decades of the seventies and eighties. Another positive outcome is the
'role model' argument of 'successful' Indigenous Fijians providing the psychological
boost for other Indigenous Fijians. However, these positive outcomes need to be weighed
against the negative. The more serious of these are reported as resentment from the non-
benefiting group, inequalities among Indigenous Fijians, particularly between the rural
and urban community, the maintenance of political hegemony and reported wastage from
poor implementation, As well, there is the view that related to political hegemony is the
notion that Indigenous Fijians have given in to the "handout mentality" and view AA as
"a God-given right". Certainly, some of these negative outcomes can also be viewed as
unintended outcomes.
Positive Outcomes
The most significant positive outcome has been identified by the informants as
more Indigenous Fijians accessing tertiary education and positions of authority in society,
Adi Kuini Speed, for example, points out that one positive outcome of AA is that
Indigenous Fijians are becoming better represented at the tertiary level as well as in
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employment. As she says, "one positive aspect of the affirmative action so far is that
we've been able to produce some very well qualified Fijians at the tertiary level who are
now placed in various senior positions in government, education, USP" (T32: 7),
Similarly, Winston Thompson's assessment of the positive outcome of the two
AA policies is in terms of the numbers of Indigenous Fijians making it through the
tertiary level. Without AA, Thompson argues, "there would be fewer Fijian students" as
"children of other [races] would have captured most of the scholarships, particularly the
government scholarships" (T17: 3).
By contrast, one of the very few informants to raise the gender issue, Bessie AH, a
high school principal, sees a positive outcome of AA in terms of the policy rectifying
gender imbalances. She points out that more Indigenous Fijian female students are
making career choices in formerly predominantly male areas. She notes:
I have seen definitely in my teaching experience an improvement in the morale, in
the self-esteem of Fijians students and more especially in the Fijian girls....I see as
a result of this affirmative action a venture into areas that they may not have even
considered previously. (T18: 3)
Arguing also from a social justice perspective, Dr Vijay Naidu points out that one
of the positive outcomes of the AA policies is that the truly disadvantaged Indigenous
Fijian has been assisted. As he puts it, AA policies "would definitely capture a category
of students who otherwise would not come to university". These "disadvantaged"
students would be "from poor families, from rural schools" (T6: 6).
Dr Ahmed AH makes a similar point, although his call is for more tolerance of
those students who are failing in that they should be given more time to complete their
degree. This is because of the disadvantage they have lived with such as "coming from
rural backgrounds" and from "families which do not have the advantage of a university
education", What AH is saying would be a counter argument to those who maintain that
AA has resulted in financial wastage in the form of students failing their university
courses. He argues:
Look at the number of Fijians we've got trained who would not have been trained
otherwise....Okay, true I'm aware that there is criticism about government but can
you tell me any programme, anywhere, that does not have a failure rate? Every
programme has that but you don't completely debunk it and get rid of it just
because of it. True some of the weaker Fijians are failing, but don't you think it's
good to have that programme and let somebody get through the first year and then
succeed later on or to take [longer to do a three year degree] rather than not to have
that person educated at all? (T2: 7)
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Here, Ali provides a different insight into financial wastage accruing from failure
to do well at university. His is a perspective which contradicts the traditional notion of
counting costs purely in economic terms. As he puts it, which programme "does not have
a failure rate?" He also raises the dilemma of programmes which have academic
'failures' and argues that it would be better to spend extra money on a person to enable
him or her to get a tertiary education rather than not giving that person the opportunity in
the first place.
Negative Outcomes
On the other hand, elaborating on the cost factor as a negative outcome, Professor
Baba asks these questions: "At what cost? How many failures, at what cost? At what
cost to the Fijian people and at what cost to the nation as well?" He argues:
You cannot merely say that "oh yes out of the hundred that we sent to Australia, j
we got ten back. That is perhaps a good wastage". That I wouldn't call a success
even if it increases Fijian graduates, I will count that against the losses in terms of I
money revenue, in terms of the ill feelings ttr* it has created not only in the Fijian I
community but in other communities as well. I would not regard this as j
successful. (T8: 11) [
Here, Baba is not only talking about the economic loss that is incurred when AA i
beneficiaries are not successful at university. He is also raising the resentment and ill ;
feelings AA engenders, not only in other ethnic communities that do not benefit in any
way from AA, but also from within the non-benefiting Indigenous Fijian community.
Baba introduces a new dimension here about resentment coming not just from the non-
ethnic Fijians. There is a widespread belief that only non-ethnic Fijians would feel
resentment. For instance, Sir Len Usher points out that AA is "creating resentment by
non-Fijians" and gives them "the feeling that they are being discriminated against" (T26:
8). As well, Winston Thompson emphasises the notion of resentment where "it has not
been encouraging on the other side for the non-indigenous Fijians to see people getting
scholarships who have not performed. And they feel that if they had got it, they would
have made good use of it" (T17: 3), The notion that Indigenous Fijians themselves would
be non-beneficiaries (those who miss out on scholarships, for instance) and would feel
discriminated against is a novel one. This is a reflection of the homogeneity that is
assumed in matters that are 'racial' in nature. The idea that Indigenous Fijians as a group
would benefit from AA is therefore problematic because there are many who do not
benefit in any way from AA in the same manner as the non-target groups.
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Here, Ali provides a different insight into financial wastage accruing from failure
to do well at university. His is a perspective which contradicts the traditional notion of
counting costs purely in economic terms. As he puts it, which programme "does not have
a failure rate?" He also raises the dilemma of programmes which have academic
'failures' and argues that it would be better to spend extra money on a person to enable
him or her to get a tertiary education rather than not giving that person the opportunity in
the first place.
Negative Outcomes
On the other hand, elaborating on the cost factor as a negative outcome, Professor
Baba asks these questions: "At what cost? How many failures, at what cost? At what
cost to the Fijian people and at what cost to the nation as well?" He argues:
You cannot merely say that "oh yes out of the hundred that we sent to Australia,
we got ten back. That is perhaps a good wastage". That I wouldn't call a success
even if it increases Fijian graduates. I will count that against the losses in terms of
money revenue, in terms of the ill feelings th"f it has created not only in the Fijian
community but in other communities as well. I would not regard this as
successful. (T8: 11)
Here, Baba is not only talking about the economic loss that is incurred when AA
beneficiaries are not successful at university. He is also raising the resentment and ill
feelings AA engenders, not only in other ethnic communities that do not benefit in any
way from AA, but also from within the non-benefiting Indigenous Fijian community.
Baba introduces a new dimension here about resentment coming not just from the non-
ethnic Fijians. There is a widespread belief that only non-ethnic Fijians would feel
resentment. For instance, Sir Len Usher points out that AA is "creating resentment by
non-Fijians" and gives them "the feeling that they are being discriminated against" (T26:
8). As well, Winston Thompson emphasises the notion of resentment where "it has not
been encouraging on the other side for the non-indigenous Fijians to see people getting
scholarships who have not performed. And they feel that if they had got it, they would
have made good use of it" (T17: 3), The notion that Indigenous Fijians themselves would
be non-beneficiaries (those who miss out on scholarships, for instance) and would feel
discriminated against is a novel one, This is a reflection of the homogeneity that is
assumed in matters that are 'racial' in nature. The idea that Indigenous Fijians as a group
would benefit from AA is therefore problematic because there are many who do not
benefit in any way from AA in the same manner as the non-target groups.
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Like Baba, Josevata Kamikamica also introduces a more complex perspective on
AA in Fiji. As he has described it, "The only negative outcome that I see is that [AA]
would increase the gap even amongst Fijians themselves" in terms of educational, social
and economic opportunities. It is "the middle-class Fijians and high class Fijians" who
mainly live in the urban areas who "take advantage of all the educational opportunities in
the urban areas" (T16: 5). Kamikamica goes on to argue that children in the urban areas
are more advantaged and because they are the ones making the best use of AA
opportunities, "they tend to perform much better than the rural Fijians" (T16:5), It is his
view that "as we continue with these policies, the gap, even amongst Fijians, will widen"
(T16:5).
Speaking of "disadvantaged categories of society", Dr Vijay Naidu argues that a
negative outcome of the policies has been the use of scholarships by privileged
Indigenous Fijians which has limited the extent to which the policies would have assisted
the disadvantaged Indigenous Fijians. He notes:
Theie are people who are taking advantage of the system who can very well
afford to [to pay], [W]hat that means is the possibility uf using these resources to
extend affirmative action to even a larger category of both Indigenous Fijians and
others is lessened because the people who are advantaged are taking these
resources (T6: 7)
Many of the informants have argued that one of the negative outcomes of the AA
policies is the development of a complacent attitude by those who are benefiting, who
regard the assistance as a "natural right", as a "God-given right", or view themselves as a
"special" group. Hari Ram points out that those who believe that it is "their natural right
to be assisted by virtue of the fact that they are Fijians and they should continue to be
assisted regardless of the way they perform" would "develop an attitude which is not
going to be conducive to their own development as individuals". He maintains that for
those students who "do not perform, attempts should be made to find out why they are
not performing and, if necessary, the awards should be given to other Fijian students who
are more deserving" (T5: 4).
The notion that scholarships for AA beneficiaries who do not "perform" at
university should be given to "more deserving" students is one that has consistently come
through in the data. As well, the "complacent" attitude of Indigenous Fijians is one that
is identified as negative. As Winston Thompson has argued, "The attitude...that has
become more prevalent among the Fijians is the feeling that this is a God given right,
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they have to get these numbers without really having to work for it. And I think that's a
bad thing" (T17: 4).
Exploring why Indigenous Fijians have taken on "the handout mentality", a
ranking Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat in Government argues that AA "is going to
continue...indefinitely" because "since 1987, there is an arrogance" manifested in the
"attitude among a lot of Fijians" that "this is my country, these are my resources". It is
this arrogant attitude that gives Indigenous Fijians "the expectation that this is going to
continue...indefinitely" (T31: 3).
Perhaps why there is this attitude of "arrogance" and the expectation that AA will
go on indefinitely can be explained by Professor Tupeni Baba, a critic of AA, who has
already argued that "what is going on is the maintenance of hegemony, the maintenance
of power, the maintenance of a bureaucracy...to maintain what's going on" (T8: 10).
Here, Baba is critical of the way the MFA has administered the special fund AA policy.
He seems to be suggesting that AA for Indigenous Fijians, by Indigenous Fijians, is a
reflection of the hegemony of Indigenous Fijian political rule. I will expand on this in the
next section. There, I will also detail some of the unintended outcomes of AA.
Certainly, the resentment of the non-target group is one. Second, the backlash from the
Indigenous Fijians, as Baba has indicated, is another. The underlying assumption of
intellectual deficiency is yet another unintended outcome of AA. As well, the colonising
effect of AA which encourages the "handout mentality" attitude can be construed as
another unintended negative effect of policies put in place to assist Indigenous Fijians in
education and employment.
Interpretations
In Chapter Four I provided a literature review on policy and policy analysis and
made the point that it was my intention to take a critical policy analysis approach in this
examination of portrayals by the informants about the conceptualisation, implementation
and outcomes of AA policies in education. It has already been established that context is
important, hence the examination of AA in its micro-context. I have provided a narrative
of perceptions of the policy process surrounding AA. I have also provided evidence of
the complexity and multi-dimensionality associated with the AA policy process. By
utilising the informants' voices, I have laid out in detailed richness the viewpoints of
critics and proponents of AA in Fiji. I now turn to an interpretation of these data utilising
the postcolonial theoretical resources that I introduced in Chapter Two, my own
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knowledge and experience of AA in Fiji, my reading of policy documents and the
insights gleaned from the interview data.
AA in Fiji: A Postcolonial Response to Colonial Inequalities
AA in education in Fiji was a deliberate intervention on the part of a
predominantly Indigenous Fijian government to equalise life opportunities for the
Indigenous Fijian community. Knowingly or unknowingly, AA Fijian style was the
postcolonial response to the educational and social inequalities created by a colonial
history. As Dr AH has put it, "the colonial experience has worked against Fijians" and
that "the worst that we've encountered in independence is still better than the best that we
had under colonial rule" (T2: 9).
The evidence in Chapter Five suggests that the neocolonial hegemonic
educational structures firmly in place after political independence have continued to
disadvantage Indigenous Fijians in particular. A manifestation of neocolonial educational
structures is the emphasis placed on a foreign academic r.ore curriculum, although some
semblance of localisation of the content of schooling has taken place. As well, English
being the language of instruction continues to disadvantage many of the Indigenous
Fijian students who have their base in rura1 schools, where substandard facilities,
inadequate educational resources, and poor quality teachers are the norm. Furthermore,
the pedagogy of the school and the way schooling is organised are in contradiction with
the Indigenous Fijian way of life, The accounts in Chapter Five suggest that Indigenous
Fijian students who succeed in school (measured in terms of passing national
examinations) do so, either because their home culture is compatible with that of the
school, or the teachers and the school have a significant impact on the students'
performance. By the evidence of the people interviewed, then, AA was a remedial
strategy to overcome Indigenous Fijian disadvantage in order to promote equality of
opportunity that would enable Indigenous Fijians to be better represented in education
and employment. It was a strategy to promote equal outcomes in education, thereby
enabling the economic participation of Indigenous Fijians in market capitalism.
It is not surprising that AA was the response to the inequalities arising out of
Fiji's colonial history. A predominantly Indigenous Fijian Government had the power
and legitimate authority, according to the accepted Western definition of democracy, to
lead the new nation having won the first general elections in 1972. Officially, Fiji was
granted political independence in October of 1970. But prior to this, the wheels to see to
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a smooth handing over by Great Britain had been set in motion. The 1969 Commission
into the state of education in the colony had, as one of its seven terms of reference, the
brief that the Commission must investigate the state of the education of Indigenous
Fijians with the purpose of making specific recommendations to improve on this. The
Education Commission identified serious limitations in the education of Indigenous
Fijians which I have detailed in Chapter Three, The problem of isolation and distance of
the majority of Indigenous Fijian schools from mainstream economic centres was one.
This contributed to the poor quality of provision and service of educational resources and
teachers, which was identified as another serious limitation. As well, the Commission
highlighted not only the very poor performance of Indigenous Fijian students at the
higher national examinations but, more seriously, the paucity of Fijian students in terms
of numbers represented in the secondary school system. Amongst other
recommendations, the Education Commission suggested a preferential policy of setting a
quota on scholarships in favour of Indigenous Fijians. It recommended that half of all
Government tertiary scholarships in any one year be reserved for deserving Indigenous
Fijian students. This recommendation became a government AA policy in the mid-1970s
and has been in place to date.
The Postcolonial Government was concerned at the underrepresentation of
Indigenous Fijians at the upper secondary and tertiary levels, and their consequent
underrepresentation in key positions in "the public and private sectors of the economy",
as the official government documents put it. It is not surprising that at political
independence, the Government of the day would do whatever it could to attack the
problem in the shortest possible time. That the government defined the problem by using
'race' as a category of analysis, by making comparisons between the educational
achievements of Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups, had an air of inevitability
given the racial composition of the population and the ethnic Fijian majority in the
government. The non-Fijian community was performing significantly better at national
examinations than Indigenous Fijians. It is therefore not surprising that the incumbent
Government, which was predominantly Indigenous Fijian in composition, would desire to
improve the lot of the indigenous community. The Government may not have had the
mandate from all communities in Fiji, as Professor Tupeni Baba has put it, but it had the
power to do so. And the backing of the 1969 Education Commission, which specifically
recommended a quota to provide access to Indigenous Fijians at tertiary level, ensured
that it was not long before this became a public policy.
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The policy, then, of allocating half of all government scholarships for Indigenous
Fijians is justified if the purpose was to bring about a more proportional representation of
Indigenous Fijians in middle and top positions in employment. For over a decade this
policy was never fully realised because of the difficulty in getting an adequate number of
Indigenous Fijians to pass the higher national examinations (See Tables 1-5 in Chapter
Three). In terms of numbers and percentages, the Indo-Fijian community was far ahead.
A decade of this policy did not really see a significant number of qualified Indigenous
Fijians making it through the tertiary level. Again, it is not surprising that a special
annual fund was set up for Fijian education in 1984. This time, the substandard condition
of rural schools and the lack of educational resources in predominantly Indigenous Fijian
schools were acknowledged as matters of serious concern.
Clearly, the issue of financial resources to these schools to counter this lack was
one reason why the special fund was created. Because not enough Indigenous Fijians
were making it up to the upper secondary level, the rationale for this policy was that if
conditions for learning were improved there would be better performance by Indigenous
Fijians at the secondary level so that they would be able to qualify for scholarships. As I
detailed in Chapter Three, the special fund was utilised in two ways: capital development
in schools and human resource development in terms of scholarship awards. It was
decided that the policy of allocating half of all government scholarships to Indigenous
Fijians was not really making a significant impact so tertiary scholarship awards became
a feature of the special Fijian education fund, A little over ten years since the
establishment of the special fund, it has increased to $4.7 million and the focus has been
on human resource development.
As also detailed in Chapter Three, in addition to the allocation of 50% of all
Government scholarships to Indigenous Fijians, the other significant AA policy was the
establishment of a Fijian education fund of $3.5 million dollars, specifically for the
education of Indigenous Fijians, which was instituted in 1984 on an annual basis and
continues to this very day. Fiji has never had a government that is not predominantly
Indigenous Fijian in composition. That is probably one of the reasons why AA policies
that favour a particular racial group are still in play today. That is the reason why it was
relatively easy for the Government in 1984 to formulate and implement a policy that
would benefit only one community over the others. What of the minority communities in
terms of population numbers? This would include the Banaban and Solomon Island
communities. What of those facing social and economic disadvantage from the Indo-
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Fijian community, which is the other dominant group in terms of numbers. AA, in the
form of a special fund, has been set up to assist those who are disadvantaged from other
communities in education and is administered by the Department of Indian Affairs. This,
I suppose, was a conciliatory gesture to counter the disquiet regarding the special
treatment for Indigenous Fijians in education and business. The fact remains that
Indigenous Fijians have always had the political power to ensure that their educational
and economic interests are not ignored,
Again, as indicated in Chapter Three, Government documents acknowledge that
soon after political independence in 1970, the Government also instituted other AA
policies that were to advantage Indigenous Fijian education in particular. One of these
was the development of junior secondary schools in the rural area to provide Indigenous
Fijians with access to a secondary education, Another was a public relations campaign
through the radio and newspapers in the Fijian language to assist Indigenous Fijian
parents to recognise the value of an education for their children. Moreover, there were
strategies to attract qualified teachers to teach in rural schools. The impact that these
policies have had on improving Indigenous Fijian education is difficult to ascertain
because for one, they are not quantifiable but are qualitative phenomena. As well, there
were problems in their implementation, For instance, while junior secondary schools
mushroomed in the rural area, they were poorly resourced and it was difficult to attract
qualified teachers, particularly non-Fijians, to teach in rural Indigenous Fijian schools. In
any case, how can one draw a direct relationship between providing access to education
with success in school? How can one assess what impact radio programmes would have
on Indigenous Fijian achievement? There are no quantitative measures that one can use
to draw a direct relationship between one of these variables with Indigenous Fijian
achievement in national exams. Nevertheless, the Government's attempt to provide more
access for Indigenous Fijians at secondary school and to provide Indigenous Fijian
parents with information on the value of education for their children must have had an
impact, At this historical juncture, Fijians are better represented at the form six level, and
the rise of an Indigenous Fijian middle-class is a reflection that more and more Fijian
parents are seeing the relationship between education and economic participation and
well being.
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Was AA an Historically Appropriate Response?
According to a broad range of informants, AA seems to have been historically
appropriate in the Fiji context. In a nation where there are two dominant racial groups,
one the indigenous group and the other a migrant community, it was appropriate to have
AA put in place for the indigenous population who was performing badly in formal
schooling and, as a consequence of this, in attaining a good standard of living that would
accrue from getting good educational qualifications. It was inconceivable at political
independence in 1970 for the indigenous group that held political power to be lagging
behind the other racial groups in education and employment, a situation that was ripe for
civil strife and for social and political turbulence - as Sefanaia Koroi, Dr Ahmed AH,
Joeli Kalou and others have indicated. More Indigenous Fijians had to be trained to take
up senior decision-making positions in the public and private sectors of the economy to
counter their underrepresentation in order to have a more equal representation. For a
nation with limited financial resources, AA policy aimed at a quick turnaround in terms
of a rnore proportional representation in middle and top positions in employment, as
Winston Thompson describes it, seems appropriate.
But is it fair to other racial groups in Fiji for Indigenous Fijians to be the
beneficiaries of special treatment? Is it morally and philosophically justifiable for
Indigenous Fijians to be assisted over and above the other groups? Is it just to give
scholarships to a group of people who have scored lower marks than other groups
because there is a quota system in place? In the Fiji context, if the educational gap had
been allowed to widen after political independence with a predominantly Fijian
government in place, there would have been greater resentment against the non-Fijian
community who were perceived to be doing better at school. This resentment would have
festered and it would have taken only a few outspoken voices to stir up feelings against
the non-Fijian community. This would have led to political instability and social and
economic upheaval as some of the informants have argued.
It is my position that AA in Fiji was historically appropriate. It is necessary to
counter the social and educational inequalities inherited from Fiji's colonial history. The
form that this took is questioned by many informants but it does not detract from the
reality that it was essential to assist the Indigenous Fijians who were significantly
underrepresented in the higher levels of education and, consequently, in the public and
private spheres of the economy. As the senior Indigenous Fijian educator at USP, Dr Ali,
and others have argued, it is morally just to assist this group to attain distributive justice
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and racial equality. There are implementation issues but these do not detract from the
reality that for Indigenous Fijians, AA was necessary to promote equality of opportunity
in order to attain a more proportional representation in education and employment in a
capitalist economy. As Joeli Kalou puts it, AA "is a way of satisfying economic parity in
the sense that when you become educated, the chances of you holding positions of
responsibility increases, the chances become better and you make an economic impact"
(T33:9).
Better Implementation
However, having said that AA in Fiji was significant does not mean that one has
to accept that it could not have been better implemented. The criticisms made against the
way the $3,5 million special fund has been managed are justified, given that it was
financed from public funds, from tax paid by other communities besides Indigenous
Fijians themselves. These criticisms include lack of appropriate targeting, lack of
transparency and accountability, "tunnel vision" a* Winston Thompson has put it, the
lack of input from non-Indigenous Fijians and economic wastage,
These critical comments are also justified given the limited resources of a small
nation state such as Fiji. Since 1984, at least $50 million of public funds has been
utilised to assist Indigenous Fijians in education, a significant investment for a nation
with limited natural and financial resources. A serious question that has been raised
concerns the continuing emphasis on providing access to Indigenous Fijians in the
tertiary educational sector when Indigenous Fijians were not reaching the upper
secondary school levels in significant numbers. To this day, Indigenous Fijians continue
to do badly in school compared to other ethnic communities (See Tables 1-5 in Chapter
Three). They have a higher failure rate at Forms six and seven and have a comparatively
higher attrition rate. Funds provided to Indigenous Fijian schools, particularly in rural
areas, were mainly for capital development—for building new classrooms, for new
science laboratories and libraries, for providing books. It is not surprising, therefore, that
this physical development of schools would have little impact on the high failure and
attrition rates of Indigenous Fijian students with almost half of the students, who begin
school at Form three, not making it through to Form six.
In the conceptualisation of the two AA policies, the primary aim was to narrow, or
close, the educational gap between Indigenous Fijians and other racial communities in
Fiji, notably the Indo-Fijians. The policies were based on the human capital model where
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there is an assumed relationship between capital investment and the required output. The
underlying assumption therefore, of both policies, was that if financial capital was poured
in for human and physical resource development, there would be a consequent narrowing
of the educational gap. These policies have not made a significant impact on the
educational gap as originally conceived, In her analysis of AA policies in Western
nations such as England, the United States and Australia, Helen Smith (1991) maintains
that these programmes did not directly address the problem of poverty faced by the
disadvantaged pupils. As well, the programmes did not critically examine the structure of
the school, its programmes and resources of the schools that were assisted by AA. Three
more criticisms about the AA programmes that Smith makes are that first, the resources
provided were inadequate, second, the poor were enmeshed in another layer of welfare
bureaucracy, and third, the supposed beneficiaries of the AA programmes were subjected
to sociological scrutiny which blames them for being failures. How pertinent are these
criticisms to the AA context in Fiji? I would think they are very pertinent indeed.
Funds to assist poor Indigenous Fijian schools were aimed at superficial surface
changes in school physical development. It was assumed that pouring in more money on
physical development would generate a parallel development in student performance. It
is not surprising that this did not occur. The structure and context of the school and the
curriculum were not held up for scrutiny to see whether changes should have been made
there. It was assumed that the failure lay with the students for not passing, not with the
school. It is interesting that none of the informants attributed underachievement to
psychological models of mental deficiencies. Rather, the consensus amongst all the
informants is the problem lies with Indigenous Fijian attitudes, closely tied up to culture
and location, AA programmes are aimed to compensate for perceived problems in the
home/family environment by initiating changes in the school environment. They also do
not address the problem of poverty that surrounds the supposed beneficiaries of the
programme. Funds going into physical school development do not address the problem
of the lack of material goods for students to perform well in school like exercise books,
writing materials and educational resources such as books and toys, that are taken for
granted by those who can afford to buy them. AA does not address the problems many
poor families face in just surviving on a day by day basis in terms of meeting basic needs.
Neither does it address the problem of paying school fees and other financial requisites of
schooling,
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Resource Issues
As some of the informants have indicated, the financial resources of AA policies
in Fiji were inadequate to tackle the problem of Indigenous Fijian underachievement.
Indeed, as the evidence in the next chapter will suggest, it is arguable whether a lot of
money would solve the problem without parallel changes occurring at other levels. For
instance, pouring in more money for capital school development would be pointless
without an intensive community/adult education programme for Indigenous Fijian
parents' facilitation of their children's performance, As well, focussing assistance at the
tertiary level would not be beneficial if assistance is not provided at every tier of the
educational system, beginning at kindergarten. Additionally, investing money for
physical development of schools requires curriculum reform. And without adequately
trained teachers to make the required impact in the classroom, the foregoing reforms are
likely to be meaningless. And since everything is tied up with the economy, raising the
standard of living of Indigenous Fijians by providing them with the financial means to do
with employment and business growth would be another necessity.
An abundance of resources—natural, financial and human—unfortunately is not
what Fiji has. Considering that resources are inadequate, the main question is how to
maximise the benefits of what is available. However before I discuss this further, I would
like to examine the outcomes of educational AA programmes in Fiji, I will address this
question of maximising the benefits of the current programmes in Chapters Seven and
Eight.
Positive Outcomes of AA
What are the positive outcomes of the AA policies on the Indigenous Fijian
people, on the nation and on the economy? As some of the interviewees have indicated,
one of the positive outcomes has been the increased number of Indigenous Fijians now
occupying key positions in the public and private economic sectors, This has resulted in
a more proportional representation of Indigenous Fijians in education and employment.
The participation of Indigenous Fijians in the market economy has been ensured, AA has
also resulted in the enhancement of the general status and quality of life for Indigenous
Fijians, The empowerment of middle-class Indigenous Fijians is a tangible positive
outcome of AA, Ultimately, AA policies in Fiji have promoted racial equality and
consequently, have resulted in distributive justice by attempting to equalise opportunities
available to Indigenous Fijians.
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Unintended Outcomes
On the other hand, AA policies have had negative unintended outcomes. An
unintended consequence of AA has been the internalisation of the thinking that
Indigenous Fijians are failures at school. This is perhaps the worst effect of AA. As Adi
Kuini Speed has put it, one of the flawed assumptions of AA is that it assumes "that
Fijians cannot compete on equal grounds with others as if there was something wrong
with us", The basis for the programmes is the deficiencies of Indigenous Fijian students,
and by extension, the deficiencies of Indigenous Fijian orientation, value system and
culture. Despite the lack of subscription by informants to a psychological deficit model
which attributes underachievement to mental deficit, the blame is placed squarely on the
shoulders of the Indigenous Fijian student for being a school failure. No thought is given
to whether there is something wrong with the structure of the school and the way it is
organised. No thought is given to whether it might be the pedagogy of the school that
may be at fault. And indeed, no thought is given to whether the curriculum might be
disadvantaging Indigenous Fijians in some way. Instead, Indigenous Fijians were found
wanting psychologically, socially and culturally.
As the data in Chapter Five indicates, their lack of motivation, their lack of self-
esteem, their inadequate home background and their cultural orientation are held up and
used as explanations for their inability to achieve the 'Western* way which is measured in
terms of passing examinations.
Worse still, Adi Kuini Speed suggests, Indigenous Fijians internalise the message
that they are failures and are found wanting when compared with other racial groups in
Fiji. What this does to their sense of well being, to their self identity is open to
conjecture. But when the subliminal message hits home that Indigenous Fijians are
failures and need government assistance to make it though life, I am sure that this would
significantly affect the Indigenous Fijian psyche. This would be an unintended
consequence of AA,
Another unintended outcome of AA is the backlash from both Indigenous Fijian
and other communities in Fiji. There have been criticisms and resentment from within
ethnic Fijian ranks. The increased call for scholarships to be awarded on a provincial
basis is a manifestation of this resentment, Yet another unintended outcome of AA has
been the parallel educational success of non-Fijians without any AA that has made it
very difficult for the educational gap to be significantly narrowed, let alone closed. And
25 S

as some of the participants in this study have pointed out, there is a rise in the number of
educated Indigenous Fijian middle-class which has exacerbated rural-urban inequalities,
Rural Indigenous Fijians are more and more disadvantaged compared to their urban
counterparts in the opportunities available to them and the relative economic
disadvantage that they face.
Moreover, an unintended consequence of the AA policies is the flattening out of
the traditional hierarchical nature of Indigenous Fijian society. Whether this is a positive
or negative thing is yet to be ascertained. This is being played out through the
'commoner' Indigenous Fijians getting educated and playing an important role in the
economy as compared to chiefs, who have always played a leadership role in traditional
Indigenous Fijian society. How this will influence the traditional power relations, where
the chiefs authority is seen as paramount, is yet to be seen. Will the future educated
Indigenous Fijian commoner supplant the authority of the chiefs? Will there be conflict
within the Indigenous Fijian society as a result of a more egalitarian power structure?
Will the rise of the Indigenous Fijian middle class see the end to the chiefly system? Will
education be the downfall of traditional Indigenous Fijian society? These questions
remain unresolved issues about the unintended consequences of policy,
Negative Outcomes of AA
What have been the negative outcomes of AA policies? Much of the criticism has
been levelled at the way the $3.5 million annual Fijian education fund has been
implemented. There has been wastage in terms of tertiary failure. One of the
explanations for this is the relatively low marks that Indigenous Fijians enter university
with compared to the non-ethnic Fijian community. Another explanation cited for the
wastage is the difficulty Indigenous Fijians face in adapting to a more relaxed
environment after the rigid, disciplinarian environment of the boarding school or the
Indigenous Fijian home, But as Dr Ali points out, which public programme does not
encounter wastage? At the same time, Professor Tupeni Baba and Winston Thompson
have queried whether the wastage is too high.
Another negative outcome of AA is the ostensive colonising effect it has had on
the Fijian people where, as Adi Kuini Speed has described it, "initiative is not
emphasised but where help from government is emphasised". As surely as the process of
colonialism captured the minds and bodies of the colonised, the practice of AA has the
potential to enslave Indigenous Fijians in mind and attitude. Again, as Adi Kuini has
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indicated, Indigenous Fijians "have always led a sheltered life in terms of the colonialised
mentality...that continued after independence", Just as the colonised become dependent
on the colonisers for their livelihood, so have Indigenous Fijians become dependent on
AA to get them out of the vicious cycle of underachievement in school and the economy.
AA, coming soon after political independence, has seen a continuation of the dependency
attitude that had been cultivated in Indigenous Fijians since Fiji became a British colony.
This has occurred to such an extent that some Indigenous Fijians are beginning to
perceive AA as a "God-given right", as some informants noted. This kind of attitude
does not encourage total commitment by parents and students alike to be competitive in
schooling. It does not encourage the desire to work very hard so as to attain a place j
according to merit in competition with other racial groups. Instead, it encourages a \\
complacent attitude to success and life which is non-synchronous with the accepted j
version of success in life. f
More seriously, one of the negative outcomes of the AA policy administered by f
the Ministry of Fijian Affairs is what Professor Baba has called "the maintenance and
perpetuation of a bureaucracy", of a "political hegemony" of A A for Indigenous Fijians
by Indigenous Fijians. Political hegemony is to be expected when political control is in
the hands of the racial group that is benefiting from AA. On the other hand, it is
unacceptable when the same policies are continued year in and year out without a
concerted review and evaluation carried out at particular stages of implementation to
determine which directions to take. To my knowledge, there has not been a
comprehensive review of the $3.5 million special education policy since its inception in
1984. What has been established is a bureaucratic system that is characterised by "tunnel
vision", in the words of Winston Thompson, that is resistant to change, that will maintain
the status quo at the expense of creativity, vision and innovation.
It is understandable therefore, although not to be condoned, that lack of
transparency and accountability would accompany the entrenchment of the bureaucracy
that is responsible for making decisions about, and implementing policies to assist the
Indigenous Fijians in education, For to do otherwise would presuppose the rational,
objective, cost-benefit analysis that is characteristic of public policy in Western nations,
To do so would assume that a time-frame and/or a review would be built into the policy,
And to do otherwise would assume that efficiency and effectiveness would be goals built
into the formulation of public policy. Policy analysis as a discipline, as a paradigm for
providing appropriate information and predicting trends to enable policy makers to
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formulate policies, was never an integral part of policy making in Fiji. It should not
come as a surprise, therefore, that transparency, accountability, review/evaluation and
strategies to determine efficiency and accountability were not a part of the formulation
and implementation of the $3.5 million special fund to assist Indigenous Fijians in
education.
Summary
In this chapter, I have provided a comprehensive, richly textured description,
analysis and interpretation of AA in Fiji's micro-context as represented by the
informants. In an attempt to provide a critical policy analysis framework, I have
addressed the following questions: (a) How were AA policies in education conceptualised
and produced and what were their rationales? (b) How were these policies implemented?
(c) What have been their outcomes—positive, negative and unintended? (d) How has
power been played out, who made the AA policies and whose interests have AA served?
(e) Was AA in education in Fiji an appropriate response to the social and educational
inequalities created by a colonial history? (f) Are the criticisms that have been made
regarding the implementation of AA policies in education justified?
One conclusion that can be drawn from the interview data is the complexity and
multi-dimensionality of the policy context. Another is the complexity and multiplicity in
the viewpoints of the informants. The contradictions and ambiguities, as well as the
similarities in views that have emerged from the data are perhaps reflections of how the
study of policy is indeed complex and multi-tiered as the literature in Chapter Four
indicates. The policy process is not a straightforward one and the contexts of influence,
policy text production, practice, outcomes and political strategy have all been addressed
in this chapter.
I have argued that AA was an appropriate and strategically essentialist
postcolonial response by an Indigenous Fijian Government to the social and educational
inequalities created by Fiji's colonial history, AA was a strategy to overcome Indigenous
Fijian disadvantage to enable better representation of Indigenous Fijians in education and
employment. Ultimately, then, AA can be seen as a strategy to promote equality of
opportunity and outcomes to enable Indigenous Fijians to participate more actively in a
market economy.
In terms of influence and political strategy, Indigenous Fijian political power has
enabled the production and implementation of AA policies which have caused much
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controversy in Fiji. On the negative side, Indigenous Fijian political hegemony has
reportedly led to abuse in the implementation of these policies and a shortsighted 'vision'
of AA. One such example are the claims of nepotism, favouritism and political
interference against the way the Fijian education fund has been administered by the MFA.
It is particularly in the area of practice or implementation that many of the
criticisms of the AA Fijian education fund have arisen. While all the informants admit
that one of the positive outcomes of AA has been the significant proportion of Indigenous
Fijians making it through tertiary study and occupying positions of authority and status,
there is a collective view that issues of accountability, monitoring, wastage and
evaluation need to be addressed. An urgent call has been made particularly for a review
of the policy to determine the strengths, weaknesses and possible strategies for the future.
In other words, there are calls for better implementation of AA policies so that optimum
efficiency and effectiveness are achieved.
Given that AA is highly likely to continue in Fiji into the next century, the critical
question to ask is how can the Government maximise the benefits of available funds set
aside for the educational advancement of Indigenous Fijians at this historical juncture.
Suggestions not only for managing the Fijian education fund more efficiently, but for
improving the education of Indigenous Fijian in general, will form the focus of the next
chapter.
There is agreement amongst the informants that a shift in focus of AA to
incorporate all those disadvantaged members of society, irrespective of race, is overdue.
It is interesting that those making these comments from the Indigenous Fijian community
are educated Indigenous Fijians who would like to see more equity in the distribution of
government funds. In the next chapter, many of the informants argue for a redirection of
the policies to tackle the lower levels of schooling in terms of the provision of
kindergartens, particularly in rural areas, better primary and secondary facilities, the
provision of qualified teachers at all educational levels beginning at kindergarten and the
revamping of the curriculum so that it becomes more relevant and culturally democratic.
As well, some of the informants have recognised that if Indigenous Fijians are to
participate in the capitalistic market economy, there is no way forward except to
participate and succeed in the school system. As well, there is recognition that to be
successful in both education and business, Indigenous Fijians will have to change their
cultural orientation, their attitudes towards education because Fiji is part of a global
economy. The call for an emphasis to be put on community education of the Indigenous
259

Fijian parents/adults to recognise the value of an education and the strategies that they
can use to realise success on their children's part is something that has come out strongly
in the interviews. All these suggestions and more will be examined in the next chapter.
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CHAPTER SEVEN
REFORMS: SCHOOL, POLICY AND PEOPLE
This is the last of the three principal data chapters. The previous two chapters
examined the informants' constructions of explanations of Indigenous Fijian school failure
(Chapter Five) and their representations of the conceptualisation and implementation of AA
policies that were developed to 'affirm' the education of Indigenous Fijians (Chapter Six).
This chapter analyses what the informants say should be done about reforming
schools, AA policy and people. I examine proposed changes to the curriculum, teacher
education and time management. This is followed by a detailed examination of the
discourse on policy redirections in terms of informant perspectives on the kinds of policy
reforms that should be instituted. The next major section on people-reforms is where I
examine the discussion on changing the Indigenous Fijian outlook. Community education,
in particular, is the suggested process by which this change should occur, A more efficient
communication network involving all the agencies involved in the education of Indigenous
Fijians is posited as a critical strategy. The roles of the church, chiefs and the educated
person play an important part in this discussion. This is followed by other suggested
changes that do not quite fit into the above categories. An examination of the discussion on
political will and vision follows under the rubric of leadership changes. Additionally,
globalisation issues, as raised by the informants, are scrutinised as well. Finally, my
interpretation of all these data in the form of further discussion of important issues, as well
as a summary of the chapter, will form the last two sections of this chapter.
School-Based Reforms
In this section, I examine the portrayals by informants about what should be done to
improve the education of Indigenous Fijians in terms of school-based changes. There are
calls for a major overhaul to the curriculum so that there is a balance in local, national and
international knowledges. As well, there is recognition that the knowledges of all
communities, especially Indigenous Fijian, should be valued in the formal curriculum. This
has implications for teacher education which is another major change called for. To counter
the claim that predominantly Indigenous Fijian schools spend too much time on extra-
curricular activities, there have also been suggestions for more efficient use of school time.
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Curriculum Reform
In Chapter Five, there was extensive coverage of the informants' representations of
explanations for Indigenous Fijian failure in formal schooling. There was acknowledgment
that the neocolonial, hegemonic educational structures in the form of the curriculum,
pedagogies and assessment left much to be desired. The informants saw the curriculum as
too foreign, too academic with an emphasis on book learning which, in many instances, was
viewed as irrelevant and inappropriate. Hence the view, as Ledua Waqailiti has argued, that
"the whole curriculum needs re vamping... to change so that it is suitable for students" (T24;
4). Or as Sefanaia Koroi has put it, "we have to look at the curriculum again and restructure
it so that it fulfils the needs of the whole spectrum of the student population in secondary
schools" (T9: 14).
As well, many informants believe that indigenous cultural values and knowledge
systems are undervalued and undermined by this Western-oriented curriculum. Professor
Tupeni Baba, for example, would like to see schools rejecting "the whole culture deficit
model that we're working under" (T8: 14) so that the curriculum is one which values
"community knowledge", It would be an "integrated" curriculum meaning that "learning
will be very much community based" and that the "whole pedagogy" and "method of \\
teaching will have to be critical pedagogy,...not pushing down the throat of the kids some i
foreign kind of knowledge" (T8: 14).
Multiple Points of Exit/Vocational Education j
Many informants have decried the academic focus of the curriculum which is j
perceived as disadvantaging many students. They have called for more pathways to account 1
for the more practically based talents and skills that students have. For instance, Dr Vijay
Naidu argues that Fiji's "educational system needs review" so that it does not exclude i
people from a livelihood and does not make them feel like failures. Naidu then goes on to
suggest that the educational system should have "multiple exits and many alternative ways" :
of preparing people for a livelihood which need not "necessarily be academic". These could j
include preparation for "middle-level jobs" such as electricians, plumbers, painters, \\
M
construction workers which requires trades-person training. j •
As well, Naidu suggests that because Indigenous Fijians are good at sports and art, j i
those are some areas that could also b e developed to provide avenues for students to pursue \\
something they are already good at. As he puts it, "People nowadays can make a livelihood j
out of playing good rugby, good soccer, good athletes, in arts. Why should we not enhance j
262 |

those capacities and why should we leave these kids to the academic process and find that
they don't fit?" (T6: 12)
Similarly, Rainima Meo reiterates the need to identify and move students to
alternative systems where their ability in non-academic subjects is recognised and nurtured.
He stresses that after "ten years of general education these kids are mature enough to be
subjected to some specific or specialist training". They can be trained "to become a
painter...a wood carver or...a carpenter" which is equivalent to "a low to medium skills
manpower" level, what Dr Naidu refers to above as "middle-level jobs".
The call for multiple exits by Dr Naidu and Meo is reiterated by Filimoni Jitoko who
says, "We haven't really opened a lot more doors where students can go through if they have
failed this mainstream academic line". Jitoko calls specifically for more practical
community-based learning such as learning to farm on the land. A senior Indigenous Fijian
bureaucrat agrees that the land should be utilised by Indigenous Fijians. As well, he suggests
other avenues, such as the "information revolution technology in which people can find a
niche" (T31:9).
Some important questions about the status of an academic-type education, when it
does not necessarily provide students with employment, are raised by Rainima Meo. He also
raises the problem faced by the education sector when other available options are not made
clear to the students. As he has put it:
What is this academic achievement...and what would be [its] importance when...there
are no more jobs available on the market? Will academic achievement be the priority
for everybody's schooling?...The child was only told that this is the particular channel
you have to do because you have to get a job.,..But that child was not told right from
the beginning that you have to be educated...to be one who can survive in the world
on your own and the end of your schooling and that is what you are not teaching at
the school now. (T41: 11)
On the issue of vocational education, Mere Tora argues that this is perceived as
second best, "like a last resort" against an academic-type education. She suggests that
whatever alternatives are offered, it is critical that perceptions change so that the alternatives
are "also seen as important", as worthy and equal in status to an academic-type education
(T19: 7).
The Chief Education Officer, Technical and Vocational Education & Training at the
MOE stresses that there is a lot of uncertainty about the status of vocational education
because "there's a lot of talk and not enough of action". She identifies the basic problem as
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limited resources because "running technical/vocational education is a very expensive
exercise". As she explains it:
Should there be an outcry for more technical centres...we won't be able to look after
their interests because we just don't have the money, we don't have the resources,
Now we have a lot of schools crying out for vocational centres and we're telling
them, this is our criteria now. If you have the staff, if you have the room to do it, and
you have the equipment we [M.OE] give the approval". (T59: 1)
The officer points out that the "new thrust" of the MOE "is working towards
entrepreneurial training". While the current focus is "skills based", the new "focus is
entrepreneurship" where students "learn their skill but they use entrepreneurship to try and
give them the training to try to utilise those skills to earn money, to go back perhaps to the
village and become a better villager".
A different perspective to curriculum reform is made by several informants regarding
making the curriculum context and place specific. For instance, both the Minister for
Education and Ilai Kuli, Member of Parliament, have recommended that in Levuka, for
instance. Marine Biology should be offered because of the presence of the Pacific Fishing
Company Limited (PAFCO), and forestry and tourism be on offer in the Western Division,
while the study of minerals could be part of the curriculum in Namosi. In a similar way,
Peceli Rinakama, Principal of Naitasiri Secondary School, recommends that Agricultural
Science be a compulsory subject in Naitasiri in recognition of land utilisation potential in
that province. As Rinakama has put it, "To be frank, we don't have avenues for employment
in Naitasiri. The only avenue is the land, where they can be full-time farmers with the
knowledge they learn from Agricultural Science" (T49: 3),
Vakatale, Kuli and Rinakama have recognised that specific emphases could be
placed on what will have to be a flexible curriculum that would take into account the
economic activities in those areas. This would provide links between what is offered in the
curriculum with employment opportunities in those areas. For as Rinakama argues, "What I
want is that there should be no drop-outs, I want all the children to drop-in so if they fail
from the academic stream, they go to the vocational but not necessarily go to Suva to join
the army or police or prison" (T49: 3). Further, Rinakama suggests that "career paths" are
mapped out "as soon as a student enters secondary school" with teachers assisting "them in
mapping out the possibilities as to the career paths of students" (T49: 3).
In sum, then, what the informants have raised here is the incongruity between what
schools do and the demands of the marketplace. Or rather, the absence of alternative systems
of education which will prepare students, who do not make it through to university, with
264

skills and know-how that will enable them to start up their own businesses or that will earn
them a living. The point has been made that the curriculum is foreign and irrelevant for the
bulk of indigenous students, especially those out in rural schools. As such, calls have been
made to make the curriculum less academically oriented and more practically oriented.
Vocational and technical education is seen as one option that, if developed properly, would
be viewed by more people as a viable option. As well, suggestions have been made for
parallel non-academic institutions for Indigenous Fijians in the arts, music, dancing, sports
and the like. Since Indigenous Fijians clearly have talents outside of the academic arena, the
implication is that these talents should be nurtured and developed as an option. The next
section takes a look at the call for reforms to be made in emphasising the value of Indigenous
Fijian knowledge systems in the formal curriculum.
Valuing of Fijian Epistemologies, Language and Culture
There is widespread agreement that the Western-oriented curriculum in place does not
place much value on indigenous epistemologies, culture and language. The historical basis
for this is explained by Professor Konai Thaman who points out that "When schools were
introduced, the missionaries just assumed that we had no knowledges and if we did, they
were primitive and had nothing to do with cognitive process and that it wasn't worthwhile".
The result of this undermining of indigenous knowledges is that Pacific Islanders "couldn't
use our knowledge as a context of thinking" but instead "had to use somebody else's
culture". This has perpetuated the thinking that indigenous knowledge systems are "not a
worthwhile context for intellectual pursuits" (T4: 12).
Likewise, Dr Ahmed Ali highlights how the colonial experience undervalued
Indigenous Fijian knowledge systems. He cites several causes of this. First, he suggests that
"Maybe...we're dealing with the Western body of knowledge and it takes time to acquire it".
He also emphasises that Fiji is still a relatively new nation and that Indigenous Fijians may
be facing difficulties coming to grips with schooling. He particularly notes, "And remember
we've also got out of the colonial experience only about 26 years ago and that's important"
(T2: 9).
Here, Thaman and Ali are referring to the 'othering' process that occurs in the
colonial encounter. As I explained in Chapter Three, the impact of colonialism on every
facet of life in Fiji was devastating. The underlying philosophy behind colonisation was that
Western cultural values, language and epistemological systems of knowing were superior to
the colonised and that colonised people were in need of civilising. It was the project of social
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engineering "to produce institutions and personalities that would be familiar to Europe" in
order "to render the colonized predictable and controllable", as Sardar et al. (1993) have put
it, that formed the rationale for the undervaluing or total annihilation of anything indigenous
from the curriculum. This would explain why many informants have pointed out that the
teaching of the Fijian language, as a subject, is not seen as important which has consequences
for people's sense of cultural identity.
For instance, in the same way that Mere Tora viewed vocational education as not
having the same status and weighting as academic subjects, Sefanaia Koroi points out that
Fijian as a subject does not have the same status and importance as academic subjects. As he
puts it, "It has played a very small part in the main curriculum in its importance". As a
consequence, "it's gone so bad that it's not valued...by the children" (T9: 12). Koroi
continues by warning that if we ignore the values of the Indigenous Fijian people that come
through their language, customs and culture, they will become alienated. This alienation will
disadvantage them from learning other "foreign" subjects. He tentatively suggests that
maybe the neglect of Indigenous Fijian cultural and value systems in the school curriculum is
a reason for the educational gap between them and other ethnic groups in Fiji. He
acknowledges that we should "learn from other components of the curriculum, the general
knowledge in science, mathematics and other areas*1. But he emphasises that "when you
ignore the whole basis of people's culture you are likely to reap some disadvantage and
maybe this gap that we're talking about may be due to that neglect" (T9; 12),
Ilai Kuli is also of the view that "There is lip service to Fijian language and literature
in the curriculum" (T71: 1). In a similar way, Setareki Delana, Principal of Sila Central High
School and President of the Fiji Principals Association, points out that Indigenous Fijian
knowledge, culture and language "is not adequately covered in school", He points out that it
is important for Indigenous Fijians to appreciate themselves first before learning other things.
He states:
we should put more emphasis on the history of our land, our development in the past
and understand our origin. It's only when we have an appreciation of our own selves
that we can appreciate our own culture and race. As [the curriculum] is Western-
oriented, we think that the Fijian way is old-fashioned, backward and it has gone to
the extent that people don't respect their elders. (T51: 2)
This view is shared by Viliame Saulekaleka. He argues that "there should be much
emphasis on the teaching of Fijian culture and tradition in school to enlighten our people to
love to be a Fijian". He tentatively suggests that the undermining of indigenous cultural
266
L

knowledge systems "may be a reason why our boys and girls are so violent nowadays
because they don't know the customs" (T57: 2). Another repercussion of the undervaluing of
Indigenous Fijian cultural knowledge systems in the curriculum is raised by Filimoni Jitoko
who argues that this has led to the development of some half-baked Fijians "accustomed to
some half-way systems".
A different perspective is taken by Filipe Tuisawau who argues that it is not the
education system that is threatening the cultural identity of Indigenous Fijians but the impact
of Westernisation and globalisation. As he has put it, "there is a threat, not in the education
system, but from society in general - the media through radio and television, and all the
things coming into this country". All these pose "a threat to identity rather than education"
because people perceive what they see "on TV, for instance" as " more superior than what
our identity is". The result of this is that the things that Indigenous Fijians are "bombarded
with" in terms of "aspects of Western culture" gives "Fijian children high expectations,
material expectations...and unrealistic goals" (T46: 2-3).
However, there is consensus amongst the informants that something ought to be done
to ensure that more value is placed on the teaching of what is important to Indigenous Fijians
in formal schooling. For instance, the view that the Fijian language should be emphasised in
school because of the functional value it has for communication, especially when an
Indigenous Fijian is in a position of leadership, is taken by the Minister for Education.
Vakatale notes:
the sooner the Fijian students realise that what's important is communication, they
would see that the Fijian language is important....They will be the leaders of the
Fijians and you have got to be able to communicate with Fijians. You've got to be
able to speak the language...to know the norms and what is done....I think we should
make the...young Fijians know that to know their customs and traditions and their
basic Fijian-ness is functional, that it's useful, that it serves a purpose and it's not
just being proud to be Fijians but that their very Fijian-ness will serve a function in
their lives. (T14: 11)
Moreover, there is the argument that the study of the Fijian language and culture
should not be confined to Indigenous Fijians alone but should be learned by all ethnic groups
in Fiji. Dr Vijay Naidu, for example, gives several reasons for this. First, it would foster
better understanding between Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups. As well, Naidu
notes that there would be greater "appreciation of the breadth and scope and relative
complexity of Fijian cultures and traditions". He points out that "there should be a greater
appreciation of things Fijians because it's a very rich culture, a very rich tradition and a very
267

rich civilisation that is worthy of perpetuating in a very systematic way" (T6: 16). Giving the
example of how "the old Fijian customs managed resources very well", Naidu emphasises
the point that "The traditional methods of managing marine resources and an understanding
of the seasons - when to do what - are worthy of retention and will make us a better people
generally" (T6: 16).
In a similar way, Ilai Kuli argues that the Fijian language should be taught in a
meaningful way in the curriculum because "There is only one Fijian race in the world" (T71:
1). Dr Ahmed Ali also maintains that Fijian should be taught as the most important language
because Fiji "is the place where you will teach Fijian culture and language", He suggests
that all ethnic groups learn Fijian but he sees no need for Indigenous Fijians to learn Hindi as
Fijian "is the indigenous language" (T2: 10).
By contrast, some informants have argued that the multiracial nature of Fiji's
population should be considered. Winston Thompson, for instance, stresses that because Fiji
is "a multicultural community", learning other languages should be compulsory. As he has
put it, the curriculum "should place more value on cultures and traditions, not only Fijians
but of others because we are a multicultural community". His reasoning is that learning other
languages broadly "to understand the customs, cultures and traditions,..would be better for
everybody" (Tl7: 7).
An informant who shares this view with regard to the need to value the cultural
context of all communities is Aloesi Vucukula. She argues that a cultural analysis should be
carried out so that the best parts of all the cultures in Fiji are incorporated into the curriculum
"because our society is multicultural, it's culturally diverse". This is to avoid "cultural
imperialism or monoculture in the curriculum".
Additionally, some informants have argued for a redefinition of the way Fijian culture
and language is taught in the school because of the current emphasis on a Western
framework. As evidence of this, Una Nabobo notes:
We might want to teach Fijian culture and language in the schools but we are teaching
it within a Western framework. We might want to redefine the framework, pedagogy,
epistemology, everything.,..! foresee classrooms outside, children taken on tours to
see how pottery is made and so forth. (T45: 3-4)
Further evidence for a reconceptualisation of the teaching of Fijian culture and
language in schools is provided by Professor Konai Thaman who suggests that there are two
ways of placing more value on Indigenous Fijian culture and language in the formal school
curriculum. One way is to have a special subject, perhaps to be called 'Fijian Studies1, made
268

compulsory for all Indigenous Fijians to take. This would continue all the way up to Form
six. The other alternative which Thaman favours is "to incorporate Fijian knowledge, values
and skills into every subject" be it Maths, Science, Commerce or History. She admits that
the second option is problematic because of the difficulties involved, such as knowledgeable j
teachers. Nevertheless, she supports this option, not only because the Indigenous Fijian j
system has knowledges in all subject areas, but more importantly, the message will go across !
that this is a critical subject that is worthy of study. As Thaman argues, "if we can
incorporate that in the different subjects just think of the message and think how that is going
to impact [on] the mind-sets of Fijians in the future" (T4: 12).
Similarly, Ilai Kuli would like to see "more emphasis on Fijian language and culture,
more funding". In particular, he suggests that the wisdom and knowledges that people "who
could be regarded as libraries" have should be recorded before they die because "When we
bury them, we're burying a library" (T71: 1), This point is a crucial one as Indigenous Fijian
culture is predominantly oral. As I mentioned in Chapter Three, my grandmother had a
phenomenal memory that could trace my family tree back at least six generations. As Kuli
and others have suggested, leaders need to recognise that indigenous knowledges and
wisdoms are stored in memories and with the passing of the generation of people in their
seventies and eighties, a reservoir of knowledges is disappearing unless efforts are made to
store this in a retrievable form.
Other strategies are proposed by Mere Samisoni who points out that the Fijian
language should be supported and used in as many places as possible. She suggests, for
instance, that it be taken as a subject up to university level and that signs everywhere should
also be in Fijian. As well, it could be supported by private sector companies such as banks,
even to the extent that visitors to Fiji be encouraged to learn to speak the language. She
argues that Indigenous Fijian values "must be part of our psyche and the images must be
congruent with what we practice" (T22: 16).
On the other hand, a senior educator at the USP raises some key issues associated
with the problematics of a subject that would teach Indigenous Fijian culture and language.
She makes the point that Indigenous Fijian culture is heterogenous and that there would be
hegemony when one dialect and one culture dominates. She notes:
if we do a curriculum with Fijian culture, someone's culture is going to be the
overriding culture. For now it is the Bau, Tailevu....But why should one culture
dominate and at the expense of other smaller cultures? Fijians are not homogeneous
and there is no Fijian culture....So I really think understanding their cultures in a place
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is one thing but having one overriding culture...becoming] the superseding culture I
disagree with. (Til: 8)
To sum up, this section has looked at informant representations of the undervaluing |
of Indigenous Fijian cultural values, knowledge and language in the formal school ]
1
curriculum. The reason for this can be traced back to the introduction of formal schooling j
when the church and Colonial Government saw indigenous knowledge systems as primitive j
and unworthy for inclusion. This initial exclusion of things Fijian from the curriculum has f
continued. And while Fijian as a language is taught at school, it does not have the same |
status and value as academic subjects. This neglect is perceived by some informants as j
contributing to Indigenous Fijian underachievement and the increase in the crime rate. As j
I
well, this neglect is seen as creating "half-baked" Indigenous Fijians who are "accustomed to I
some half-way system" as Filimoni Jitoko puts it. There is so much to learn and be learned
from indigenous knowledge systems that the general agreement is, that not only should this
be incorporated into the curriculum, but that everyone should learn it. This is in recognition
of Fijian indigeneity and political power. However, the multicultural nature of Fiji society is
acknowledged with suggestions that the best part of each culture is incorporated into the
curriculum so as to avoid, as Aloesi Vucukula succinctly put it, "cultural imperialism". As
well, the problematics associated with developing a subject called Fijian Studies are raised
when there is heterogeneity in Indigenous Fijian cultural knowledge systems.
Teacher Education
There is recognition by the informants that if there is an overhaul to the curriculum,
it would have some serious implications for teacher education. As is evident from the above
section, the emphasis is placed on a curriculum that would not only place more value and
status on a subject called Fijian Studies but also an inclusive curriculum that would take into
account the knowledges and value systems of other cultures in Fiji.
Professor Konai Thaman argues that curriculum and teacher education are key
elements to enable Indigenous Fijians to improve their educational performance. She
maintains that the content (curriculum) and processes (pedagogies) need to be looked at
concurrently in teacher education programmes. The programmes should take account of the
different ways students in Fiji learn and develop strategies that would help these students
learn better. As well, Thaman argues, the content and pedagogy of teacher training
curriculum should get "the teachers to understand, not just...what is Fijian and what is; Fijian
270

culture but to understand how Fijian kids learn...and to develop strategies to help them
improve their learning" (T4: 23).
Thaman further notes that in relation to teacher education, an examination needs to
be undertaken of "the ways in which we can change our teaching styles to suit the majority
of...rural students...because they just come from a different environment" (T4: 23). What
Thaman is advocating is that teacher education programmes need to recognise that 'Western'
textbooks may not necessarily be appropriate for the classroom situation in Fiji and that
teaching styles must take cognisance of the different learning styles of students. Thaman
does not negate the value of a multicultural curriculum and concludes that "a learning
environment that neglects the culture of the learner is culturally undemocratic" (T4: 25).
According to Professor Tupeni Bab a, the teacher education programmes will need to
be based on a "more critical pedagogy" where "the form of teaching and learning would.,,be
altered from more rote into a facilitative kind of process and examinations will have to be
based on how students articulate what they feel, what they think rather than what we want
them to feel and think" (T8: 3).
There is recognition, therefore, that the content, pedagogy and assessment in teacher
preparation programmes will need to change in conjunction with curriculum reform in the
school system. This will have to occur particularly if Fijian Studies is incorporated as a
valued and meaningful content of learning, in contrast to the perceived superficial coverage
of Fijian as a subject of study in school,
Time Management: Less Emphasis on Extra-curricular Activities
The other school-based factor raised by some informants in Chapter Five concerns
the way schools organise and manage school time, Research conducted by the Ministry of
Education has concluded that the experiences of non-indigenous schools, which emphasise
academic concerns, can be enlightening for Indigenous Fijian schools if the aim is to
improve examination results.
In the estimation of the informants, 'successful' schools are those which place a lot
of emphasis on academic pursuits, where the focus is on teaching and learning for success in
examinations. The school ethos becomes geared towards passing examinations, For this
purpose, efficient management of time seems to be a crucial factor. For instance, Amraiya
Naidu's portrayal in Chapter Five, of his experiences as principal of a predominantly
Indigenous Fijian boarding school points to time management as critical to success in
examinations. The school was then organised in such a manner that academic matters took
271

priority, particularly in the term when students were to sit the national examinations.
Similarly, Dewan Chand emphasises that "if you have a controlled time management of the
Fijian children, they can perform" (T23: 3).
The MOE, through the efforts of the Research and Development Unit which
incorporates a Unit dealing with Indigenous Fijian Education, has focused on the issue of
time management and has carried out training programmes with principals and school
managers aimed at making Indigenous Fijians school just as 'successful' as successful non-
indigenous schools. The 'success' or otherwise of such a focus is yet to be felt but the
feedback obtained by the education officials and Indigenous Fijian principals involved seem
encouraging. There is consistent feedback to suggest that timing is a problem in Indigenous
Fijian schools and that there is much to be learned from successful non-indigenous schools.
This section on institution-based changes has seen calls for a concerted overhaul of
the current curriculum, an associated reform of teacher training programmes and, at the
school level, more time spent on academic activities rather than extra-curricular activities
has been suggested. All these suggestions have been made with the view that these
institution-based changes would serve the interest of the least advantaged (Rawls, 1971). In
this case, the least advantaged in formal schooling are perceived to be Indigenous Fijians.
Policy-based Reforms
In Chapter Six, I examined the informants' representations of the conceptualisation
and implementation of race-based AA policies. In particular, many criticisms were made
about the way the Special Fund policy, administered by the Fijian Affairs Board, was
implemented, such as lack of transparency and accountability, financial wastage of public
funds, and the award of scholarships based on patronage and nepotism rather than merit.
There is consensus also that a review is long overdue to determine the effectiveness of these
policies and indeed whether they need to be redirected to be more efficient and effective.
There is also some agreement that AA policies need to be refocussed and perhaps channelled
to other areas which would help the least advantaged. Some of these suggestions, which are
raised in the following sections, involve community level assistance in terms of resourcing
the rural communities, providing assistance at the lower levels of schooling (kindergarten to
secondary school) and other conditions under which AA could be made to work more
effectively. As well, there are consistent calls for a reconceptualisation of the way AA is
regarded so that there is a shift from the current emphasis on race to one based on class.
272

Less Emphasis on AA at Tertiary Level
Almost all informants have made suggestions regarding the need for AA to be
focussed at the lower levels of education and on community development rather than its
current emphasis at the tertiary level, For instance, Filimoni Jitoko makes the case that "We
need to touch the critical points if we are to make any major impact like the schools, the
communities and even the attitudes of Fijian parents, for example, need to be changed"
(T13: 13). He particularly would like AA funds to be used for development of community
resources in the disadvantaged rural areas. This would take the form of "construction of
community libraries and the resourcing of the community with educational materials"
because "the major disadvantage of Fijian students in the villages is in the schools so if there
is nothing in the schools, there is nothing there". It is his view that there should be equality
in "community resource because the major disadvantage is in the resources in the
community" (Tl 3: 11).
As well, Jitoko would like AA to be in the form of the provision of scholarships or
financial assistance to Indigenous Fijians at secondary schools and not just at tertiary level.
He notes:
[A]lso we've got to assist the...bright students who are not coming to secondary
schools in the rural areas because now there's nothing for the parents. They cannot
afford to send them....That is the area that we should look at, trying to give people
opportunities to progress until they come to university. (T13: 11)
Suggestions have also been made with regard to AA occurring lower down at
kindergarten, primary and secondary school rather than the current focus at the tertiary level,
For instance, Taufa Vakatale would like some AA at the kindergarten and primary school
levels, particularly in rural schools, because "we need to get the basic education which is
very important". And as she puts it, "In rural areas, they don't have anywhere to go for
preschool. That's a very important difference and if we really want it to have any real
meaning, then perhaps we look at the base rather than giving scholarships,..and have
preschool as the norm in rural areas" (T14: 4-5), This is echoed by Joeli Kalou who
emphasises the difference between establishing kindergartens in the rural areas compared to
the urban areas. Like Vakatale, he notes the rural disadvantage and would like to see AA
funds used to establish and maintain kindergartens, particularly in rural areas, so that they
become "part and parcel of the national education system" (T33: 3).
In contrast, Krishna Datt believes AA should be geared "towards the primary schools
because the primary school is the gut of it" (T28: 13). Alongside this, Datt calls for attitude
273

changes in teachers as well as more involvement of parents in the school, not only in terms
of "fundraising.,.but the actual involvement in the work of the children which is very
different". He reiterates the point that adult education for Indigenous Fijian parents is
needed to raise "their consciousness to the same level as the middle-class Fijians whose
children are doing...well" (T28: 13).
There has, therefore, been recommendations for AA to change its focus from
concentrating on scholarships at the tertiary level to the lower levels of schooling, where it is
perceived to be needed more. For instance, suggestions have been made that AA should
begin at kindergarten and the primary sections in order to set a good educational foundation.
As well, informants have suggested that scholarship awards should begin at secondary level
rather than at tertiary level to enable more meritorious Indigenous Fijians to access the
tertiary system. Moreover, Indigenous Fijian rural communities have been targeted as those
in need of education resources that would benefit both adult and child. On the other hand,
suggestions have also been made regarding the improvement in the way AA has been
implemented, These are covered in the next section. |
I
Improved Implementation I
Besides suggesting that AA should begin at the lower levels of education, many j
informants have recommended more efficient implementation. Suggestions have been made S
regarding better targeting, transparent criteria for selection, better monitoring, a time frame, j
regular reviews and evaluation, In sum, there is general agreement that more efficient |
management of AA is necessary. J
As evidence of this, a senior Indigenous Fij ian government bureaucrat who requested |
anonymity, raises the following issues regarding better implementation: setting I
"conservative targets that are quite clear and practicable for the officials at the Ministry j
[MFA] and for the students who benefit" and for other communities to "see what exactly is j
involved like the criteria" for selection which is an issue to do with transparency. Another ]
issue raised by this senior government bureaucrat deals with setting a time frame so that AA
is "not open-ended". As well, he recommends a "major evaluation" and careful monitoring
"and if it's not working, scrap it and try and think of something else", Moreover, he
recommends that careful monitoring occurs with the selection of students awarded
scholarships and that they be "closely monitored in terms of performance".
Mere Samisoni asks a similar set of questions, but argues particularly that "AA has
to have vision, purpose, more planning and management" (T22: 15-16). She points out that
274

AA should "be driven by research and management, not politics, not provincialism, not
divisions in the country, not race but by measurement of what is really valuable and that is
your human assets and potential for self-worth, satisfaction and dignity" (T22: 15),
The need for a review of AA policies has consistently been referred to by many
informants. A senior Indigenous Fijian bureaucrat in government, for example, asks how
long AA should continue. She is concerned that "it seems AA will go on forever" and that
"No one will have the courage to say stop, this is enough", She notes that "Every
government that comes into place will continue with it when really we must look at the
reason why we're doing it and how effective it has been, Maybe we'll find out that this is
not the most effective way to do it" (T56; 3). Another dimension to implementation is
added by Tahir Munshi who maintains that "any project which is not reviewed is not a good
project, We should evaluate, we should find out whether certain things are bringing about
the desired results" (T42: 15). And, as Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere puts it:
if education is really useful, then the usefulness of this fund should be visible in the
sense of the quality of life of the Fijians in the commercial sector, in the rural sector,
in our villages, We should see the fruits of this in that the Fijian? are performing
well....If they're not performing...then something is drastically wrong with the whole
thing...,[Tjhey should evaluate the whole scheme. (T12: 7)
Yet another perspective, to do with performance indicators, is placed on the
implementation of AA by Dr Nii-Plange who asks "when you implement the AA
programme, what are your objectives?" He maintains that clear objectives are necessary so
that "by the end of a decade you produced x numbers of Fijian economists, x numbers of
Fijians with management degrees, x with medical degrees". He cautions that if there are no
such "indicators of measuring to what extent you have succeeded" then "there is a yawning
gap in the AA programme" (T20: 3).
Similarly, Adi Litia Qionibaravi would like to see "an assessment of the Fijian
manpower strength as it is today in both the public and private sector...so that we can then
assess what areas that we need to concentrate in", She specifically notes that "there might
be other areas of need that we need to utilise". However, she makes the point that "you can
only do that after thorough research is carried out...every two years to make an assessment
of the current manpower strength of Indigenous Fijians and Rotumans in the country" (Tl:
5).
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By contrast, Dewan Chand, in arguing for efficient resource management, states that
"one of the conditions [for AA policies to work] is having the skills of managing resources",
He maintains:
This is a very minimum prerequisite to ensure that the project succeeds. Very often
and very sadly, we hear there is no report on the financial resources, there is no
record about how the money has been utilised. In other words, there is
mismanagement of funds. So people will have to be taught how to manage funds.
(T23:13)
On the other hand, Winston Thompson points out that in scholarship allocation, there
has to be "a mix between a quota system and a merit system because you don't want it
entirely quotas, you don't want entirely merit but there has got to be a sufficient balancing of
the two so that over time, you've got a reasonable strength of these things being given"
(T17: 11).
This section has examined representations of informants on how policy-based
changes can be best effected. One school of thought would like less emphasis placed on AA
at the tertiary level. The main argument here is that problems in schooling begin lower
down at the preschool, primary and secondary levels, therefore that is where the focus
should be. The second school of thought is generally in agreement about the current focus
of AA, but argues that better implementation of policies is critical. Recommendations have
been made about clearer objectives, appropriate targeting, better monitoring, ongoing
research, and a better system of review and evaluation.
Administrators with Integrity
One such suggestion to make AA work more efficiently is the perception that what is
needed are administrators with good personal qualities who would be incorruptible. For
instance, Ratu Mosese Tuisawau suggests that AA needs "committed administrators".
Similarly, Dewan Chand makes the point that we "need to have people with vision" in the
form of "quality administrators who would not be carried away by too many biases". Other
personal qualities that Chand identifies are honesty and having "an in-depth
understanding...appreciation and recognition of saying there is a problem and the need to
have the missionary zeal to tackle the problem". What AA does not need are "people with a
lackadaisical half-baked attitude sitting in the boss' chair" (T23: 12).
This view is supported by Professor Asesela Ravuvu who maintains that "we don't
have people with integrity so that's the big question. If people in government don't have
this kind of integrity, there is no way these policies can work" (T34: 11). Similarly, Joseph
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Veramu, Lecturer in Education at USP, points out that "there's a need for people who run
this [AA] to have high personality qualities", who should be "above board" and who "are
not susceptible to corruption" (T64: 2).
Integrated Approach
Another condition that is suggested for more efficient implementation of AA is the
need for coordination between government and non-government organisations, For
instance, Esiteri Kamikamica, a former President of the FTA and community worker,
emphasises that "NGOs and government..[have] got to pull together because we are a
community". She emphasises that "It has to be a coordinated, integrated educational
development for the indigenous people with the help of the non-indigenous because we can't
save ourselves from the situation we are in now" (T54: 2).
Many suggestions have been made that, in order for AA to work better, there needs
to be an integrated approach to the whole issue of Indigenous Fijian achievement. For
instance, Adi Litia Qionibaravi argues that "first we begin from home - there's got to be an
active adult education programme" with the appropriate bodies involved such as "FAB...the
church...other organisations...the chiefs", She continues:
There's a need to alert parents on the rotes that they should be playing. There's a
need to improve Fijian homes, there's a need to provide better facilities in the village.
On the teacher's side we hope there will be better placement of teachers. If teachers
are not moving out to the rural schools for some reason then that should be looked
into, if teachers are teaching the wrong subjects, that needs to be looked into. On the
administration of schools, that needs to be looked into. ...On the Fijian Education Unit,
the structure...and staffing should be looked at, There should be improved
communication between us and the students [on scholarship] and there should be a lot
more staff working there [Fijian Education Unit] so that the administration of the fund
is better carried out. (Tl; 12)
AA for Mature-Aged Indigenous Fijians
A very different approach is taken by some informants on what can be done to ensure
that scholarship awards are maximised: that scholarships should only be given to 'mature'
Indigenous Fijian students rather than to students coming straight out of high school.
Sakeasi Butadroka argues that "every student that reaches form seven must go to the
army for compulsory service for two years where their hands wil! touch the soil and the
hammer, the spade". While they are doing this, there should be night classes offered "so that
they can go up to university" when this compulsory service is completed. On the other
hand, Krishna Datt is of the view that Indigenous Fijian students "should have to work first
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for one or two years" so that when "they go to university they do much better because they
are more mature, they control their emotions and they come there because they know that
this is my last chance, I've got to make it" (T2S: 11). When comparing pre-service and in-
service students, Professor Randy Thaman points out that the latter group are more mature
and are more committed to their studies whereas many students "coming straight out of
school who have been on scholarships,..just don't put in a hundred percent effort" (_T25: 3).
AA Plus Extra Assistance
Some informants have argued that for there to be an improvement in AA at the
tertiary level, additional assistance is needed. For instance, Professor Konai Thaman argues
that with AA at tertiary level, "You can't just get them into university without giving them
some extra assistance" (T4: 2). She points out that "if at the end of the day we're not having
a whole bunch of Fijian graduates coming out.,.the problem is not AA. I would question the
process" (T4: 6). She goes on to maintain that:
Part of the problem with AA, certainly at USP, is that those of us who deal with the
students treat them as if they are exactly the same and that's where the problem lies.
They're not the same. They didn't start out the same, they won't end up the same.
They have different learning styles and if...people recognised that and addressed this
then you probably don't need AA. (T4: 2-3)
Similarly, Professor Randy Thaman notes that what is needed is "affirmative action
in admission, supported by systematic, mandatory remedial help for people that have come
from systems where their English or numeracy is weak or when they have poor science
backgrounds". As he puts it, there are some students who could be struggling through
"quadruple filters" because "their English is not very good in the beginning". These
students "don't understand the lectures, they don't understand the books...they don't
understand the exam questions,,.and when they are writing in English, they also have a hard
time expressing themselves". However, he suggests that while we "definitely need to give
some remedial help", tertiary institutions "have to get a little bit tougher in the second or
third year", And "if they are not trying, if they are not coping, terminate the scholarship"
(T25: 2).
In sum, then, there has been a diversity in suggestions put forward by the informants
regarding how to improve the way AA policies can be made to work. One such suggestion
is "the need to have people with vision", "quality administrators" with "integrity" involved
in policy implementation. Better coordination and integration between agencies involved in
the education and development of Indigenous Fijians, as well the involvement of other
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ethnic communities, are also suggested because "You cannot address Fijian education and
performance in isolation", as Winston Thompson puts it. An emphasis is also placed on
those Indigenous Fijians who receive scholarships in that they need to understand that
getting a scholarship is not a "free gift but something that has to be taken with a sense of
commitment...and responsibility", as Dr Nii-Plange describes it. There is the view that
mature-aged students should be awarded scholarships and that students coming straight from
school should either work or be involved in some youth or voluntary scheme that will give
them some sense of maturity and responsibility. As well, there is the view that AA is not
enough, that once students with scholarships go to university, there should be mechanisms
for "extra assistance" in place to help those who genuinely need this assistance.
AA: Race-based or Class-based?
Some informants hold the view that race-based AA in Fiji has gone on long enough
and that it might be time for these policies to be class-based instead. For instance, Reverend
Dr Ilaitia Tuwere argues that AA is needed to help "those who are lagging behind and...we
really are talking about everybody". He adds:
It cuts across racial lines. While there are many Fijians who lag behind, there are
also Indians who are lagging behind and AA, if it is to make sense,...must be geared
towards the need of those who really need it...,If we neglect these people and I'm not
saying Fijians only but also other races...the whole nation is going to suffer social
problems....(T12: 7)
Tuwere continues by asking "How long has this positive discrimination for the
Fijians been running?" He suggests that a time should come when "we stop talking in terms
of ethnic groups" and "simply talk nationally and say who are the people who are deprived
of all this at the national level and see who really needs this affirmative action". He argues
that "the time for that must come when we should be moving in this direction". Tuwere
maintains that "If we want to build a good Fiji we must be talking about everybody, those
who are deprived and those who are deprived across the board" (T12: 7).
In a similar vein, Pratap Chand points out that "Fundamentally...it is the concern of
all communities everywhere that the underprivileged must be supported through AA" and
that "other people, irrespective of race, be given consideration" (T35: 1). He adds that AA
should be "related to means, not race" and that Fiji "has reached a stage...where we now
have a significant number of middle-class Fijians, very well-to-do Fijians". He maintains
that AA "should be for everybody, for all underprivileged people" (T35: 3-4).
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What Tuwere and Chand are saying here is endorsed by Josevata Kamikamica who
would like to see a broadening of AA so "the programme moves away from a racial base to a
more broad-based programme". He puts it this way:
Education is a very, very important factor in empowering the people and...to the
extent that the government can provide the resources,...these policies should continue
and then they should perhaps be broadened as our achievements improve, broadened
in the sense to include...needs assessment including other people who are in need -
Indians, Chinese, (T16: 5)
Dr Vijay Naidu is also of the view that a redefinition of who is truly 'disadvantaged'
should be undertaken in the allocation of AA and that this can be carried out by means-
testing of parental income. He adds that there are equally disadvantaged categories in the
non-indigenous portion of the population who would benefit from AA. As he puts it, "there
are other minorities in Fiji, for example, the Kiribati community, the Solomon Islander
community who are very disadvantaged but who, under current circumstances never get
access to such affirmative action", He adds that there are "also categories of Indo-Fijians,
the sons and daughters of canecutters who clearly don't have any money at all and they've
been penalised because they happen to belong to the Indo-Fijian community1' (T6: 2),
What is emanating from both indigenous and non-indigenous informants is that it
might be timely for the focus of AA policies to change from an emphasis on race to one
based on class, where the meaning of 'disadvantage1 is redefined or reconceptualised so that
means testing becomes the strategy in this reconceptualisation. However, there is a
recognition that this can only occur if there is sufficient political and public goodwill. This
will be discussed in the section on leadership changes.
This section on policy-based changes has seen a variety of positions on the status and
future of AA. First, there is a perception that the focus of AA should shift from the tertiary
to lower levels so that problems at the base can be sorted out sooner. As well, there is the
perspective that AA as a policy is fine but that implementation needs improvement. Further,
other conditions for AA policies have been spelt out by the informants and they range from
the quality of implementors, an integrated approach, the need for all communities to work on
the issue of Indigenous Fijian underachievement and to the other extreme, the calibre of AA
recipients. The issue of whether the focus of AA should shift to class as the principal
criteria of disadvantage has also been raised in this section. The next section examines
portrayals of reforms that should occur in terms of the Indigenous Fijian people.
2S0

People-Based Changes
The following discussion is based on the perspectives of informants on changes in
the attitudes of people that are needed to bring about an improvement in the status of
Indigenous Fijians in schooling and for 'success' in life in general. It begins by examining
the lack of debate on issues concerning the Indigenous Fijians, then moves on to discuss
portrayals of how the Indigenous Fijian outlook can be changed by agencies such as chiefs,
church and educated Indigenous Fijians playing a key role. Community education, in
particular, has been pinpointed as a crucial strategy that would uplift the standard of
education amongst Indigenous Fijians by empowering parents to be facilitators of their
children's education.
Further Debate on AA and Indigenous Fijian Education
Some informants have pointed out that there is a lack of debate on issues to do with
the education of Indigenous Fijians, AA and on anything that may be misconstrued as racist.
For example, Krishna Datt notes that:
the nature of the Parliament is so very unconducive to debate. They don't want to
get up and say something. If you talk about AA, then you are likely interpreted as
either being pro- or anti-Fijian. And that's hardly the image you want to create....But
the Parliament is the worst place to raise issues which are multi-cultural, this
Parliament. This is why it's really in our interest to try and get a good multiracial
block on either side. You could have a healthy debate about this and no one could
accuse you of being pro this or pro that. (T28: 14)
In a similar vein, Joeli Kalou notes that "Fijian education, unfortunately, is never
debated". He points out that within the government itself, "What a few of us are trying to do
now is to have a permanent parliamentary committee on education". This way there would
be "the chance to put Fijian education problems on the agenda and get issues discussed and
decisions made" (T33: 9).
These two parliamentarians, from different sides of the House, highlight the need for
more debate on issues confronting the education of Indigenous Fijians and the related issue
of AA policies. A call is made for more transparency and accountability on the
implementation of AA. As Datt notes "Now there is the fear that this opposition
parliamentarian might ask how was this particular scholarship given away? What was the
criteria used? But what do you do when sometimes they just tell you that it was the
discretion of the Minister and that's the end of it. You got your answer, you shut up and sit
down"(T28: 14).
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This reluctance to raise 'racial1 issues is also reflected in school and society in
general, Tokasa Vitayaki argues that these issues are also avoided in the curriculum. She
maintains "The current thinking up there is we don't talk too much about cultural interaction
in Fiji because it's too sensitive. We don't talk about land because it's too sensitive. Do not
talk about the constitution. When we don't talk about these things, we're depriving the
students" (T37: 11).
Changing the Indigenous Fijian Outlook
There is a widespread belief that Indigenous Fijians need to change their cultural
orientations and value systems if they are to make headway in school and in the capitalist
market system, This is a shared view between Indigenous Fijian and non-indigenous groups
alike and cuts across all categories of informants.
The belief that Indigenous Fijians should shift their focus from a communal to a
more individual one is made by many informants. For example, Arthur Crane points out
that "the problem" is that "the social structure [is] corporate in contrast to the structure of the
Indian family which is so segregated" (T43: 14), In a similar way, Dewan Chand also talks
about the communalism of Indigenous Fijians compared to Indo-Fijians, Indirectly, he
advocates that Indigenous Fijians need to become more individualistic to survive in today's
'cut-throat' competitive world. He states:
Fijians, by nature are very generous...experience will find that when it comes to
teamwork like rugby...they will be able to operate very well, but when to comes to
individual competition, that individualism is sadly lacking in the Fijian community
whereas Indians are very individualistic in nature. That has contributed a lot towards
Indian survival in a very competitive economic and educational environment, There
they have no choice, it's a cut-throat competition. (T23: 5)
Yet, Mere Samisoni argues that competition is part of the indigenous way of life,
only that Indigenous Fijians need to "translate those concepts to schools, work as well as
thinking" (T22: 7), She maintains that Indigenous Fijian culture is competitive in that "we
have had to compete in schools, we have had to compete in sports, even growing up in the
village our mothers compete baking cakes and the mat weaving", She adds that
"Competition is about individualism, but that individuals should be part of the whole" but
the problem is that "everything has been separated out" where individualism is seen "as an
end in itself and not "a means io an end" (T22: 4).
By contrast, Sister Genevieve Loo points out that Indigenous Fijians should be more
questioning and assertive, She observes that the "cultural problem" is that "Fijian society is
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a hierarchical society and...right from home, students are taught to respect their elders, not to
question" and that "students had a very deep respect for people in authority". She continues
by stating that "they need also to be taught to think for themselves, to ask questions, to be
questioning.,,,So there is that cultural background, maybe because this is how they were
brought up, they are not assertive enough" (T21: 3).
It is evident, then, that many informants would like to see Indigenous Fijian society
changing so that their thinking is more in tune with 'success' at school, work and in the
economy, These informants advocate cultural dynamism rather than cultural preservation.
Indigenous Fijian cultural strengths such as generosity of spirit, communal orientation,
respect for elders that comes about from listening, and their focus on community obligations
will all have to be down played if the calls for change in cultural thinking are to be taken
seriously. For as Professor Tupeni Baba puts it, "The only way to survive in that same
competitive atmosphere is the so called "modern values" which will "push the school even
harder than it is now" (T8: 15),
Inter-Agency Liaison
In Chapter Five, one explanation for Indigenous Fijian underachievement in
schooling was the portrayal of spatial and class disadvantage, particularly to do with socio-
economic status and lack of an 'education' on the part of the parents. There was a consensus
among informants that a concerted and integrated effort needs to be made by the different
agencies involved with Indigenous Fijians to do something constructive. For instance, Adi
Kuini Speed argues for a reconceptualisation of training so that this occurs vertically rather
than the 'Western' horizontal training that is the norm, She particularly argues that chiefs,
the District Officers, the Roko, agricultural officers, women's advisers, education officers
and other agents directly involved with Indigenous Fijians undergo training together. She
notes that horizontal type training is irrelevant to the Indigenous Fijian context and that
working in teams is more relevant. She states:
In the Western context, we train people according to what they do, functional
groups....But this kind of training...is not relevant in the Fijian context because we
always work as a team and also because we are still dependent on other agents in
order that a certain policy be implemented effectively. So we realised that if we are
to bring about any effective change, it must be conducted along a vertical line in
terms of the team that is going to be involved in this improvement... and... they go as a
team in the district. (T32: 10)
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And yet, Mere Samisoni points out that "there should be more discussion so we can
link up so that our people can understand meanings better". She states that "We need more
Indigenous Fijians to be able to do well" and that "it is only the outsiders or migrant races
who are performing better". She notes that this "puts up a barrier", where race is seen "as an
issue, as a phobia", when really the discussion should be finding out the reasons why, in
order to move on. One shortcoming that Samisoni sees for race politics is "there is not
enough communication, there is not enough understanding, there is not enough
interpretation" and that "there is not enough acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses that
have to be managed and developed" (T22: 3-4).
Moreover, there is emphasis placed on the need for all communities to work together
on the issue of indigenous underachievement, rather than the current "basis that the Fijians
have of compartmentalising Fijians and Fijian development and expect that this is going to
ensure survival and perpetuation of the Fijian as a race in the future", which is "grossly
misguided thinking" (T17: 9), as Winston Thompson puts it. Thompson maintains that
"You cannot address Fijian education and performance in isolation" (T 17: 15). This view is
supported by Sefanaia Koroi who notes that "ihere needs to be a concerted total
commitment by everybody". However, Koroi is dubious, like Mere Samisoni above, about
this occurring because he points out "Unfortunately, you can't have this because we have
ethnic differences where some groups see this as a special favour to a particular group who
are given a special advantage over them" (T9: 17).
Nevertheless, the need for "political consensus" and the support of all communities
is emphasised by Professor Tupeni Baba who maintains that this "is a political question".
Baba argues that "You must have AA supported by all people of Fiji and AA, if accepted,
must be applicable to anybody who seems to be disadvantaged in a criteria that is defined
and agreed upon by all of us" (T 8: 13). Baba goes on to suggest that for AA to be
"transparent...be acceptable to the community...be well-defined and...equitable...would
require going back into the schools, to look at the curriculum, the ethos, the quality of the
teachers in all schools" (T8: 13).
Additionally, Winston Thompson makes the point that "providing more money is not
enough on its own" to make a difference to the problem of Indigenous Fijian
underachievement. He calls for "a greater sense of commitment and contribution by all
Fijian elements—from the family, village, tikina, province to the institutions: Fijian Affairs
Board, Bose Levu Vakaturaga, Ministry of Fijian Affairs, etc., and the main Fijian leaders.
As he suggests, "all the Fijian elements" should not just be involved in "calling for more
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resources to be allocated but more importantly, stressing the dedication, discipline, sacrifice,
savings which must be forthcoming from Fijians themselves" (T17: 17).
Adult/Community Education
Education is viewed as extremely important to success in life. The connections are
made between an adequate level of education (the higher the better) and a good quality of
life, The arguments laid out in Chapter Five emphasise that compared to non-indigenous
people, the Indigenous Fijians are not as forward when it comes to fulfilling the educational
needs of the children, particularly for those in the lower socio-economic category. Since the
majority of Indigenous Fijians are rural-based and the rural areas have a subsistence
economy, many Indigenous Fijians have a low socio-economic status, This has implications
for the level of education reached and knowledge about what to do to facilitate the
educational success of their children. An intensive and regular adult or community
education programme is, thus, one area which is seen to be necessary in changing views and
practices so that there will be an improvement in thp achievement of Indigenous Fijians. As
Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere has put it, "Whoever is educated has power in today's society"
(T12: 3).
This sentiment is echoed by Mere Samisoni who points out that "the only way you
can become more productive is if you are better informed and educated" (T22: 5) and that
"Education.,.gives...people responsibility and empowers] people to make decisions" (T22:
9). She argues that "a lot of aid should go into educating Indigenous Fijian women "to
understand their responsibility, their role in the market place" in terms of "what are the
costs,...benefits and the choices they can make from their list of priorities" (T22: 5). She
points out that community education is important and that communication is a key element
in this process. She particularly explains that "If the facts are explained to the parents for
their co-operation they will understand". She states:
If we get back to them and educate parents in a sender-receiver cycle and process and
explain what it's like living in a cash economy, in a market economy, no more
village subsistence economy, there has got to be changes and they have got to
understand...and accept their responsibility to be flexible and change. I believe our
culture is flexible. Today, we just haven't used the communication process to make
it so. (T22: 4)
In a similar way, Professor Tupeni Baba argues that more effort should be put into
community education "to make parents understand that education requires a lot more
attention than currently is being given". As well, he points out that these Indigenous Fijian
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parents "should go into it knowing.,.[that] it entails social change" (T8: 13), Baba also
maintains that "Fijian education would have been far better served if we had put in a lot
more into community education" rather than "on scholarships...[or] building new buildings"
(T8: 9).
One possible way of changing Indigenous Fijian attitudes towards valuing education
would be in the form of a booklet. Ratu Mosese Tuisawau argues that a "powerful tool is
the printed Fijian language" and that "either the private sector, the market place or
Government should set out a simple booklet on parental duties towards the success of their
children in education", This could be carried out in a "question and answer" format, very
much like the Socratic method, which "will have to be done by someone with expertise"
because "when done properly it will grip the imagination" (T53: 4).
Sefanaia Koroi makes the point that traditionally, the Indigenous Fijian chiefs "are
key players in the community that we try to attack tlirough our own adult or community
education". He advises that the traditional approach of getting to the people through the
chief works best "because the chiefs have the power to call all the people who listen to them.
So if you can gather them around chiefs and you convince the chiefs of the value of
education...the message goes better to the people" (T9: 10).
A radical viewpoint is taken by Una Nabobo who argues that for AA to work,
Indigenous Fijians should undergo "intensive training as a people, even to the extent of
being indoctrinated", She continues, "Training and education have options and choices. I
think we really don't have a choice. We really must indoctrinate them through the church,
the media about the importance of education". Nabobo emphasises that "Until and unless
you do that, no policy on AA is going to work. Educating the Fijians is not going to be
enough, they just need to be indoctrinated just like the missionaries indoctrinated us" (T45:
4).
The Role of the Chiefs
There is widespread belief that Indigenous Fijian chiefs can make a difference in
indigenous education through the influence they have on the Indigenous Fijian community.
But this belief is tempered by the view that the chiefs themselves need to be educated first if
they are to play a legitimate role in persuading their people that a 'Western' education is
critical in this postmodern moment.
Adi Kuini Speed maintains that "having looked at the way our people live in the
villages, if you do away with chiefly leadership, you do away with the whole traditional
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system" (T32: 12), Having said that, Adi Kuini is of the view that chiefs and other
Indigenous Fijian leaders at the village and provincial levels need to be educated because "it
is so critical to equip our leaders with the essential skills, making them aware" as they "are
the leaders who virtually run the show as it were in terms of our Fijian people" (T32; 15).
Similarly, Josevata Kamikamica notes that chiefs "themselves should be helped to realise the
importance of education in terms of understanding the mechanics involved" (T16: 8).
A senior educationist at the USP points out that "chiefs need to be educated if they
continue to have some respect" and that "unless they are educated, they will not have
credibility" (Til: 13). But as Veniana Lovodua puts it, "A lot of these chiefs have gone
through the school system and yet they're divorcing their role of leaders from what's
happening today...not realistically looking at their leadership roles to the needs of today" (T
44:3). Lovodua points out that "when it comes to education, they have very little to do" and
yet, as Lovodua continues, the chiefs "could fulfil their role as leaders to initiate projects to
get people to realise how important education is" (T44: 3). One of these "projects" could be
in the form of support from chiefs, such as inclusion on school committees where "things
can change", as Joeli Nabuka puts it, but "where the chief ha[s] a laid-back, indifferent
attitude, nothing happen[s]" (T10: 9). Nabuka continues:
But where the chiefs have gone though formal education and have achieved up to a
certain level...they certainly contribute a lot, They might not say a lot of concrete
things, it's just by their very support, that goes down the line to all the other Fijians
and they would give their support wherever the chiefs' support is. (T10 :9)
Similarly, Pratap Chand is of the view that chiefs can have a "huge influence if they
put emphasis in the village by holding meetings..., checking on children attending school
and finding out why they don't attend and checking on the schools" (T35: 10). And as
Esther Williams puts it, "We should educate chiefs. Education is a very strong tool...and
then information comes second. You have to educate to inform people" (T27; 7).
Unfortunately, the Great Council of Chiefs, the ultimate institutional authority on
matters that concern Indigenous Fijians, "is not doing its part properly in addressing those
issues that really touch and are related to the Fijian people" according to Reverend Dr Ilaitia
Tuwere, He argues that the Great Council of Chiefs needs to be more proactive, responsive
and authoritative. As he has put it, "when we talk about Fijian culture, the chiefs with their
authority must be bold, they must be clear about what we should cut down, what we should
stop absolutely. They can do it and they should do it" (T12:4).
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Ratu Mosese Tuisawau points out that "Unfortunately...what is discussed depends on
the people who run the show" and that "Not much free discussion is encouraged".
Nevertheless, Ratu Mosese is optimistic that there are people in the Great Council of Chiefs
"whose mental make-up is such that they would take on any worthwhile cause and have it
brought for full discussion" (T53: 4).
The important role that chiefs can play in galvanising "the whole community to
change" is summed up by Professor Tupeni Baba in this manner:
I think chiefs play a very important role in mobilising the community, in making the
community accept the innovation by showing interest themselves.,,.So many
observances that are done...could be simplified and the chiefs can play a prominent
role if they encourage this kind of new approach, if they understand why it is done. I
think that if they get good advice, the young chiefs will be able to galvanise the
whole community to change. It's very difficult to change Fijian communities
without involving chiefs. (T8:10)
The Role of the Church
The category of church is not a homogenous one. As Adi Kuini Speed points out,
there are differences between the Catholic and Methodist church, She perceives that
students attending Catholic school institutions tend to do better than other churches because
the Catholic church to gives "emphasis to education within their social community in terms
of congregation and the teaching,..this rubs off from the parents to the children and so they
work as a team" (T32: 11). The following comments made about the role of the church in
changing the attitudes of Indigenous Fijians to education, therefore, apply largely to the
Methodist church.
The church plays an influential role in the lives of Indigenous Fijians, Joeli Kalou
observes "the church is the only institution really than can say something that goes against
culture and there is no reaction, The influence of the church is very strong and that is
why...the church can do a lot to improve the attitude of the Fijian" (T33: 11). In a similar
way, Sefanaia Koroi states that "people pay more attention to church than education, so they
give more support to church activities than to educational activities" (T9: 10). And as
Filirnoni Jitoko puts it, "the church should relax...its binding effect on the parents" (T13:
13).
According to Ted Young, one way that the church can be of assistance is to "First of
all, stop demanding contributions" in the form of "time and money". He gives the example
of the annual Methodist Conference which sees a convergence of about 700 choirs. Some
Indigenous Fijians are in two or three choirs and the cost would be enormous in terms of
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time and money, "If they spend just half of that for their children in terms of buying
educational needs, spending the time...supervising" is Young's lament. This is supported by
Adi Litia Qionibaravi who notes:
[I]n villages, they're always having collections, various types of collection - for the
provincial councils, for the village development, for education, for the church, etc.
And you ask anyone in the village, the average answer would be they would like to
see their contribution reduced, So there is a need to integrate all these financial needs
and find out the best way of assisting the people.,,so that the children's educational
needs are properly taken care of. (Tl: 9)
Focussing specifically on time management, Ratu Mosese Tuisawau points out that
"one of the aspects that needs focusing on when dealing with churches is that we emphasise
that there are only 24 hours within the day" and that there "should be some sort of
meaningful agreement to come to with regard to the allocation of time". This is so because
of "so much emphasis which militates against the education of children...appear to be
imposed by the church on its members" means "less time available for parents to focus on
their children's education" (T53: 4),
Several informants have referred to the importance of the church having strong and
visionary leadership. For example, Dewan Chand notes that "The church has massive
resources and so much power, and it has so much of influence that it can guide the people in
the right direction....So it has to be the right person who is heading that" (T23: 13).
Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere points out that under his leadership, "the cultural force"
that the Methodist Church is trying to address is to do with such things as the emphasis of
Indigenous Fijians on church activities and the little time they spend with their children. As
he has put it, "right up on the agenda is the use of time.,,in the church activities and the use
of money, the time they spend away from their children when they should be with them".
He maintains that "it's a battle not only against what is going on in the church but also it's a
battle against Fijian culture as well because the church and culture,.,are so closely
interlocked that one is quite difficult to separate from the other " (T12: 4).
The Role of the Educated Indigenous Fijian
Many informants agree that educated Indigenous Fijians are making and can make a
big difference in inculcating in parents the 'appropriate' attitudes to education. For instance,
Esther Williams points out that "As educators, we can counsel parents and give them advice
as to what they can do to help" because most parents "know that education is important, they
just don't know how to go about it. They're really limited in what they can do" (T27; 7).
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This view is reiterated by Adi Kuini Speed who maintains that the cycle of material poverty
in the rural area can only be broken "if somebody who's reasonably well-educated comes in,
sees the problem, changes it, does something about it and contacts the right agents". She
adds:
So it's really critical, the only way to break the cycle [of poverty] is for those who
are educated in the various districts to come back, make the connection and give the
advice or to actually do the work otherwise, this is going to continue. (T32: 10).
Similarly, Dr Nii-PIange points out that "Indigenous Fijians who have obtained very
good heights in the formal system,..have a responsibility to make themselves heard on this
issue" and "should get words of encouragement to their folk in the rural areas, to go back
more than they do" because "they are living symbols of what the others can achieve in spite
of what exists now" (T20: 10). He is also of the view that educated parents perpetuate
education for their children and that the AA policies that have educated many Indigenous
Fijians will have "demonstration effects" on their children. However, Nii-PIange sees this as
"a long-term situation".
In a similar vein, Filimoni Jitoko notes that "We hope that now we have more
educated parents and hopefully they can assist their children or other parents who are not
that well educated in the villages" (T13; 3). This is echoed by Joeli Kalou who states that
"you've got the educated Fijian parents who are beginning to change. You could see that
some parents are giving their children all the help they need to succeed" (T33: 11),
This section on people-based changes has included suggestions for more debate on
AA and Indigenous Fijian education, As well, calls have been made to ensure that there is
more effective communication and liaison between the agencies involved in the education of
Indigenous Fijians. What is being promoted here is vertical type training that is more
appropriate in the Fiji context, where "to bring about any effective change, it must be
conducted along a vertical line in terms of the team that is going to be involved in this
improvement", as Adi Kuini Speed aptly puts it. Because the perception is that the
indigenous adult populace is largely rural and uneducated, recommendations have been
made regarding changing their cultural orientations through adult or community education.
This would be in response to another perception that a large proportion of Indigenous Fijian
parents, particularly, do not know how to facilitate 'success' for their children in schooling.
Chiefs, the church and educated Indigenous Fijians have been targeted specifically as
influential agents in bringing about changes to the education of Indigenous Fijians. As well,
another recommended strategy to educate Indigenous Fijians about the value of education is
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a booklet in a question-answer mode. Finally, an extreme suggestion has been made that
Indigenous Fijians should undergo "intensive training as a people, even to the extent of
being indoctrinated" because "educating the Fijians is not going to be enough" and that
"Until and unless you do that, no policy on AA is going to work", as Una Nabobo suggests.
The next section examines other suggested changes that are perceived to be necessary for the
general improvement of the performance of Indigenous Fijians in formal schooling.
Other Changes
Many informants have suggested other changes that would benefit the education of
Indigenous Fijians, which do not quite fit into the above categories. One such
recommendation is in the area of research. Other suggestions pertain to such diverse areas
as training and regular in-servicing of teachers and principals, upgrading of school facilities
and resources, more efficient use of community resources and the need for an education
commission. Just as importantly, recommendations have been made for the collective
interest of the nation to be the basis for local, national and political decision-making rather
than the current focus on race issues.
Research
The need for research has been emphasised by some informants. This suggestion has
not only been in the area of policy but also in school- and people-changes. For example,
Professor Konai Thaman argues for more research to be carried out in the area of learning
styles of Indigenous Fijians because "that's part of the reason why they don't perform well
in school". Thaman states:
There's enough research to show that the closer the home culture is to the
expectations of the school, the better it is for students. So if that is the case then
having AA in relation to scholarships is not going to solve much because you're
attacking the problem when it's too late to attack it. It's much better to invest money
to try and get schools to recognise if indeed Fijian students learn in a different way to
get more of them to succeed in school. That's not to say that we should change the
Fijian culture and make it like European culture.,.but the teachers should change
their methods of teaching to take into account experiences of the Fijian kids. (T4: 3)
Thaman is promoting research at the school level to find out the factors that inhibit
learning, and to do something about it, rather than spend the money at the tertiary level
where it may just be a bit too late. Josevata Kamikamica argues along similar lines when he
says "Perhaps part of that fund should be devoted to the kinds of research which deals with
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these problems because in that way it will improve the quality of decision-making and
curriculum and things like that" (T16: 13). This is echoed by Winston Thompson who
points out that "I don't think enough attention is being given to studying the way the
education system has gone, where the schools are, how the output of the schools in the
various locations are coming through" in order to "understand the dynamics of the
way...Fijian education has been coming" (T17; 16). A senior Indigenous Fijian educator at
the USP sums it up in this manner, "No one has done a study of whether Fijians have done
well since the first schools were set up in Fiji" ( T i l : 5).
A somewhat different perspective is taken by Esiteri Kamikamica who places an
emphasis on the gathering of information before AA funds are distributed. She would like
to particularly see a "needs assessment" carried out in order to identify those who are
disadvantaged. As well, she would like to see "a very good information network" in place
that would then be used to allocate the funds (T54: 4).
In terms of AA policies, Filipe Tuisawau argues for "a proper research into what the
gap is between the two major races" in terms of "have we closed the gap, the number of
Fijians that have come through with degrees, where the need is for AA", He points out that
"there has to be a review of whether the AA policies are achieving what they're supposed to
achieve". And because "we can't have policies that go on forever", Tuisawau maintains that
"their effectiveness has to be analysed" (T46: 4). Similarly, Alifereti Cawanibuka, Principal
of the Fiji College of Advanced Education, argues that "proper research has to be carried out
so that the $4.7 million is well utilised". He maintains that "we have to identify what the
areas are, what sort of courses and how many people are needed in particular areas" (T62:
2).
Teacher and Principal Training and In-servicing
As well as more focus on research, suggestions have been made regarding teacher
and principal training. For instance, Josevata Kamikamica:
would ensure that the teachers, particularly the heads of various schools are well
qualified and trained to understand the problems that we have discussed and to focus
particularly if they're teaching in Fijian schools to develop the attitudes that would
allow students to compete in later years. I would then look at teacher training,
particularly the head teachers, the principals. (T16: 12)
Setareki Delana would also like to see more appropriate training for principals,
particularly in rural schools, and advocates a kind of mentoring programme where the
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emphasis is more on practice rather than theory. As he has put it, "principals in rural
schools are really behind in the sense that the kind of training they are undergoing is
irrelevant to their work". I think what the Government should be doing more is to put them
on a practical training...rather than the theoretical orientation of training programmes which
are mostly irrelevant" (T51: 2-3).
Some informants have raised the importance of continuous teacher upgrading.
Ledua Waqailiti, for instance, advocates regular in-servicing for teachers, especially for
those "using the colonial system of teaching rote-learning" (T24: 5). Similarly, Dr Vijay
argues that the proper training of teachers and professional issues are critical factors to
consider in order to get good quality teachers which would go a long way to improving the
quality of Indigenous Fijian education. Naidu points out that an educational system "can't
afford to have teachers" who "don't have any teacher training qualifications" {T16: 19).
According to Rainima Meo, Filimoni Jitoko and Saula Koroinivalu, the MOE has
been active in leadership training of school principals and managers in Indigenous Fijian
schools. A "multi-pronged approach in the whole approach of enhancing Fijian education"
is taken by the Ministry where principals, school management committees, teachers, parents
and public, as well as the Provincial Councils, are targeted so that they are informed of their
responsibilities towards the education of Indigenous Fijian parents (T41: 9).
Upgrading of School Facilities and Resources
Suggestions for upgrading at the school level have also been made. For instance,
Ted Young would like to see the upgrading "of all the facilities, the equipment, books and
all those types of things". Young would like to see Indigenous Fijian children being given
"the best and the widest foundation for education at the primary level which is the most
important level in terms of the educational development of a child" (T29: 4). Mere Tora
notes that "for Fijian education, you really have to start from the schools...the facilities of
rural schools.,.is a priority.,,and even houses for teachers...because good teachers don't want
to go to rural areas because of the poor facilities" (T19: 13).
Some informants would like to see the current focus on human resource development
of the AA policy, administered by the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, to change. For example,
Filimoni Jitoko argues that the Fijian Education fund should revert back to allocating a
portion to "capital development" of Indigenous Fijian schools. He argues that the reason for
his stance is "we need the upgrading of facilities in primary and secondary schools because
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that is very important for Fijian education [in]...getting the basic foundations first". He
continues:
The allocation of scholarships is very much at the tip for those who have succeeded
while at the base, people are still struggling on their own - communities are
struggling to build schools, to get better facilities for the children....We would have
liked the fund as it was before when they used to have funds for capital works....But
lately they've withdrawn that capital allocation and they've put everything into
scholarships. I think that is a major blow to the schools because they really relied
on that fund. (Tl3: 10)
More Efficient Use of Community Resources
By contrast, there have been some suggestions that community resources, such as
church halls and schools, be utilised more efficiently by the rural indigenous community in
ways that would facilitate educational progress, For instance, as suggested by Filimoni
Jitoko, facilities outside of the home could be provided after school hours at the school
where teachers can supervise homework so that "everything is completed before [students]
go home". Or alternatively, the teachers can "discuss with the community the provision of a
place...like the church or the community hall, which can be utilised for homework
supervised by parents who have been rostered to supervise in the rural areas" (T13: 3).
Education Commission
Representatives of the two teachers' unions (FTA and FTU) have consistently called
for a commission to be conducted into education to show the way for the future. For
instance, Pratap Chand makes the point that "If we have a commission of education...it may
give a blueprint for change" (T35: 5). Jagdish Singh argues:
[T]he education system in Fiji underwent a thorough evaluation in 1969 and that was
the last one. It is now 26 years since that evaluation. Any right thinking person...can
make out that we are 26 years behind. So an Education Commission should be set
up immediately. (T7: 15)
Suggestions for an Education Commission have not only come from teacher union
representatives, Emasi Qovu, the Manager of the Workforce Planning and Scholarships at
PSC, maintains that it "is so very unfortunate" when "the people at the Ministry of
Education say there is no need for an Education Commission. In his view, "There is a
definite need for...an Education Commission" (T65: 4).
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Race Versus Nationhood
More importantly, there are recommendations made by some informants that race
should not be the basis for the way social, cultural and political life is conducted but that the
collective interest of the nation be paramount, The issue of race has been raised as an
unpalatable divisive element to the notion of nationhood. Mere Samisoni argues that:
Indo-Fijians are part of our nation and in the past have put a lot into the economy.
Suddenly, when the Fijians feel threatened then this phobia about race comes
through, We have to allow Fijians to catch up, say another 50 years, Do it properly,
do it with dignity, do it with pride....You don't get anywhere...[by] making people
uncomfortable racially. (T22: 16)
In a similar way, Adi Kuini Speed argues that "the drive for nationalism for its own
sake...at the cost of nationhood.,, has cost this nation a lot. And the more we realise that it's
the nation that matters more than whether you are Fijian, the more we bring this into focus,
the better it is" (T32: 13), Pratap Chand also observes that "we are too deep in our racial
thinking" and that "we must break these barriers" (p 5),
Jagdish Singh suggests that "Once all the races of this country don't look at each
other as a race but as one nation, one people,,,then only can we progress as a nation", He
argues:
I want to ensure that every citizen in this country, particularly those who are born
here, be they Fijian, Indian, Rotuman or any islander, to accept that they are Fijian
and if they accept this they will work towards building Fiji. If you think you're a
foreigner there then I don't think you can contribute anything to the development of
the country. This is not the time really to talk on racial lines, to divide the
community but it is the time for all the people of Fiji to become one. (T7: 16)
Those who have been involved in education, like teachers, principals, MOE officials,
and teacher unionists, advocate the integration of schools so that Indigenous Fijians are more
exposed to the spirit of individualism and competition, An additional argument given for
integration is that there should be "more mixing, much more integration between the two
races in terms of schools so that this element of race..,slowly dies out and people start
looking at people as human beings", according to Tahir Munshi. This view is shared by
Dewan Chand who states "as far as education is concerned, it's my desire to ensure that
through education we can bridge the racial barriers". As he notes, "The more we segregate,
the more we bring in a watertight compartment" which "in the long run...would do damage
to our community" (T23: 15). Chand goes on to point out that integration should also take
place in terms of teachers where "I would like to been seen, not as an Indian, but as a
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teacher, that my services should be available to anybody across the nation". The "tag of
Indian or Fijian" should therefore not be a criteria in the selection of teachers teaching in
predominantly indigenous or non-indigenous schools (T23: 15),
Here, I have examined the "phobia about race", as Mere Samisoni puts it, that seems
to concern the people of Fiji, particularly where issues pertaining to Indigenous Fijians are
concerned. There are calls for the interests of the nation to be the basis for political
decisions rather than the current emphasis on Fijian nationalism. As indicated earlier by two
parliamentarians, there is very little scope in Parliament to openly discuss issues to do with
Indigenous Fijians because of the fear of being called "racist" by the Indigenous Fijian
populace. For as Adi Kuini Speed puts it, "the more we realise that it's the nation that
matters more than whether you are Fijian, the more we bring this into focus, the better it is".
This section has examined areas such as research, the training of teachers and
principals, a "multi-pronged approach...in enhancing Fijian education" and the upgrading of
school and community facilities and resources. In terms of research, informants have
recommended studies be carried out on learning styles of Indigenous Fijians and how the
outcomes of these might be incorporated into the scnool system. As well, there have been
calls for research into the extent of Indigenous Fijian progress in schooling and into how far
the educational gap has been bridged. Moreover, representations of other changes, such as
the need for an education commission and an emphasis on the interests of the nation rather
than on racial issues, have also been examined. The next section examines perceptions of
leadership changes and encompasses viewpoints on a national vision and the political will to
implement this vision.
Leadership Changes
Thus far, I have presented informant representations of the kinds of reforms that need
to be taken in order to improve the education of Indigenous Fijians. They had been placed
under the headings of institution-based, policy-based and people-based changes. This was
followed by an examination of other changes that informants thought were necessary that
did not quite fit into these categories. In what follows, I examine informant portrayals of
leadership changes. This includes political vision, vision in education and political will.
Informants have acknowledged that without the appropriate educational and political vision
and without strong leadership, all these reforms they have suggested would come to nought.
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Political Vision and Nationhood
There is general agreement amongst the informants that there is a lack of vision on
the part of leaders in Fiji. Krishna Datt posits that both Indigenous and Indo-Fijian
leadership suffers from this. As he puts it, "the Fijian leadership has become too engrossed
in politics and politicking, not just politics". According to Datt, "this politicking is taking
them away from the main goal and the question becomes their own political survival rather
than statesmanship.,.visionary issues and major goals. Both races suffer from it" (T28: 19).
This theme is picked up by Adi Kuini Speed who argues that strong leadership is
essential to keep the interests of the nation paramount over the "spirit of nationalistic
fervour" where the "drive for Fijian-ness at the expense of nationhood has cost" the nation
"a lot" She notes:
[I]t's the responsibility of the leaders...[they] have to instil this in our people that this
has nothing to do with being Fijian, it's thinking of the nation as a whole, that if the
nation performs well economically and otherwise, then it would be of benefit to the
groups within, especially the Fijians as landowners. Then people will see it but if we
keep on going around telling people that your land will be grabbed away from you,
you have to now start thinking of your own survival, at the expense of the nation, we
are going to always have this problem. (T32: 13)
In a similar vein, a former senior government bureaucrat points out that "what we
need for the country is a clear vision of where we're going as a country, irrespective of
who's in it". His notion of this is "as a nation we want to be at some point in the future
where everybody has the ability to live a full and fulfilling life, their children are educated,
are able to do what they like when they like, are reasonably well off". He would like such a
vision "enunciated by all our leaders" so that would become the focus of nation-building
rather than the current focus on "our parochialism" and "our immediate
problems...associations and groupings". He continues:
And that's something that the leadership has to do so that the top leadership in the
government, the Cabinet, the churches - if we had a united vision of what we're
trying to achieve and then set about to put up the processes to achieve that, we
would overcome a lot of the arguments that we have now. (p. 13)
Adi Kuini Speed argues that the major problem in Fiji is the lack of political and
national direction because "Fiji has not been able to identify what it wants" and "that is the
crux of the matter". She further notes, "We don't really know what we want, where we want
to go. If we identify that first, then we will be able to order our priorities" (T32: 13). She
maintains "There is no boldness in our thinking" such that "we can take on the policies that
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we want", But having said this, Adi Kuini concedes the point that "we must remember we
only became independent in 1970". She argues that "Some of us act as if we are 50, 60
years but we had 96 years of political domination by a foreign country from 1874-1970. We
can't expect in 26 years to unravel all that so we have to think about the context, that's
critical". She cautions "young academics" not to "expect too much of our leaders" as "there
must be some balance in it" (T32: 14).
A senior Indigenous Fijian government bureaucrat points out that, in relation to AA
policies, it would take very strong leadership to bring a halt to them because it has now
reached the stage where "it's a sacred kind of politics" (T31: 4).
Vision in Education
There is agreement by the informants that where education is concerned, there is a
lack of vision by leaders at all levels, be it local or national. This criticism has come
particularly from teacher trade unionists. For instance, Ted Young notes that "we need
people who have vision to be able to develop new directions for the country and for that
matter, not only in education but, in all other areas". He goes on to argue that the MOE
lacks people with vision because if they had this, "they would have come up in support of an
Education Commission" that would give the Ministry a sense of direction. As it is, the
MOE has been working on an "ad hoc" basis which is "why we don't know whether we are
coming or going, whether we are achieving anything by virtue of being directed properly"
(T29: 12-13). This sentiment is reiterated by Pratap Chand who goes a bit further to
maintain that the MOE "has merely been administrative" and that leaders at the Ministry
"live with the fear of being criticised and that is a problem" (T35: 5). And as Jagdish Singh
puts it:
We need people who are innovative, creative, imaginative who can have a vision for
the future and at the moment we have people who have a colonial hangover. They
think what has happened in the past is good even now. (T7: S)
Adi Kuini Speed brings another perspective to this issue when she maintains that
educational structures in place today have not been changed "because we are so used to what
the colonial administration has left us with.,.the legacy that we've been left". And yet
despite these structures being "not applicable any more" Adi Kuini argues that "nobody has
the guts to make the change". She continues:
one serious [thing] that is wrong with this country as a whole and is reflected in
education is that the leaders don't have the guts to change. First of all, if they have
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the intellect, they don't have the guts or they're not committed to improving people
and those who don't have the intellect, some are not genuine and those who have
the intellect don't have the guts. So we have both - nobody is willing to take the
bull by the horn as it were. (T32: 16)
The relevance or otherwise of the government's social and economic policies has
been raised by Mere Samisoni who maintains that "strong leadership" is needed to develop
relevant policies so that Fiji can have a healthy economy. She notes, "Leadership is very
important,...leadership has got to be committed because...the meaning of leadership is to
bring about...desirable changes that government should play a catalyst role and facilitate.
We have to change", She highlights the high proportion of Indigenous Fijians in prison
which reflects not only that "policies are not relevant" but also that "we have got a sick
ethnic Fijian society".
By contrast, Professor Konai Thaman presents a different perspective on vision.
While pointing out that a "shared" vision is "very important", she raises problematic issues
that arise "if the vision is not shared" and if "people don't agree that that's where you're
going". As she explains, "the reality is...that everything is in a state of flux so you may have
a great vision in education as the minister...but suddenly there's an election. The political
process is such that different politics affect vision because you put a different person there
who has a different vision" (T4: 27). Thaman also makes the point that without vision, 'it's
very easy for people to come and manipulate you" in the form of aid packages where "some
projects are even contradictory in their goals" so that sometimes there are cases of "the left
hand not knowing what the right hand is doing" (T4: 26).
Political Will
Adi Kuini Speed argues that any major change "depends on the political will of those
in leadership positions and particularly so at the national level". She maintains that "leaders
with some intellectual weight" are necessary to run a country otherwise "you will always
end up with a mediocre government". She also believes that the political party that has
"intellect, education and skill" is the one that people should choose (T32: 18).
On the issue of sound decision-making, Esiteri Kamikamica points out that "there's
nothing more harmful in any development than uninformed decisions and there have been a
lot of uninformed decisions in the educational development of our country". She sees the
importance of leadership in "any social, political and economic change" because "political
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will is necessary to say this is our vision, this is the way we're going to go, let's keep
sharing all the way and then after a year we review" (T54: 3).
To sum up, this section on leadership changes advocates strong leadership as a
prerequisite to coming up with a national vision that serves the interests of the whole nation
rather than particular groups of people. As well, there is recognition that all the changes
prescribed for the improvement of the education of Indigenous Fijians and the status of AA
policies will come to nought if there is no political will on the part of leaders, be they local
or national, to view the change as essential and then ensuring that reforms are implemented.
I now turn to examine representations of the impact of globalisation on the educational
system, in general, and the lives of Indigenous Fijians.
Globalisation
The processes of modernisation, westernisation and globalisation have been raised by
the informants. For instance, Dr Ahmed Ali points out that while the educational structures
in place today, that were inherited from colonial times, might disadvantage Indigenous
Fijians to some extent, he argues that "we've got to utilise them because we've got to
compete in the world". He maintains thai Fijians need "to become more competitive rather
than less because,..the world's becoming more competitive" (T2: 10).
The theme of competition, in today's world is taken up by Tahir Munshi who argues
that competition is necessary and that the Indigenous Fijian society cannot be isolated from
the world of competition. He points out that "In this world of competition...we have to live
and survive and compete in the world". As he explains it, Fiji cannot "develop isolation"
because it is "too small a country" (T42: 12). Similarly, Isireli Koyamaibole, Chief
Economic Planning Officer in the Policy Analysis Unit of the Prime Minister's Office,
argues that "there is no compromise". Fiji has "got to produce because of the world market".
As he explains:
We are going through economic reform. Because the whole world is part of this
economic reform, is a trading village, we have got to be part of it. What that means is
that we've got to compete at a price competitive with other nations like the US,
Tokyo, the UK, Germany. When that happens, clearly we see that the people who are
not going to benefit out of this are Fijians because the bulk of them are out in the rural
areas, in the villages. (T<57: 4)
Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere points out that we are in a dilemma because the forces of
modernisation and globalisation are creating many changes. It is those "who will run and not
faint" who will be successful in today's world. It is those who "understand the rules" and
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will is necessary to say this is our vision, this is the way we're going to go, let's keep
sharing all the way and then after a year we review" (T54: 3).
To sum up, this section on leadership changes advocates strong leadership as a
prerequisite to coming up with a national vision that serves the interests of the whole nation
rather than particular groups of people. As well, there is recognition that all the changes
prescribed for the improvement of the education of Indigenous Fijians and the status of AA
policies will come to nought if there is no political will on the part of leaders, be they local
or national, to view the change as essential and then ensuring that reforms are implemented.
I now turn to examine representations of the impact of globalisation on the educational
system, in general, and the lives of Indigenous Fijians.
Globalisation
The processes of modernisation, westernisation and globalisation have been raised by
the informants. For instance, Dr Ahmed Ali points out that while the educational structures
in place today, that were inherited from colonial times, might disadvantage Indigenous
Fijians to some extent, he argues that "we've got to utilise them because we've got to
compete in the world". He maintains that Fijians need "to become more competitive rather
than less because...the world's becoming more competitive" (T2: 10).
The theme of competition, in today's world is taken up by Tahir Munshi who argues
that competition is necessary and that the Indigenous Fijian society cannot be isolated from
the world of competition. He points out that "In this world of competition,..we have to live
and survive and compete in the world". As he explains it, Fiji cannot "develop isolation"
because it is "too small a country" (T42: 12). Similarly, Isireli Koyamaibole, Chief
Economic Planning Officer in the Policy Analysis Unit of the Prime Minister's Office,
argues that "there is no compromise". Fiji has "got to produce because of the world market".
As he explains:
We are going through economic reform. Because the whole world is part of this
economic reform, is a trading village, we have got to be part of it. What that means is
that we've got to compete at a price competitive with other nations like the US,
Tokyo, the UK, Germany. When that happens, clearly we see that the people who are
not going to benefit out of this are Fijians because the bulk of them are out in the rural
areas, in the villages. (T67: 4)
Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere points out that we are in a dilemma because the forces of
modernisation and globalisation are creating many changes. It is those "who will run and not
faint" who will be successful in today's world. It is those who "understand the rules" and
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make the necessary adjustments who will make it. Those who have indeed understood the
rules are the "emerging elite" made up of "those who are well educated, those who speak in
English". And as Tuwere has pointed out, the dilemma Fiji is in is reflected in the traditional
cultures becoming "the sub-culture" subsumed under "a new culture, a dominant culture" that
is created by the processes of globalisation (T12: 10),
Adding another dimension to the impact of globalisation on the education system,
Esther Williams argues that the marketability of qualifications is what counts in today's
world and that this aspect should be reflected in the secondary and tertiary curriculum. She
states:
The important issue here...is the marketability of your qualifications. Because we are
now competing in the local and international market, our qualifications at the tertiary
level need to reflect these forces. How are our curriculum in the junior and secondary
school able to prepare our students for this end product is difficult to evaluate or
measure,...Whether changing the curriculum to enable our students to do well is a
question of principle and need. (T27: 8)
Similarly, Dewan Chand maintains Fiji "must produce graduates, people with
certificates and education who should be able to travel across and fit into the communities in
Australia, New Zealand, England, America and Canada" (T23: 8),
By contrast, Professor Tupeni Baba warns that if the processes of colonialism and
modernisation were bad, the process of globalisation is even worse because of its emphasis
on this competitiveness, referred to above by Dr Ahmed AH and others. This
competitiveness would be ruled by the global economy to such an extent that students will
have to take on 'modern values* in order to survive in school. Baba notes:
If you think it's bad enough up to now, wait until the full force of globalisation comes
through and then it will be much worse. Colonialism was bad and the forms of
modernisation and so forth but it is its latest form in terms of the global economy that
will push everybody into the same competitive market. The only way to survive in
that same competitive atmosphere is the so called 'modern values' and this will push
the schools even harder than it is now, So if you think you had it bad up to now, you
wait until the full force of globalisation comes through. (T8: 15)
So what Baba is emphasising here is the paramountcy or supremacy of the global
market economy which will determine how lives are led, how local economies are run, how
schools are administered, what values are important and so forth. One thing that emerges
from what Baba is saying is that traditional values will be subsumed under 'modern values',
competitiveness being one of the latter, The implications of this are enormous. One such
implication is that personal and social relationships will take a back seat to economic
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considerations, Curriculum will need to change to take cognisance of economic dictates.
Competition will be the name of the game, Profit would dictate the path of development and
soon.
In sum, then, the impact of the processes of colonialism, modernisation and now
globalisation has been acknowledged by the informants. Given the prominence of the global
economic market system and its impact on the local economies of nation-states, Fiji cannot
survive without participating in the cut-throat competition of the global market. This
inescapable 'truth' is generally recognised in the data and has significant implications for the
direction that the education system will follow. The curriculum, pedagogies, assessment and
school organisation will probably need to become even more competitive than they are now
to keep up with global demands and trends. The implications of this on the performance of
Indigenous Fijians will be discussed in the next section,
Interpretation
The constructions provided by the informants on the best way forward for the
education of Indigenous Fijians and the implementation of AA policies highlight their
diversity, complexity and contingency. When 'race' and comparisons are used as measures
to determine who gets AA, the path forward is indeed fraught with difficulty and
contradictions, as well as ambiguity and a multiplicity of effects. My revised model of
McCarthy's (1990) parallelist theory (See Chapter Five) maintains that racial inequalities in
schooling needs to be examined in terms of the constant interactions of learner dynamics of
race, gender, class and spatial location in the political, economic, cultural and historical
spheres. In what follows, I explore in further detail what I perceive to be significant issues
that have arisen from the data.
In Chapter Five, we saw how issues of racial inequalities in schooling are produced
by the constant interactions among race, gender, class and. rurality dynamics and in the
cultural, economic, political and historical spheres and these demonstrate just how complex
and multifaceted these issues are. Just as importantly, the standpoints or perspectives taken
by the informants are contingent on the intersections and interactions of their personal
attributes of race, gender, class and rural experience juxtaposed against their social, cultural,
economic, political and historical background and experiences.
What I would like to do now is to discuss further some important issues that have
arisen from the interview data.
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Curriculum Reform
The portrayals of curriculum reform put forward by the informants imply the need
for a more culturally democratic curriculum and just as importantly, perceptual and
institutional changes that would see a change in status of vocational and technical education
so that "its worth is also seen [to be] as important" as academic subjects, as Mere Tora put it.
The view, as Professor Konai Thaman describes it, of indigenous people "conditioned to
thinking that there was not a worthwhile context for intellectual pursuits", has to be
dismantled because Indigenous Fijians have, as Dr Vijay Naidu so eloquently put it, "a very
rich culture, a very rich tradition and a very rich civilisation that is worthy of perpetuating in
a very systematic way". And yet, as Fiji is a nation with diverse cultures, ethnicities and
religions, this factor has also to be considered in a curriculum that is able to meet a diversity
of needs. Can the leaders in Fiji accept this challenge? Are the different ethnic communities
willing to work together to come up with a "counter-hegemonic curriculum" (Connell, 1991)
which does not favour a particular group or class of people? Will there be political will for
an inclusive curriculum, for a cultural analysis, as Aloesi Vucukula puts it, that will prevent
"cultural imperialism"?
In terms of a curriculum that caters for the knowledge needs of Indigenous Fijians,
we must take into account Una Nabobo's suggestion that "we redefine the framework,
pedagogy, epistemology, everything" because at this historical juncture, we are teaching the
Fijian language "within a Western framework" which is clearly inappropriate. It would
seem that this stance would also apply to teaching about other languages and cultural
knowledges as well because of the tendency to teach them "within a Western framework", as
Nabobo puts it, The dismantling of Western frameworks in the way schooling is
conceptualised and approached in former colonies is an imperative as they are usually
inappropriate and irrelevant in decolonised sites. I will discuss my vision of what a
postcolonial curriculum should look like in the final chapter,
Diversity of Pathways
Many informants have called for a diversity of pathways for school leavers that does
not disadvantage those that are not academically inclined. The question to ask is can Fiji
afford to place an emphasis (financially and ideologically) on vocational education and
alternative pathways that are so different from the current emphasis on an academic
education? Or is it not more a question of vision and political will to ensure that, if
alternative exit pathways are created that would not disadvantage Indigenous Fijians, the
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means would be found to ensure that what is envisioned comes to fruition? Is it not possible
to prioritise the system of education so that the current focus on an academic-type education
is reduced and a more balanced approach is developed so there is equal valuing of vocational
and technical talents and skills?
Globalisation
The picture gets even murkier when we consider the impact of globalisation on the
already restrictive neocolonial educational structures in place and piay at this historical
juncture, especially in Hght of Dr Ahmed Ali's observations that "the world's becoming
more competitive", Is it practicable to have a postcolonial curriculum that not only takes
cognisance of global effects but also places a significant value on indigenous cultural
systems? And how does this stand in light of the above discussion where changes are called
for in Indigenous Fijian cultural orientations? If their culture is going to be valued in the
curriculum, then is there a need to adapt their ways of behaving, thinking and their
epistemologies for the modern/post-modern worLd? How does this claim stand in light of
Professor Tupeni Baba's observation that "Colonialism was bad and the forms of
modernisation...but it is its latest form in terms of the global economy that will push
everybody into the same competitive market". And as Baba succinctly puts it "if you think
you had it bad up to now, you wait until the full force of globalisation comes through".
Changing Attitudes
Another important question that needs reflecting on is whether Indigenous Fijians
should change their cultural orientations as many informants recommend. And if the answer
is yes, what particular aspects of their culture should they change and if this cultural change
is indeed viable, then what are the processes that will need to be observed in order for this to
eventuate? How does one go about changing the cultural orientations of Indigenous Fijians
anyway? Granted there are elements of Indigenous Fijian culture that may not be conducive
to the facilitation of school success, but educated Indigenous Fijians are on the increase and
they are making the difference to the underachievement equation, as some informants have
pointed out.
Perhaps it is not so much the question of Indigenous Fijians changing their culture
but more of what the school can do that does not disadvantage Indigenous Fijians. As
Professor Konai Thaman succinctly puts it, "It's to say to the school what can you do to
accommodate these kids than saying these kids must change so that they can pass the exam".
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Shouldn't it, then, be a question of schools changing their curriculum orientation, and
pedagogical practices so that educational structures become more appropriate and relevant
for students? As it is, their neocolonial configurations make it still so Western-oriented that
really, it only serves the interests of those individuals whose home culture is closely aligned
to that of the school and vice versa. As Professor Tupeni Baba argues, "the whole ethos of
the school has to change" otherwise the Indigenous Fijian "would continue to be on the
periphery even though he is now in the majority in his own country".
No More Tunnel Vision
There is also the perspective taken by many informants about the importance of an
integrated, holistic approach which utilises all the agencies involved in the education of
Indigenous Fijians such as the Great Council of Chiefs, the provincial and village councils,
the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, the churches, the media, teachers and educated Indigenous
Fijians. Just as importantly, there is recognition that non-indigenous groups, like the Indo-
Fijians, can also be consciously drawn into this network because of the expertise and
experience they bring. Their success in local educational provision, in school and resource
management, and their general 'success' in schooling could be harnessed because, after all,
Indigenous Fijian academic performance, when measured against Indo-Fijians, has been the
basis for all the concerns about underachievement.
Leadership Reforms
The section on leadership changes demonstrates the views of the informants that no
matter what changes are prescribed, nothing concrete can be carried out unless there is a
national vision and there is the necessary political will to bring this about. There is
consistent acknowledgment that strong leadership is needed in Fiji to lay down this national
vision, whatever it may be, and then ensure that there is the political will to do something
about it. The implications for this are, of course, enormous. For instance, given the way the
Constitution is constructed, it is highly likely that Indigenous Fijians will maintain political
power and, therefore, it is indigenous political will that will predominate. As Adi Kuini
points out, it is therefore critical that leaders with "intellect, education and skill" hold power,
for ultimately, the state of government is contingent on the quality of people at the helm.
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Dismantling Racial Barriers
If all the "phobia about race", as Mere Samisoni describes it, is dismantled, then it is
possible to have genuine dialogues and consultations between the two dominant groups that
have viewed each other with suspicion and resentment over the racial divide since British
imperialism introduced Indians from the Indian sub-continent in the late nineteenth century.
Dialogue between Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic communities in Fiji is,
therefore, of paramount importance, There have been comments about the lack of debate on
indigenous matters in the Parliament, This gets translated into local and national life such
that the silencing that occurs regarding AA policies and Indigenous Fijian school failure in
the public (and private) sphere is almost deafening in its intensity. It seems as if Indigenous
Fijian failure in schools (and business) has infiltrated the minds of all communities to such
an extent that it is viewed as normative and naturalised. The reluctance by the current
government to open up discussion on matters that concern Indigenous Fijians gives the
impression that issues of race remain dominant in the national consciousness.
And yet, a nation cannot "get anywhere,..[by] making people uncomfortable
racially", as Mere Samisoni points out, This occurs when the "phobia about races comes
through" every time Indigenous Fijians "feel threatened", according to Samisoni, For
ultimately, according to Adi Kuini Speed, "it's the nation that matters more than whether
you are Fijian" and "the more we bring this into focus, the better it is". There is therefore
the imperative for more open discussion about public policy that benefits Indigenous Fijians.
Public debates and other forums should be open to the public so that non-indigenous
communities feel comfortable about speaking out without being branded 'racist' or pro- or
anti-Fijian, as Krishna Datt notes. More importantly, the onus for this opening up of public
speaking space should begin in the Parliament, where healthy debates can take place without
acrimony and counter-productive accusations amongst the political representatives of the
peoples of Fiji, It is only when the national collective consciousness casts aside the facade
of race that true dialogue can begin.
It seems to me that the "phobia" associated with race needs to be overcome,
particularly by the Indigenous Fijian communities, if there is to be any social or economic
progress of the nation. By this, I mean that the notion of nationhood should take precedence
over indigenous concerns in many respects. For instance, as the discussion above illustrates,
there should be open dialogue and discussion on matters concerning Indigenous Fijians. The
"tunnel vision" associated with Indigenous Fijians and their development is indeed
"misguided thinking", as Winston Thompson puts it. It is a vision "of tolerance, of caring,
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of togetherness, of multiracialism, of multiculturalisrn" which can "only build bridges and
strengthen them" which should form the basis for nationhood that is the criteria put forward
by a senior bureaucrat who wishes to remain un-named.
An interesting point arising out of the data analysis is how the notion of 'othering' is
transferred, contingent on historical context and how the silencing of the (new) subaltern
class(es) continues after decolonisation has occurred. Are the lessons from colonial rule so
well learned that the politically and numerically dominant group (Indigenous Fijians in the
Fiji context) 'othered' and continue to 'other' minority groups. While the Indo-Fijians are
considered a dominant group because of their numerical dominance (at the point of
decolonisation, they formed the majority in terms of numbers but Indigenous Fijians had
political control), they are nevertheless treated as social, cultural, ideological and political
'others'. The significant silencing occurring in the data is with regard to the minority
'others', those who are neither Indigenous Fijian or Indo-Fijian. They are almost excluded
from discussions because of the prominent positioning given to the two major ethnic groups
and, when they are mentioned, it is raised by Indo-Fijians. There is no mention of them by
the Indigenous Fijian informants which seems to be a significant factor. I am not quite sure
what this signifies exactly at this historical juncture in Fiji's development. What is clear is
that groups that get transformed outside of the subaltern groups become involved in the
process of 'othering' in similar ways to the colonial situation. Those that do not fit into the
dominant categories of Indigenous Fijians or Indo-Fijians risk silencing and marginalisation.
Power has shifted.
We have seen that colonial notions of race and difference have formed the basis for
the Western discourses on underachievement and AA. These have been perpetuated in
neocolonial formations in such a way that serious thought has not been given to their
relevance and appropriateness at this historical juncture. It seems only proper that race
barriers are dismantled and the interests of the nation kept paramount. At the same time, this
has to be balanced against Indigenous Fijian interests. I am not suggesting for one minute
that Indigenous Fijian institutions, such as the Great Council of Chiefs or the Ministry of
Fijian Affairs, Provincial Councils and the like, be dismantled. Instead, what I am
suggesting is that nation building is a collective effort. It is the racial divisiveness that has
kept different groups from true dialogue with each other that I am critiquing. For instance,
meaningful dialogue should begin at the top, in the Parliament and Senate. There should be
healthy debates on matters that concern Indigenous Fijians by one and all. Off-limit
discussion items should be opened out to everybody. Healthy debate and honest dialogues,
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after all, make for better informed decisions. Public spaces need to be opened up for this to
occur.
At the school level, another suggestion is that a curriculum that serves everyone's
interests should be developed. In terms of developing respect for other cultures, Fijian,
Hindustani, Rotuman and Chinese should be on offer and a language policy developed that,
besides English and their own language, each student should also be able to speak another
language. True cross-cultural understanding, tolerance and understanding should start at the
school level and the lower down, the better. As far as possible, there should not be any
school that favours a particular racial group. What I am suggesting here is the amalgamation
of schools so that Fijian and Indian dominated schools become things of the past. In a
similar way, the teachers' unions, which have operated along racial lines, should
amalgamate so that it is teachers' interests they serve, not what racial group one belongs to.
Use of Comparisons
This leads into another issue that needs much institutional and national reflection.
The use of comparisons have been viewed witn ambiguity by the informants. Are
comparisons between ethnic groups an appropriate basis for decision-making? Should
comparisons be made at all? Would it not be more appropriate to measure indigenous
performance historically to see what progress Indigenous Fijians have made compared to
say, a decade, two decades, fifty years, one hundred years ago? As Tupeni Baba pointed
out, it is indeed unfortunate that what is being compared "is the performance at school and
the basis for AA is based on their performance at school". Or as Hari Ram noted, "it's
almost unavoidable" for comparisons to be made, but worse still is when "conclusions which
are actually quite unrealistic" are formed. On the other hand, there is the viewpoint that
comparisons are necessary because they encourage Indigenous Fijians "to perform", as
Taufa Vakatale puts it. Whatever the perspective, the reality is that comparisons between
Indigenous Fijians and other ethnic groups are the basis for AA policies that favour the
former group. The question that needs to be resolved is whether comparisons are still
necessary and whether other criteria need to be considered as a basis for future AA,
whatever it may be. Indeed, one can very well ask if AA should continue in its present state.
AA Reforms
Some informants have recommended a shift in focus of AA policies from race-based
to disadvantage based on class. There is recognition that a good proportion of Indigenous
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Fijians have benefited from AA as evidenced by the increasing number of middle-class
Fijians participating in national life. There is also acknowledgment that in a multi-cultural
nation like Fiji, all those who are disadvantaged should have equal access to public goods,
irrespective of 'race', gender or religious creed. A question that will be asked is whether
Indigenous Fijian interests will continue to be served by class-based AA. An important
question that will need to be asked is whether selection criteria will result in beneficiaries
who are the truly economically disadvantaged members of society. And of course, there
would be other problematic areas, such as which 'neutral' body will be nominated to
implement the AA policy and how best to ensure that the operations of such a committee are
transparent and accountable to the public. But the important reality that needs to be
addressed is whether Indigenous Fijians are willing, in the first place, to forego what has
been exclusively 'theirs' since the early 1980s (I am referring particularly to the special
education fund to 'affirm' the education of Indigenous Fijians). Is there enough indigenous
goodwill and political will to overcome the backlash that is sure to come from the
Indigenous Fijian community if the focus of AA changed to class? Are there enlightened
Indigenous Fijian leaders who will wholeheartedly support such a change and convince the
people that such a move is timely for the good of the nation, leaders with "intellect,
education and skill", as Adi Kuini Speed described it.
Another matter that needs to be mulled over pertains to whether the rhetoric on
underachievement is not just hype, not just political rhetoric "to maintain the cow" as
Professor Baba put it. Pratap Chand refers to the perception that is held about Indigenous
Fijian failure as "a myth", It needs to be remembered that there are many Indigenous Fijians
who pass national examinations just as there are many non-Fijian failures, The question that
needs to be asked is whether the politics of race and difference have been taken to its
extreme to ensure that Indigenous Fijian political hegemony is maintained? As Professor
Tupeni Baba puts it, what is currently occurring is "the maintenance of hegemony, the
maintenance of power, the maintenance of a bureaucracy" in his discussion of the
implementation of the Fijian Affairs Board $4.7 million AA annual fund. Are matters too
far gone that the tide cannot be turned to allow an objective review of AA policies? Why
has there not been a national review of these policies to determine their future
directions/redirections?
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Race and Identity Politics
Race is a "nodal point" in discourse (Mouffe, 1993). It unifies as well as divides,
Colonialism utilised race as a divisive weapon to keep ethnic groups separate and apart. The
assertion of racial identity was a form of strategic essentialism utilised by Indigenous Fijians
at the point of decolonisation. It was seen as absolutely essential in rectifying the social and
educational inequalities that colonialism left behind. The important question to consider is
whether race remains a valuable and important point for the rallying of educational purposes
at this historical juncture. An emerging factor coming up repeatedly through the interviews
is that maybe class is the point at which AA intervention needs to be redefined. With class-
based AA, a significant number of disadvantaged Indigenous Fijians would be captured as
well as other categories of disadvantaged groups.
The connection made between race and the underachievement of the Indigenous
Fijians in education constitutes a myth, a political and social myth that has been perpetuated
for a particular purpose. Indigenous Fijians have succeeded in schooling in a similar way to
the reality that many Indo-Fijians also fail. These factors are not highlighted in discussions
of Indigenous Fijian education. And as Joeli Kalou and Krishna Datt (members of
Parliament) point out, there is very little debate in Parliament on issues concerning the
education of Indigenous Fijians. What is needed are healthy discussions and debates so that
the current compartmentalisation or "tunnel vision", as Winston Thompson succinctly puts
it, of matters Fijian is opened out to the public arena. The category of race as a political
strategy to maintain the interests of Indigenous Fijians needs rethinking at this historical
juncture.
After decolonisation, race served a particular essential purpose, but at this historical
juncture, does it remain the same as at the point of decolonisation? The informants in the
study indicate that perhaps, using race as a category to 'other' as well as for identity
purposes, is no longer useful. Rather, what is emerging is that the categories of class and
rurality might have more salience. It needs to be remembered that the Western literature is
based on race, a notion that Indigenous Fiji took on board with a vengeance after
colonialism formally and officially ended. Maybe, it is timely that a different model is
articulated that is more appropriate for the Fiji context,
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A New Hegemony
Another interesting issue emanating from the data is how the hegemony of colonial
views continues to be articulated in neocolonial times. In this regard, informants seem to
have internalised the colonial representation(s) that Indigenous Fijians are school failures by
parroting the colonial view of Indigenous Fijian academic inferiority. There is an uncritical
acceptance, in many instances, of explanations and models instituted during colonial rule. In
fact, many of the explanations expounded on by the informants are a rehash of what
appeared in colonial educational annual reports, which are repeated in the Fiji Education
Commission Report of 1969 and continue to be recycled in academic papers. This is not
surprising, given that the elite group in the government bureaucracy, who had been trained
under the colonial 'masters' up to and beyond the point of decolonisation, would unwittingly
and unknowingly perpetuate the myth of a persistent and consistent Indigenous Fijian
underachievement problem. At any rate, as Dr Ahmed Ali and Adi Kuini Speed remind us,
an important factor to remember is that Fiji is a relatively young independent nation and the
aftermaths of the colonial experience would be very difficult to be rid of in such short a time.
What needs to be remembered, however, is that the people in Fiji, irrespective of
ethnicity/race, class, gender or cultural affiliations, exist together in postcolonial conditions: j
of economic, cultural and technological marginality in a globalised context. They are no
longer colonial subalterns. And yet, after decolonisation, Fiji bought into the binary
opposition of Fijians/Indians which formed the basis for all administrative, social, cultural
and discursive practices. Race became (and still is) the most important category for the
determination of policy decisions, for the way the political parties organised themselves and
ultimately, for the way Fiji society was lived, experienced and maintained, Race politics
became such a prominent feature of everyday life and of the institutions, especially in
politics, that it permeated (and continues to permeate) many facets of Fiji society.
My contention is that in this post-Manichean period, this thesis is providing a
consensual voice where there is the possibility of a new voice, the production of a new
hegemony and the emergence of a radical democratic politics (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985).
The new hegemony that is appearing seems to be calling for equity and equality for all in
ways that cut beyond simplistic race politics. There is a clear commitment by Indigenous
Fijians, Indo-Fijians and the minority groups to questions of equity, not only in this text, but
also in the post-constitutional dialoguing and communicating that is occurring in Fiji.
People in postcolonial conditions form new alliances and produce new hegemonies. In Fiji's
case, then, we need to rethink whether hegemony is negative as it has been conceived. Does
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it have to be negative? When and how is it productive? And who can this new hegemony
be productive for?
An Integrated Approach
From the above discussion, we can see that there is a need for reforms in schools, in
AA policies and in Indigenous Fijian cultural orientations, Actualising these reforms may
not be as easy as it seems. As many of the informants have indicated, an integrated
approach must be undertaken that recognises that strategies need to occur simultaneously. It
must be recognised also that the effects of these reforms are not going to be felt overnight
and that there would be many difficulties and obstacles that will need to be overcome.
Indeed, the complexities involved need to be emphasised. There are no easy answers.
Perhaps the most important issue is that of dismantling racial barriers so that nation
and not race becomes the principal category for viewing and tackling social realities.
Indigenous Fijian, Indo-Fijian, Chinese and Rotuman informants have all indicated that this
is what is necessary. Another important issue is that of strong leadership and political will [
that desires the dismantling of racial barriers. The need for all communities to work together j
rather than in isolation has been raised. There seems to be a new hegemony in terms of a \\
consensual voice by all ethnic groups that calls for a commitment to issues of equity and
social justice rather than division based on race. A 'national rebirth', distinct from colonial,
independent, post-coup and pre-1998 constitutional times, seems to be occurring. The
formation of new coalitions and new hegemonies is one that is being played out in Fiji in the
late 1990s. What path this will take is hard to tell at this juncture,
The 'solutions' (if there are any) to the problems raised in this thesis regarding
Indigenous Fijian underachievement, cultural identity and AA policies need to bear in mind
the multicultural mix of the nation, but at the same time recognise the real difficulties that
schools face. As already mentioned, a holistic, integrative approach needs to be taken that
takes on board the recommendations made by the informants of this study, On the one hand,
Indigenous Fijians need to be aware of the kinds of conditions that can facilitate the success
of their children in schools. On the other hand, people in authority have to be aware that
spatial disadvantage is problematic and the notion of educational underachievement is very
complex and can be contradictory. At the same time, it needs to be recognised that
neocolonial educational structures are problematic for those students who have failed
national exams, and that the 'symbolic violence' associated with this process needs to be
acknowledged, and attempts made to bring about curriculum and teacher-education reforms
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that would counter this. Deep reflection needs to be undertaken on these structures to see if
they can be changed. It is timely that we stop blaming the underachiever and see if the
curriculum, pedagogies, school organisation and assessment may be at fault.
In terms of AA policies, again there are complexities that need to be worked out. On
the one hand, there is the view that class should become the primary category of
disadvantage. On the other, there is the view that race-based AA is fine; what needs
changing is the way it is implemented. More efficiency and effectiveness are what some
informants would like to see happen in order to maximise the returns from the national
resources that have been spent on the education of Indigenous Fijians. In this regard,
recommendations have been made for better targeting, setting a time frame, clear objectives,
accountability and transparency, starting AA at the lower educational levels, providing extra
assistance at tertiary institutions and including a wide range of people from different ethnic
backgrounds in decisions on implementation. The point has been made that AA
administrators should have high personal qualities such as integrity and honesty to counter
corruption, nepotism and dishonest dealings.
Moreover, changing the orientations of poorly educated Indigenous Fijians with a
low socio-economic background has been suggested. In this regard, the chiefs, church and
educated Indigenous Fijian have been targeted by the informants as having important roles
to play to 'educate' the uneducated masses in order to place a higher premium on education
for their children. Community education, in particular, has been identified as a necessary
process to effect this change.
In addition, other institutional changes that need to occur simultaneously with all the
above mentioned reforms are the improvement of teaching and learning resources, research
at the school level with the purpose of enhancing student learning and regular in-service
training for both school principals and teachers. In fact, the point needs to be emphasised
that research should form the basis for sound policy decisions and in this regard, the
government should utilise the intellectual resources provided by the USP for better
decisionmaking. An important suggestion made has been for a thorough evaluation of the
education system through an Education Commission.
Taken in a piecemeal fashion, these reforms would not have a profound effect but
taken holistically, it may be possible that they will have the necessary impact on bringing
about essential reform that just might be the 'solutions' that are needed to tackle issues of
equity and equality in Fiji.
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Summary
In this chapter, I have analysed the representations and portrayals by the informants
regarding the way forward in terms of Indigenous Fijian education, AA policy and
indigenous development generally. The recommendations made have been in relation to
changes to indigenous cultural orientations and epistemologies, what I call people-based
reforms. Specifically, community education was advocated as necessary and the church,
chiefs and educated Indigenous Fijians were seen as the central agencies in this change
process. Another group of recommendations was made in terms of policy-based reforms.
This included recommendations for better implementation of the current AA policies, as
well as a change in focus to class as the main category of disadvantage, rather than the
current focus on race, Further, school-based reforms in terms of curriculum and teaching
pedagogies were examined. Moreover, I examined portrayals of leadership changes. Here,
issues to do with educational and national vision, and political will to carry out the
recommended reforms were found to be most pertinent. Finally, globalisation issues and
their impact on the educational system, as perceived by the informants, were raised.
In interpreting the data, I highlighted certain issues. For instance, curriculum reform
in terms of placing more value on Indigenous Fijian epistemology, culture and language as
well as finding a balance in academic and vocational/technical subjects were seen as
important. The notion of changing Indigenous Fijian attitudes so that the education of their
children became a priority was examined next. The contradictions that arise when
globalisation issues are considered were also raised to demonstrate how complex these
issues are. This was followed by a discussion on the need for leadership changes and the
notions of race, identity and a new hegemony were also explored. The particularly salient
interpretation made is that of an integrative approach that incorporates the recommendations
made by the informants. Taken singly, individual reform measures are like a drop in the
ocean but, taken collectively, they just may offer a 'solution1 to the educational problems
facing the nation.
In the next and final chapter, I consolidate the findings of the thesis by first providing
a summary of the first seven chapters before discussing in greater depth some of the
important issues raised in this research project. In particular, I discuss five AA options that I
believe need to be considered by people in positions of power and authority, As well, I
detail a vision of a postcolonial curriculum. This is followed by the implications of the
study for pedagogical practices, for policy, for leadership, further research, a postcolonial
methodology and theory.
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CHAPTER EIGHT
THE WAY FORWARD: POLICY, PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE AND
LEADERSHIP
We are transformed, individually, collectively, as we make radical creative space
which affirms and sustains our subjectivity, which gives us a new location from
which to articulate our sense of the world, (hooks, 1990: 153)
What bell hooks is saying here about the affirmation of my postcolonial subjectivity
and identity is important to me. It succinctly sums up what this thesis is all about because
the thesis is indeed a "radical creative space". This space has transformed me individually
by giving me "a new location from which to articulate" my sense of the world. In a more
important sense, writing from the strategically essentialist positionality of an Indigenous
Fijian, this thesis, through the privileging of the narratives provided by the 74 informants,
the majority of whom are Indigenous Fijians, is creating a radical space which sustains and
affirms the subjectivity of Indigenous Fijians, Indeed, the thesis attempts to provide a "new
location" from which Indigenous Fijians, as a collective group, can articulate their situated
knowledges. My informants and I are, hence, implicated in this "radical creative space"
which is also a "new location" from which to speak and be heard.
In this final chapter, I provide a summary of the thesis, explicate interpretations of
informant narratives and discuss some implications of the study. Voice and the creation of
speaking and writing spaces, a new hegemony, race politics, and success/merit: these have
emerged as important issues in this thesis. I particularly outline the options to AA that will
need to be considered by people in authority as well as take a closer look at what a more
appropriate postcolonial curriculum should look like at this historical juncture. Further, I
explain the possibilities for new kinds of coalitions. In so doing, I discuss the implications
of the study in terms of a postcolonial methodology, pedagogical practices, policy,
leadership, research, and theory.
Summary of Thesis
This thesis has been concerned with AA and racial inequalities in education in Fiji.
Its main purpose was to posit (constructed or representational) explanations for the relative
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ineffectiveness of AA policies in narrowing or closing the educational gap between
indigenous and non-indigenous components of the population.
In Chapter One, the background and the organisation of the thesis were presented.
A brief description of political and educational structures was given to demonstrate the
impact the process of colonisation has had on many aspects of life in Fiji, The maintenance
and perpetuation of educational structures and practices after decolonisation set the context
for the development of AA policies to benefit Indigenous Fijians in education. The issue of
voices (mine and those of the informants in the study) were foreshadowed to demonstrate
their importance in the thesis. I return to the matter of voice in this chapter. I will explicate
the implications of indigenous voice(s) on postcolonial methodology(ies).
In Chapter Two, I discussed the theoretical frameworks that underpinned the thesis,
namely AA and postcolonial discourses. I argued that traditional notions of looking at AA
were limited and that the conceptual resources provided by postcolonial theory were more
appropriate in providing a more comprehensive view of AA in decolonised sites like Fiji.
Postcolonial concepts are themselves intellectual and theoretical artefacts of a colonial
history. For instance, neocolonialism and hegemony are concepts that explain why
domination by consent became the acceptable mode of 'politics' after decolonisation
occurred. They explain why colonial structures and institutional practices continued to
dominate the local scene long after the colonial 'masters' departed their former colonies.
As well, the concepts of the 'Other', voice, identity, strategic essentialism, hybridity, and
the prospects of what might count as a postcolonial curriculum were defined because of
their central importance in the thesis,
The other theoretical framework critical to this research was also explicated in
Chapter Two, namely that of theorising AA. Because AA in Fiji has followed the trajectory
of AA in the United States of America, the concept of AA was defined and. the
philosophical debate for and against AA was discussed. As well, the concepts of
educational opportunity, equality and inequality were explored. I also explicated the
limitations of traditional notions of AA. Further, a comparison was made of the way AA
was used in Fiji compared to Western European nations. Chapter Two concluded with a
discussion of the value of this research to a better understanding of AA, particularly when
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applied to an ex-colonised small island state where the indigenous population holds
political and numerical control.
Chapter Three focussed on the context for the study, providing a detailed picture of
Fiji's colonial history and the impact of that history on its political, economic and social
development. In explicating this history, I took a critical standpoint to lay bare the
oppression, domination and exploitation associated with colonialism. The main emphases
of this chapter were three-fold. First, Fiji was (and still is) a colonial construct. The formal
process of colonisation may have ended at decolonisation but neocolonialism continued to
pervade political, economic, and social structures, including especially education, Second,
the education system as an instrument of colonisation and colonial reproduction continues
in neocolonial formations even after decolonisation has occurred. It is my contention that
AA was the indigenous way of asserting its postcoloniality, of countering the colonial
legacy. The third emphasis in the chapter is that indigenous people or ex-colonised people
need to create their own spaces and rewrite their ow1 histories. This is illustrated by my
giving writing space and hence, voice, to pre-contact history, to a history uncontaminated
by colonial effects, As well, I described and analysed resistance to colonial rule. The final
section of Chapter Three provided a detailed analysis of AA in terms of its rationales, its
perceived outcomes and the thinking that led to AA.
The research methodology of the study was described in Chapter Four. I reviewed
the literature on qualitative research, particularly on the case study approach, the interview
method of data collection and policy analysis, I then turned to an account of the decisions
and explanations for the decisions that I made before and during the fieldwork. I also
described the processes involved in analysing and interpreting the interview data.
Chapters Five through to Seven formed the main data chapters of the thesis.
Chapter Five was a description and interpretation of the informants' representations of
explanations for the underachievement of Indigenous Fijians in formal schooling. The
explanatory categories fell into three models: socio-cultural deficit, psychological deficit
and structural disadvantage. First, in terms of the socio-cultural deficit model, spatial
disadvantage (ntrality) was consistently identified as a major inhibitor to school success.
Moreover, home background, cultural and school disadvantage were identified as major
determinants of Indigenous Fijian underachievement. Second, psychological-deficit
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models included attitudes of the Indigenous Fijian community and the impact on children
when they live away from home. A comparative approach was then taken of the success of
non-indigenous and Indigenous Fijian in schooling to see what the parallels were. Success
in school, irrespective of ethnicity, was seen to be contingent on a sense of struggle to
overcome adversity whether this was poverty or the desire to escape the drudgery
associated with tilling the land. As well, parental support and good teachers were also
identified as key factors to school success. Third, historical structural models that refer to
the negative impact of the colonial experience, perpetuated in neocolonial educational
structures of the curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and the language of the curriculum,
were used by the informants as explanations for the underachievement of Indigenous
Fijians in schooling,
A key argument in Chapter Five is that explanations for underachievement cannot
be reduced to mono-causal factors. Instead, racial inequalities in education are contingent
on the constant interactions among the dynamics of race, gender, class and rurality and in
the economic, political, cultural and historical spheres. It cannot be emphasised enough
that any attempt to posit explanations for underachievement of Indigenous Fijians in formal
schooling must recognise the complexity and multiplex combinations of these interactions.
Note here the revisions I have made to McCarthy's (1990) parallelist theory to explain
racial inequalities in schooling, Two key factors emerging out of Chapter Five are the issue
of spatial disadvantage (rurality), which muddies the distinctions made on the basis of race
and social class, and the disadvantage associated with a colonial history. Another key point
arising from Chapter Five is how the hegemony of the colonial view regarding the
underachievement of Indigenous Fijians reproduces itself in decolonised sites. The cultural
deficit models and psychological explanations, for example, which were colonial
representations, are reproduced and continue to be parroted long after the colonial 'masters'
have physically left, This point is further analysed in. this final chapter.
The informants' representations of the way AA policies in education were
conceptualised and implemented formed the basis of Chapter Six. There were
ambivalences and contradictions on the question of comparisons between Indigenous
Fijians and the non-indigenous community that formed the basis for development of AA.
In contrast, all the informants, irrespective of ethnicity, consistently supported the principle
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behind the development of AA. However, there was an emergent view that these policies
need to be reviewed and that it is timely that the focus changes from race to class. There
was a lot of dissatisfaction expressed in terms of the implementation of the Special Fund
administered by the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, particularly with regard to accountability,
transparency and targeting issues.
Chapter Six examined why AA policies have not been effective in reducing
educational inequalities. One view was that AA policies were conceptually limited. The
principal assumption behind AA was that pouring in financial resources for human
resources and school capital developments would somehow see significant quantitative and
qualitative improvements to Indigenous Fijian education. The reality did not match the
assumption. AA did not translate into tangible classroom outcomes. The simplistic
assumption that the answers lay in resources failed to take into account the complexities
associated with school underachievement. Another related view is that AA policies were
not effective in closing the educational gap because the focus of affirmation was directed at
the wrong place. Those Indigenous Fijians who won scholarships had already made it
through the system on their own. The scholarship for tertiary study was, therefore, an
additional bonus. The argument put forward was that AA should have started where it
counted most - at the lower educational levels, even at kindergarten. There is
acknowledgment that the outcomes of this would not be immediate but that disadvantage at
the school level should have been addressed directly, rather than just through infrastructural
development, not to mention the strong emphasis on tertiary assistance. And, of course,
there is the central argument that AA was relatively ineffective because of poor
implementation.
The outcomes - positive, negative and unintended - of the AA policies were also
discussed in detail in Chapter Six. The positive outcomes were identified by the informants
as a more proportional representation of Indigenous Fijians in education (higher tertiary
qualifications) and employment (decision-making positions). Generally, AA has promoted
racial equality and has resulted in distributive justice by attempting to equalise
opportunities for Indigenous Fijians to make good for themselves, On the other hand,
portrayals of negative outcomes have arisen out of the criticisms levelled against the way
AA policies have been implemented. Wastage, measured in terms of tertiary drop-outs by
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beneficiaries of AA, was identified as an important negative outcome. Another negative
outcome was identified as the maintenance and perpetuation of a bureaucracy, of "political
hegemony", as Professor Tupeni Baba put it. The unexpected backlash from the
community, especially the beneficiary group, about the way AA has been implemented is
another negative outcome. Yet another is the rise in the number of urban middle-class
Indigenous Fijians which has exacerbated rural-urban inequalities. In the estimation of
many informants, one of the worst effects of AA is the internahsation by Indigenous Fijians
of the thinking that they are school failures, The most important conclusion of Chapter Six
is the consistent viewpoint, irrespective of race, class and gender, that the focus of AA
should indeed change from one based on race to class.
In Chapter Seven, the portrayals by the informants of what they perceive as
desirable changes were explored in some depth and detail. There were calls for reforms,
not only in terms of AA policy and pedagogical practices, but also in terms of Indigenous
Fijian cultural orientations, epistemology and value systems. With regard to the latter,
adult or community education was identified as the best means of achieving this change. In
terms of changes to educational practice, the dichotomy between academic-type and
vocational-type subjects was raised by the informants. There was agreement that the
curriculum needed a major overhaul and that if this occurred, a change in teacher-training
curriculum and pedagogies also needs to be considered. Regarding policy changes, there
was consensus that a major review of AA policies in education was critical to determine
their effectiveness and future directions. There is recognition by the informants that any
policy redirection or curriculum reform is difficult to carry out without a national vision
and the necessary political will, That one cannot separate the need for reform from the
social and political context is a complexity recognised by the informants. As well,
globalisation issues were raised by the informants which compound the multifaceted issues
of racial inequalities and AA.
Implications of the Study
There are many issues arising out of the data/thesis that are pertinent for further
analysis and discussion. One such issue is the matter of 'voice', not only mine but more
importantly, that of the informants of this study. In what follows, I explore the binary
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opposition used in academic research of narrative/analysis and the issue of 'subaltern
positions'. I discuss the implications of this for a postcolonial methodology, Next, the
notion of a hybridised model of AA will be examined with suggestions for alternatives for
the Fiji context, I discuss the implications this has for AA policy, Further, I undertake an
explication of the postcolonial curriculum in terms of a resituation of the data to show what
my vision of education in Fiji might look like. Moreover, I suggest that a
reconceptualisation of the terms 'success' and 'merit' needs to be undertaken. These will
be discussed in terms of their implications for pedagogical practice. Finally, the
implications of the study for leadership, for research and for theory will be examined.
Implications for a Postcolonial Methodology
A concept foreshadowed in the introductory chapter, which surfaced in the
Theoretical Framings and Methodology chapters and made brief appearances elsewhere in
the thesis, is that of voice. Part of the significance of the thesis is that it has opened up a
space for narratives, where both the informants and I can speak because we know ourselves
and of ourselves, unlike the colonial assumption that we were knowable subjects incapable
of representing ourselves. Depending on which way we look at it, this thesis posits six
narratives, one for each of the informant categories. On the other hand, this thesis could be
eight narratives, each chapter presenting a narrative. Alternatively, this thesis could be
viewed as a narrative representation of other narratives, that of the informants. Whichever
way we choose to look at it, this thesis has opened up speaking positions and alternative
readings of power relations,
As I will argue, these narratives are legitimate modes of expression because they
emphasise vivid particulars about people's realities. They are "transparent representations
of what actually happened" and "are told for particular purposes" and "from particular
points of views" (Narayan, 1993: 682). I will argue that the authoritative voices of the
informants in the study offer potential to enact theory.
In Western countries like Australia, where this very 'Western* thesis was produced,
this thesis may be looked on as just another piece of research that has fulfilled certain
academic/intellectual criteria. And because the thesis is written by an 'other', a person of
difference writing about a particular case study that may not be relevant in Australia, it
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might be taken as of marginal significance, as a curio for that field in the West called
'comparative education'. Aside from the examiners, my supervisors and the odd assorted
policy researcher perhaps, who in Australia will read the thesis? What relevance does it
have for the Australian context? This thesis could, I suppose like many other theses written
for other contexts, be regarded as marginal. The important point I would like to highlight
here is that in Fiji this text is not a subaltern one and is certainly not marginal. Nor is it a
diasporic text, On the contrary, the ideas presented in the thesis will be digested locally and
in specific locations. The thesis will be read by people in positions of authority and power.
In fact, the thesis itself is an act of creative power. It demonstrates the importance of local
voice(s) and the opening out of the silencing brought about by colonial representations. As
such, the thesis is also an act of resistance, not only against the confines of rigid 'Western'
academic requirements of thesis production, but just as importantly, against the process of
colonisation, As bell hooks (1989: 8) succinctly puts it:
[For] any oppressed, colonized group who endeavors to speak...true speaking is not
solely an expression of creative power; it is an act of resistance, a political gesture
that challenges politics of domination that would render us nameless and voiceless.
As such, it is a courageous act.
During the period of colonialism, colonised subjects were the subalterns to the
coloniser. But at the point of decolonisation, the power relations changed. The subalterns
(colonised subjects) were no longer subalterns, there was a reorganisation in the social
structure of the ex-colony so that the local people were no longer viewed as colonial
subalterns. Rather, the position (socially and politically) of Indigenous Fijians, the subjects
of the study as well as the providers of much of the data, changed so that they became
authoritative figures in their land. Indigenous Fijians, and indeed all other ethnic groups in
Fiji, are no longer overtly oppressed or criminally repressed by colonialism. Many of them
now occupy positions of authority and power in decolonised sites. The thesis, in utilising
the voice(s) presented by those informants who have the potential to influence the life
trajectories of many people, speaks from an authoritative position. It also speaks from an
authoritative position in another respect. A Western education, especially for a PhD
qualification, is perceived as something to strive for in decolonised states. As such, this
thesis can therefore be viewed, also, as having its origins in an authoritative speaking
position. And because I am an Indigenous Fijian writing about matters that concern
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Indigenous Fijians, there is some sort of legitimacy that is associated with this, especially
when the thesis takes on board the views of the informants who in their own right occupy
positions of authority and power in Fiji, speakers and voices who are no longer colonial
subalterns.
Drawing particularly on Kirin Narayan's notion of an "enactment of hybridity", I
now critique the seemingly 'Western' preoccupation with rigid academic analysis and argue
that the thesis is legitimate in placing an important value on narratives. Narayan (1993;
681) would like to see the current rigid dichotomy between analysis (with an emphasis on
theoretical frameworks and generalised statements) and narrative ( with the emphasis on
vivid particulars) dismantled. The crucial point she makes is that the two categories can be
utilised quite effectively in a scholarly text and that narratives should be recognised as
playing an important role in academic writing. Arguing that "any writing represents an
enactment of some sort of theory", she goes on to define hybridity as the "dual identity"
that researchers carry with them where they "are all incipiently bi- (or multi) cultural" as
they "belong to worlds both personal and professional". She strongly cautions that
"Whether we are disempowered or empowered by prevailing power relations, we must all
take responsibility for how our personal locations feed not just into our fieldwork
interactions but also our scholarly texts" (Narayan, 1993: 681), I argue that this thesis, this
scholarly text, has allowed people, not "theoretical puppets" in Narayan's words, to
populate this text, to speak out. For instance, teachers have spoken in the thesis. In
particular, Indigenous Fijian female voices have spoken and their words articulated. Just as
importantly, the voices of a range of people of different ethnicities and cultural
backgrounds have spoken on issues that are not openly debated in Fiji. And, of course, my
narrative of the narratives of the informants would otherwise not be heard outside of this
artefact of thesis production.
Not only are narratives "transparent representations of what actually happened" but
they are also "told for particular purposes, from particular points of view". This makes
narratives "incipiently analytical, enacting theory" (Narayan, 1993: 681). And as Narayan
puts it, narrative and analysis need not be viewed as opposites but "are contiguous, with a
border open even to the most full-scale of crossovers (Narayan, 1993: 682). I argue that
this thesis is enacting hybridity, that is, it is both analytical and is enacting theory. By
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providing voice therefore to the Indigenous Fijian informants in the study to speak out, and
by now drawing on Spivak's notion of strategic essentialism, the authoritative voice(s)
(re)presented in this thesis offers potential to enact theory. As Narayan (1993: 682) notes,
"Writing texts that mix lively narrative and rigorous analysis involves enacting hybridity,
regardless of our origins".
In terms of a postcolonial methodology, then, this thesis has highlighted the
important place of voice and narratives in a Western piece of text. Different ways of
knowing and telling need to be recognised and affirmed, bell hooks (1989) expressively
sums this up in this manner;
Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited,
and those who stand and struggle side by side a gesture of defiance that heals, that
makes new life and new growth possible. It is that act of speech, of "talking back,"
that is no mere gesture of empty words, that is the expression of our movement from
object to subject—the liberated voice, (hooks, 1989: 9)
Implications for Policy: AA Fiji Style
Are there lessons to be learned from the AA experience in Fiji? Was AA in Fiji an
appropriate response to colonial social and educational inequalities? How else could Fiji
have conceptualised and implemented AA policies given the (neocolonial) hegemony of
colonial discourse? What direction should Fiji take at this historical juncture? These are all
important questions that will need discussion and debate.
A question that needs to be answered is whether Fiji was in a position to have
implemented the policies differently, in a manner perhaps that is comparable to the
implementation of policies in Western nations where transparency and accountability are
criteria necessary in the utilisation of public funds: where efficiency and effectiveness are
buzz words that are part of work ethics; where mechanisms are in place to ensure it was
possible to carry them out; where outcomes are measured in objective, rational economic
terms. Fiji has been politically independent for less than three decades. Fiji was shackled
under colonialism for almost a century. Such a country needs a long time to find its feet, to
ascertain the direction it wants to go, to decide what it wants. It needs time to make
mistakes and leam from them. To therefore expect the $3.5 million special fund to have
been implemented efficiently in a little over a decade is perhaps asking too much.
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The next question that needs some kind of answer is which direction AA ought to
take at this historical juncture. Based on the informants' perspectives, Fiji has four options;
? continue in the same mode, continue but with modifications after review, change focus
from race to class or abandon AA altogether. A fifth option is to work at the intersections
of race, gender, class and other significant categories of difference. The important question
to ascertain is whether a few decades (fourteen years for the special Fijian Education Fund)
f
have been sufficient to make a significant impact. How does one measure whether an
impact is significant and how much time is needed before one can say that AA has worked?
Are there other performance indicators that can be used that are not economically or
^ managerially orientated, that are not based on accountability measures, that are not
quantitative in nature? I acknowledge here qualitative accounts in the Western literature on
issues of equity (e.g., Hatcher and Troyna, 1993; Rizvi, 1993; McCarthy and Crichlow,
a* 1993; McCarthy, 1993). However, performance indicators that I have in mind are
qualitative measures such as the question of Indigenous Fijian identity and solidarity,
community quality of life and the like. It is true that these indicators would be difficult to
measure but, nonetheless, they are important factors that need to be considered as well,
t outside of the usual 'Western' cost-benefit way of evaluating the outcomes of AA. After
all, Western managerial discourses generally come up with criteria to measure the
effectiveness of AA which are culturally insensitive and biased towards a particular
technocratic version of the world. I discuss this further in the final section on theoretical
implications.
I am cognisant of the view posited by some informants that AA funding comes out
of the contributions of all taxpayers, not just Indigenous Fijians. I also recognise the
I importance of accountability and transparency measures that act against abuse, as well as
the need for measures to evaluate effectiveness. However, the time is ripe for Fiji to devise
its own qualitative indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of AA that moves away from
aping Western evaluative quantitative models. It is possible for Fiji to come up with a
hybridised model of AA that can exist outside the Western model of AA. It is a matter of
rethinking AA and having the political will and community support to carry through with
decisions.
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If the political choice is for the continuance of AA in its current mode (i.e.,
emphasis on human resource development in the form of scholarships), the issue to
* consider is what would be the appropriate hybridised model to use that takes on board
criticisms made. Can there be alternatives to the way the Fijian Education Fund is
implemented such that scholarships are awarded at the secondary level as well as the
tertiary level? Can Provincial Councils be mobilised and activated to provide scholarship
funds for able students at the primary and secondary levels who otherwise could not afford
to continue at school? Is there a possibility that other openings may be explored in the use
of the Fund rather than the strict focus on the award of tertiary scholarships? For as some
k informants put it, those students who have made it through secondary school have been
advantaged in any case. What about those who drop out of school because of financial
difficulty? The need for assistance at the lower educational levels is clear. The problem
J» arises when it comes to the issue of prioritising needs for a more efficient use of the fund.
How can A A be geared so that those who are truly economically disadvantaged are
targeted? Is there room for means testing of applicants to determine that the truly
disadvantaged get the scholarships?
^ While means testing sounds like a socially just strategy, the picture is not so clear.
There are categories of Indigenous Fijians who are landowners and earn money outside of
the normal definition of work-related activities. If means testing comes into play to ensure
some kind of justice, what needs to happen is a reconceptualisation of money-income
generation that is more flexible and appropriate so that all sources of income are tapped. In
other words, if means testing is to be adopted, then the definition of work-related activities
needs to change to incorporate those categories of people who earn money but are
f advantaged by being excluded from this definition.
If the political choice is to continue with AA after a review is carried out, the path
that A A will follow is contingent on the outcomes of such a review. The questions raised
with regard to the first option (i.e., continue in the same mode) may or may not be relevant
here as well. New conditions would need to be set that would guide the implementation of
AA, What is not clear is what the alternatives are going to be and whether these
alternatives are going to be acceptable to the indigenous people. A point that needs to be
made is that the financial resources of the AA policies in Fiji were inadequate to tackle the
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problem of Indigenous Fijian underachievement. Indeed, it is arguable whether a lot of
money would solve the problem without parallel changes occurring at other levels. For
instance, pouring in more money for capital school development would be pointless without
an intensive community/adult education programme for Indigenous Fijian parents to learn
what they can do to facilitate good performance by their children in school. Similarly,
concentrating on human resource development at the tertiary level, at the expense of needy
Indigenous Fijians at the secondary school level, may not be a socially just thing to do.
The third political option of changing the basis of AA from a race to a class base is
one that has consistently emerged from the data. There is an emergence of a new
hegemonic voice that believes in the ideal of social justice, in the notion of an equal and
equitable society, where AA is allocated according to class rather than the current focus on
race. There is a consistent view coming through that not only is AA not reaching the truly
disadvantaged Indigenous Fijians, but that all those who are economically disadvantaged
should become the target group for AA. While it is true that there is an increase in the
number of middle-class Indigenous Fijians who have benefited from government AA, there
is also the perception that increasingly, it is middle-class children who are benefiting from
AA, not those who truly deserve it. Many informants have suggested that AA should be
allocated according to class rather than continue to be race-based.
However, the issue of class-based AA is not as straightforward or clear-cut as it may
seem. There are two other features that appear to add complexity to the picture of class-
based AA. One of them is cultural and the other is rurality or the issue of spatiality. In
terms of the former, there is the view that if AA becomes class-based, middle-class
Indigenous Fijians will be disadvantaged because there is a proportional relationship
between higher position (meaning higher income) and the extent of funds to contribute to
cultural obligations, Unless high-earning Indigenous Fijians wish to be ostracised by their
family and village community, they make a significant contribution to their village and
provincial development (financially and in terms of advice and time). This perhaps is an
unseen positive outcome of AA that is as yet unrecognised. The communal obligations of
Indigenous Fijians are a tangible reality and there is a tendency for those in positions of
some power and authority to make a concrete financial contribution for the development of
those less able in their village communities. In theory, middle-class Indigenous Fijians
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should not have the advantage of AA but, in reality, the picture is not as clear-cut and
unambiguous as it appears on the surface.
The second dimension about class-based AA is the issue of spatiality, Clearly, as
the data have revealed, there are many disadvantages associated with distance from urban
spaces. On the other hand, there are categories of indigenous and non-Indigenous Fijians
who are disadvantaged by their socio-economic circumstance in the urban centres. The
binarism between rural/urban and the consecutive perception of disadvantage/advantage
needs to be dismantled. The rural/urban dichotomy needs to be replaced by the recognition
that spatiality cuts across issues of race, gender and class. The category of rurality,
therefore, needs to be acknowledged as mediated, contingent and complex.
The fourth option - of abolishing AA altogether - will require serious thought. A
careful study will need to be made regarding the impact of AA in education and I would
suggest that the measures made in terms of the outcomes of the policies should not just be
quantitative. Qualitative indicators also need to be considered such as quality of life and
issues of indigenous identity as I have already mentioned. If AA is to be abandoned, there
should be public debates and discussions and serious questions asked prior to this decision
being made. The reality in Fiji suggests that the Great Council of Chiefs will need to
endorse the decision and the Provincial Councils and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs will
have to persuade the people that abolishing AA will be beneficial to the nation. A backlash
from the indigenous people is what the government does not want to occur. Abandoning
AA will be a very difficult decision to make but, if there is the need for this to occur and if
there is political will and community consensus, this is a viable option.
The final option of working at the intersections of race, gender, class and other
significant categories of difference is the one that I prefer and would support. In this
conception, AA programmes would not only cater for Indigenous Fijians but would also
tackle the issue of economic disadvantage faced by all ethnic communities, as well as
tackling gender inequalities. As discussed in Chapter Three, Indigenous Fijian females are
significantly underrepresented in the distribution of both local and overseas scholarships
(See again tables 12 and 13 in Chapter Three). If gender equity is to become an aim of AA,
then this imbalance will need to be rectified. In this conceptualisation, I am not suggesting
that we abolish the current race-based AA. Instead, I would advocate the institution of
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more AA programmes that would specifically tackle disadvantage at the intersections of
class and gender. In this light, the establishment of ethnic scholarships administered by the
Department of Indian Affairs is AA along these lines. I would suggest that within these
programmes, gender is considered a major category of disadvantage. Alternatively, AA
programmes could be put in place that have class as the major category of disadvantage. In
this conception, socio-economic status of parents, irrespective of ethnicity, would be the
chief criteria for selection. Here, I foresee AA for disadvantaged Indigenous Fijians
continuing but, in addition, I would like to see other AA programmes established to cater
for all other ethnic groups with economic circumstance the principal category of
disadvantage and gender equity intersecting the different programmes.
Implications for Educational Practice: A Vision of the Postcolonial Curriculum
As long as we treat AA as an access issue without fundamentally changing the
structure of the curriculum, racial inequalities in education will persist. Based on the
evidence provided by the interview data, it is my contention that the educational structures
that Fiji has inherited from British colonisation have disadvantaged Indigenous Fijians. In
particular, structures such as school organisation and ethos, assessment and the language of
instruction being in English are alien and disadvantaging. More importantly, though, the
maintenance of a Western curriculum is one of the most enduring of colonial legacies. It is
my firm view that the curriculum in place today, almost three decades after colonial rule
physically ended (not psychologically, I argue), is inappropriate and will need to be
reconceptualised to nurture the cultural development of individual students. This
reconceptualisation is critical in order to counter the 'symbolic violence' that occurs when
students are marginalised by an alienating curriculum and school apparatuses, Just as
importantly, the reconceptualised curriculum should prepare students for the 'New Times'
that are sweeping Western capitalist economies which, through the impact of globalisation,
are inevitably going to have significant effects on Fiji's social, cultural and political
development.
Small island states like Fiji are at the mercy of so called 'developed' nations in
terms of economic aid, exploitation by multinational corporations and the vagaries of the
global economic system. Consequently, the curriculum should prepare future workers who
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will be able to play the Western (and increasingly, the Asian world) at their own game. It
should not only be more culturally democratic but must prepare citizens who are able to
traverse the local and the global world, with negotiation skills that take cognisance of the
way both worlds operate.
A framework, therefore, of what the postcolonial curriculum would look like would
be in response to the following seven questions:
1. What should be the goals of the postcolonial curriculum?
2. What values or ideals should it promote?
3. What knowledges and skills should it emphasise?
4. Who decides on the content?
5. What language will this curriculum be taught in?
6. Whose interests will this curriculum serve?
7. What are the social, educational, economic and political implications of developing and
implementing such a curriculum?
The last question is obviously a crucial one because political will and the
availability of resources (both financial and human) are two ingredients that are absolutely
essential before any curriculum is drastically transformed, The answers to all the questions
I have raised here would form the framework for the reinvented postcolonial curriculum.
It is outside the scope of this thesis to discuss the details of this curriculum model,
however, an elaboration of the rationale for change will suffice. The rest of this section
will, therefore, discuss the rationale for this reconceptualised curriculum and discuss some
of the issues involved.
Why transform the current neocolonial curriculum! I say this is necessary for two
reasons. First, the curriculum that has been in place since Fiji was colonised is largely
foreign, inappropriate and irrelevant at this historical juncture. As such, it has
disadvantaged many students by being culturally exclusionary. In other words, the
Western-based curriculum has not valued the cultural knowledges and wisdoms of the
indigenous and (non-indigenous) communities in Fiji. It has privileged Western
epistemology, cultural values and pedagogical systems. These 'truths' need to be
acknowledged and something done to bring about a balance in the content of learning so
that the local and global both occupy a balanced space.
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As well as having a culturally democratic curriculum, the postcolonial curriculum
should also be geared to meet the challenging needs of the 'New Times' that are
characteristic of the Western capitalist world. The rationale for this is that the social,
economic, political and cultural changes taking place in these societies will, in time,
influence development in those nations with smaller economies that rely for their survival
on trade and aid from these bigger capitalist economies. The reconceptualised curriculum
should, therefore, be concerned with addressing the question of how the students are going
to reinvent themselves as culturally hybrid, complex and dynamic human subjects in these
new, changing times.
A synthesis, therefore, of the best from indigenous and non-indigenous, including
Western, knowledge bases is the best approach to take. The postcolonial curriculum should
strike a balance between the local and the global. It must take into account the need to
value the cultural identity of the indigenous and non-indigenous communities. Sir Geoffrey
Henry (1992: 14), Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, puts it nicely in this manner:
One thing that the University of Life has taught me is that, while there are black and
white dogmas, philosophies, and solutions, the areas of grey are large....The
ideologies belong to the extremes while, between them, there exists an infinite range
of possibilities....With such a range of opportunity, answers will emerge.
It is this range of opportunities, of possibilities that exist in the two extremities of
non-Western and Western knowledge systems that should be explored to draw out the best
that would be appropriate, not only for cultural survival but, just as importantly, for survival
in postmodern conditions heavily influenced by the processes of westernisation,
globalisation, economic rationalisation and other -ations that are Western-based.
Thus, there are two critical issues that a postcolonial curriculum must address, that
of maintaining the cultural development of each community and at the same time, to be
preparing them to cope with, and in, a changing world. These two issues would appear
contradictory, even paradoxical. How can one have a curriculum that addresses such
contradictory issues? I will attempt to answer this question in the next section where I take
a better look at the concepts of a culturally democratic as well as a 'New Times'
curriculum.
Fiji is in the enviable position where the local communities have control over the
kind of curriculum that their children can have. Unfortunately, the influence of Western
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content, pedagogies and school organisation has infiltrated the education system to such an
extent that they are hegemonised fixtures, viewed as normative. But everyone has the right
to knowledge of, participation in, and enrichment by her or his own culture and a
curriculum that values education as an integral part of education for cultural development
(Teasdale and Teasdale, 1992: 8).
It is, therefore, imperative that the people of Fiji are shaken out of their cultural
inertia so that they become more critical of whose knowledges underpin school learning
and recognise the essential need for a society to be culturally empowered, not culturally
excluded. This has implications particularly for the government, which is essentially
Indigenous Fijian in composition, for without political will to bring about the
transformation called for in this thesis, ail discourse on reconceptualising the curriculum is
pointless. The government should be concerned, not only about the part the education
system is playing in preserving essential knowledges, skills and values for the maintenance
of cultural identity but, conversely, the education system should also be concerned with
generating new values and competencies considered necessary for the future development
of the country in a competitive world (Power, 1992: 17).
The impact of powerful forces of standardisation have homogenised, diluted and
relegated diverse world cultures to ornamental or marginal positions in the modem world,
the results of which lead to cultural destruction and dilution, particularly among the smaller
non-Western cultures (Power, 1992: 16). These standardising forces include the spread of
the English language and culture, technology (particularly mass media and its associated
values of individualism, self-gratification and consumerism) and the ascendancy of the
market model and its associated world view. The "hegemony of the economic development
model" (Power, 1992: 16) in particular has led to the marginalisation of minority cultures
like the Indigenous Fijian,
Konai Thaman, a prominent Pacific Island educator, points out that it is critical that
every child, be s/he Fijian, Indo-Fijian, Rotuman or Chinese, learns the language, culture
and traditions of the particular human society into which s/he is born. While people should
be multicultural and multilingual, it is important that the first step is for cultural and
linguistic literacy in her or his culture (Thaman, 1992: 32). A very good reason for this is
summed up aptly in an ancient Chinese proverb which says "We cannot know the village
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where we are going, unless we know the village from whence we came" (quoted in Henry,
1992: 14).
It is important that the curriculum values the cultural systems of knowledge and
wisdom of the students in the nation, particularly so for Indigenous Fijians who make up a
very small proportion of the world's population with a figure of less than half a million.
The formal schooling system is a permanent fixture in Fiji which occupies the bodies and
minds of students for the large part of a working day. It is imperative, therefore, that the
knowledge and values inherent in the Fijian cultural system are not left to chance but
becomes a part of formal instruction.
It is imperative, also, that the cultural identity of Indigenous Fijians, and indeed of
all students, is reaffirmed at the school level beginning with a culturally inclusive,
culturally democratic curriculum which would halt the "cultural and environmental
bankruptcy" which is "an affliction which has been an obstacle to sustainable development
in much of the modern world" (Thaman, 1995: 732), This has implications for curriculum
planning, teacher education and research activities (Thaman, 1995). Education for cultural
identity has begun in a small way at the Fiji College of Advanced Education in the form of
a course, called "Education and Society in the South Pacific", which aims at rediscovering
and re-affirming the participants' cultural identity, respecting and affirming the cultural
identity of the other, gaining confidence in their own cultural identity as beginning teachers
and enabling children in schools to recognise their own cultures and be proud of it (Nabobo
and Teasdale, 1995:701), It is envisaged that curriculum development for schools
(Thaman, 1992), teacher training institutions (Thaman, 1996A) and tertiary institutions
(Thaman, 1996b) will focus on making the curriculum more culturally democratic at these
sites.
As well as a culturally democratic curriculum, the reconceptuaHsed postcolonial
curriculum should be cognisant of the changes sweeping the globe. These "New Times"
have been described as the deep social, economic, political and cultural changes taking
place in Western capitalist societies that form the material and cultural conditions for
existence (Hall, 1996c: 223). They are manifested in social changes occurring in the West
such as new information technologies, increased consumerism, the rise of the service and
white-collar classes, the globalisation of the new financial markets and the emergence of
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new patterns of social division, especially between public and private sectors and between
the rich and poor (Hall, 1996c: 224-225). According to Hall, related to these changes are
greater social fragmentation and pluralism and the emergence of new identities. As Hall
(1996c: 228) puts it, "the really startling fact is that these New Times clearly belong to a
time-zone marked by the march of capital simultaneously across the globe and through the
Maginot Lines of our subjectivities".
What is the connection between the changes occurring in the West and Fiji? What
bearing would these changes have on Fiji's postcolonial curriculum? The march of the
tentacles of capital is moving across the globe and there is no doubt that the impact of the
New Times will hit Fiji sooner or later. MacDonald's has arrived in Fiji. The shopping
mall concept has arrived. Multinational corporations are making huge profits on the cheap
labour of the people. The law of commodification and exchange value (Hall, 1996) is
beginning to subordinate society and social relationships and its impact is on the increase.
There is no doubt that social fragmentation and new hybridised identities are emerging as a
result of these changes. It is, therefore, imperative that not only should Fiji's educational
system take account of the new technologies sweeping the globe by harnessing what it can
in schools but, more importantly, that it teaches critical pedagogies that would empower the
people to be aware of the changes occurring, why they are occurring and how they can cope
with these 'New Times'. The point needs to be made that it is not possible to go back to an
essentialised Indigenous Fijian identity of the past. There is no such thing. Rather, the
postcolonial curriculum should recognise that new identities are being forged. A re-
invention of Indigenous Fijian identities that should be viewed as an opportunity to move
forward in these New Times is what I am advocating here.
In sum, a postcolonial curriculum is one which would empower the local people,
particularly the indigenous community, to be conversant with their cultural knowledges
such that their sense of cultural identity is affirmed. As well, such a curriculum should
prepare locals for the international market system, for instance, as skilled negotiators, well
versed in the global culture of the market economy. We can see, then, that curriculum
reform is absolutely critical given that AA based on access was insufficient to redress racial
inequalities in education, as I have demonstrated here.
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Success and Merit
But curriculum change is meaningless unless it is accompanied by change in
evaluation in the criteria and benchmarks for access and success that are used. It is my
view that the concepts of 'success' and 'merit', that have underpinned questions of
educational inequalities and the whole debate on AA, needs re-examination and re-
conceptualisation. A principle of social justice in Western liberal democratic states which
sees positions and rewards distributed according to individual merit (I.M. Young, 1990)
was a colonial inheritance in Fiji. Mobility in society based on a hierarchical division of
labour which saw colonialists occupying "scarce highly rewarded positions" and the locals
occupying the "more plentiful less rewarded positions" became accepted as a given after
decolonisation occurred. Institutional structures which support the hierarchical division of
labour based on "intellect and skill" (I.M. Young, 1990) have not been challenged and,
indeed, became hegemonic and perceived as the only way the principle of merit should be
interpreted.
What are the determinants of success in society? Fiji maintained and perpetuated
the Western view of success and merit when the formal process of colonialism ended.
Success has been measured in terms of competitive school and tertiary performance which
translates to eligibility for highly rewarded positions. The paper credentials which provide
the symbol of "intellect and skill" as Iris Marion Young (1990) puts it, become the
commodity that offers the most merit in the job market. However, the major problem
associated with the "myth of merit", as Young describes it, is that "the merit principle's
requirement of normatively and culturally neutral measures of individual job performance
usually cannot be met" (I. M. Young, 1990: 206). Educational credentials and standardised
test results which function as "primary proxies for direct assessment and prediction of job
performance,,,are no more neutral than more direct evaluations of performance", as I. M.
Young (1990: 206) puts it.
Unfortunately, Fiji has used national examination marks at the school and tertiary
level to determine whether a person has merit for a job or other social goods such as
scholarships. Success at school, therefore, has been measured in very narrow terms - in
terms of passing examinations and the quality of that pass. Those who do not succeed are
considered failures and, because of the institutional arrangements, are excluded and
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marginalised from a quality of life that is associated with 'good' pay and standard of living.
As approximately 10,000 school leavers do not have access to a job or to further studies on
an annual basis in Fiji because society has deemed them failures for not passing higher
examinations, we can see that a reconceptualisation of what success and merit are needs to
be urgently undertaken.
Of course, an important question is: What would be alternative ways of viewing
success and merit that does not disadvantage a significant proportion of the population?
And just as importantly, the question that needs to be asked and answered is: What are the
implications of such a move? The implications would involve fundamental changes to
educational and other social, economic and political structures in place. A further question
that may be pertinent is who loses if notions of success and merit are reconceptualised.
Implications for Leadership
I have raised some critical questions that will need to be seriously deliberated upon
by all the appropriate stakeholders in education and the political arena. The implications
for leadership at local, institutional and, particularly, national levels are widespread and
critical.
Fiji needs vision and strong leadership to pave the way for the reforms called for in
the thesis, In terms of curriculum reform, for instance, there has to be present first the
awareness that a reconceptualisation is necessary given the current social and cultural
conditions that exist, both locally and globally. The people will have to desire a change to
meet local and global needs. For a curriculum that takes cognisance of global changes, a
think-tank representative of all racial communities in Fiji, from both the public and private
sectors, needs to be formed to decide on the global knowledges and values that should be
included. Indeed, new coalitions need to be forged to make maximum use of the collective
wisdoms and experiences that different groups bring with them. This think-tank group
should include parents, villagers and the educated middle class as well as government
officials of all personal, cultural, racial/ethnic and political persuasions. A critical part of
these curriculum deliberations is nation-wide consultations at all levels before the final
curriculum is drawn up. This should be examined in all forums (village, province, Great
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Council of Chiefs, government and private sectors, etc) before the final curriculum that
meets the conditions laid out here is drawn up,
For a subject, perhaps to be called Fijian Studies, that would affirm the cultural
knowledges and wisdoms of the Indigenous Fijian community, Fijian elders from all
provinces, plus representatives of the educated Fijian community and Indigenous Fijian
parents, should form the group that would deliberate on which Fijian knowledges, values
and wisdom the school should impart. It is important to state here that "cultural literacy",
defined as a specified level of competencies in the shared knowledge, including certain
understandings, skills and values which enable members of a group to communicate
effectively with one another (Thaman, 1992: 33), should be one of the fundamental aims of
this subject. Another aim would be linguistic literacy and I do not mean in the English
language.
With a subject called Fijian Studies for Indigenous Fijians that other interested
students may wish to take as well, careful thought must be given to its conceptualisation
and implementation. We must not fall into the trap of teaching this subject within a
Western framework. I envisage the classroom being a bure and the outside world. The
learning needs to be contextual and community-related. Pedagogies should include taking
the class out to the community or bringing the community to the classroom. The classroom
here is not the hegemonic one - four walls, concrete, desks and chairs, books and other
paraphernalia that marks the hallmarks of any Western-type classroom. Rather, it would be
one that the Indigenous Fijians think is most appropriate, that they build themselves. I
envisage Indigenous Fijian resources populating the space—mats on the floor and learning
taking place on the floor—devoid of tables and chairs. Assessment needs to be carefully
thought through. Here, I foresee the use of criterion-based assessment which places no
value or grades or marks on student work, So long as they master the task - whether it is
learning the intricate steps of a meke, producing some material object or conversing in the
language or dialect, students have achieved success.
No doubt, the way forward will be fraught will difficulty. We may be politically
independent but the psychic ties to colonialism have been very strong and need to be
broken. No doubt, Western frameworks and ways of doing things will continue to hold a
fascination for us. However, the effort has to be made to break loose of these ties and be
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free to conceptualise a subject that authentically reflects Indigenous Fijian culture, that does
things the 'Fijian way' (in all its hybrid configurations), and so forth.
As well, there would be problematics in working out what goes into this subject,
given the heterogeneity of Indigenous Fijian language and culture. All care must be taken
to ensure that the hegemony of the dominant Fijian language/culture does not become
normative. Constant reminders that Fijian Studies should be a distinctively Indigenous
Fijian subject should be made - this would mean that community members become the
teachers. In rural villages, the dialect of that area and what that community perceives as
worthwhile learning should be sanctioned. This means that the Fijian Studies curriculum
should be flexible and community-based. Better still, it should be community owned.
In communities where there is a unitary dialect and common ways of doing things,
for instance in rural and island communities, I see little problem with the above proposition.
However, in urban areas where there is heterogeneity, some negotiated understanding needs
to be reached as to what dialect the Fijian Studies curriculum will be taught in and what the
cultural emphases should be. Nonetheless, the common thread going through this is that
community members should be the teachers and that collaboration and negotiation be the
name of the game rather than some fixed, rigid curriculum. Fiji should not fall into the trap
of touting an essentialised identity.
Fiji is a nation where the indigenous people are in political control. The onus rests
with the government of the day to transform the current neocolonial curriculum into one
which is more culturally democratic in order that local cultural systems of knowledge and
wisdom are valued in the formal school curriculum. In fact, given the homogenisation and
standardisation of 'Western' knowledges and values occurring as a result of globalisation, it
is indeed a moral imperative for the Fiji Government to act in order to culturally empower
the Indigenous Fijians by giving them agency to recognise the deficiencies of the current
school curriculum but, more importantly, to do something constructive about it.
To forge new coalitions, it is timely that the Government threw off its hostility and
suspicion of intellectuals at the University of the South Pacific and deliberately negotiated
with them for very much needed research in all areas and disciplines - in education, science,
arts, language, fisheries, mining, agriculture and so forth, the list is endless. In fact, I would
suggest that the Government provides research grants for areas it deems appropriate so that
338

i a culture of research is encouraged and supported that would build up a knowledge bank to
inform practice and policy.
i;^ It is the view of some of the informants that an Education Commission is imperative
• to formally investigate the state of education in Fiji. The last one was held in 1969. Many
I things have changed in three decades but the structures in place have not kept up with
f changing times. The Commission should investigate every facet of Fiji's education, from
preschool through to tertiary and it should examine the curriculum, pedagogies, assessment
and the organisation and administration of schools. It should also investigate the place of
;. vocational and technical education as well as other alternatives such as multiple exit
p7 systems. As well, it should investigate the state of Indigenous Fijian education and make
recommendations as to the status of AA. Other terms of reference should include the place
< of research, teacher training programmes and the University of the South Pacific. The
[, Commission should provide a negotiated consensus on what directions Fiji's educational
• system should take. The findings of the Education Commission would map out policy
directions for education and AA.
If the political decision is that Fiji cannot afford an Education Commission, then it
: is imperative that a review is undertaken to determine the current and future status of AA.
The criteria for determining what the outcomes are should not just be quantitative in nature.
As well, qualitative criteria to measure outcomes should be ascertained so that outcomes are
not based purely on economic and managerial measures. The issues raised in the section
* above on AA should be considered very carefully and hard questions asked and answered.
New Coalitions
t It should be obvious by now that any answers to the problematics associated with
complex and multiplex issues raised in this thesis have to be pragmatic, practical,
negotiated social and political compromises as my informants say. These solutions cannot
i be a set of ideal principles. The issue that the thesis raises is that at this historical juncture,
what kind of new hegemony and kinds of coalitions are needed to deal constructively and
collectively with issues of race, educational inequalities and AA?
The current social and political situation in Fiji is ripe for the formation of new
kinds of coalitions. In fact, the decade or so after the coups have demonstrated that
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Indigenous Fijians cannot develop in isolation from the other ethnic communities in Fiji,
This period has highlighted the fissure, the contradictions and the complexities that have
^ arisen, The processes involved in reviewing the post-coup constitution, for instance, are a
| stark reflection of the formation of new kinds of coalitions, Serious consultation,
i
i communication and dialogue in a spirit o f 'give and t a k e ' between Indigenous Fijians a n d
\\ Indo-Fijians is perhaps the first sign of the dismantling of racial barriers, that political tool
t used during colonial times and continued in neocolonia l formation s to maintain th e
j supremacy of Indigenous Fijians. In an unprecedented development, t h e Leader of t h e
> Opposition, a non-indigenous person, w a s invited to address t h e Great Council of Chiefs,
f As a reflection of the changing times, by listening to an Indo-Fijian leader, t h e greatest
Indigenous Fijian forum of power and authority has opened out t h e space for n e w kinds o f
coalitions, even radical ones, that acknowledge that the interests o f t h e nation are m o r e
ij- important than the interests of nationalism.
The reality that there is n o w a spirit of reconciliation, cooperation, negotiation,
consensus and good-will sweeping through post-coup Fiji at the political level should b e a
promise of things to come. The positive thing is that the spaces h a v e opened up for n e w
coalitions that are beneficial to the nation at the local, national, political, institutional and
public spheres. The challenge is that these new coalitions, indeed, fulfil a liberatory
function. N e w coalitions are needed to dismantle racial barriers and discriminatory
practices in order to open up more spaces for the c o m m o n b u i l d i n g of a nation that looks
after the interests of all its citizens.
Implications for Research
I As suggested earlier, the Government should support research at the University o f
the South Pacific so that decision-making is based o n sound research rather than
assumptions. This implies a healthy relationship b e t w e e n government departments and
tertiary institutions. School-based research needs to occur also. F o r instance, much h a s to
be known about the learning styles o f students, particularly Indigenous Fijians, and t h e
relationship between learning a n d teaching styles. M u c h research needs to b e carried out at
the classroom level to determine if school pedagogies can b e improved. Issues of school
organisation and management, teacher training p r o g r a m m e s a n d so forth need to be looked
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into as well. If curriculum reform is needed, then much research needs to be carried out to
determine the direction that reform is to take. Moreover, further research needs to be
f:
L carried out on alternative ways of viewing success that may be more appropriate for the Fiji
| context.
I There is also much to be done regarding AA policies as well. More research needs
f to go into the extent to which AA has reduced educational inequalities. Indeed, further
i research should be undertaken to see whether there is a connection between the two
f
1 phenomena. Research also needs to be conducted into the 'success' stories of Indigenous
Fijians and their educational development tracked over, say, the last fifty years to see if
f there have been substantial differences. Moreover, it is my view that research should be
F conducted into the underachievement of ethnic minorities in Fiji, such as the Banaban and
l Solomon Islanders, to see whether AA is required for them.
S
Implications for Theory
In terms of theoretical explanations for racial inequalities, the thesis confirms the
parallelist position that these are caused by the constant interactions among the dynamics of
race, gender, class and in the economic, political and cultural spheres (McCarthy, 1990).
For the Fiji context, this research has ascertained the critical importance of two more
variables; the dynamic of rurality or spatiality and the historical sphere. As well, this thesis
has confirmed that mono-causal explanations are a fallacy: the issues surrounding
* educational inequalities are too varied, complex and problematic. Cultural and
psychological explanatory models that place the blame for underachievement on the victims
lack credibility. Similarly, historical structural explanatory models that look to colonial
I structures and history as the reason for Indigenous Fijian school failure are equally suspect.
What is important to note is that singularly, these models lack any substance but taken as a
whole, as a complex combination, the holistic picture is more concrete, feasible, realistic
and acceptable.
In terms of a theory of AA, I will have to agree that AA does not have a theory
because of the disagreement amongst proponents of AA as to its aims and outcomes
|. (Tierney, 1997). Nevertheless, it is possible to draw out some tenets of AA in Fiji that offer
new insights into looking at AA in ex-colonised states. One such tenet is my argument that
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AA in decolonised states, like Fiji (and perhaps Malaysia), is a postcolonial response to the
educational and other social inequalities contingent on a colonial history. AA was a
response against the racism and discrimination rampant during colonial days against the
'Others' of Europe. Or rather, AA was a response to the discursive representations of
Indigenous Fijian deficiencies in mind and body. Put another way, AA can be seen as a
deliberate response to the material inequalities that colonialism leaves in its wake at the
point of decolonisation.
New ways of thinking are required when looking at AA in Fiji. One needs to take
away the Western lens of mainly measuring outcomes in terms of quantitative input-output
models and see indeed whether there might be more appropriate ways of doing this. I
| suggest that qualitative measures such as quality of life, the building and consolidation of
1 indigenous cultural identity, strengthening of family and community kinship ties and the
| , fostering of community spirit and welfare may be more appropriate criteria for measuring
| outcomes. Because AA is aimed at groups, rather than individuals per se, AA in Fiji needs
\\ to be examined from a group/community perspective. Rather than the restrictive measuring
I benchmark of looking at how much money went into AA against how many people
I benefited and how much wastage there was, AA in Fiji needs to be examined from a wider
F
[ people-based criteria, from a community perspective, Another criteria from which AA
, outcomes can be looked at is the strengthening or otherwise of kinship bonds of those
\\ Indigenous Fijian beneficiaries of AA in the urban centres and their cultural roots in their
f villages. Are there also indirect material benefits accruing to AA that can be traced to rural
I development programmes? Is there a relationship between the rise in the Indigenous Fijian
\\ middle-class and the general improvement of the lives of their immediate family and
extended kin in the village? These questions could make good research topics and they
certainly are factors that I suggest AA in Fiji should be re-examined from.
As emphasised in Chapter Five, rurality or spatiality plays a major role in shaping
the social, cultural and other realities of Indigenous Fijians. As such, this aspect needs
more theorising to see what effects it has on Indigenous Fijians' conception of identity,
their place in the social order, their value system and epistemology. The interrelated
concepts of place (location) and space (material, physical, spiritual, discursive, mental, etc.)
are, therefore, important to Indigenous Fijians. That every Indigenous Fijian has deep
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affiliation to the village/place of his ancestors is critical to his/her identity. It is interesting,
then, to examine how the kinship ties are maintained between those in urban and rural
t settings. The processes of modernisation, urbanisation and globalisation have brought
^ about profound changes to the social fabric of Indigenous Fijian life, There are
\\ contradictions and ambiguities that arise when there are incongruities in what one knew and
' what one now knows. By this I mean there are real tensions between life in the urban areas
(and all the problems that brings) and life in rural areas.
. Susu madrai1*, for instance, is a phrase that is often used to describe Indigenous
; Fijians socialised in urban centres far removed from their cultural roots and value system.
f That many Indigenous Fijians are becoming unfamiliar with their first language and their
cultural ways of knowing and doing is a social reality that is of major concern to many
informants. To counter this, the current curriculum and pedagogical practices (as described
j , above) need careful thought. Much theorising needs to occur on this issue.
As well, much theorising is needed for the concept of a new hegemony. Hegemony
has always been perceived in a negative light and has been more or less perceived in terms
of class struggle. I perceive the new hegemony in Fiji on two fronts, the first in terms of
race-struggle and the second, in terms of radical coalitions that are not class- or race-based.
Regarding my first conception, that of hegemony as an outcome of race-struggle,
Indigenous Fijians, at the point of decolonisation, sought to protect their own interests.
Comprising an approximate population of less than half a million world-wide in 1970,
£ indigenous voice(s) was heard and found a political plane to speak. At the point of
decolonisation, Indigenous Fijians took political control. This new hegemony, different
from the colonial hegemony, was not an exercise in domination, exploitation or oppression.
f Rather, it was a positive phenomena because it gave Indigenous Fijians a say in their own
destiny, in their own development. AA was an outcome of this new hegemony and I view
this in a positive light. Here was a predominantly Indigenous Fijian government doing
something positive for a group that had been disadvantaged by colonial inequalities, more
c
9
so than any other population group.
2i This literally means 'raised on bread'. This has a derogatory connotation and is used to refer to Indigenous
Fijians who not only have very little knowledge and understanding of their cultural roots and/or language, but
do not live the 'Indigenous Fijian way'. Those Indigenous Fijians who have lived most or all of their lives in
urban centres are to all intents and purposes referred to in this fashion if they do not conform to traditional
patterns of behaviour, attitudes and speech.
343

One could argue that the Indigenous Fijian hegemony that intensified after the two
military coups of 1987 was negative, Domination and the supposed oppression by
: if. Indigenous Fijians of the Indo-Fijians, the second dominant racial group, seemed to rear its
ugly head, Race had never played such a divisive role as it did in the immediate period
after the coups, AA for Indigenous Fijians increased in education and business, many
Indigenous Fijians were promoted to positions of authority and power and the transparency
and accountability guards were down. Nepotism and corruption were rife in the post-coup
period, Viewed from a Western lens, what has occurred in Fiji would be argued as
| hegemony at its worst.
r
ln these postconstitutional times, the realisation is sinking in that Indigenous Fijians
f cannot develop in isolation from the other ethnic groups in Fiji. A lesson well learned in
f the decade after the coups is the recognition that a collective effort is important to nation
I w building, that the success of the economy rests on every ethnic group's participation and
p input. Particularly important is the realisation that a racially divisive society, that had its
| roots in colonialism, was detrimental to personal and national development,
t.
I In post-coup constitutional times, spaces- have opened out for new kinds of
\\ coalitions, a new kind of collective hegemony which should be viewed as positive. The
^ racial barriers are going down, there is genuine desire to pave the way for the common
i good. It would seem that there is a genuine desire for consensus building, for
j communication, dialogue and nation-building. The negotiations carried out between the
I Indigenous and Indo-Fijian parliamentarians to bring about an acceptable outcome to a new
post-coup Constitution is indicative of radical coalitions.
Which direction this new hegemony will take is open to conjecture. History has
demonstrated that dominant groups in society soon establish themselves in truly hegemonic
ways which may have negative implications. This Fiji case study thus opens up as an
interesting space to rethink how the concept of hegemony may be theorised.
Conclusion
What is clear is that an integrated, holistic, multi-pronged approach is an imperative
when looking at the issues of educational inequalities, social justice and AA. For this to
occur, visionary leadership is critical for the radical changes called for in the thesis. In any
344

case, what is needed is a- new way of thinking of many things that have been taken for
granted, that have been regarded as givens, that have become hegemonic. A holistic
interaction of the following is highly desirable. First, racial barriers must be dismantled.
Second, spaces for more dialogical communications amongst all communities in Fiji need
to be opened up and filled. Third, the curriculum needs to be restructured in order to
become more appropriate, relevant, contextualised and culturally democratic. An important
outcome of this restructuring would be related changes to school pedagogical practices and
organisation which would have implications for teacher-training. As well, there needs to be
research occurring in many spheres, but certainly at the school, national, political and
university sites for the production of knowledges that would further inform practice and
policy. A review into Fiji's education, including the impact of AA, needs to be undertaken
to ascertain the future of AA, and should include a rethinking of the concepts of success
and merit, hi fact, a commission into Fiji's educational system is critical to map out the
future directions, not only of education, but also of AA. The membership of the
Commission needs to be carefully selected. There are many local intellectuals who can do
the job and, to demonstrate that a decolonisation of minds has truly occurred, the
composition of the Commission should be local: there is no need for Westerners from
overseas to help Fiji determine what it wants for itself.
It should be obvious by now that there are no clear-cut or easy answers to the
problems that beset Fiji's educational system and the way AA is thought about and
implemented. It should also be obvious that the answers cannot be based on ideal
principles of justice and equality that are touted in Western academic discourse. Instead,
| the answers, whatever they may be, have to be practical, negotiated social and political
f solutions and compromises amongst the peoples of Fiji. The spaces for radical coalitions
* have begun to open up at the political level for this to occur. The challenge is how to fill
I those spaces so that people are empowered, are given agency to think and act so that a
L collective consciousness for the common good becomes the creed for decision-making. It
I should be one of the roles of leadership, whether local, institutional or national, to provide
| agency for change.
8 345

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367

APPENDIX A
Mission Statement by the Ministry of Education for the Education of Indigenous
Fijians
FIJIAN EDUCATION
Mission Statement: For the Year 200 1
Since the last Education Commissions Report of 1969 there has been a
growing concern over the low academic achievement of Fijians in relation
to the achievement of other races in Fiji. Being the custodian of education
in the country the Ministry of Education was given the responsibility to
appraise and review the existing system, determine the factors leading to
Fijians' poor academic performance and identify other measures needed to
'boost Fijian educational achievement.
Over the last years Government has allocated special funds for the purpose
of improving the academic achievement of Fijian students. Apart from this
special funds which is wholly controlled by the Fijian Affairs Board, the
Ministry of Education has taken new approaches and strategies within the
limits of its budgetary allocations to minimise the academic gap existing
between Fijians and other races.
In order to further improve the performance and achievement of
indigeneous Fijians the Ministry of Education will reaffirm its commitment
to :
(a) improve educational facilities and other amenities -
classrooms, teachers quarters, science labs, workshop
etc. in rural schools.
(b) provide textbooks, library books, reference books, science
and workshop equipment in secondary schools.
© provide electricity and office equipment (typewriters,
photocopiers, computers, fax machines) in rural
secondary schools.
(d) staff rural primary and secondary schools with qualified
and specialist staff.

(e) provide Leadership Training to Head Teachers, Assistant
Head Teachers, Principals; Deputy Principals.
(f) provide In-service training to Assistant Teachers,
(g) conduct staff development training for each school on
factors contributing to School Effectiveness.
(h) conduct seminars/workshops for school managers and
committees and communities in matters relating to their
supportive role for the school aimed at attitudinal change.
Topic such as Child Rearing Practices should be included.
(i) provide advisory services on matters relating to school
curriculum, teaching methods} staff relationship and
.-. community support.
(j) establish a strong parents and teachers' organisation
in schools where this body has not been formed and
the strengthening of this body where it has been
established.
(k) establish a network system of schools linked through the
Fijian Teachers Association branch network which aimed
at positive teacher attitudes, collegial relationships and
improvement of students attitudes to work.
(I) co-ordinate the establishment of a government task
force whose prime responsibility is the improvement
of Fijian education.
(m) provide scholarships to deserving students in secondary
and tertiary institutions.
(n) establish Form 7 Fijian schools in other urban centres
and vocational schools in rural centres in the country.

(o) provide and increase Tuition Fee-Free Grants to
Classes I to 8 and Forms 1 to 4 schools in rural
areas.
(p) introduce Compulsory education in primary
schools so as to reduce dropouts and increase the
internal efficiency of the education system.
(q) improve the standard of pre-school education
through the upgrading of facilities, teaching aids
and the provision of qualified staff.

APPENDIX B
Listing of Overseas Programmes for FAB Scholarship Awardees by Country
Country
Programmes
Australia
B Quantity Surveying
B Music
BE Civil
BSc Veterinary
BE Elec/Mech
B Education
BA Profes. Writing/Comm
B Pharmacy
BE Electrical/ Communication
B Bus. Communication
BE Telecom/ Electronics
BE Marine
B Architecture
B Agric/Econ
B Commerce
B Buss Communication
BE Survey
B Aeronautical
B Mass Comm.
B Nursing
B Applied Sc Corp Production
B Acupuncture
BSc Cartog.
BSc Forestry
B Urban & Reg. Planning
BSc Engineer.
B Hotel Mgmnt
B Applied Sc (Med Lab)
B Design
B Sports Stud.
B Electronics/ Computer Stud.
BSc Food Technology
BA Special Ed
B Bldg & Reg Planning
BSc Env/ Health
BSc Applied Biology
B Financial Admin,
B Buss Tourism
BA Banking & Finance
BA Media Studies/Pro due tn
B Infor. Tech.







APPENDIX D
Provincial Distribution of Local FAB Awards, 1984-96
Province
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
Total
Ba
4
8
16
21
8
16
20
24
9
19
30
30
37
242
Bua
3
2
9
8
9
3
9
12
12
14
17
10
23
131
Cakaudrove
12
13
25
18
18
13
28
41
11
36
44
41
83
383
Kadavu
7
n
20
21
25
22
28
45
13
25
36
45
59
357
Lau
31
43
63
47
75
46
50
73
45
67
118
93
136
887
Lomaiviti
5
10
20
18
31
10
24
28
13
36
42
27
51
315
Macuata
1
2
9
11
13
10
20
14
6
17
22
22
37
184
Nadroga
3
3
14
14
12
10
11
15
13
28
40
32
41
236
Naitasiri
?
8
8
7
21
12
12
25
7
18
25
33
31
209
Namosi
0
1
4
3
0
4
4
4
7
8
18
10
12
75
Ra
0
8
9
8
16
8
15
16
8
18
20
23
30
179
Rewa
9
10
20
14
21
11
27
19
11
24
37
31
44
278
Rotuma
2
7
14
11
8
10
10
15
12
26
23
27
34
199
Serua
0
3
3
3
7
3
5
6
6
4
6
5
18
69
Tailevu
11
24
38
39
39
30
37
67
41
64
62
79
116
647
Total
90
153
272
243
303
208
300
404
214
404
540
508
752
4391
Source: Ministry of Fijian Affairs

APPENDIX E
Provincial Distribution of Overseas FAB Awards, 1984-96
Province
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
Total
Ba
-
4
1
-
1
1
2
2
1
5
2
1
1
21
Bua
2
-
1
4
1
1
-
6
1
1
2
-
3
22
Cakaudrove
2
7
5
5
3
2
3
1
1
10
7
4
1
51
Kadavu
7
4
1
3
-
2
2
2
2
9
2
1
6
41
Lau
5
8
1
10
4
4
9
9
2
10
11
8
8
89
Lomaiviti
I
1
3
2
1
3
2
3
1
4
7
-
1
29
Macuata
1
-
-
-
-
-
2
I
1
2
2
1
3
13
Nadroga
-
1
2
1
2
1
2
-
-
4
2
2
1
18
Naitasiri
1
-
3
2
-
1
-
1
-
2
I
-
-
11
Namosi
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
-
1
-
-
2
Ra
-
1
2
2
-
-
2
2
1
2
6
-
2
20
Rewa
1
1
5
5
3
3
-
4
1
3
1
1
2
30
Rotuma
-
3
1
1
2
3
\\
-
-
3
2
-
19
Serua
-
-
-
1
-
1
-
1
]
2
-
-
-
6
Tailevu
4
6
6
6
3
2
9
2
3
7
7
6
6
67
TOTAL
24
36
31
42
20
24
35
34
15
64
53
27
34
439
Source: Ministry of Fijian Affairs

APPENDIX F
Provincial Distribution of FAB Local Graduates, 1984-95
Province
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
Total
Ba
0
0
1
1
2
1
7
11
11
6
17
11
68
Bua
0
1
0
1
2
1
7
7
6
7
3
7
42
Caclaudrove
0
1
1
5
I
10
15
7
18
13
11
12
94
Kadavu
0
0
1
5
6
2
13
15
10
14
7
12
85
Lau
0
0
3
2
12
33
48
30
39
30
22
33
252
Lomaiviti
0
1
1
1
7
4
11
5
20
12
11
16
89
Macuata
0
0
1
2
3
9
3
6
3
5
8
8
48
Nadroga
0
0
2
?
4
11
12
6
8
11
4
9
69
Naitasiri
0
0
0
2
5
6
9
1
9
6
7
13
58
Namosi
0
0
0
0
1
2
1
2
4
5
1
4
20
Ra
0
0
1
1
1
5
8
5
4
12
7
3
47
Rewa
0
1
0
3
j
13
11
10
11
8
8
14
82
Rotuma
0
1
0
1
2
2
8
7
12
6
14
7
60
Serua
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
3
5
3
2
2
16
Tailevu
0
0
2
4
10
17
36
29
27
20
23
15
183
Total
0
13
30
59
117
189
144
187
158
145
166
1213
Source: Ministry of Fijian Affairs

APPENDIX G
Provincial Distribution of Overseas FAB Graduates, 1988-95
Province
PG/Masters
Undergrad.
HND/DIP
Pilot
Total
training
Ba
-
9
-
-
9
Bua
1
7
-
9
Cakaudrove
10
12
2
-
24
Kadavu
7
9
5
1
22
Lau
14
30
9
56
Lomaiviti
3 _ j
10
2
-
15
Macuata
1
2
-
-
3
Nadroga
1
-
2
1
4
Naitasiri
2
2
1
1
6
Namosi
-
-
-
-
-
Ra
2
6
-
1
9
Rewa
3
8
4
1
16
Rotuma
1
3
-
-
4
Serua
-
1
-
-
1
Tailevu
12
15
3
-
30
TOTAL
57
114
28
9
208
Source: Ministry of Fijian Affairs
Key: HND - Higher National Diploma

APPENDIX H
Criteria for Selection of FAB Scholarship Awardees
MINISTRY Of FIJIAN
CRITERIA FOR AWARDS OF MFA,
UNDER FIJIAN EDUCATION t,lh|fT
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION;
The shortlisting Panel considers the applicants against these criteria:-
Academic Performance: whether the applicant's academic achievements
meet the minimum entry requirement into USP, and the Panel's own
Judgement of:
the number of units passed by applicants
the other equivalent examinations
and the ability to cope with USP academic work.
(b) Choice of Programme of Study: whether the programme of study to be
pursued is apprcpns*3 to and necessary for the applicant's nature of
work; special emphasis in areas where there is a dearth of qualified Fijians
for such a workforce programme Is usually advertised as a guide to
applicants.
(c) Recommendation from Employer: Employer's assessment of manpower
needs in the applicant's department and compliments the advertised
fields.
(d) Provincial Distribution: Students from "PRIORITY" Provinces of Ba,
Serua/Namosi, Nadroga and Bua are to be considered for awards if they
meet the minimum academic requirements.
Aae of Applicant: This is always an Important matter to be considered
and is usually the prerogative of the panel as they see fit.
(f) Civil servants who were recommended by their departments were to be
shortlisted by Their PS for their final selection, and especially civil servants
wishing to pursue programmes that would lead to attainment of a first
degree;
fg) Those with a first degree and seeking sponsorship in another first degree
were n o t to be considered for selection unless the Panel sees it satisfying
(b) and (c) above.

(h) Applicants wishing to pursue overseas courses that are available at
USP/FIT wilt be advised to opt for USP/FtT and will not be considered for
overseas sponsorship unless the Panel thinks otherwise.
(I) Applicants who were requesting sponsorship in courses/programmes of
study that were listed as those with high priority in the Cabinet paper on
Fijian Education, were to be considered for selection, especially applicants
seeking necessary qualifications In the Technical and Science areas;
0') Priority will be determined by the Panel.
[10 Appiicants with no proof of placement were not to be considered;
(I) Applicants pursuing courses at USP on MFA awards and were re-appiying
for overseas scholarships, were to continue at USP with the v/iew of
getting the qualifications for which the award was initially given.
PAGE . 00

APPENDIX I
A Quantitative Estimate of'Wastage' of FAB Local Awards at USP, 1988-95
Programme
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
Total No.
Costing
Total
of
per
Wastage
Students
year
$
$
Diploma
3
10
-
7
11
11
5
7
54
$890
48,060
Degree
53
38
-
65
69
48
46
38
357
4833
1,725,381
Postgraduate
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
1
460
460
TOTAL
56
48
-
72
80
59
51
46
412
6183
1,773,901
Source: Adapted from information provided by the Ministry of Fijian Affairs
Notes:
1. The performance of FAB scholarship holders is determined at the end of each semester
2. These figures are provided on the assumption that students lose their scholarship at the end of the year
3. The figures could be higher given that these figures are only for one local tertiary institution
4. These figures are estimates only

APPENDIX J
A Quantitative Estimate of 'Wastage' of FAB Overseas Awards, 1990-94
Year & Total No.
No. Terminated
Country
Programme
Estimated Cost Per
Total Wastage
Terminated
Student
1990(3)
3
Australia
LLB (2)
$30,000
$90,000
Assoc Dip Acctg (1)
1991 (5)
2
New Zealand
PG Resource:
18,000
36,000
Mgmnt (1)
MBBS(I)
3
Australia
LLB (2)
30,000
$90,000
BA Urban & Reg.
Plan. (I)
1992(12)
3
New Zealand
BCommerce (3)
18,000
54,000
5
Australia
LLB (4)
30,000
150,000
B Ace u puncture (1)
United Kingdom
Bl-Telecom (1)
25,000
100,000
BE Civil (1)
LLB (2)
1993 (9)
2
New Zealand
BAnthropology (1)
18,000
36,000
Dip. in Nursing
7
Australia
LLB (6)
$30,000
210,000
BA Commun. (1)
1994(8)
1
United Kingdom
BClec. Engnr(l)
25,000
25,000
7
Australia
LLB (2)
30,000
210,000
BMcch. l-ngnr(l)
B 1'harniacy (1)

B Sc Food Tech. (1)
BA Urban & Reg.
Plan (I)
BElec. Engnr(l)
Total
37
$1,001,000
Source: Adapted from information provided by the Ministry of Fijian Affairs

B Sc Food Tech. (1)
BA Urban & Reg.
Plan(l)
BElec. Engnr(l)
Total
37
$1,001,000
Source: Adapted from information provided by the Ministry of Fijian Affairs

APPENDIX K
Sample of Letter to Interview Informants
26th August, 1996
THE UNIVERSITY O F QUEENSLAND
Brisbane Qld 4072 Australia
Telephone (07) 365 6550
International +61 7 365 6550
Facsimile (07) 365 7199
Telex UNIVQLDAA 40315
Affirmative Action and Racial Inequalities in Education: The Case of Fiji
Dear
I am currently studying for a PhD degree in the Graduate School of Education
(GSE) at The University of Queensland on a Fiji Government-AusAid scholarship.
I am writing to seek your assistance in my PhD study. This study will attempt to
explore why affirmative action policies have noc resulted in the substantial
reduction of racial inequalities in Fiji's educational system. Specifically, my
research question is: Despite more than twenty Jive years of affirmative action to
assist indigenous Fijians in education, why are these students still underachieving
compared to the non-indigenous population?
I believe that your knowledge and
understanding of this and related matters would be of great value in assisting me
to answer this question.
I would thus be most grateful if you would allow me a tape recorded interview
with you when I return to Fiji for my field research. I intend to be in Fiji for 15
weeks from 26th August to 6th December 1996. I will get in touch with you by
telephone soon to arrange a convenient time for the interview if you agree. The
interview will not take more than 90 minutes. A list of general questions to guide
the interview is attached.
Please note that your participation is voluntary and that you are free to withdraw
from this study at any time. If you agree to be interviewed, please fill in the
Consent Form and hand to me in person at the interview. The study will not
identify you personally and every effort will be made to ensure your
confidentiality. Additionally the study will be conducted within the ethical
frameworks for research established by the Australian Association for Research in
Education (AARE) and The University of Queensland Ethics Committee.

(2)
I will provide you with feedback of the interview in the form of a transcript (on
my return to Australia) which you will be able to amend to your satisfaction. At the
completion of my PhD, I will lodge one copy of my thesis with the Ministry of
Education, one with the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and one with the University of
the South Pacific so as to ensure access on your part.
I thank you in advance for your cooperation. If you require clarification on any
matter, please do not hesitate to contact me on telephone number 61 7 3365 6352
or by fax 33657199 or by e-mail on S212637@student.uq.edu.au. Alternatively
you could contact my supervisors Professor Fazal Rizvi at Monash University on
telephone number 61 03 9905 9196 or fax (03) 99052779 or e-mail
frizvi@education,monash. edu.au or the Dean of the GSE Professor Allan Luke
on telephone number 33656495 or by fax 33657199 or e-mail
a. luke@mailbox. uq. oz. au
I look forward to receiving your response and meeting with you in Fiji later on in
the year.
Yours sincerely
Priscilla Qolisaya Puamau
Postgraduate Researcher

GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION
THE UNIVERSITY O F QUEENSLAND
Brisbane Qld 4072 Australia
Telephone (07) 365 6550
International +61 7 365 6550
Facsimile (07") 365 7199
Telex UNIVQLD AA 40315
20 May, 1996
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
This is to confirm that Priscilla Puamau is currently enrolled as a PhD student at The University
of Queensland. Her research topic is, "Affirmative Action and Racial Inequalities is Educa