An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

A ʻAtenisi picture

Lakalaka (2005)

Sept. 2015 – Finance Minister Endorses Critical Thinking at 40th Anniversary Celebration


University dean Horowitz, Minister Eke, and institute director Helu receive applause after conclusion of their talks.

For the first time in ʻAtenisi's 52-year history, a government minister has defended the school's signature methodology – critical thinking. Appearing as featured speaker at the university's 40th anniversary on 11 September, Hon Minister of Finance & Planning Dr ʻAisake Eke argued that “critical thinking is essential for the progress of our people ... and for a strong and stable democracy.”

The minister conceded that traditional societies discourage evaluation. “People are expected to follow the lead of those in authority and to do as they are told. So long as no one questions conditions, stability may result. But," he wondered, "how does such a society adjust to cultural changes and meet changing conditions?"

Earlier in the programme institute director Sisi'uno Helu insisted that universities train students to "think, question, criticise and analyse.” University dean Maikolo Horowitz followed with a defense of ʻAtenisi's liberal arts curriculum: "Senior positions in government, corporations – certainly in NGOs – go to leaders who can manage people … not to folks who programme I-phones. Inspiration is typically nourished in diverse - not specialised - knowledge."

Following the three talks, ʻAtolomake Helu sang "Ombra mai fu", an aria from Handel's opera, Serse. A B.A. diploma was then conferred on dux graduate Salise Faivaʻilo, whilst A.A. diplomas were awarded to graduates ʻOkusitino Tae, Tuʻiʻāhai Tu'i'āfitu, and ʻAlokoʻulu ʻUlukivailoa. In a moving tribute on behalf of his fellow graduates, Faivaʻilo thanked ʻAtenisi for stimulating student imagination.

For additional anniversary photos of Min. Eke and 'Atenisi administrators, faculty, and graduates, click INSTITUTE→GALLERY→GRADUATION 2015