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Enter 2017 With Great Enthusiasm, Passion: Reddy

The following is Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy’s 2017 Academic Year welcoming message.   It is my pleasure to welcome all to the new academic year. I take this opportunity
16 Jan 2017 11:50
Enter 2017 With Great Enthusiasm, Passion: Reddy
Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy.

The following is Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy’s 2017 Academic Year welcoming message.

 

It is my pleasure to welcome all to the new academic year. I take this opportunity to congratulate all students who have moved onto higher education or training or employment aspirations and wish you all the best in your future endeavours. I also acknowledge the current students who will be returning to pursue their education, particularly thanking all those who will enter Early Childhood Education, primary and secondary schools for the first time. My special word of appreciation goes to all parents and guardians for engaging themselves in our educational process.

More so, I thank all teachers and stakeholders for working tremendously hard and serving the children with the best of their abilities. I also thank all those teachers who retired during the course of last year. Your service to the Ministry is noteworthy and I am sure all others have learnt lots from you all.

I, at this juncture pass on my deepest condolences to our children, teachers, School Heads and parents/guardians who passed away last year. I pray to God to shower his choicest blessings upon your family.

2016, was indeed a challenging year for the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, particularly because of the devastation and trauma caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston. It came at a time when we were fully geared into making more in-roads into education growth and development in Fiji.

However, we stuck to our plans and collaborated with various stakeholders to ensure that our end targets are intact and that all children are looked after in all schools. Towards the end of the year, again due to unfavourable weather conditions some of our schools were subjected to damage but we have taken the necessary action and ensured that classes for 2017 begin as planned.

2017 is again looked forward by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts with great enthusiasm and passion.

In the past two years, we have set new, output oriented benchmarks and we intend to take our achievements to a much higher level this year.

Education is a fundamental right of every human being. When education is attained all other rights fall in place itself.

The Bainimarama Government from the onset has made it clear that education is our foremost priority. For the past two years, education certainly has been in the limelight and the FijiFirst Government will continue to prioritise it for national and global interests.

 

Advice to the various education stakeholders

As we begin the 2017 Academic year today, I wish all the stakeholders of Education the very best for a successful 2017.  At this juncture, my advice for the students is to be fully prepared and ensure that all educational necessities are ready for school.  Talk to your parents and guardians and brief them of your new study course, its requirements and your targets and expectations. Discuss what you expect from them and what you intend to change to reach your end goal.

Seek your parents support and advice at all times. Attend school from the first day and ensure all required processes in school are completed at the earliest. This includes; completion of enrolment details, filling of bus fare forms, receiving and recording of text books, subject combination or allocation are formalised and other general work is duly completed.

Ensure that goals and objectives you set are clear and where needed, seek assistance from the teachers. Look at the curriculum for the year and prepare yourself accordingly. Make yourself acquainted with the new demands such as, projects and external exams and start preparations. Do not lose hope at the start as new levels will bring new things. Always be positive and seek support of teachers and peers as needed.

In addition, I would like to humbly request all the parents to be actively involved in your child’s education from the first day. This may include setting academic targets, assessments, reading targets and extra-curricular initiatives.  Speak to your child about their feelings, expectations, issues affecting them and their plans for the year.

Support your child mentally, emotionally and morally so that he/she is fully prepared for their educational demands.  Nurture effective learning activities at home such as, reading.

The home environment must attract the child to work hard towards his/her studies. Overloading your child with household chores, continuous disturbance and neglect can force a child to become distracted and affect his/her performance at school.

Moreover, ensure that your children are fully enrolled and all required documentation pertaining to enrolment, bus fare assistance, and other requirements are duly completed.

Where needed, seek audience with the school office to iron out any issues so that in future all constraints are taken care of. This may be things to do with the special needs of the child, social issues of the family, community issues and other problems which may affect the child in their schoolwork.

Moreover, learn about the calendar of events of the school and plan well in advance for important dates. We request all parents to refer to the parental engagement framework guideline which will be given out by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts during the first week of school. This guideline has been specifically designed to target greater parental involvement in education.

I encourage all parents and guardians to give their full support to their children. The Government of the day has stood by its promises in ensuring that education opportunities are made available to all Fijians across all walks of life. The Bainimarama Government has time and again delivered its promises on accessibility, equality and quality of education in Fiji and we will continue to prioritise education. I, as such, call upon all parents and guardians to understand the roles they have to play both at home and towards the school

My advice for the teachers is to begin the New Year enthusiastically.  Ensure that all classrooms and other services are ready for the children and assist the children to smoothly transit from their holidays to school life.

Make them feel comfortable and happy and organise the children, fully supporting the needs of the new students, without compromising the different demands of the returning students.  Be prepared and set the tone on the first day. Assist students to set targets, both short term and long term and relay your expectations clearly from the start.  Reflect on the results of last year, work out strategies, new ideas and methods for 2017 and plan for the year activities.  In addition, mentor new colleagues in the school and assist them to adjust quickly.

Similarly, I encourage all the new graduate teachers to begin the new phase of your lives on a very positive note.  Familiarise yourselves with the culture, expectations and procedures of the school and organise yourselves for the assigned responsibilities accordingly.

Furthermore, I request all the School Heads, that is, the Head Teachers and Principals to ensure that the school is fully prepared for students to enter. This includes: classroom preparation, timetable, teachers allocated for their roles, compound cleaned up, orientation plan organised for new students, official requirements pertaining to student enrolment, subject allocation, text books, bus fare schemes, FEMIS entry, etc. are all carried out.  Ensure all needy students are identified at the earliest and timely intervention is given. These may be those affected by the recent depression or landslide or may be victims of home circumstances.  Ensure the school is OHS compliance as the safety and security of students is paramount and therefore, all hazards and distractions must be eliminated before-hand.

In addition, meet parents and guardians and advocate for greater parental involvement – address parents and students and let them know of the school targets, procedures and processes, new initiatives, implementations and requirements.

Organise staffing and staff roles in an efficient manner and ensure that new staff is mentored into the school culture and sufficient support is given.  Meet the School Management and brief them on the new developments, new strategies put in place, new initiatives of the Ministry and share other details such as, staffing, student roll, developments, results and school targets.  Ensure that all existing students receiving the transport assistance from 2016 continue to receive voucher from day one and processing of new applications are given urgent attention so that all other approved applicants get their vouchers a day after submitting their applications.    Closely examine your School performance data in detail, set up strategies to improve further with clear benchmarks.

The School Management Board and the Managers play a vital role in the development of education in Fiji. The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts will closely work with the School Managers to improve the delivery of education across the nation.

Through the already established Fiji Council of school managers, we will ensure that there is constant interaction between the School Managers and the Ministry of Education to discuss issues aimed at improving the quality of education and the quality of students we develop in the 900 plus Primary and secondary schools and more than 1000 ECE centres we have nationwide.

I request all the Managements to work closely with the School Heads to ensure that the school is ready for the new academic year in terms of infrastructure, facilities and compound cleanliness.  In addition, there is a need to look at modern strategies to move beyond benchmarks set in the past and nurture school environments which look after the needs of the current generation continuously.

 

Concluding Remarks

The Bainimarama Government has invested in education like no other Government in the past. In the 2016-2017 budget, the largest allocation has been directed towards the Ministry of Education. This in itself reflects the Government’s continued prioritisation of education in Fiji.

We are building a modern education system which robustly explores the needs of contemporary students and supports their educational dreams. Under the banner of a ‘knowledge based society’, we are tapping into various strategies and areas to ensure that all Fijians regardless of race, religion, color, creed, ability, status, background and gender are given the same opportunities to education.

Our focus this year will again concentrate upon greater parental engagement, upgrading of resources and infrastructure particularly in rural, remote rural and maritime zones, training teachers for OHS/First-Aid and for higher subject competency levels, increasing performance of students, setting higher benchmarks in Technical Education, lifting the standard of all schools in terms of human and capital resources, assisting more students through Toppers and Loans Schemes and fully supporting all study needs of our children.

The first day or week of school is one of the vital elements which affect a child’s success in school. We want all stakeholders to be prepared to render all support and guidance to our children so that their start is positive and full of confidence. All children must be looked after with great interest and care and I am confident that all stakeholders are thoroughly prepared for this.

Therefore, I again wish all students, parents and staff the very best for the 2017 academic year. The future of our nation is in our hands and I encourage all Educators to deliver the best to our children.

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