Analysis

Nemani Delaibatiki: Special Emphasis Must Be Given To Pre-school And Primary School

They lay the foundation to education success from secondary to tertiary level. Provincial councils should be actively involved in supporting targeted programmes to lift the standards of achievements of students from their provinces.
29 Nov 2019 15:09
Nemani Delaibatiki: Special Emphasis Must Be Given To Pre-school And Primary School
Some of the members of the academic committee of the Waitui Cluster in Rewa. From left: Apimeleki Domoni, Joape Toganivalu, Melaia Naivakasoso, Alipate Senikuta (co-ordinator), Marama Tuisese (president), Joseva Vesikara and Josefa Toganivalu. Photo: Nemani Delaibatiki

Analysis:

For many years now so much has been said about the importance of education.

It appears that there is more emphasis on secondary and tertiary education.

The Government has realised this and has also invested in pre-school as part of its holistic look at education.

Education is like building a house. It starts with the foundation.

A solid house is built on a strong foundation.

Sadly, this is not reflected in some of our rural schools. It is common knowledge that the standards achieved by urban schools are much higher than the rural schools.

That’s why some parents in rural areas prefer to send their children to urban schools to expose them to better education standards.

This is where the provincial councils can play an effective and influential role in making schools in the rural and maritime areas attractive.

Special emphasis must be placed on pre-school and primary schools because they constitute the formative years of a child’s education.

Basic lessons in literacy and numeracy start here. Usually, these are not taken seriously when they should.

When students leave primary and go to secondary they will carry problems in literacy and numeracy until they cannot cope and drop out unless early intervention and remedial work is done.

This Government has done a lot in creating an enabling environment to help us achieve our educational goals.

It cannot do everything for the schools, parents, teachers and students. These stakeholders must shoulder some responsibility if they genuinely want their children to succeed in their educational pursuits.

It would require some sacrifice to make a positive difference.

Members of the academic committee of the Waitui Cluster in Rewa have taken this big leap of faith.

They have set their sights on achieving the same high marks urban schools score or higher.

At their end-of-year get together last Saturday, they used the opportunity to review 2019. They analysed the external results and identified the weak areas they need to work on.

While their pass rate for the class eight external examination had improved significantly, their class six results failed to achieve a similar result.

They resolved that parental support needed to be improved and teachers would work on the areas of weaknesses. To supplement their work, they needed the help of retired teachers to tutor students after school hours.

The committee is preparing another submission by the cluster to the Rewa Provincial Council for additional funding after the cluster was only granted $1600 in its first bid.

The cluster said it was inadequate to run the extra tuition programme.

In its second attempt, it plans to have a detailed budget that has the cost breakdown with the amount required.

After the review, the committee concluded that it must set its sights high on its targets which must be the same for urban schools.

“We have raised the bar to level the playing field so to speak,” Alipate Senikuta, the cluster co-ordinator said.

“Our challenge is to come up with strategies to build the capacity of our schools and students to achieve the desired outcome.”

The cluster comprises four primary schools, Rewa District School, Vutia District School, St Joseph Primary School Naililili and Nukui District school.

“We know that when we set our targets high it will motivate us to lift our performance,” Mr Senikuta said.

“Urban schools have set the benchmark. That’s what we should aim for. Then we continue building on it. If we aim high then we will try harder and keep improving.”

The committee comprises teachers, retired teachers and school committee reps who go beyond the call of duty to try to improve the education standards.

This is the kind of civic duty and pride that inspire change which should be encouraged by provincial councils.

They are laying the foundation for the education career and future of the children.

They do not want any child to be left behind, dropping out of school because they could not cope due to their poor command of English and/or numeracy knowledge and skills.

“We do not have the same facilities and resources that urban schools enjoy, but that should not be an excuse. With new ideas or innovation plus hard work and sacrifice, we can be like or even better than some urban schools,” Mr Senikuta said.

“We believe that when the students are well-grounded from pre-school to primary, they will excel in secondary school and at the tertiary level.

“We need to instil in our parents, teachers, school committees, the Vanua, faith groups, provincial council and more importantly that the answer to many of our problems is education. It opens the door to opportunity and economic prosperity. It will help to get our people out of poverty. It will also help to keep our people away from crime.”

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