Professors at Tonga’s Lo’au university have claimed the government’s failure to address the king’s concerns was a result of leaders being educated at the University of the South Pacific (USP) which they claimed did not emphasise critical thinking.
Professor ‘Inoke Hu’akau of Lo’au University claimed USP only prepared students for vocational employment which was another version of a system of education which did not encourage students to think critically “ako ta’efakakaukau”.
He argued that the king’s strong reactions against Parliament showed there was huge weakness in how the government was operating and the leaders’ lack of critical thinking skills.
Another Lo’au academic, Professor Siosiua Lafitani, said in a joint press release this morning that broken promises had “become flesh with today’s leaders and that was their favorite”.
He also argued that the Tongan government did not understand capitalism and how businesses should be conducted through that economic system.
The professors said critical thinking was the basis of their institution’s philosophical foundation.
The criticisms come after king Tupou VI rebuked the kingdom’s MPs in a public speech to open the Legislative Assembly. It is believed to be the first time a king has openly expressed his anger with the government.
The king said the House gave him the same responses every year after he raised concerns about education, health, the war on drugs and the country’s economy, but they appeared to have made no extra effort to solve the problems.
It appears the Lo’auan professors believed that all Tongan leaders studied at the USP, which is not true.
Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa was awarded with accounting qualifications from universities in New Zealand and Australia. A number of the government CEOs, ministers and officials went to universities there as well.
The University of the South Pacific
According to the USP official website, the “University is a uniquely placed centre of excellence in a region of extraordinary physical, social and economic diversity”.
It lists about 50 educational programmes and courses which it said have received international accreditations and recognition.
The programmes range from accounting to tourism and hospitality, business administration, law, commercial cookery, journalism, arts law and education.
Most of them are based on Australian and New Zealand curricula.
“The University has set a high standard for quality in its research. Major research commitments include business management, teacher education, Pacific studies, marine studies, agriculture, science and technology,” the USP website said.
“Established in 1968, USP is the only university of its type in the world. It is jointly owned by the governments of 12 island countries: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Western Samoa.
“The multi-cultural nature of the staff and student body give USP an exceptional character. It is a quality institution producing degrees comparable to those awarded by universities in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Graduates from USP are found in important executive positions throughout the public and private sectors in all member countries.
“Because of its strategic position and facilities, USP attracts eminent scholars and staff from throughout the world”.
Lo’au University describes itself as being “the first full online higher learning system in the Kingdom of Tonga and among other Moanan nations in the region, with its Headquarters in the Kingdom and various branches worldwide”.
It said it was founded at Sydney University in 2011, but was officially launched in Tonga at the University of the South Pacific (‘Atele) in 2014 by the then Minister of Education Hon, Dr ‘Ana Maui Taufe’ulungaki
Its founder, Professor Siosiua Lafitani, was appointed by the Board of Founders of CUAM Foundation University (www.cuam.eu) at Benevento in Italy in January 2014 as one of the 72 partner universities to run its educational and scientific research programs
“Lo’au University runs annual summer classes (post-graduate diploma) on Tongan language and culture in the Kingdom for doctoral and post-graduate students from Stanford University, Hawaii University and other world universities”, its website said.
It claimed it “offers scholarships and financial assistance of approx $10 millions per year to students from around the world to study for their Bridging courses, Diploma, BA, Post-graduate diploma, MA and PhD Degrees”.