Fiji National University is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a national university, but 150th anniversary as an education provider. Talking to Islands Business just before his recent departure, FNU Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Healey said one of the things that has pleased him most during his tenure was the sense of unity and community the university now has, having historically formed from disparate colleges.
FNU has about 1000 regional students, many of them studying medicine or in TVET (vocational) engineering courses. The largest numbers come from Solomon Islands and Samoa, but other countries are represented as well.
Professor Healey says FNU is distinguished from other unis through its strong vocational focus, and strong provision of sub-degree or TVET level qualifications.
“We really educate people for careers for jobs…all the programs are very closely integrated with the employment market. So we design the courses in collaboration with employer groups and professional bodies and all of our courses have what we call workplace attachments.”
Fiji has three universities and more than 50 colleges. Is the market large enough to support them all?
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It will be two long months before Fijian children are back at school; classrooms are scheduled to reopen on June 15
Like them, children in many other Pacific nations and territories are learning at home, or taking extended holidays, as a result of COVID-19 precautionary measures. Globally, the UN education and cultural agency, UNESCO says this is revealing a startling digital divide, as half of all students currently out of the classroom,or nearly 830 million learners globally, do not have access to a computer.
Writing from Queensland, academic Carol Farbotko and community leader Taukiei Kitara have suggested this period will give Tuvaluan students more time to join in fishing, farming, and production of handicrafts, thereby “strengthening customary knowledge systems.” However two Tuvalu government employees, Tala Simeti and Jess Marinaccio are concerned about the logistics of reopening schools, writing in DevPolicy: “if schools re-open too late and students are forced to repeat a year, this may have major ramifications for the entire education system.”
Alongside Kiribati and Vanuatu, Tuvalu offers its students the South Pacific Form Seven Certificate (SPFSC) course. How will they fare during the education lockdown?
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