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Editorial: Ensuring Our Education Revolution Is At Full Speed

For any country to progress as an educated nation state, its foundation in its education system needs to be rock solid. For far too long, the education system in Fiji
19 Jan 2019 11:47
Editorial: Ensuring Our Education Revolution Is At Full Speed
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama

For any country to progress as an educated nation state, its foundation in its education system needs to be rock solid.

For far too long, the education system in Fiji was left to operate without anyone rocking the boat because therein lay 12,000 votes from teachers and staff. But, what of the hundreds of thousands of Fijian students who deserve to be taught by the best?

The obvious resistance to reforms and changes within the education framework has come from people who think they stand to lose their jobs. But, if one was to be fair, the real question is did those people deserve to be part of the system in the first place?

For far too long we have had teachers divided under Primary Education and Secondary Education and the two departments had their own human resources people managing teacher transfers, pay increments and recruitment themselves. This opened the room for massive abuse.

There have been cases whereby heads of schools would cosy up to divisional education officers asking for a teacher to be transferred, not because the teacher was incompetent but because the teacher may have fallen out of favour with the school head. How is this fair?

There have been cases where promotions were given arbitrarily. It wasn’t given because the recipient deserved it, but it was given because the recipient knew the right person within the human resources department who let the promotion slide. How is this fair?

There have been cases where some teachers spent five to 10 years teaching at rural schools because some teachers preferred to teach only at urban schools. How is this fair?

The massive reform which the Education Ministry is undergoing now puts an end to all these practices.

Teachers get a pay increase when they deserve it, not because they “know” the person who is making the decision and most certainly not because it is an election year. Teachers need to serve a mandatory term in rural schools. Rural schools also deserve to be taught by the best and the brightest. This is what a level playing field means.

For far too long, because of the absence of political will, a status quo was established within the system. We need leaders and not politicians whose eyes are on the prize that comes around every four years making the decisions.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama started a revolution. He did what no leader did before him. He started a system whereby the hardworking employees get their due recognition and nothing but merit is recognised and encouraged.

There had been resistance to this revolution from within the various ministries because those who knew that their appointment has not been on merit will find their futures in a limbo. He deserves recognition for providing strong, unwavering leadership, refusing to budge under political pressure which many weak leaders before him have been guilty of.

The education revolution in Fiji should continue, full speed. The leadership needs to remember that this is not only about the 10,000 teachers, but the hundreds of thousands of Fijians who deserve the best teachers.

After all, this is where our future is being shaped.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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