|Case Studies on Technical and Vocational Education in Asia and the Pacific - Fiji (UNEVOC - ACEID, 1996, 28 p.)|
18,333 sq km
771,104 (Fijians: 305,847, Indians: 345,196, other:
Official title of the country
Republic of Fiji
Climate and geography
Fiji is located approximately north east of Aukland within latitudes 15-22 degrees south and longitudes 177 degrees west and 174 degrees east. It consists of about 300 islands scattered over approximately 40,000 sq km of the Pacific Ocean and straddle the 180 degrees meridian. The total land area is approximately 18.333 sq km with virually all economic activity (and bulk of population) concentrated on the two largest islands, Viti Levu 10,429 sq km, and Vanua Levu 5,556 sq km.
The climate is typically tropical with the usual ameliorating effect of the sea. Two seasonal patterns are recognised, the cool dry season which runs from May to October with average daily temperatures ranging from about 18°C to 26°C and average monthly rainfall ranging from 46-144 mm, and the hot wet season from November to April with average daily temperatures ranging from approximately 23°C to 32°C and average monthly rainfall ranging from 296-332 mm. Cyclones which over the last 10 years have averaged one strike for every other year normally develop during April.
Fiji was a Crown colony for 96 years up to October 1974 by which time the English language had become firmly established as the official language. Because of the multiracial composition of the population. English has continued to be the official language while provisions are made for parliamentary speeches to be made either in Fijian or Hindi, and certain official notices are printed in all three languages.
Ruling party/Head of government/Political system
Fiji became a Republic in 1987 with a president. At the parliamentary elections held in 1992 and the snap general elections held in 1994, the wholly Fijian political party, the Soqosoqonivakavulewa ni Taukei or SVT, with Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka as party leader returned the largest number of members to parliament of any other single party and Rabuka was appointed by the President in both instances to be Prime Minister.
Thus the political system in place is a variation of the Westminister syste, with a House of Representatives and a Senate and with a constitution with "empowers" the President to appoint as Prime Minister the Fijian elected member whom he in his best judgement believes will command the respect of the largest number of members elected to the House of Representatives. The parliamentary term is five years. The President must be a Fijian of high chiefly status and is appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs.
Fijian Dollar (FD)
The school system up to the early 1960s was a very rigid primary/secondary demarcated system with eight years of primary schooling and four years of secondary schooling. To cater for the requirements of children who were leaving school at different levels of the 12 year continum, some flexibility was introduced to allow schools which wished to do so to have one cut-off point after six years (primary) and another after a further four years (Junior Secondary).
External examinations taken at the secondary level are the Fiji Junior Certificate Examination at the end of junior secondary year (year 10) which, while giving school leavers at this level some basic knowledge and skills, is also used to select those capable of proceeding to the last two years of secondary school. The Fiji School Leaving Certificate Examination has replaced the New Zealand University Entrance Examination and a good pass is required for entry into form 7 (year 13) which has been set up for better preparation for those capable of going on to tertiary institutions.
School education is run predominately by private organisations and school committees with a few government owned schools in the county. It is fee-paying and not compulsory. The Ministry of Education is the government regulating authority for education.
Fiji is not a welfare state and for good reasons is not likely to become one in the foreseeable future. As such there are no unemployment benefits such as that which is commonly referred to as the "dole" in Australasia.
A number of religious and other NGOs provide a variety of rudimentary services to people belonging to those organisations, but the bulk of the service that is provided is through the Social Welfare Department of government.
This department has statutory responsibilities relating to child care and matrimonial problems, young offenders, domestic conflicts, counselling etc., and non-statutory responsibilities in the provision of support and encouragement to community based organisations and NGOs providing community development and welfare services to its members.
A shortage of financial resources continues to hamper the efforts of the Department of Social Welfare.
In general while the major economic activities still have a firm base in the primary industries (sugar, fishing, gold, timber, etc.) the economy is in the process of transition by the onset of a second wave of activities based on light manufacturing and tourism and the hospitality industry.
In 1987 Fiji exported $328 million in commodities mainly to the UK, Australasia, USA and Canada, and imported $385 million in foreign-made products, primary consumer goods, and machinery, basically signally that present economic activities must be made more efficient and expanded, and new activities introduced for Fiji to attain a competitive edge for its products also as to reduce its trade deficit.
But based on forecast sugar production of 430,000 tonnes, visitor arrivals of around 300,000 and moderate growth in private investment, real GDP is forecast to grow by 3.2 per cent in 1994. With noticeable changes taking place in the economy annually there has been marked changes in inflation rate, and based on the average of the CPI inflation is expected to be recorded at about 1.5 per cent in 1994.
Growth overseas investment has continued to remain sluggish and therefore has had no effect in stimulating the level of economic growth. Liquidity is high in the banking system despite low commercial bank interest rates and moderate inflation over the last five years.
Domestic exports are forecast to grow by 4 per cent in 1994 with increases in molasses, gold, timber, fish, coconut oil and garments exports. Earnings from sugar are expected to decline 2 per cent below the 1993 estimates while garments exports are forecast to increase by 13.2 per cent and gold export by 9.0 percent in 1994.