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Find out how Arya Samaj is playing a crucial role in educating children in Fiji!

Since its establishment, Arya Samaj in Fiji has focused on education largely and currently owns and manages many schools and institutions in the country

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(Aum) The symbol of Arya Samaj via Wikipedia.org
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  • The Arya Samaj in Fiji was established on 25th December 1904 at Samabula
  • Based on the fundamental principles of Dharma or True Religion, it teaches love, justice and righteousness towards all, irrespective of race, caste or creed
  • Vishnu Deo was the first leader and the only Hindi language newspaper in Fiji, Fiji Samachar

August 17, 2016: Arya Samaj is a Hindu faction that promotes values and practices based on the Hindu text Vedas, which started as a reformist movement by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati in the 19th century. Arya Samaj simply renounces all rituals and beliefs which are commonly associated with Hindus except those originating from the Vedas. It was the movement had that removed almost all concepts introduced after the Vedas in Hinduism.

The vision of Arya Samaj in Fiji is to evolve and educate-

“A Society where everyone is literate and conforms to acceptable moral, spiritual, cultural and social values”

Arya samaj in Fiji was established by a handful of followers who had little knowledge of the work of Mahrishi Dayanand. It was Dayanand, who was the founder of the Arya Samaj Movement in Bombay (now Mumbai) on 10 April 1875. Although the influence of Arya Samaj gradually became weaker among Indians in Fiji, as other organizations were established; but it remained a dominant force in politics until 1959. To the present day, Arya Samaj in Fiji speaks out on the issues affecting its members and its work, which is visible through the various educational institutions it manages today.

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Arya Samaj in Fiji was born out of the desire by the Girmitiyas meaning the descendants of Fiji Indians, to sustain the religious, cultural and social inheritance and provide a platform for the upliftment of their living standards. The inspiration to the members who established Arya Samaj in Fiji was derived from the Satyarth Prakash, written by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati himself in 1875. It can be dated back to 1893 when the learning centers were established by a small group of people who had organized themselves into sects. With the arrival of Shiu Datt Sharma in 1902, a temple was established in Samabul, which also acted as a school attended by many.

Today Arya Samaj is all over Fiji and since 1904, it has contributed significantly to the struggles of the Girmitiyas, their needs, and demands. Believing in promoting knowledge through education, the Arya Samaj in Fiji under the auspices of the National organization Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, established many schools to educate children. Prior to this several informal centers of learning were in operation by the Samajs and individual members that can be dated back to 1893.

From 1926 to 1929 under the auspices of Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, some 100 Fiji-born Indian boys and girls were sent to India to study at various Arya Samaj institutions. At the end of its first century of existence, the Arya Samaj Movement in Fiji proudly owns many educational institutions.

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Nadi Arya Samaj public school in Fiji via fijisun.com.fj
Nadi Arya Samaj public school in Fiji via fijisun.com.fj

MANAGEMENT
The affairs of individual Samajs or sects are managed by the officials through elections conducted every March of a year, by their respective members, under the provisions of Local Samaj Constitution provided by the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha. The affairs of the National Body, Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, however, is managed by an Executive Committee consisting of 13 Office Bearers and 35 representatives from affiliated sections, who are elected at the Annual general meeting (AGM) every June. Other functions of the administrative wing of Sabha are vested in the various sub-committees and Boards of School Committees by appointment of the National Executive at the post-Convention (AGM) Executive meeting. The Arya Mahila Mandals and Arya Yuva Dals are an integral part of the Samajs and are very active at Samaj and National level.

The Sabha’s Headquarters is situated at its property at Samabula, Suva.

To conclude, Arya Samaj has specifically aimed at its educational activities and worked for the education of many children in Fiji, built many educational institutions as well. As Indo-Fijians have migrated overseas, they have taken their religion and culture with them. Consequently, Arya Samajs have been established and spread in many countries by former Indo-Fijians.

prepared by Yajush Gupta , twitter: @yajush_gupta

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Union Government Appoints Committee For A New Education Policy

The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”

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Union Government Appoints Committee For A New Education Policy
Union Government Appoints Committee For A New Education Policy. Pixabay

The Union government has appointed a Committee, headed by K Kasturirangan, to work on a New Education Policy. The Committee is yet to submit its recommendations. Meanwhile, the government is contemplating to replace the six-decade old University Grants Commission (UGC) — a regulating authority that failed to check the rot in Higher Education. Prakash Javadekar, HRD Minister, intends to pilot the Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of UGC Act) Bill in this monsoon session of Parliament, commencing from July 18.

The Bill proposes to delink funding of educational institutions from the regulating body, HRD Ministry itself taking over the responsibility, as the Higher Education Secretary R Subramanyam put it, “the UGC remains preoccupied with disbursing funds to institutes and is unable to concentrate on other key areas such as mentoring institutes, focusing on research to be undertaken and other quality measures.” To placate the apprehensions of the academics, a subsequent press release of the Ministry has assured, “if there is a successor system to the current grant-giving role of the UGC, the same will be operated in the most unbiased and impartial manner.” Some other proposals, inter alia, include (a) universities to get authorisation from the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) before awarding degrees; (b) the HECI to focus on promoting academic excellence and maintaining standards; and (c) closing down fake and sub-standard institutions. Education in general and higher education, in particular, requires fundamental reforms, not cosmetic changes.

First, it is important to raise the standard of schools, run by Panchayat Institutes and Municipal bodies, to the level of Kendriya Vidyalayas. The policy of teaching in mother tongue has altered the very thrust of education. The three language formula is not observed, neglecting the official languages — Hindi and English. It is not a question of preserving regional languages. The regional languages are promoting linguistic chauvinism, resulting in communication barrier. A student from Tamil Nadu, studying in Tamil medium, cannot communicate with a student from UP, studying in Hindi, and vice versa. The students are paying the price for this short sighted policy of States. The teaching in mother tongue has practically immobilised them, affecting their higher studies and job opportunities. Besides, most of the government schools do not have basic amenities and infrastructure. This is aggravated by mass absenteeism of teachers, due to corruption and ineffective supervision and control. How redundant is education could be gauged from a recent recruitment of police constables in Maharashtra. For some 1100 police vacancies, over 2 lakh applicants, including doctors, engineers, MBAs and lawyers, have applied. Arup Patnaik, former Mumbai Police Commissioner says, “The problem with qualified youth from rural areas is that they are unable to communicate in English and hence are unable to bag jobs in the private sector…it is a sad reflection of our times…” A crash course for English language should be made mandatory at the first year of College, exclusively for the students from vernacular medium, to improve their reading, speaking and writing skills. Unless the quality of primary and secondary education is improved, the products of our colleges and universities will not be able to gain productive employment.

Second, our education system encourages rote learning with emphasises only on marks. There is a need to de-emphasise on rote learning and encourage critical thinking. Make the teaching and learning a matter of joy and happiness. The school curriculum should be overhauled to imbibe human values like truth, righteous conduct, gender equality and democratic principles of equality, tolerance and respect for dissent and diversity. As S Radhakrishnan, one of the finest teachers the modern world has seen, said, “The values of human life must come from two sources: parents and teachers. They are the makers of an evolved society.” The School is an important agent of socialisation.

Third, privatisation has made the education unaffordable to the poor and marginalised. It has resulted in commercialisation and profiting the managements. More than 60% students in Higher Education are studying in private institutions. There is mushrooming of engineering colleges, having no infrastructure and qualified teachers, with 50% seats going vacant. The teachers in private unaided institutions do not enjoy the protection of service conditions. They are paid a pittance, seriously affecting the quality of teaching. While cutting grants to educational institutions, the government is promoting contractual appointment of teachers, making the teaching profession exploitative and unattractive. The privatisation should be confined to certain professional courses. The bulk of students in Arts, Science and Commerce streams cannot afford private education.

The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.”
The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” Pixabay

Fourth, revisit the policy of admission. Education is an instrument of social mobility. Therefore, quality education must be accessible to all. The Article 30 of the Constitution gives religious and linguistic minorities “the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.” This makes the minority institutions to reserve 50% seats to the members of their community, changing the character of educational institutions, making them non-liberal and exclusive centres of learning. Why not open admission to all students, banning admission based on religion, caste and language, except for SC and ST? This does not amount to denying the minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions.

Fifth, depoliticise the educational institutions. The appointments of top functionaries of institutions should be made on merit basis, not on regional and caste considerations. Today, most of the appointments in universities and academic bodies are made on the ideological basis, eroding the academic autonomy and the freedom to explore ideas and knowledge. As Prof Arun Kumar says, “those not catering to the markets would be marginalised and the generation of the socially relevant knowledge would decline.” Educational institutions need freedom from political controls, if they have to excel and perform to their full potential. Allahabad University was once known as the Oxford of the East. Banaras Hindu University and Shanti Niketan were compared to Gurukuls. Delhi University was renowned for its classicism and Jawaharlal Nehru University for its progressive values. They flourished as premier public institutions because of autonomy.

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And no regulating authority will be able to ensure quality and maintain standards unless its Head and his team enjoy freedom of action and have the courage to enforce the norms and take punitive action against the erring institutions without fear or favour. (IANS)