Chemical Education in Asia-Pacific
CHEMICAL EDUCATION IN FIJI
Depatment of Chemistry, Scool of Pure and Aplied Science,
University of the South Pacific, Fiji
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Fiji is an archipelago of over 300 islands of varying sizes, of which about 100 are permanently inhabited. Over 86 percent of the land area of the country is formed by the two largest islands - Viti Levu with an area of 10,389 sq km and Vanua Levu with an area of 5,534 sq km. The capital city, Suva, on the east coast of Viti Levu, with about 118,000 inhabitants, has about 17 percent of Fiji's total population. Vanua Levu has about a fifth of Fiji's total population and its main town is Labasa. Figure 1 shows Fiji's location in the South Pacific and Figure 2 shows the principal islands and towns in the Fiji group.
Fig.1. Fiji's location in the South Pacific
Fig.2. Principal islands and towns in the Fiji groupe
The people of Fiji originated from Southeast Asia and populated the islands during several migrations starting more than 3000 years ago. They are racially a mixture of Melanesians and Polynesians. European intervention in the 19th century resulted in further changes; Fiji became a British colony in 1874, and between 1879 and 1916 some 62,000 Indians were brought to Fiji under indenture to work in the colonial sugar industry. The population of Fiji was estimated at 750,000 at the end of 1995, 95 percent of which is made up of Fijians and Indians in approximately equal numbers. The other five percent is made up of part Europeans, Chinese, Europeans, and other Pacific islanders.
The country achieved independence in 1970 and became a member of the Commonwealth. Modelled on the Westminster system, Fiji continued as a parliamentary democracy for 17 years. In the general elections held in April 1987, the Alliance government which had ruled the country since independence was defeated, and the Labour-National Federation Party Coalition came to power. Less than five weeks later, the country's military staged a coup and overthrew the new government. This was followed by a number of turbulent events during the year, and on 7 October 1987 the constitution adopted at independence in 1970 was formally abrogated and Fiji was declared a republic. As a consequence, Fiji's membership in the Commonwealth automatically lapsed. After these events Fiji was administered by an interim government which paved the way for parliamentary elections under a new constitution adopted in 1990.
Agriculture (mainly sugar cane) and tourism are the main economic activities in Fiji while mining, forestry and garment manufacture also contribute significantly. Prior to independence indigenous Fijians resided mainly in their traditional villages and practiced subsistence agriculture while the people who had come from India had small sugar cane holdings or businesses. In the last 25 years there has been much development and resultant urbanisation, although the rural sector still comprises about half of the population.
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2. SCHOOLING IN FIJI
The coming of the Europeans in the early 1800s soon included missionaries who established church schools. The Methodist Mission established schools in each village which taught literacy and numeracy in the Fijian language. Soon after cession in 1874 two secondary schools catering almost entirely for Europeans were set up in the two main urban centres of the time, Levuka, then the capital, and Suva, soon to become the capital. In 1908 the Methodist Mission started schools for Indians and a government secondary school mainly for them was established in 1919. Prior to this post-primary education was mainly for Fijians and vocational in nature, training nurses, primary school teachers and ministers. Primary education had expanded to include practical subjects such as agriculture and woodworking. Partial enrolment figures for 1926 are shown in Table 1.
Table1. School enrolments - 1926
Children aged 5-13
% in school
Education opportunities for Indian children slowly advanced as Indian religious and rural communities established schools. In 1944 enrolment figure were shown in table 2.
Table 2. School erolements - 1944
World War II brought many changes as airports and roads were developed by soldiers using Fiji as a base. The role of education as maintaining the status quo slowly changed to one of promoting socioeconomic development. By 1969 enrolment had expanded remarkably.
Table 3. School enrolments - 1969
After independence in 1970 a policy to encourage education through to year 10 led to an increase of about 150% in the number of post-primary students within one decade, as reflected in 1979 student enrolments.
Table 4. School enrolments - 1979
Table 5. School enrolments - 1990
Class 7 /Form 1
Class 8 /Form 2
In the 1980s the localisation of the curricula and examinations as well as increasing sophistication of the population led to increased enrolments in the later years of secondary education.
It can be seen that boys and girls are almost equally represented at all levels of schooling. The percentage of Fijian enrolments is fairly constant through Form VI. In the five years from 1986 this percentage increased from 26 to 44 percent in Form VI. There is clearly still a major discrepancy at the Form VII level. These figures are skewed somewhat, however, by the fact that a larger number of Fijian students than Indian students who passed Form VI in 1989 availed themselves of scholarships to start their University education rather than attend Form VII.
Children enter the first year of primary school at a minimum age of five years and eight months and follow successive stages as shown in Table 6. In some schools, Years 7 and 8 are the last two years of the primary system while in others they are the first two years of the secondary system. Year 10 is an important stage in schooling, students sit for the Fiji Junior Certificate (FJC) examination which is the basis for selection into the fifth form.
Table 6. Structre of schooling in Fiji
After Year 12, students can either proceed to Year 13 (Form VII) offered in some schools, or apply for entry to the Foundation Year at the University of the South Pacific (USP). A pass in the Foundation Year or Form VII qualifies a student to enter the first year of a Bachelors degree program either at USP or at universities abroad.
Schooling is not compulsory in Fiji and yet in 1995 nearly 30 percent of Fiji's total population was attending school full-time, and about 96 percent of 6- to 13- year-olds were attending school. The drop-out rate for the eight year primary education, including Form II, averaged around 20 percent between 1991 and 1995. By Year 10, nearly 35 percent of the students have left the school system.
A remarkable feature of Fiji's education system is that of the 668 primary and 139 secondary schools in the country, only 14 primary and 12 secondary schools are run by the Ministry of Education; the rest are managed by religious and cultural organizations. This reflects the importance given to education by the community. As Whitehead (1981) points out:
[The Indians] view [education] as a means of escape from the drudgery of farmwork and as a ticket to a white-collar job, and families will endure great privations to enable sons in particular to receive advanced education...As aliens in a strange land, the Indians had no security in life except that achieved by their own energy and initiative. Moreover, the fear of possible racial strife has always posed a potential threat to their long-term livelihood.
Students in primary schools do not pay tuition fees. The Government offers a fee-free grant of $30 for every child. The Government assists non-government secondary schools by means of per capita grants, salary grants, provision of civil servant teachers and equipment. The Government also operates a free and part-free place scheme based on parental income. During 1994, the total expenditure on education, including grants to the University of the South Pacific, was 17.5 percent of Fiji's estimated national budget of $832,100,300.
The main languages spoken in Fiji are Fijian, Hindi, and English. Except for the initial years of primary school, the medium of instruction at all other levels is English, and it is also a compulsory subject of study. Students have the opportunity to study Fijian, Hindi, Chinese and other Indian languages at primary and secondary levels.
The majority of schools in Fiji are open to students of all races and of both sexes. The racial mix depends to a large extent on the location of the school and the community close to it.
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3. CURRICULA AND EXAMINATIONS
3.1. Past Trends and Recent Developments
Both Britain and New Zealand have had important influences in shaping Fiji's education system. Until the early 1960s schools in Fiji prepared students for the overseas Cambridge examinations, and as a result the curricula and textbooks were those prescribed by the examining bodies. In the last 30 years there has been a shift towards the New Zealand School Certificate (NZSC) and University Entrance (UE) examinations at the secondary level. This was due mainly to the large number of teachers from New Zealand who taught at Fiji's primary and secondary schools under the Scheme of Cooperation, and a number of New Zealanders who held administrative posts in the Education Department.
The desire to produce curricula and materials suited to local needs resulted in the establishment of a Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) in 1968 by the Ministry of Education in Fiji. Towards the end of 1969, the governments of the island nations of the South Pacific submitted a request to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for assistance in developing new and relevant curricula based on the requirements of the region. As a result, a 4-year Regional Project for Secondary Schools Curriculum Development was set up in 1970 in Suva. Based at the USP, the project was required to produce new and relevant curricula for Forms I to IV in the areas of English language, mathematics, science, social science, commercial studies, home economics, and industrial arts. The materials produced by the Project have since been revised, extended and adapted to suit local needs.
In the early 1980s New Zealand decided to phase out its School Certificate and University Entrance examinations. This provided the necessary impetus to Fiji to structure its own curricula and examinations at Forms V and VI from 1989.
A new format for the Fiji Junior Certificate came into effect in 1987 in Form III whereby students are required to take all four subjects in Group I and three subjects from at least two of the three remaining groups as indicated below:GROUP I GROUP II GROUP III GROUP IV (Compulsory) (Practical) (Commercial) (Vernacular) English Home Economics Typing Fijian, Hindi Mathematics Typing Accounting Urdu, Tamil Basic Science Metal Work Economic Studies Telugu Social Science Technical Drawing Chinese Agriculture
The 1988 FJC examination was based on seven subjects, and in assigning grades, English and five other subjects were considered. In addition, students were also required to fulfil core requirements in physical education, music and art.
The Fiji School Leaving Certificate (FSLC) examination which replaced the New Zealand examinations in 1988 requires students to take a minimum of four subjects up to a maximum of six, including English, from a range of 18 subjects. This is a two year course for Form V and Form VI students.
Form VII education began in 1979 based on the N.Z. Bursaries Examination. In 1980 eleven schools offered Form VII. Two revisions have taken place in the curricula in 1987 and 1992 based on changed Form VI curricula and the need to offer roughly parallel material to Foundation studies at the University of the South Pacific. Form VII has continued to expand with 51 schools offering it in 1996.
A summary of these curriculum developments is given in Table 7.
Table 7. Science courses at primary and secondary levels
Elementary Science (compulsory) No change Classes 7-8
Basic Science (compulsory) No change Forms III-IV
Choice of Basic Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology until 1986 Only Basic Science on offer from 1987 Form V
Choice of Physical Sci., Biological Sci., Biology, Physics, Chemistry Choice of Physics, Chemistry, Biology under the 2-year Fiji School Leaving Certificate from 1988 Form VI
Choice of Physics, Chemistry, Biology Choice of Physics, Chemistry, Biology under the 2-year Fiji School Leaving Certificate from 1988 Form VII
Choice of Physics, Chemistry, Biology No change
As can be seen by the above discussion, the external examination is central to the Fijian educational system. These are centrally prepared and graded (originally overseas but now locally). Performance on the examination determines not only if the student can progress to the next level of schooling but also can determine what school the student will attend. Most students attend schools near their homes for the first six years but as early as Form I students may attend boarding schools far from home or stay with relatives in larger cities to take advantage of better educational facilities. Entry into the most prestigious schools is based on performance in the external examination. Most schools, however, offer up to Class 8 and students can complete these eight years regardless of examination performance.
The Fiji Eighth Year examination is critical for entry into Form III. However, in recent years pass rates have been very high and this examination is mainly used to select which students attend which secondary schools. Current policy is to provide free education to all students through the Form IV level (age 16). At this point students take the FJC Examination which has a pass rate of about 85%. Successful candidates usually continue to Form V at their same school. In the 1970s a number of Junior Secondary Schools were set up in rural areas to allow students to complete Form IV near their home. Special schools were set up in the urban centres which catered for these students and only taught classes from Form V upwards. Many of the Junior Secondary schools have since expanded to offer classes through Form VI or even Form VII.
Until 1989 students also sat an external examination in Form V as well as Form VI but these two examinations have been combined into the FSLC examination for Form VI students based on two years of study. Pass rates (200/400) on the FSLC examination are generally around 50%. However, 250 marks are required for entry into Form VII or the Foundation Program at the University of the South Pacific. Students are allowed to repeat a year of schooling and resit an examination to improve their marks. About 20% of the Form VI enrolments are repeaters. A summary of these examinations is given in Table 8.
Table 8. School examinations in Fiji
Fiji Intermediate Made available to all students Class 8/Form II
Fiji Eighth Year Made available to all students Form IV
Fiji Junior Certificate New format from 1988 Form V
NZ School Certificate 2-year course leading to Fiji School Leaving Certificate in 1989 Form VI
NZ University Entrance Form VII
Fiji Form Seven
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4. SCIENCE AND CHEMISTRY CURRICULA
In its Final Report for the Sub-Regional Workshop on Curriculum Development and Educational Materials in Suva, Fiji, in June, 1971, the Science Group noted that in the South Pacific there was little formal science education beyond "nature study" until Year 7. As many students leave school by this time, they received little formal science education.
The primary science curriculum project which began in Papua New Guinea in 1968 with the assistance of UNICEF and UNESCO was the Three Phase Primary Science or TPPS for grades 1-6. The TPPS teachers' guide was in the form of stiff-card pages. Each lesson was on a card, and on each card was the lesson title, the class organisation, location of the lesson, the materials needed, a large close-up photograph of children performing the main lesson activity, and instructions to the teacher. There were 30 cards for each year's work and each phase was a two-year set of lessons. The complete TPPS course was on 180 cards published in three spiral binders.
The Elementary Science Teachers' Handbooks produced during the period 1975-79 by the Primary Science Workgroup in Fiji for classes 1-6 are closely modelled on the TPPS course. The materials are in booklets instead of on cards. Like the TPPS, there are 30 lessons for each year based on one lesson a week and ten lessons a term. The main themes covered are: plants, animals, air, heat, sound, earth, light, magnets, water, forces, electricity, foods, measurement, weather, soil, community, environment, volume, burning, fertilisers, senses, thermometer, ocean, and animal and plant adaptations. Each handbook has an introduction for the teacher, describing the aims, method of approach, use of equipment, organisation of the class and procedure for the lessons.
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One of the outcomes of the UNDP project for localising curricula was the introduction of an integrated science - Basic Science - course at the lower secondary level. In 1973, 24 schools trialled the Form III Basic Science material. This programme was nationally implemented at the Form IV level in 1977.
The Basic Science syllabus is comprised of the following integrated, activity-based modules:Form 1 Introduction to Science Form 2 Rocks of the Earth The Sun, Moon and the Planets Separating Mixtures Matter Sounds We Hear Heat Energy in the Home Pressure Electricity in the Home Nutrition and Our Bodies Living Things Food Spoilage and Preservation Mangrove Ecosystems Patterns in the Living World Health and Environment Agricultural Environment Form 3 Weather Form 4 The Earth Resources Little Pieces Metals Rays that Reach US Sources of Energy Making Things Move Ships and the Sea Plants Machines Sugar Production Human Systems and Lifestyle Diseases Reproduction and Health Forest Environment Marine Environment Traditional Technology
As can be seen the coverage of chemical topics is limited, basically one unit each year. This has been recognised and a revision which will increase the chemistry content is currently in progress.
Besides Basic Science schools had the option of offering Chemistry and other sciences. Some schools offered both Basic Science and separate sciences in different streams of third and fourth forms. The choice of subjects was left entirely to the discretion of the schools. Chemistry and other pure sciences were phased out of F.J.C. in 1987 and since then all schools up to Form IV are offering Basic Science.
In the early days of secondary education in Fiji, the traditional individual science courses in Chemistry, Biology and Physics were taught as part of the Cambridge School Certificate Examination (Form V) exam. In the late fifties, with the introduction of Fiji Junior Certificate (FJC) Examination (Form IV) it was felt that new prescriptions in the science subjects should be prepared. The syllabi written in Chemistry and other science courses became first examinable in 1958.
At the fifth form level, students in Fiji continued to take Chemistry and other pure sciences for the N.Z.S.C. In the early seventies a trend away from specialisation at an early age was felt as in many developed countries. Furthermore, the N.Z.S.C. Chemistry and other science subjects were felt not relevant to Fiji students. It was also felt that the students who did integrated science in lower forms would not fit well into straight science courses of N.Z.S.C. at fifth form level. Hence work began for integrated science at Form V level.
Early in 1974 a Physical Science Syllabus Committee was formed and by the end of the year the prescription as well as some units were prepared for Physical Science which had integrated the Chemistry and Physics components for the Form 5 level. The revised Physical Science (Fiji Option) prescription was implemented in 1982 and conducted by the N.Z.S.C. Board in consultation with Fiji Ministry of Education. Some schools offered both Physical Science and Chemistry in different streams for N.Z.S.C. This continued until 1987.
In sixth forms students did Chemistry with other pure sciences for the N.Z.U.E. Examination. Examinations were conducted by the N.Z. University Entrance Board. This continued until 1988 when the two-year FSLC prescription was introduced.
- The FSLC Chemistry course has 12 interrelated topics for the fifth form programme and six core topics together with 4 optional topics for the sixth form programme. These are listed below:1. Some Fundamental Tools of Chemistry 2. Elements, Compounds and Mixtures 3. States of Matter 4. Chemistry of Air and Water 5. Atomic Structure and Bonding 6. Metals, Non-metals and their Properties 7. Oxides of Metals and Non-metals 8. Chemical Equations and Calculations 9. Ammonia and Ammonium Fertilisers 10. Acids, Bases and Salts 11. Some Organic Substances 12. Types of Chemical Reactions
- The form six programme consists of six compulsory topics. These are:1. Quantitative Chemistry 2. Atomic Structure and Bonding 3. Inorganic Substances 4. Organic Substances 5. Principles of Physical Chemistry 6. Oxidation-Reduction
- The core is studied along with one of the following optional topics:1. Consumer Chemistry 2. Chemistry of Foods 3. Chemistry in the Environment 4. Chemistry of Copper and its Compounds
- Chemistry has been offered to students in Form VII since the inception of Form VII exams in 1979. The early prescription in Chemistry was based on the N.Z. Bursaries Examination. In light of the changes to the N.Z.U.E. Chemistry prescription in 1986 it became necessary to review the Form VII prescription in 1986. Appropriate changes were made in order to maintain a sequential development of various chemical concepts, and to strengthen and refine certain features while correcting weaknesses and deficiencies. The revised Chemistry prescription was examined in 1987. The prescription had 7 topics, viz:1. States of Matter 2. Atomic Structure, Bonding and Periodic Table 3. Inorganic Substances 4. Thermochemistry 5. Organic Substances 6. Aqueous Solutions 7. Oxidation-Reduction
One of the features of the current Form VII Chemistry prescription is that students have to appear for two written papers in the examination. Paper 1 is a three-hour paper based on theory work and carries 80% of the total mark. Section A contains 24 multiple choice questions, Section B has 12 short-answer questions and Section C requires longer answers to 5 out of 6 questions. Paper 2 is a one-hour paper based on practical work and carries 20% of the total marks.
The practical component is an integral part at all levels of Chemistry education in Fiji. It must be admitted though that large class sizes and lack of equipment limit the practical experience of individual students. Figure 3(1), Figure 3(2), Figure 4 and Figure 5 show pages on atomic structure from the FJC, FSLC and Form VII syllabi, respectively.
Figure 3(1)Figure 3(2)
Figure 3. Pages on atomic structure from the FJC syllabus
Figure 4. A Page on atomic structure from the FSLC syllabus
Figure 5. Pages on atomic structure from the Form VII syllabus
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5. TEACHER EDUCATION
The bulk of the teachers currently serving in primary schools were trained at the government-run Nasinu Teachers' College (NTC). This college was closed in December 1982 after a life of 34 years, as part of a policy to concentrate the training of primary teachers at the Lautoka Teachers' College (LTC) which was established in 1977. Most of the students taking the two-year training programme would have had a Form VI qualification although in earlier years students with Form IV and Form V qualifications were admitted to the program.
The other two institutions that run a primary training program are the Corpus Christi Teachers' College administered by the Catholic Archdiocese of Suva, and the Fulton Missionary Teacher Training College run by the Seventh Day Adventist Mission. These colleges also admit students from other island nations in the South Pacific.
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The preparation of teachers for secondary levels in Fiji and other island nations in the South Pacific made a start when the USP was established in 1968. Indeed, for the first fifteen years of its operation, the major focus of the university was to prepare teachers for the junior and senior secondary levels to cater for the rapid expansion in the education sector. This was also the period when many countries in the region were moving towards nationhood and therefore were anxious to localise curricula and create a pool of local teachers who could gradually replace expatriate teachers.
At present the two teacher education programmes offered at USP are a 3-year B.Ed. (secondary) and a 1-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). The latter programme is available for those who have a degree majoring in two teaching subjects.
A large number of teachers in Fiji and in the countries of the USP region continue to take distance education courses in education and other non-science subjects at their own expense, either to update their knowledge or to obtain higher qualifications.
While nearly all teachers at the primary level are trained, very few hold diplomas or degrees, and a substantial proportion have qualifications below Form VII level. The secondary level is facing the shortage of qualified and trained graduate teachers, especially in science and mathematics, due especially to large-scale emigration after 1987.
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6. CHEMICAL EDUCATION AT TERTIARY LEVEL
6.1 The University of the South Pacific
There is one university in Fiji known as the University of the South Pacific whose main campus is located in the capital, Suva. As the name implies this university serves students beyond Fiji. It is a unique example of a regional university which serves twelve countries in the Pacific, namely Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa. The total population of these countries is about 1,500,000. There are also campuses in Western Samoa where agriculture studies are based and in Vanuatu where law is taught. Each country also has a university centre which administers extension courses.
The university opened in 1968 with an initial class of about 50 students. There are currently about 4000 students attending campus lectures and about 6000 taking courses via extension. These numbers have nearly doubled in the last five years. Of the 4000 on campus students about 80% are from Fiji. Enrolment statistics for 1995 are given below in Table 9.
Table 9. 1995 enrolments by countory, mode of study and gender
The university is divided into four schools, the School of Humanities (Education and Psychology and Literature and Language), the School of Pure and Applied Science (chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, technology and food and textiles) and the School of Social and Economic Development, all located in Suva, Fiji, and the School of Agriculture in Apia, Western Samoa. It attempts to provide an educational program that goes beyond attaining knowledge in individual disciplines to integrate this to help meet the development needs of the region.
The university offers a variety of certificate, diploma, bachelor and postgraduate qualifications. A vast majority of the students are enrolled in the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts program. These are three-year programs in which students chose two major areas of study. A one-year Foundation Science program is also available and in 1996 about 200 students were enrolled. This is a Year 13 course that is a remnant of the time when USP countries did not offer a form VII. Some countries still do not teach Form VII but the trend is to encourage these students to study Foundation Science by extension to enable USP to devote its resources to degree and postgraduate teaching. On the other hand the University benefits from having students that have been taught Foundation Chemistry because they are perhaps better prepared for degree studies since most secondary schools in the region lack equipment for practical work and tend to rely on rote learning of material.
Entrance into degree studies at the University is based on performance on national secondary school leaving examinations (Form VII exam in Fiji). Although the passing mark is 200 total marks in English, mathematics and two science subjects, the minimum mark for entrance into the University is 250 marks. This is more easily achieved by social science students compared to science students. In 1995 about 500 social science students out of 1400 who sat achieved 250 marks whereas about 400 science students out of 1400 qualified for entry into the University. Marking at the University is on the A, B, C, D and E basis with C being a pass. Students who study Foundation Science qualify for entering degree studies at USP by receiving at least a yearly C grade in English, mathematics and two science subjects. Generally between 40-50% of the students who undertake Foundation science studies achieve this minimum qualification for entry for degree studies. Students are allowed to repeat courses they have not passed.
An alternative method of entry into the University is the "mature entry" provision. This allows people who through work and life experience have obtained skills and maturity that should enable them to succeed in university studies to be admitted to the university. This provision was especially important in the early days of the university when fewer people had completed secondary studies. It has been found that this provision is more pertinent to social science studies than science studies as the science requires specific skills and knowledge unlikely to be obtained outside of the classroom. Potential "mature entry" students are urged to attempt relevant courses by extension studies to gauge their potential.
The B.Sc. degree is composed of twenty semester courses, eight in the first year and six in the second and third year. A vast majority of B.Sc. students take two majors, with a total of seven or eight courses in each major. A few students elect a single major of between nine to twelve courses in one discipline. For the chemistry major students are required to study courses in general chemistry (two semesters), organic chemistry (two semesters), and one semester each of physical and inorganic chemistry. In the third year students do a course in instrumental/analytical chemistry and have a choice of several integrated courses in marine, environment, applied/industrial and special topics chemistry. They also take physics and mathematics service courses. The department also offers first-year courses for physics/technology majors and for those with minimal background in chemistry. These are designed for students majoring in areas other than chemistry.
The number of students taking chemistry has increased markedly in the past decade. In 1985 there were about 100 students doing first-year chemistry including about 50 intending chemistry majors. Of these about 25 actually graduated. By 1990 these figures had grown by about fifty percent. Enrolment data for more recent years are shown in Table 10.
Table 10. Equivalent full-time student units (EFTSU) in chemistry
A number of reasons may be offered for these dramatic increases. One is that with the expansion of Form VII education more students are qualifying for entry into USP. Another factor is that high fees for New Zealand and Australian universities have been introduced since about 1990, making it less likely for students to afford tertiary education overseas. A third factor is that jobs are difficult to find for students obtaining secondary qualifications. Out of roughly 12,000 school leavers each year only about 1000 obtain formal paid employment. Besides seeing a university degree as a guarantee of employment a professional qualification is also seen to enhance one's emigration chances. Typically a majority of students entering the university are supported by government scholarships/loans. The recent increases have been mainly in private students whose families are paying for their education. Students fees are about F$2000 (US$1500) per year.
The number of chemistry majors has been increasing even faster than the overall B.Sc. enrolments. More students are now choosing to major in chemistry than biology and physics combined. The reasons for this are not clear. Perhaps the promotional work carried out by the Chemical Society of the South Pacific has been a factor. There is no survey data available as to where chemistry graduates of USP obtain employment. The main market is as secondary teachers and in a given year perhaps around 75% of the chemistry graduates find jobs here. The government has limited placements in agriculture, fisheries and mineral resources departments. The quasi-governmental Fiji Sugar Corporation, the major industry outside of tourism, employs about 25 chemists at their four sugar mills. Only a small number of chemists are otherwise employed by the private sector, mainly in food-processing facilities.
Roughly 10% of the graduates in a given year pursue postgraduate studies, mainly at USP. The University offers a four-course Postgraduate Diploma in Chemistry (PGD), which can be followed by a research project resulting in an M.Sc. degree in chemistry. In 1995, there were eight students pursuing a PGD in chemistry and six pursuing masters research. Students wishing to pursue Ph.D. studies are generally encouraged to broaden their experience overseas although the Chemistry Department does supervise an occasional Ph.D. student, usually one of its own staff.
The University generally supports about four positions in the Chemistry Department to employ recent B.Sc. and M.Sc. students who assist in teaching laboratories and tutorials. Those showing exceptional promise are supported by the University to pursue Ph.D studies overseas. The Chemistry Department has about 70% local faculty and 30% expatriate staff who are usually recruited as experienced Ph.D. holders to fill senior positions. A number of local department members have sought more lucrative employment overseas after they become senior members of staff.
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6.2 Other Tertiary Institutions
Besides the teaching training institutes discussed in Section 5 there are several other tertiary training institutions in Fiji. The Fiji School of Medicine offers a six-year program leading to medical qualification to outstanding secondary school graduates from the region. Its annual intake is about 30. There are also a number of paramedical diplomas in areas such as environmental health, dental therapy and dietetics with a total enrolment of 221 in 1991. The Fiji School of Nursing has been in operation for nearly a century and currently has an enrolment of 320 students pursuing its 3-year diploma. There is also a regional telecommunication training centre with about 60 students.
The Fiji College of Agriculture also offers a three-year diploma qualification with a total enrolment of nearly 100. Other technical training comes under the Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT) which offers programs in areas such as electrical, mechanical, automotive and maritime engineering as well as business studies and printing. These programs tend to emphasize practical as well as theoretical aspects of these studies. The Institute also has a one-year program for laboratory technicians. Diplomates with FIT qualification as a Laboratory Technician are often hired by the University to organise the practical classes. Total enrolment averages about 1500 students with about 65% of the students being male.
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7. ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
There has been a growing realization in the past decade of the importance of environmental issues in the Pacific Island countries. Issues such as sea-level rise may destroy or render uninhabitable entire atoll island nations. Small islands have especially fragile environments, one small error may contaminate an entire freshwater system or a large land area. Deforestation and related land degradation and coral reef destruction are major problems as is the disposal of waste.
The Government of Fiji has recently established an Environment Department and other departments such as forestry have environment units. The importance of the environment has also been recognized in the Ministry of Education. A number of workshops have been held to discuss how to incorporate environmental concerns into existing curricula and also to expand the coverage in the formal curriculum. Listed below are the environmental topics proposed for the revised Basic Science syllabus for Forms I-IV.
FORM ENVIRONMENT TOPICI Endangered Animals Pollution and Health Lives in the Mangrove Swamp II Soil Erosion Soil Use & Water Holding Capacity Mono Cropping and Mixed Cropping Pests & Diseases, Recycling Changing the Environment for Agriculture Bush versus Cultivated Area Soil Deterioration, Soil Fertility III Sea Water Coastal Environment Marine Life Coral Reefs Food Charts IV Plantation and Pioneer Species Worlds Wood Uses Why do Rain Forests Matter? Deforestation Land Pollution Water Pollution Nuclear Pollution
The main environmental coverage in secondary teaching is in the Geography and Biology syllabi although teachers knowledgeable about environmental issues can give appropriate examples in a number of lesson topics. The environmental non-government organisation SPACHEE which is based at the University of the South Pacific has produced a number of activity-based Environmental News Alerts for senior secondary students covering environmental issues of importance to the Pacific and also developed lesson plans to bring environmental issues into existing syllabi topics.
In chemistry environmental chemistry is one of four applied options in the Form VI prescription. This covers agricultural chemistry and the effects of fluoride and lead on human health.
At the tertiary level the University offers a B.Sc. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Environmental Studies. Both programs are mainly composed of a combination of courses with some relevant environmental content rather than a series of courses specifically designed for the program. Most science departments at USP have at least one course in environment aspects of the subject.
Environmental chemistry is also one of the main research topics among staff in the Chemistry Department of the University of the South Pacific. Projects include studying pesticides and heavy metals in the environment, the distribution and role of nutrients such as nitrate and phosphate in agriculture and in aquatic systems, the use of bioindicators for the study of pollution, soil chemistry, plastic decomposition, land degradation and atmospheric chemistry. The Department has also assisted in applications of environmental science such as surveys of pollution sources and their prevention and environmental impact assessments.
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8. ROLE OF THE CHEMICAL SOCIETY
The Chemical Society of the South Pacific was founded in 1985 and is based at the University of the South Pacific. Membership stands at about 100, which represents about a ratio of 1:15,000 of the entire population. Members are mainly secondary and tertiary teachers with some industrial chemists. A vast majority of members are from Fiji although activities extend throughout the region in which the University of the South Pacific operates.
Since its founding the society has mounted a number of activities to promote interest in chemistry in secondary schools in the region as well as with the general public. Increasing the chemical proficiency of members has also been a focus. Annual activities are a regional 21 Chem Quiz which has grown from 2,000 to 10,000 secondary school participants and a titration competition which has qualifying sessions run in three venues in Fiji as well as Tonga and Western Samoa with the regional winners competing in a grand final at USP.
Science fairs have also been organised as well as talks for the general public and secondary students. Liaison with the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute (RACI) has led to visits by seminar speakers at the annual general meeting and a Chemical Magic Show performed at five venues in Fiji. RACI has also assisted in running two workshops on the Fabrication of Low Cost Equipment for secondary school teachers. Besides these workshops others have been run in conjunction with the Education Department for secondary teachers on the theoretical and practical aspects of the secondary school teaching syllabus.
A recent major activity of the Chemical Society has been the publication of a study guide for the Form VII Chemistry prescription. The first edition offered in 1994 contained 311 pages and was quickly adopted in Form VII in Fiji and the 1000 copies sold out. The second edition is in preparation which will incorporate changes suggested by a workshop of secondary teachers using the book. The society since its inception has been a member of the Federation of Asian Chemical Societies and a strong supporter of its activities.
Chemical Safety has also been a major focus of society activities. A safety audit has been performed on secondary schools in Fiji and assistance is also offered to identify and dispose of chemicals. The society has also encouraged the use of Material Safety Data Sheets. A workshop organised in conjunction with the University of Auckland was held in November, 1994, in Suva and a follow-up in Apia, Western Samoa in July, 1996, on hazardous chemical management.
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Mangubhai, F. (1984). Fiji. In R.M. Thomas & T.N. Potlethwaite (Eds.), Schooling in the Pacific Islands (pp. 167-201). Oxford : Pergamon Press.
Muralidhar, S. (1989). An exploratory study of a science curriculum in action : Basic Science in Fiji. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Monash University, Melbourne.
Report of the Fiji Education Commission. (1969). Education for modern Fiji. Suva, Fiji: Government Printer.
The World Bank. (1993). Pacific regional post-secondary education study, Volume 3, Fiji. Washington, D.C. : The World Bank.
Whitehead, C. (1981). Education in Fiji : Policy, problems and progress in primary and secondary education, 1939-1973. Canberra : Australian National University.
Whitehead, C. (1986). Education in Fiji since independence. Wellington : New Zealand Council for Educational Research.
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