Saturday, April 24, 2010

State moves forward on education

Refueling the mighty pen - State moves forward on education
Fiji Sun - 24 April 2010
In the wake of the coups since 1987, persisting political instability and a growing sense of insecurity, our nation has lost, through emigration, substantial numbers of its experienced professional and skilled workers.The skill gap that has emerged cannot be readily filled because new entrants to the labour force lack expertise, education, experience and training.
Government recognises that emphasis on a knowledgeable society is seeking to address the laxity caused by a racially based education system in Fiji.
The number of students dropping out early is an issue regarded as a critical problem and a major contributing factor to the growing incidence of poverty.

In turns poverty impacted adversely on the socio-economic development of our nation. 
The need to address access and equity issues to support social justice and promote unity and harmony.

The difficulty of access because of poor infrastructure in rural and remote areas combined with the minimal incomes of most families are among the major factors contributing to higher drop-out rates.
The disparities in academic achievement between the poor in the rural and urban areas, disparity in education achievements amongst ethnic groups contributes to the increasing level of poor families and instability in the political and social situation.
Out of the 16, 000 students coming out of the schools system, only about 8000 are being absorbed in the formal job market.
The high level of school drop-out has contributed to the increased in social problems, poor economic wellbeing.
The People's Charter clearly identify critical problems and issues that should be addressed by Government through the Ministry of Education for its people to be well educated, knowledge-based where education and continuous learning is accessible to all.
We must retain and use our individual and collective knowledge and skills to develop our country, to achieve its real potential to be prosperous and well governed country.
In this regard, Government and the Ministry of Education continue to work hard to make education affordable and accessible to all.
There should be opportunities for greater education advancement, innovation and greater improvements for the academic year 2010 and for the years to come.
Government's objectives

Some of the key areas government seeks to address are;
l A peaceful, non racial, inclusive and united society which entails a Language policy Implemented by December 2010, elimination of schools names denoting racial affiliations and Civic Education implemented in schools in 2010;
l Educating the nation for peace and prosperity. Programs that come under this include; Education Service Commission established in 2009, a Cabinet Paper developed on setting up statutory body for Community and Non Formal Learning Unit by December 2009, Policy paper on the establishment of an Education Service Commission.
Likewise, all rural areas to have centers of learning by 2015, external education abolished, Transport assistance to deserving students in 2010, proportion of schools with free text books in 2010, policy paper on the use of Collaborative Model of Education in villages and communities developed by December 2009 and student drop-out rate reduced;
l Improved access and equity through efficient management. Differential resourcing model used as a base for the distribution of all education grant by 2010 Higher Education Commission established by 2009 Policy on effective use of grant developed by December 2010;
l Building a just progressive and prosperous Fiji.
A new curriculum implemented in primary schools, new ECE curriculum guidelines implemented in ECE centers in 2010, Modular system of learning introduced at secondary schools by 2015, A ten year plan initiative for the strengthening of science, technology, engineering and agriculture introduce by 2011, Increased enrolment of students with special needs, Affirmative action policy reviewed by 2010, 70% of schools effectively use Literacy And Numeration Assessment for diagnostic purposes by 2011, Improve completion rate for students in TVET courses, Competency based assessment implemented in all vocational centers by 2011;
l Achieving gender equality and empowerment of women. A gender balance of boys and girls [ratio1:1] in primary and secondary education.;
l Protection and development of children and youth.
Elimination of all forms of child abuse, Improve compliance with OHS regulations, Increased you participation at national and regional events.
Increased coverage of youth initiatives, 600 youths completed compulsory two weeks Skills for Life Training
600 youths completed compulsory two weeks Specific Skills, 600 young people benefiting from Placement Service Work Experience Programme, 20 SME projects supporting young people established.
Prime Minister's focus

PM's Agenda for 2010 budget and beyond confirmed that reforms and modernization must be all-inclusive [i.e. all Sector of the Nation, public and Private Sectors].
Transforming and modernising the Education Sector will; address the large number of students dropping out early from schools.
This is an issue regarded as a critical problem and a major contributing factor to the growing incidence of poverty; and in turns poverty impacts adversely on the socio-economic development of our nation;

PM's agenda is clear that Government shall continue the bus and other modes of transport fare subsidies for school children but through an income test mechanism.
The subsidy we believe is essential to ensure that children from low income families can afford and have access to education.

He clearly expressed the concern of Government on the problems and critical issues outlined in the PCCPP.

Education and continuous learning must be affordable and accessible by all.
Putting more emphasis on the Education Sector will help break or slow down the cycle of poverty and accelerate the socio-economic development sector.

In fact this is where the Peoples Charter, Road Map, Strategic Framework for Change and Prime Minister's focuses are.

Impact to the economy and nation
Education has been used globally in nation building.
However the inadequacy of the education curriculum at all level of schools to teach social cohesiveness, inclusiveness and how to live meaningfully in a pluralistic society is an experienced defectiveness in our education system.
Government highlighted the problem of distributing education grant using the current criteria based entirely on school roll.
The Fiji Education Commission Report 2000 revealed that the wealthier secondary schools in urban and peri-urban centers were beneficiaries of a larger proportion of these grants.
Even though 51per cent of the secondary schools are located in rural areas and 84% of the 2001 grant were awarded to urban and peri-urban secondary schools.
Government realises the need to distribute government grant should be based on the "differential resourcing model", the distribution of funds based on relative levels of need and using the disadvantaged index as the basis of distribution.
The differential resourcing model will address the urban drift, as rural dwellers moved into urban and peri-urban centers in search of quality education.
In the process early school leavers make up a large number of the unemployed and then they contributed disproportionately to the rising tide of crime and violence occurring in most urban centers;
Government also recognises that there are specific recommendations that must be included in the Ministry of Education systems and that all relevant institutions must promote unity amongst the diverse cultures of Fiji through:
l Making changes to the Education Curriculum to allow for community and service learning that will promote and encourage social cohesion and national integration;
l To teach the basic value of truth, right action, love, peace and non-violence;
l To promote national symbols [flags, anthem, currency] in schools and office while also reviewing them to integrate the different languages [Vosa Vakaviti, Hindi and English] and music style in the national anthem;
l The teaching of conversational 'Vosa Vakaviti, Hindi, and English must be compulsory from Class 5-7 in all schools;
l Establishment of National Book Trust for the publication of textbooks and literature for Fiji children;
l Inclusion of multicultural education in the curriculum at all levels;
l National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) through the State of Nation and Economy report strongly recommended that the teaching of the principles of agriculture should be made compulsory as well as subjects that will lead to better utilisation of natural resources.
However, this call for highly trained manpower in science, technology, engineering, and agriculture to undertake research on how to better utilises natural resources and generates manufacturing and service industries which are competitive in export markets.
l A ten year on going policy initiative with emphasis on science, technology, engineering and agriculture has to be put in place.
It is proposed that the modular system of learning as recommended by the Education Commission 2000 be adopted. The programme will increase the options for students in areas such as visual arts and media, eco-tourism, aquaculture, sports, and recreation, culture and religion among others.
The Government's desire that Fiji becomes a knowledge hub will not materialise or become a reality until all the stakeholders remain committed and focus.
The Ministry of Education now calls upon the stakeholders, parents, children, teachers, private sector and others to be committed in supporting, promoting the effort of Government and investing in education thus will positively contributing towards growing the economy and building a better Fiji.

l (The writer works at the Strategic Framework for Change Coordinating Office of the Prime Minister).

1 comment:

sara'ssista said...

Let there be no mistake..this is MILITARY CHARTER. It a charter that has been devised by them and imposed either by threats , inducements or by wearing everyone down over the psassage of time. Hardly a glowing mandate.