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FIJI TIMES OLINE Maneesha Karan Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Children must preserve cultural integrity says Commissioner Northern Lieutenant Colonel Ilai Moceica. Children perform traditional Banaban dance in Rabi. Picture: MANEESHA KARAN+ Enlarge this image

Children must preserve cultural integrity says Commissioner Northern Lieutenant Colonel Ilai Moceica. Children perform traditional Banaban dance in Rabi. Picture: MANEESHA KARAN

CHILDREN need to be accommodated in their own village surroundings until the ages of 15 and 16 in order for them to develop an understanding of their culture and values.

Commissioner Northern Lieutenant Colonel Ilai Moceica told The Fiji Times that children who move away from their villages to developing urban centres at an earlier age lose their traditional and cultural identity.

Speaking after a trip to Rabi and Kioa last week, Lt Col Moceica said the villagers of Kioa expressed concern at the matter and said they planned to establish secondary level to their schools in efforts to teach children the significance of their culture.

"For example at Salia on Kioa, the school can establish Form Three and Form Four levels on the island and then send children off to urban centres on the mainland when they begin to show a sense of maturity," Lt Col Moceica said.

He said he recognised the need for children to gain an education but not at the cost of their culture and traditions.

"When children come out in to a developing place, they get affected by the change in environment and are influenced by other cultures.

"Some children who lack understanding and are not used to the changes can get influenced by negative activities in the new society.

"We would like children to protect the integrity of their culture and values and this can be done by keeping them back in their villages until they are of age and can handle the changes."

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