Yaqona (kava) and the school campus: Regulation versus facilitation
Keywords:education, delivery and facilitation, achievement, culture, identity, kava, regulation
Yaqona (kava) is a culturally significant, non-alcoholic drink consumed nightly by many Fijians. Although yaqona is not consumed by primary or secondary school students, cultural protocols related to yaqona preparation and presentation are often taught in their schools, with students then presenting this indigenous drink to acknowledge visitors to the school, open events and support fundraisers. In the early 2000s, some within the Fiji Ministry of Education began questioning whether yaqona use by teachers was negatively impacting their teaching ability, suggesting it should be banned from the school campus. In this study, Fijian teachers were cognitively tested and interviewed following an evening of yaqona consumption with the results suggesting this indigenous substance can disrupt cognition and in turn negatively impact teaching quality the morning after consumption. Although development theory prescribes prohibition and situational bans in cases where indigenous substances negatively impact productivity, the author argues that prohibiting yaqona in Fijian schools would be short-sighted as the findings show that this traditional substance is critical to the facilitation of school function, identity formation and academic achievement, all elements necessary to development.
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