Fiji is committed to transforming its education system and revolutionise learning for the benefit of all Fijian children.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the three-day “Transforming Education Summit”, said that Fiji had embarked on an education revolution a decade ago, through sweeping policies and concerted investments to improve the access and quality of education in the country.
The Prime Minister was virtually addressing leaders, think tanks, and key stakeholders at the Summit which is being convened in response to a global crisis in education on the margins of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday (20/09/22).
Fiji’s commitments to transforming education include a revolution in digitisation of education; a greater focus on problem-solving and on building the skills and competencies needed for a modern knowledge-based society.
He told the UN that the introduction of free education has had a far-reaching impact on bridging the learning divide among rural, maritime, and urban children.
The Fijian Government has also provided free textbooks and subsidized travel to school for low-income students.
“We have since achieved universal access to primary education in Fiji for every child of every gender and also, billions of dollars in new funding has been provided to higher education through loans and scholarships,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.
“Year-on-year, around 18% of Fiji’s national budget goes directly towards education, every dollar of which invests in a more united, knowledgeable, prosperous, and sustainable Fiji. The dividends are paying off: The generation empowered by free education is now entering our workforce and helping to lead Fiji’s double-digit economic growth out of the pandemic.”
He further added that the Fijian Government is committed to rebuilding every school to withstand the realities of a warmer and more dangerous world, having redesigned each structure to be cyclone resistant.
“The Fijian Government is also committed to revising its learning programmes; bringing new resources to bear to develop an expanded range of programs that build skills and competencies suited to a modern economy,” he said.
“We are committed to a safe learning environment for every child through continued efforts to build climate resilience, zero tolerance to discrimination and violence, and increasing resources to support vulnerable children who may face violence at home or in their communities.”
“We commit to deepening the partnerships that make this all possible; partnerships with teachers, institutions, think tanks, the private sector, and governments.”
Prime Minister Bainimarama, at the same time, called for cohesive support from the UN system for deeper and broader engagement with our development partners, and faster and greater access to concessional finance.
“As our people work together across islands, cultures, and generations to build a more knowledge-based society, today, we ask the world to join us in that journey forward and help us realise our commitment to leave no Fijian child behind.”
United Nations Secretary-General, His Excellency, Mr Antonio Guterres, said in opening the Summit that the education system nowadays simply doesn’t make the grade.
For this, he urged world leaders to come up with solutions and necessary support to ensure everyone can learn, thrive and dream throughout their lives.
The Summit provides a unique opportunity to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda and to mobilize action, ambition, solidarity, and solutions to recover pandemic-related learning losses and sow the seeds to transform education in a rapidly changing world.