Statement :Reading The Past, Writing The Future

 The following is Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy’s media statement on International Literacy Day today Introduction In 1966, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) officially declared
08 Sep 2016 10:00
Statement :Reading The Past, Writing The Future

The following is Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy’s media statement on International Literacy Day today


In 1966, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) officially declared September 8 as International Literacy Day.

This is an important day celebrated throughout the world to advocate for increased and improved accessibility to literacy, acknowledge the past and current literacy works and set new plans, aspirations and strategies for future global literacy enhancement.

This year we will officially observe the 50th International Literacy Day with the theme “Reading the Past, Writing the Future.”

Educational progress in Fiji is paramount to the Bainimarama Government.

The Government of the Day has and will continue to invest vigorously in education to realise the vision of a ‘knowledge based society’.

Improving the literacy levels of all Fijians is the cornerstone of this progress plan and I am proud that I am in the capacity as the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts obligated with the key responsibility of steering this educational drive.

This year’s theme is highly applicable to us given the fact that the current Fijian Education system is robustly implementing positive reforms and transitions with clear futuristic vision of quality, accessibility and equity deeply embedded.

With a colonial past, we have realised that a concerted focus on reading and writing skills will enable us to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.

International Literacy Day 2016 also provides a platform for us to celebrate and honour the past decades of national and international engagement, efforts and progress made to increase the literacy rate in Fiji.

Over the years, we have witnessed that literacy has helped us foster healthy relationships with other communities.

Although literacy in Fiji had mostly been synonymous with reading and writing in English, many Fijians have now begun to prioritise being literate in their own mother tongues and even other international languages.

This is expected to further boost them to instil love of gaining more knowledge, while at the same time also becoming marketable.

Fiji has also adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In this context, the vision of literacy is aligned with lifelong learning opportunities with special focus on youth and adults.

Literacy is a part of Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

The target is that by 2030, all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy (SDG Target 4.6).

Today, we are proud to boast that we are citizens of a nation where men and women alike are provided maximum opportunities to access basic levels of literacy. Our 2013 Constitution caters for providing equal access to education without discrimination of any kind.


Literacy for interaction leading to acceptance and understanding

Our beloved nation is blessed with diverse ethnic groups with their rich cultural and traditional features which have captivated worldwide attention for years.

The Government of the Day is building a ‘modern Fiji’ where all these groups are living together as a solid unit in peace and harmony.

We want to uproot any deeply rooted ills which has caused racial divide in the past and we want to inject this ideology through education.

Literacy building in Fijians as such is a dominant input to enhance greater interaction between all communities thus bridging any language divide or communication gap which hinders positive integration.

When we have people in our community with a basic knowledge of spoken English, the barrier of communication will be eliminated and interaction will bring about acceptance.

Our efforts to teach major vernacular languages in schools is now also showing results with our young children understanding some major languages and forming important bonds with children of different ethnic groups.


Empowering Women and Children through literacy

We are using strengthening literacy in the community to empower children, and women in particular to gain greater access to knowledge on their rights and motivating them for better career aspirations.

The ability to communicate ones feelings is an important aspect of freedom, progress and growth and I believe that once every person is given this opportunity through literacy we will be able to eliminate any suppression, abuse and discriminatory acts on them.

Attainment of basic literacy will enhance developmental goals of the society as women play a very critical role in the workforce and the country’s economic prosperity.


Current Initiatives to promote literacy in schools

The initiatives and reforms by the present Government help depict our stance that investing in education is imperative to attaining peace and prosperity.

Our efforts in the following reforms have been instrumental for a revolution in Fiji’s education system.

We have been urging teachers to upgrade their qualifications to meet the demands of the changing time.

For instance, with the introduction of technology in Fiji, teachers can use innovative technologies in their classrooms to make their literacy lessons more captivating for the students.

The Ministry of Education and the new Civil Service Reforms emphasise on providing opportunities for teachers to have necessary qualifications to meet the needs of the changing world.

Moreover, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts has continuously promoted reading to be timetabled in all schools.

Schools have been asked to adopt various reading programmes and assist students to get into the habit of reading.

Libraries have been equipped with reading resources and its services have been upgraded to become a Centre of reading for learning.

Schools have also been notified to identify slow readers and devise programmes to improve. Programmes such as one to one support, special reading needs resources and peer reading are some which are successfully carried out in schools.


Concluding Remarks

Celebrating the International Literacy Day has been endorsed by UNESCO to promote everyone’s attention towards literacy and ensure that we know our rights for social and human development.

Literacy skills are necessary in Fiji to build bridges of peace and understanding, improve our living standard, and acquire the change that will enable us to live a harmonious life.

Literacy has the ability to raise the family status and hence the country status.

It is celebrated to encourage people to get continuous education and understand their responsibilities for the family, society and the country.

The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts acknowledges that literacy is one of the basic skills necessary for learning other academic subjects.

Thus, we request collaborative efforts from all stakeholders to support the literacy learning of our children and make Fiji an educated and knowledge based society.

Let us be a nation with a new and ambitious initiative to promote literacy as a foundation for lifelong learning.

May you all have an enriching International Literacy Day.




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