The Ministry of Education is bracing itself as it goes through a transitional period of changes and reforms to achieve our government’s vision in its roadmap to improve the quality of Education in Fiji and to generate the drive to achieving an educated society for all Fijians in Fiji. The Ministry of Education, through the work carried out by the various sections has taken a number of initiatives to transform the education system to make Fiji a knowledge based society. The Curriculum Advisory Services (CAS) is mandated to review, design, implement, strengthen and support the national curriculum which will navigate Fiji’s educational venture into the modern era. The Ministry has also endorsed international, regional and national policy documents to enhance and stimulate sustainable curriculum development in education. The Curriculum Advisory Services has aligned itself to these policy documents to ensure our education system is on par with countries that have advanced education programmes.
Facing The Global Challenges For the Future
In global terms, Fijians seek to enjoy an enviable quality of life. Our little island nation has a unique and diverse environment, our own version of social stability, a colorful blend of our unique ethnicity and a strong democratic recovery, and the natural resources for economic prosperity. However, there are many challenges which must be faced now if we are to continue to prosper as the true paradise in the tropical Pacific region. Global issues including climate change, biodiversity loss, growth in population, poverty, competition for finite resources, rapidly changing technology and geopolitical instability make the 21st century unique for both the developed nations of the globe and also the underdeveloped ones.
The most important feature of all challenges we face in developing our curriculum is to be able to address our curriculum changes and documentation to be on par with the best in the world. In doing so we will need continuous research to explore ways of ensuring sustainable curriculum development and sustainable implementation strategies that are bound to guarantee quality, relevance, effectiveness and efficiency over time regardless of whatever challenges we face.
Fiji being a small under-developed nation, does share the same curriculum challenges that developed countries experience. One way to remedy this is through ‘reorienting education systems to sustainability’. This focuses on achieving a culture of sustainability in which teaching and learning for sustainability are reinforced by continuous improvement through the sustainable methods of curriculum development, implementation and management. In a globalised world, individual actions have implications well beyond their immediate surroundings and issues such as climate change; water shortages and biodiversity loss can no longer be seen in isolation.
Global efforts to minimise threats to economic stability, environmental damage, and a growing number of social issues present clear signs that current global trends are important to be learned. They could be life threatening for us in the near future if we continue to neglect them by failing to raise the awareness, educate our society, and even in failing to integrate its study into our current curriculum documents for the future. This is CAS’s immediate responsibility to all Fijians in Fiji. This responsibility is supported in our constitution to fulfill the right of access to a well balanced education system for all our upcoming generations so that they can live on to fulfill their dreams and continue to contribute positively to building our nation. Our curriculum needs to inform and educate our society not only for academic purposes but on a more broader general outlook to prepare a Fijian for survival in the 21st century Fiji.
Under the policy documents within the Ministry of Education, the Unit is guided to introduce an outcome based curriculum which is child centered and student friendly. The Curriculum Advisory Services is also responsible for the production of textbooks and other relevant resources for the different levels to assist in the learning and teaching in the classroom. The Unit is also tasked with the responsibility of preparing external scripts for Year 6, 8, 10, 12, 13 and final examination scripts for Years 7, 9 and 11. This is one of the few new roles assumed by the CAS unit in the beginning of 2015. Although we lacked the proper manpower to see this task through, the tremendous sacrifice rendered by all officers within the unit and all its support staff is commendable as all examination preparations went ahead as scheduled.
The Fiji National Curriculum Framework aims to:
o ensure all young Fijians are equipped with the skills, knowledge and capabilities that provide a foundation for successful and lifelong learning and participation in the Fijian community
o make clear to teachers what is to be taught across the years of schooling at all levels from early childhood to year 13
o make clear to students what they should have learned
o ensure that quality learning and teaching is carried out.
Fiji’s New National Curriculum Framework promotes a few important philosophies about teaching and learning to provide teachers with more confidence to handle the curriculum documents available to them and to deliver to the best of their abilities the curriculum while always observing the following:
• there is flexibility for teachers to shape classroom programs to take into account:
o the different rates at which students develop
o the diverse range of learning needs in the class
• schools and teachers will continue to apply their professional judgment about how to best reflect local and regional circumstances, educational philosophies and learning environments
The greatest challenge of Fiji’s Curriculum Development Unit is to prepare our citizens with knowledge that will equip them with competencies to make rational decisions necessary for meeting the demands and changes in our society so that they can become responsible citizens of Fiji contributing effectively in nation building through all they aspire to do for their country and as individuals in the 21st century Fiji.