THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT*
Prime Minister's Hurricane Relief Committee, Fiji.
I present these thoughts as a private citizen of Fiji, as one who has some concern for this issue; so in sharing these thoughts with you I admit that I am not an educationist, and really do not have any professional justification for speaking on this subject. All I can claim for myself, however, is an interest in the subject of education in the broadest sense of the word. My father used to tell me that "education does not only mean that we go to school; a man is continually educated until the day he dies". I think we all have some appreciation of the deep meaning of that statement, for education means a change in man's conduct of life. It means the upgrading of a man's ability to choose the best alternative available in any circumstance he faces. It means the development of the person to prepare him to adopt the best approach to a problem at any given time. Education may be broadly defined as 'adjustment ability to a changing situation and environment'. We all know that experience is the greatest educationist of all.
APPROACH TO THE SUBJECT
In approaching this subject, may we first examine some basic elements of society and try to determine the place of education as one of the fundamental elements of any community. Then we will examine the way education relates and interacts with other elements within that society. Then we might look, with that picture in mind, at Fiji's multi-racial context and bring out some of the basic differences which contribute to some of the problems facing education and adjustment in Fiji today. Then we shall quickly and broadly analyse one or two basic problems and needs in order to formulate some objectives and the possible role of education in national development. The analysis is by no means comprehensive but readers can add to it. I choose to speak more on the operational, 'people level' and I hope that in doing so it will synchronise with the 'national level'.
* Adapted from a paper delivered at a Fijian Teachers Association seminar on 6 December 1979.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF SOCIETY
I think that anthropologists agree that there are five basic institutions upon which all human societies are built — the family, and religious, economic, administrative and educational institutions. Each is important in its own right as well as in its relationship with the others and each plays an important role in the total life of society.
The Family Base
In the Bible it says that all was good about creation except the loneliness of Adam; so God created a helpmeet for him, that is, a woman to stand alongside him, to share his life with him and to share their lives together. Thus the family is the first active, positive creation of God in society and it is the basic unit of any society and of any nation. People are born, bred and die within the family. That is where they receive their first education. So the parents are the first teachers of the children.
The Religious Base
When the patriarchs disobeyed God's law he banished them; but man could not do without fellowship with the supreme being. He desired to return to God so religion was born out of man's consciousness and need for fellowship with God in whatever form worship may take.
The Economic Base
"Under the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return into the ground." Man has to work for his livelihood.
The Administrative Base
The institutions of administration arose out of the need to maintain law and order at all the various levels of society.
The Educational Base
This is the seat of knowledge that enables man to adjust constantly to the changing environment. He has certainly progressed a long way within this world. Education is more than an economic investment: it is an essential input upon which life, development and the survival of man depend. Each of the five...
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