Wednesday, 20 May 2009 2:05 PM

Is silence truly golden?

Dear Editor,

May I just respond to Junior Roni's response to my previous article on the subject concerned? First and foremost, I would like to point out that I am happy to note that at least someone was fascinated by the points I tried to highlight in my previous article, and the different connotations that it may imply.

I would like to comment, in particular on the following statement, which Mr. Roni had made reference to in his response to my article: "...many [youth of today] are disillusioned with materialism..." Mr. Roni had rightly asked what I meant by being "disillusioned with materialism". For the benefit of Mr Roni and those who may not get the full meaning of what that part of my statement meant, I wish to offer the following explanation and clarifications. By being disillusioned with materialism, I meant that young people of today are more confident about their economic future and know exactly what they want to achieve in life, in terms of standard of living/lifestyle and the means through which they want to achieve it, and when they don't get what they wanted or expected, they become disillusioned or disappointed.

Hence, the statement I made could be true for the young student teachers at SICHE who wanted more than $700 per semester for their basic allowances, to get what they wanted in order to be content, and continue with their studies. Therefore, the crux of my previous article was that for education policy makers and administrators in our country to be conscious of the fact that our young teachers of today have gone through many socio-economic changes in their life-time that would prompt them to react to such situations differently compared to teachers of the past centuries. This means that young teachers are more likely not to take 'no' for an answer, or accept anything given to them as they are. Rather, they are more likely to ask questions about their study or work conditions, and take actions to address them, if necessary.

I agree that the studies I referred to were done in developed countries, and may not be true in the case of Solomon Islands. However, based on anecdotal evidence on the kinds of jobs that our young people of today have aspired to pursue, or the kind of material things they aspire to possess, I can say with some degree of confidence that evidence of the above statement could be observed in the behaviour of Solomon Island youths of today, even though no empirical research has yet been conducted to prove it. Furthermore, being in a third world or least developed country does not necessarily mean that our young people should not desire for material things, or should just accept things as they are. In fact, everybody in the world today, regardless of the economic status of their country, have the desire for better careers, more money, better living and working conditions, good clothes, car, TV sets, etc. In Honiara we see Solomon Islanders accumulating some form of wealth, despite of the economic down turn, or the low economic status of our country. Even in our rural villages people dream of having "copper" or permanent houses, or an outboard motor canoe, TV set, mobile phones, good clothes, etc. It's all in the head; it's to do with the way we think, and our desires for having those material things. Yes, Mr. Roni, I am well aware that SI is a third world or LD country, so to speak.

Ideally, we would all want the student teachers at SICHE to just shut up and accept the $700 given to them, given the current economic situation in our country, but I think they have a point to make and that is they want an increase in their allowances, which was decreased by some $300 or $400?,so that they can get their basic necessities, and pay for other school expenses such as printing, photocopying, researching for information through the internet cafes, stationeries, etc, which they also have to meet from the $700.

Mr. Roni, made reference to some 100 student teachers who graduated last year without complaining about their allowances. In fact those students had the luxury of the $1000 allowance. Remember, the increase the current students asked for was due to the deduction of $300 to $400, which was effected as of the beginning of this year. Moreover, given the global economic recession in recent times, they rightly should be receiving an increase in allowance, instead of a decrease. Don't you think so? Unlike Mr. Roni who receives SBD$30,000?? plus in allowance at USP, Fiji, and now he is complaining about the 20% devaluation of the Fijian dollar, the SICHE students at the SOE just receive a mere SBD$1,400 in allowance, plus their meals consisting mainly of taiyo and dry rice, tea and navy biscuit, and very cheap accommodation. I gathered that the $1000 allowance was effective since 2005, which was four years ago. Given the above scenario, who would not ask for an increase of allowance in such a situation?

The situation of student allowance at SICHE requires some urgent action from those in authority. To be silent about it for this long means a total negligence and disregard of the welfare of our future teachers. With the above comments I rest my case on the above issue.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Felisia K and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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