The parliamentary outreach programme for primary and secondary schools in Ha’apai and Vava’u concludes today. The Parliamentary Education Team visited Vava’u High School this morning to hold an informative discussion with teachers and students on the roles and functions of Parliament.

The Team were well received by the Deputy Principal, Staff and the students of Vava’u High School who assembled at the school’s hall to listen to the team to deliver their message. Dr. Sione Vikilani, Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga led the two and half hour long programme, which included a visual presentation on the roles and functions of the Legislative Assembly. This video presentation was followed by role plays that further demonstrated how a Bill is passed, particularly focusing on how it is read three times in Parliament before it is passed to become an Act of Parliament. The team were also delighted that the students as well as the Senior Mistress of Vava’u High School took part in the role playing demonstration.

When interviewed after the outreach programme, Vava’u High School Deputy Principal Peni Lakai told the Team that it was a very significant programme, particularly as it increased and updated the students’ and teachers’ knowledge regarding the work done by Parliament.

“In the past 15 years I was taught and understood the old Government structure but changes have been made and the school visit broadens our understanding of Parliament, its roles and functions,” said the Deputy Principal.

Meanwhile, Senior Mistress ‘Eaniti Fakasi’eiki who also took part in the role playing demonstration shared her appreciation and excitement in participating in the programme.

“Such activity has enlightened and broadened my understanding of the process involved in how laws are made and how parliamentarians deliberate in the House,” said Mrs Fakasi’eiki.

She adds that she will be taking her retirement soon and it is comforting to learn more about what is actually taking place in Parliament.

“My first impression of Parliament is a House where MPs argue and fight! But after I took part in the role play, I can clearly seehow legislation is made and how debates are conducted in the House,” explained Mrs Fakasi’eiki.

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Education Team took the Parliament programme out to the Matamaka Government Primary School and was hoping for a similar programme at Hunga Primary School. However,rough seas during the aftermath of the strong wind warning over prevented the team from visiting the island of Hunga.

The Education Team will complete its final outreach programme with teachers of Saineha High School at 3pm today before departing for Niuatoputapu tomorrow morning.Parliamentary educators will spend a week in Niuatoputapu before returning to Tongatapu next on Wednesday 12 March 2014.

The team was scheduled to conduct an outreach programme at Niuafo’ou on March 12th 2014. However, this cannot take place due to unavailability of flights.

Information kit on Parliament like brochures, Info Sheets, DVDs and other educational materials are also being distributed to all schools that the team visits.

The outreach programme is funded by Australian Aid through the Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme that is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). All the activities of the outreach programme is made possible by this funding.

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