In a bid to get input from stakeholders in transforming education, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts met with various stakeholders which comprised of universities, religious bodies, education partners, non-government organizations, Head Teachers and Principals Association representatives, as well as statutory bodies in a National Consultation which followed a series of pre-consultations with students, teachers and parents for all the divisions throughout last week.

These consultations were organized by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts with support from UNICEF, and in collaboration with UNESCO and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office. The consultations gave the participants an opportunity to present their opinions on the five thematic areas including:

  1. Inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools:
  2. Teachers, teaching and the teaching profession:
  3. Learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development:
  4. Digital learning and transformation
  5. Financing of education.

The national consultation which took place at the Suva Civic Centre on Friday, 5 August, provided the participants an opportunity to put forward their recommendations on what they see as important factors in transforming education.

UNICEF Pacific Representative, Mr. Jonathan Veitch, encouraged participants to think big in all discussions, challenged them to think differently, and appealed to them to keep young citizens – who are the future of Fiji – at the forefront of discussions.

 “We need to not only get back on track now that we’re back in school after COVID-19 closures, but we need to transform education to ensure every child in Fiji is able to claim their right to quality education,” he said.

In her address, the Permanent Secretary for Education, Heritage and Arts, Dr. Anjeela Jokhan, also urged the participants to put the children at the core of their discussion.

The consultations saw the participants engaging in constructive discussions and presenting their views on what they thought the country needed to do to take education forward.

Dean and Professor of Education at the University of Fiji, Professor Tupeni Baba, stated that education was a public good and people need to treat it as such.

“We should see education as a way in which we can resolve the many shortcomings in our society. If we see education as a public good, we will all have broad visions,” he reiterated.

“Continuous engagement of parents, communities and stakeholders through dialogues should be a priority for the next 5-10 years in the education sector. We must introduce cost effective digital learning that is sustainable and accessible for students with both physical and learning disabilities. We must also re-introduce vocational trainings in schools,” said Ms Watilala Fanu (LTA).

“We should manage the budget allocation well with product finance management. We can also increase efficiencies in school by digitalizing the education sector and through training and development programmes,” said Dr Shalendra Kumar (FNU).

The discussion also covered many other topics with some participants calling for a greater ownership of school management in the running of school, greater incentives for teachers and promoting life skills among others.

Throughout the consultations, a strong desire to strengthen the partnership between schools, teachers, parents and communities emerged for the sake of our children sending a clear message that all stakeholders wanted to play a bigger part in education.

The consultations held last week will give the Ministry the opportunity to draft Fiji’s National Commitment which will be given to the Transforming Education Summit Secretariat as they prepare for the Summit in September.

The Ministry would like to sincerely thank all the stakeholders for their contributions and for providing valuable input into the process.