UNDP Parliamentary Research Officer, Ms Silivia ‘Atiola is among three recipients of a prestigious Pacific Skills Scholarship offered by Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnerships Projected funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The project has three end-of-program objectives and they are:
1) Pacific women parliamentarians including Tongans are supported in their parliamentary and representational work and are better able to use parliamentary mechanisms to raise gender equality issues;
2) Pacific Parliaments Tonga included have improved mechanisms to raise and effectively consider gender equality issues and engage their communities on those issues; and
3) Parliamentary staff have improved capacity to support the gender equality work of parliaments including Tonga.
As part of the placement, Ms. ‘Atiola is expected to:
1) Design her research project, with the aid of her Supervisor, (Ms Juli Tomaras, Senior Researcher, Law and Bills Digest Section, Research Branch, Parliamentary Library) on a gender issue of relevance, identifying sources of information, scope, structure and time lines.
2) Research and draft a 2000 word research paper, to be submitted to a woman MP prior to her return.
3) Keep a personal journal of reflections and lessons learnt during the placement.
4) Attend information sessions and parliamentary briefings held at the Parliament during the Placement.
5) Improve knowledge of general parliamentary practice and research skills.
Ms. ‘Atiola’s research interest was in advancing domestic violence victim’s access to justice. In light of the recent enactment and enforcement of the Family Protection Act 2013 in Tonga.
Her research seeks to explore the barriers that are currently preventing victims’ full access to justice in our country, and discusses possible options for removing those barriers which includes the establishment of a separate Family Court and other coordinated response mechanisms to family violence.
BOTH secondary and primary school teachers in Ha’apai wants a follow up school visitation programme from the Parliamentary Education Team in order to strengthen and deepen their knowledge and understanding about the roles and functions of Parliament.
This was identified in feedbacks provided for the Parliamentary Education Team while visiting schools in Ha’apai last week.
The public outreach programme was initiated in 2011 aims to promote awareness amongst teachers and students about the roles and core functions of Parliament.
This year the school visit program to Ha’apai was delayed to the end of the year after cyclone Ian battered the island.
Parliamentary Education Team leader, who is also the Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Dr. Sione Vikilani said it was surprising to know that some teachers still lacks the knowledge and understanding about the works of Parliament. After four years in the new political system, some teachers are still not aware or familiar with the new form of government.
Teachers are brief on the roles, functions and the composition of Parliament.
It was evident from the outreach programme most students even secondary school teachers are unaware of who Tonga’s Prime Minister, the Speaker of Parliament and the number of legislators in Parliament.
The reason given is the fact they do not listen to the radio and that they are in fact live in isolation and ignorant to learn about what is happening in our Government and politics.
(49) Mosese Finau a teacher of Ha’apai High School suggests that information provided on the legislative role of Parliament should be published and distributed to the general public.
20 year old teacher Fotofili Kaipo’uli finds the programme very useful after the Parliamentary Education Team visited Petani Christian Bilingual Side School last week.
“After their presentation I learn more about how our current system of Government works. I now know the new political system of Tonga after the political reform that was implemented,” shared Fotofili Kaipo’uli.
With the visual aid, Kaipo’uli said the Parliament DVD allowed her to see the inside of the Parliament Chamber, a place she had never seen before.
Kaipo’uli and another fellow teacher Mele Falevai also urged the Parliamentary Education Team to conduct further outreach programme to the community so people could understand and know more about Tonga’s new and current political system.
Principal Viliami Maumau of Petani Christian Bilingual Side School also mentioned the need to extend the time of the program for another half program because he found it very interesting.
“I find the school visit program very informative. I now know the core functions of the three arms of Government. I also got to know who the Speaker of Parliament, know exactly our current system of Government and also the changes that occurred in Government,” explained Mr. Maumau.
Meanwhile Principal of Government Primary School of Mata’aho of ‘Uiha, Paula Vailea said the programme renewed their knowledge and understanding of how our Government operates now.
The outreach programme includes a Power Point presentation, video presentation on "What Parliament is” and the “Legislation Process.” Brochures and other information sheet are distributed to schools as learning kits for teachers and students.
After viewing the Parliament DVD, Principal Vailea said he further developed his understanding on the legislation process. However he also called on the Parliamentary Education Team to continue the visitation programme in future so teachers could be informed on what is happening in Parliament.
Most feedback from teachers enjoyed the visual presentation adding that clearly demonstrated the process of how Bills are discussed in Parliament before they are enacted as legislation.
16 schools including secondary and primary schools were visited by the Parliamentary outreach team.
The public outreach programme to Ha’apai concludes this week with touring of three schools in Nomuka.
The outreach programme to Ha’apai was implemented through the Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme (TGSP) funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.