Nuku’alofa, Tonga, 29 July, 2013: The chair of the Tonga Media Council, Luseane Luani, was appointed chair of a citizenship education sub-committee to identify a Tongan definition of citizenship, in a meeting at Tonga’s Parliament. The committee was also tasked with recommending whether a Tongan Centre for Citizenship Education should be established.
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in Tonga, Lord Fakafanua, chaired the 29 July, 2013 meeting at the Parliament in Nuku’alofa of MPs, ministers, media and senior officials to help the direction for citizenship education for Tonga.
The sub-committee is to report its recommendation to the Speaker who expects then to reconvene the inaugural steering group, which had been initiated by the New Zealand based Center for Citizenship Education, working with the Tongan Office of the Clerk, the Tongan Advisory Council, Victoria University Wellington School of Government and supported by the Commonwealth Foundation. This meeting will provide an opportunity for different perspectives and understanding of the meaning and relevance of citizenship education to be further explored.
The sub-committee members include Dr. Sitiveni Halapua (member of Parliament), Dr. ‘Ana Koloto (Head of the University of the South Pacific, Tonga Campus), Lopeti Senituli (CEO for Tonga Ministry of Internal Affairs) and Dr. Sione Vikilani (Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga).
Tonga’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Lord Vaea said, “Tonga’s citizenship education showed the need for record keeping and library services to help inform the public”.
Broadcaster Luseane Luani is contemplating using talkback radio to discuss the question of relevant Tongan values.
The steering forum – involving people from across the whole of government and beyond – is a first, able to be developed for projects such as defining media and MP’s training, said one participating editor Katalina Tohi of Boardcom FM.
Tonga’s Minister of Education, Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki told the inaugural meeting that practical steps towards citizenship education needed to be based on Tongan values, and understanding of the meaning of Tongan citizenship. Some of these questions are embedded in the new curriculum for primary schools recently introduced in Tonga, and will be extended in secondary school’s curriculum development.
The chair of the Auckland based Tongan Advisory Council Melino Maka said, “Tongans overseas are thirsty for information on how Tonga’s Parliament and Government work”. Luseane Luani said, Tongans wanted information on how Tonga’s Government was performing on matters of concern to them. Other participants in the steering meeting included the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga Gloria Pole’o, the secretary of the Tonga Media Council Salote Sisifa, the Deputy Chair of the Tonga Media Council of Tonga Pesi Fonua, Violoa Ulakai a journalist from Tonga Broadcasting Commission and the Director of the New Zealand based Center for Citizenship (NZCCE) Anthony Haas, Dr. Patricia Donnelly, a board member of NZCCE, Dr. Masaso Guilio Paunga (Senior Fellow for Planning, Policy and Financing Education at the Institute of Education – University of the South Pacific, Tonga Campus) and Rhonda Hufanga (staff member of the Office of Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga).
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly said he agreed to chair the inaugural meeting because he believed in citizenship education for Tonga. He anticipates the chair could revolve – different groups could lead at different times.
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