Opinion

Reddy To School Managers: You Play An Integral Role

In a bid to strengthen the active involvement of all stakeholders in the education sector, the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy, initiated the birth of the Fiji
14 Oct 2016 11:00
Reddy To School Managers: You Play An Integral Role
Minister For Education , Mahendra Reddy

In a bid to strengthen the active involvement of all stakeholders in the education sector, the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy, initiated the birth of the Fiji National Council of School Management last year.

The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts in recognition of the important roles played by school managers and committee members in ensuring the proper flow of the daily activities of the school has planned to engage itself in conducting regular cluster meetings with the Council members.

This year while the meeting was postponed due to TC Winston, Mr Reddy made sure that the meetings are carried out so that the managers would get first hand answers to their queries and requests.

The divisional meetings were held in:  Penang Sangam High School, Tavua District Secondary School on September 24, Ba Sangam College, Tilak High School, Korovuto College on October 3, Sigatoka Andhra College on October 4 and Labasa College and Vunivau Primary School on October 12.

In a bid to strengthen the active involvement of all stakeholders in the education sector, the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Mahendra Reddy, initiated the birth of the Fiji National Council of School Management last year.

The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts in recognition of the important roles played by school managers and committee members in ensuring the proper flow of the daily activities of the school has planned to engage itself in conducting regular cluster meetings with the Council members.

This year while the meeting was postponed due to TC Winston, Mr Reddy made sure that the meetings are carried out so that the managers would get first hand answers to their queries and requests.

The deliberations at the meeting were highly successful, as the managers got the opportunity to meet Mr Reddy to discuss their issues, grievances and plans.

Some important areas of discussion were: grant usage, acquittals, transparency, movement of teachers, role of Managers, Early Childhood Education, budget, safety and welfare of students, Cyclone Winston rehabilitation, demands of 21st Century education, direction and targets of Ministry and other issues pertaining to the successful management of schools.

Mr Reddy reminded school managers of their important roles in ensuring a knowledgeable future Fiji.

“It is the aim of the Bainimarama Government to have an educated future Fiji. This however, will not be possible if there are barriers which will stop the access and delivery of quality education to all Fijians,” Mr Reddy said.

“The Government of the day will continue to invest in education to battle inequalities that may arise due to gender, race, creed, social or economic stature or geographical location.

“We want a future Fiji that is able to rise above racial and religious variables and differences and a generation of people who will be able to make decisions based on logic and reasoning. We want a peaceful and harmonious future Fiji.”

Mr Reddy further advised school managers that the Ministry would only recognise the Fiji National Council of School Management as the body which included school management.

“We are here to update you about the activities and reforms taking place within the ministry, that is, to tell you what we have been doing and why; and also to tell you what we will be doing and other significant plans that we have for the future”.

The education minister called on the school managers to rise to occasion as their duties are of a higher calling especially, in breeding future Fiji and in ensuring that the day to day activities of the school run in an organised and smooth manner.

“We need you to work with us, work with the Heads of schools and the community so that you are able to improve the overall learning environment of the school.

“There is a need to put the students first, to care for the students and to look into the needs of the students.

“There are about 226,000 students in our education system and you must know as school Managers that this number represents 226,000 dreams, hopes and aspirations.

“Whether they come from a squatter settlement, a farming background, or a poor background, every child has a dream and it is by no means less important than the dreams of the elite, rich and privileged.

“Every child’s dream is equal regardless of their religious beliefs, background and ethnicity.  Our main vision is to ensure that ‘no child is left behind’ in their quest to accessible and quality education,” Mr Reddy said.

The Education Minister further highlighted that the Education Ministry is working tirelessly to remove all inequalities through education and thus, will ensure that we have an education system which is free from all kinds of barriers, aimed towards building a responsible and knowledgeable future fiji.

“We are removing all obstacles and barriers through the removal of policies which encouraged inequalities in the past.  We promote one people, one Fiji and one destiny,” he said.

There were also interactive “Talanoa” sessions where the various representatives of the School Management had a chance to directly raise their concerns with the Hon. Minister.

Managers raised their concerns and queries relating to the education system and the challenges they faced regarding daily running of the school.

Mr Reddy said: “All Managers should note that your efforts and the daily hardships you faced when you had to make tough decisions regarding the schools daily running have not gone unnoticed. There were moments when you had to worry about how the bills and other expenses would be met; the Government of the day would like to assure you that all this worrying is of the past.

“Previous Governments have failed to realize that Education is a Public Good and thus, should be provided by Government. In the past two years, there has been a lot of changes and reforms and we are continuously working on clearing the backlog of neglect to not only the processes of the Ministry but also the infrastructural needs of the schools.

“Millions of dollars have been utilized for the repair and maintenance of schools buildings, construction of new school buildings and teachers quarters and many other developments that had been pending for a long time.”

Mr Reddy also highlighted issues of mismanagement of grant funds, non-compliance with financial procedures in terms of procurement and also cases where relatives of the management members were employed without going through the normal process.

“In a couple of weeks’ time, we will be sending out a policy on the recruitment of Ancillary staff and ECE teachers.

“Everything will be done in a very transparent manner and proper advertisements will be done, the candidates will go through an independent interview panel before the final person is selected for the position.

“What we have to bear in mind is that this is public funds, the taxpayers’ money and it demands accountability.

“We cannot have people running around and signing cash cheques where cheques can be made to be deposited directly into the account of the supplier.

“As managing body of the school, we need to ensure that the needs of the students is paramount and that each and every single cent is utilized for the enhancement of the teaching and learning process and the overall learning environment of the school,” Mr Reddy said.

The School Managers were also updated on the various reforms that are currently taking place in the Ministry.

“The delivery of quality education to each and every child in Fiji is of utmost importance and everyone has to pitch in and play their role.

“We are working on areas like Teacher Delivery, Curriculum Reviews, Infrastructural Developments and Parental Engagement; all these are the starting point in the education revolution towards a better Fiji.

“It is also important that parents are aware of their roles as in the past, parents would leave their children to the teachers and schools.

“The world is changing and challenges that children are facing now were not there 20 years ago and this is why we must involve ourselves in the daily lives of our children,” he said.

He further motivated the managers to be passionate about the institutions they are attached to and have the interest of the students at heart.

Mohammed Nazim, a retired school teacher and representative of the Labasa Muslim schools stated that they are really grateful for the reforms implemented by the ministry.

He also acknowledged the vision of the the mnister in looking into the needs of the students.

Asaeli Cama the management representative from Cikobia District School said that they were really grateful to the government of the day for addressing issues that students were faced with and issues that were neglected by previous governments.

Vetaia Kedraika of Naruwai was full of praise to the Ministry for the various positive changes in the education sector.

“A heavy burden has been lifted off our shoulders.  We no longer have to worry about the school fees and bus fare,” Mr Kedraika said.

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