Pacific Partnership launches human rights and social justice-themed poetry book for children

27 August 2020

njSuva, Fiji – The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) programme has launched a poetry anthology publication comprising a collection of Pacific poems and artworks about human rights and social justice suitable for students in Years 7-13.

The publication titled Rising Tide has been produced as part of the Pacific Partnership’s Social Citizenship Education (SCE) Programme led by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT).

Working towards implementing human rights work in schools and communities, SPC RRRT, with the support of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture, and Pacific Studies (OCACPS), embarked on this project with editor, Dr Francis Mangubhai, a notable Fiji-born educator and researcher in applied linguistics to collate this poetry anthology which will be used as a teaching and learning resource for schools students and young people in the Pacific.

Acknowledging how changes occur in our Pacific communities like everywhere else in the world, the anthology is titled Rising Tide, due to climate change which is a social justice issue and a topic in which Pacific communities lead the world. It is also an expression that is used metaphorically – there is a rising tide of change occurring in our societies, including changes related to equality, inclusion, and ending violence against women. Young people who will be the next generation of adults, can, through their attitudes, values and voices, contribute to this rising tide of change.

Speaking at the launch of the anthology, the Head of Political, Trade and Information at the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Galia Agisheva said, ‘Human rights and social justice are the core values of the European Union, which is founded on engagement to promote and protect human rights, democracy and rule of law. The EU views all human rights as universal, indivisible and interdependent.

As such, we are delighted to be able to collaborate with SPC RRRT, UN Women and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIFS)  to support the anthology Rising Tide.  This collection of the Pacific poems, will undoubtedly generate inspiration for the young generation for which it is aimed. This young generation is the rising tide of the Pacific, can become the true fundamental agents of change of attitudes - in their lives, in their families, in their communities, in their countries, and also globally’’.

According to RRRT Director, Miles Young, the ‘Rising Tide’ is an essential, evocative and unique anthology featuring Pacific poets and artists expressing their voice on social justice issues that exist in our Pacific societies.

“The poems in this book challenge us to think and take action on issues pertinent to the Pacific and globally such as inequalities, discrimination, injustices and violence against women, girls and children,” Young said.

He added that through this creative interplay of art, words and rhythm, it is hoped that Pacific children, who are the present and future of the region will be inspired to rise like the tide and create and model change that will make Pacific communities, just, safer and more peaceful.

USP’s Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia said the University was proud to have partnered with SPC RRRT in the publishing of this anthology of Pacific Poetry on human rights and social justice through engagement of the Oceania Centre.

“This collaboration is significant not just as an example of CROP collaboration but also given the long history of Pacific Publications through the Institute of Pacific Studies, now Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies,” Professor Pal said.

He added that the collaboration is a reminder of the importance of arts and culture, and pacific-led and home grown arts and recognition of artists. This is something that the University has committed to, not just through the Oceania Centre but also through the School of Languages, Arts and Media’s Pacific Writing Forum which has encouraged emerging Pacific island writers through publication, readings and SLAMS.

“I believe that there are discussions for the collection to be made available through the USP Book Centre and I am very pleased to hear that an exhibition of the same title “Rising Tides” will continue over the next week at the Oceania Centre, featuring the artworks in the collection and select poems,” Professor Pal stated.

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