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We must improve education, not destroy it

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

 By Dr Sitiveni Halapua

A Time to Build, Not to Destroy:

I have just read your May 30, 2016 article entitled "Tonga’s education system “bad”, says PM"

Given the “good” spirit engendered by the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Tupou College as the first beacon of formal education established in 1866 this is an opportune time for us to build education in Tonga based on what we have learned from the great teachers and leaders of the Ministry of Education and the different schools in the past. We must improve education, not destroy it.

I would like to make some comments on what I see as the issues of critical importance for the education of our children, and our children’s children in Tonga.

Education is learning how to learn; learning how to think for one self; not only how to read and write, but also how to see, speak, hear, and understand.

Commitment to work, like a nationalistic feeling about education, comes from learning how to love and enjoy learning, and that comes from learning how to learn, in Tonga or anywhere in the world.

One of the aims of Internal Assessment is to teach the pupil to work throughout the year, not to leave everything to the final exam. This is teaching commitment to work. It is teaching students how to find out, organise, and analyse relevant information, by themselves or in their groups, with the guidance of their teachers.  Group work teaches how to cooperate with others. If correctly done, rigorous measures are put in place to monitor the progress of the pupils’ work and to ensure that the aims of their exercises are met.

It is dangerous to think that the “Internal Assessment…is a “sin” and therefore “no more Internal Assessment”. We cannot say, no more Ten Commandments simple because some of us commit sin!

It is wrong to say Tonga Education system is “bad because the school curricula “lack moral content”. The moral content of what is considered good or bad behaviour and respect for others is taught by the rules that are enforced in every school.

Theories and practices of education have come a long way since the rote learning days for the finals of the 70’s.

Dr Sitiveni Halapua,
Chair, St Andrew’s High School Board