BOTH secondary and primary school teachers in Ha’apai want a follow up school visitation programme from the Parliamentary Education Team in order to strengthen and deepen their knowledge and understanding  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 and it 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 that 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 are.

The reason given is the fact they do not listen to the radio and that they are in fact living in isolation and do not learn about what is happening in our Government and politics.

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 learnt 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  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 is, 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 included 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 it 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 was that they enjoyed the visual presentation adding that it 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.

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