Fiji’s education system currently lacks the infrastructure to mainstream issues of climate change for its students and teachers. Most villages, schools, and communities have access to an environment rich in biodiversity, but the educational institutions and communities themselves do not see or utilize their environments in this way. There is a significant disconnection between the preparation of students and teachers within the education system and the skills needed to address the real-life issues these communities face. Why does this disconnection exist? The disconnection in ecological understanding largely exists because these environmental issues are a direct result of the capitalist world economy and not local, but they are causing problems locally for Pacific Island communities.
Rise Beyond the Reef’s Ridge to Reef Environmental Learning Centers provide an opportunity for ridge and reef communities to integrate. The result, we believe, is strengthened leadership, where students and teachers not only want to take action, but understand the broader context of their place value in Fiji’s environment. We want to encourage everyday teaching and learning that promotes conservation, resiliency, and guardianship. Fiji is at a turning point, where the impacts of climate change and the pressures of development intersect. An underlying threat, which further exacerbates these impacts, is the erosion of the indigenous communities’ unique cultural identity, and the disappearance of their traditions rooted in the natural environments.