The Community Education Workshop (Activity 1.3.1) was held in Nadi on Wednesday 28th August, 2019. It was held at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel Conference Room.
There was a diversity of people that attended, including those who had not yet attended workshops held by local NGOs and there were lively discussions surrounding the topics of the constitution and leadership in the country. With regard to leadership, some of the discussions included Executive Board members that held positions on several boards of some of the national semi-statutory organizations, including the Fiji Electricity Authority, which could be deemed as a conflict of interest.
The group discussions also included the rising contentious issue of the integrity of national leaders, following the alleged harassment by the Prime Minister on a member of parliament. The group stated that it was difficult to talk openly about these concerns as they did not want to be invite trouble to themselves, nor to be seen as rebels going against the government. Some of the other topics brought up by citizens were questions of the rights of landowners, in particular the rights of the indigenous I’Taukei and the right to minerals found on their land. Their questions surrounded the sale of indigenous land at extremely low prices to foreigners that had come into Fiji for business. There was the concern of exploitation of those who were either uneducated, trusting and not aware of their rights under Fiji’s Constitution.
The group of participants that ranged from age 18 to around 55, hoped that in the future the Community Education Workshops would be held over 2-3 days to be able to learn more in-depth information on their human rights and peace-building. Some remarked that it was the first time they had had the opportunity to learn information they learnt on the day - Some of the participants enjoyed learning about conflict analysis tools and others remarked the workshop helped them to understand that Fiji has been through a sensitive political history.
It was positive to note there were many women in the group, as well as youth, who generally do not get an opportunity to have their ‘voices’ heard in traditional Fijian group settings, in local meetings and at a national level. Some of the vocal youth agreed that it was difficult to get assistance from the Ministry of Youth, so they chose to utilize the ‘spaces for civic participation’ provided by the non-government organizations that worked in this general area.
Whilst some were interested in changing individual behavior with regard to conflict analysis, others wanted to be able to share information with others to be able to empower others. It is evident from the above feedback that people understood the material they learnt and are keen to share information and to take information to a wider audience and in the groups that they are able to influence. In terms of wider capacity-building of citizens and moving toward a common understanding of responsible citizenship, individual behavior needs was understood in its role toward peace-building of which is a part of the objectives of this Community Education Workshop.