NATION

Nature Of Fiji’s Tomorrow Depends On What Our Teachers Do Today

  Bula Fiji! In 1966, the United Nations International labour Organisation in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Children’s Organisation, in recognition of the pivotal role of teachers
05 Oct 2016 10:40
Nature Of Fiji’s Tomorrow Depends On What Our Teachers Do Today
Happy Teachers Day

 

Bula Fiji!

In 1966, the United Nations International labour Organisation in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Children’s Organisation, in recognition of the pivotal role of teachers in shaping children’s future recommended for public acknowledgement of the status of teachers all over the world.

This bold move 50 years back has since become a world-wide tradition with teachers globally recognised for their valuable contribution towards the education sector and towards the overall development of the country and the globe as a whole.

The 2016, World Teachers’ Day embodies the theme: “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status,” and thereby signifying the notion that teachers need to be appreciated, respected and motivated to carry out their roles and responsibilities to achieve the highest levels of quality and excellence.

I hereby take this opportunity to wish all teachers a very Happy Teachers Day and wish you all the greatest prosperity, success and accomplishments in this noble profession.

The nature of the future world and future Fiji depends to a large extent on what our teachers do now towards molding Fiji’s current generation of children. Our teachers safeguard the interests of the nation through preparing children for their future aspirations, jobs and career pathways.

The Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and the Framework for Action adopted in 2015 sets out a new vision for education. This vision is fully captured by the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and which is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

This agenda recognises education as a fundamental human right for every human being and sees education as a necessity for humans to realise their other rights.

This agenda focuses on key modern day attributes of education which are: accessibility, inclusivity, equity, fairness, transparency and accountability, gender equality, quality, education for sustainable development, peace education and education for lifelong learning opportunities.

Therefore, it is mandatory that our education system reflects these transformations whilst delivering its services to the children. We cannot be rooted to past ideologies and use that to educate children of the present era.

This equation will simply fail. Change is vital for the progress of any individual, group or organisation and education is seen as the single most important ingredient of the change process. Nowadays, we are not only preparing students to find successful career pathways but also nurturing important skills such as, resilience, technologically innovating, flexibility, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking and having creative mind sets.

Teachers, therefore, play a critical role in being the agents of change and leading the fort to attain the vision and goals of the Fijian Education system and realising the aspirations of the Government of the Day while complementing the demands of education in the 21st century.

The Bainimarama Government amidst all its developmental plans and revolutionised strategic progression plans for the country has time and again stressed that education is a top priority.

The ambition to attain a modern education development in Fiji to meet the demands of the current local and global markets is the topmost agenda of our Government. We intend to build an educated Fijian society where people excel in various areas and professions.

We want to build a ‘culture of academic excellence’. Added to this, we want to safeguard our treasured cultural diversity and equip our children with values and virtues education.

We also want to implant education for sustainable development so that the future of our beloved nation is bright.

The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts drive is to prepare quality students for the demands of the 21st century so that they contribute effectively to nation building and global peace and teachers are the fundamental link in the process phase of this vision.

 

The theme: “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status”

The above theme very aptly captures what’s happening in contemporary Fiji. Here at home, we seek to embrace the need to take quality education to all Fijians, the future benefits are tremendous to say the least.

Education plays a key role in eradicating poverty, improving social, economic and environmental sustainability. Contemporary Fiji is faced with three sets of issues which were not present three decades back.

We now face new obstacles, new challenges and new opportunities. We have to respond to the challenges of rapidly changing labour markets and technological advances. We have to remove obstacles of rising cost of education and living in general but alert children to Non Communicable Diseases and drug and substance abuse along with the influx of modern values.

At the same time, there are enormous opportunities from the substantial expansion of the education sector and the IT revolution.

Teacher’s role in these circumstances therefore, cannot be the same as was perhaps 20 to 30 years back. Modern education system requires teachers who are dedicated to their profession with competency in their subject areas which are very much blended to continued measures to improve quality and relevance of delivery and learning outcomes.

For teachers to realise this transition, they need to be valued, given the right work environment, given the right pay packages and motivated through professional development and effective progression programmes.

Professionally trained teachers are a fundamental requirement to guarantee the delivery of quality education. Therefore, it is mandatory that teachers need to be empowered, adequately recruited and remunerated, motivated, professionally upgraded and supported with well-resourced, efficient and effective educational governance systems.

The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts works to professionally value and up-keep teachers standards through:

 

Healthy Pay: Providing a good pay package to teachers at all grades based on their qualifications. All teachers have the opportunity to rise up through the ranks and as they do so, their pay also increases. The latest pay increase being the significant pay increase for Early Childhood Teachers under the 2016/2017 budget.

Launching of Pillar 2 of Educational Reforms – Teacher Delivery: We have rolled out this reform in 2015, whereby we motivated teachers to upgrade, up skill and keep abreast of new and relevant teaching strategies. We asked teachers to change their perceptions and become crucial partners to promote inclusion, equity and most importantly quality in the teaching and learning process.

Implementation of Teacher Assessment: This assessment was primarily injected in the reform package to assist teachers to understand where they stand in terms of their supervisor assessment and at the same time get to know the perception of students towards their teaching.

The results give the teachers the opportunity to review, reflect and evaluate their roles and most importantly bring about positive transformations. We cannot be rooted to the ideology that teacher assessments are initiated to penalize teachers.

It solidifies that thousands of innocent lives are put in our care and asks us to justify that are we doing what we are supposed to do as teachers.

Teacher Assessment provides the opportunity to the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts to support those teachers who need help and nurture greater teacher competency and contribution.

Absorbing all new graduates into the system: At the start of 2015 and 2016, we placed all new teachers in schools, thus, recruiting them into civil service and at the same time assisting schools to have more teachers, basically targeting at solving the composite class issues. This also assisted to decrease the load off the already serving teachers, creating a more motivating and refreshing environment.

OHS/First Aid Training: Starting in 2015, this programme has been implemented to assist teachers upgrade their Occupational Health and Safety and First Aid qualifications.

Leadership training: Teachers have been facilitated to attend the Future Leaders Workshop and other workshops which gives them knowledge on Leadership in education.

Developed infrastructure and facilities at all schools: These include buildings, hostels, staff quarters, technological support and other resources. Teachers need the full fleet of resources to carry out their duties effectively and the Ministry is fully directed at achieving this balance.

 

Role of Teachers in the 21st century

Teachers are the key to achieving the National targets. However, the 21st century presents all stakeholders contemporary students whose demands and interests are diverse and much more different than those of the past students.

Teachers therefore, need to comprehend these demands and make transformations accordingly. Teachers in the modern education needs to:

Encompass Critical Thinking and problem Solving Skills in students

Critical thinking and problem solving ability is the backbone of teaching and learning in the 21st century. While we need to prepare our students to be thinkers and problem solvers, we must focus the growth of the same trait in the teachers. The demand for workers who can think outside the box and find solutions to complex issues is high in this era. Schools are looked upon to prepare children in this area.

Collaborate

Teachers can never work in isolation. Education in the 21st century is about shared decision making, about partnerships and inclusivity of stakeholders. The Fijian communities that you teach-in are many and varied.

The lifestyle, culture, needs, and habits of people are different. However, education for all communities is their top priority.

The challenge for teachers is how best to collaborate with the people and stakeholders to bring about educational excellence. For example, teachers need to foster the greatest levels of parental involvement so that the child’s support system is extended beyond the walls of the classroom.

Be Tech Savvy

Our children play with electronic gadgets even before they start to speak and imagine their knowledge or skills base when they enter schools.

All teachers must inculcate usage of technology to teach and thereby assist children to use their already implanted technological skills to further develop their knowledge. Information should be accessible and not stagnant and technology is highly relevant to ease this concern.

 

Concluding Remarks

I take this opportunity to thank all teachers who are serving Fiji’s future with great dedication and loyalty.

You are the engine room of the nation and as such, all of you are complimented for your efforts in shaping a prosperous pathway for our nation.

The Bainimarama Government has sent out clear signals that our beloved nation does not need to be logged in the past racial-based equations which have haunted the stability of our country for long.

The Dream is to establish a community of Fijians who are united in one direction of peace and prosperity for the overall benefit of our nation.

The foresight is to ensure that all Fijians in every part of Fiji flourish in their educational and economic aspirations and become successful citizens of our nation.

Teachers are at the helm of this vision and I urge all to work together with these national aspirations by being totally dedicated to the noble profession of teaching.

Source: Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

 

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