Fiji takes a step forward to elevate accessible and inclusive education for all children
SUVA, FIJI, 1 August 2022 – This week, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (MEHA) will join stakeholders and partners to convene the first national dialogue on ‘transforming education’.
Being held across the Pacific countries, these national dialogues preface the United Nations (UN) Transforming Education Summit (TES), which will take place in September 2022, convened by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, during the 77th UN General Assembly in New York.
Aimed at mobilizing political ambition and solidarity to truly transform education and take stock of pandemic-related learning losses, this national dialogue is the crucial first step that will ensure Fijian voices are heard at a global level, and result in educational transformations at the national level through policy changes and aligned UN system plans.
“Transforming education and ensuring that all children receive the best learning is at the heart of the Ministry,” said Permanent Secretary for Education, Heritage and Arts, Dr. Anjeela Jokhan. “This national consultation gives us the very opportunity to continue our efforts to improve the access and quality of education in Fiji, especially as every voice counts, particularly of young people themselves.”
Due to COVID-19, over 200,000 Fijian school children lost over approximately 1,050 hours each of in-person learning since April last year. While great efforts were made to provide school children with access to remote learning, the shift has been associated with a learning loss, especially for those who are marginalized and vulnerable.
UN Resident Coordinator to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Sanaka Samarasinha, said urgent transformations in education policy are needed to ensure words were put into action for the future of Fiji, and that the UN’s new incoming Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework will align itself to Fiji’s national development plans.
“We’re excited to be working with the Fijian Government and stakeholders in the lead-up to the TES. It’s a good reminder that solidarity is a key ingredient in change - that by working together, we can support our children to participate in meaningful lives through accessible, inclusive education. Political ambition, policy change and alignment is necessary – it’s the only way to get Fiji back on track to achieving SDG 4,” Mr. Samarasinha said.
UNICEF Pacific’s Representative, Jonathan Veitch, added, “Children have already lost more than an estimated 210 million hours of in-person learning during the pandemic globally. We need to not only get back on track but transform education to ensure every child in Fiji is able to claim their right to quality education.”
“UNICEF is pleased to be working with the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, as well as our partners, in this community dialogue process that will guide how systems, services and programmes can better provide for children in Fiji,” he added.
This national consultation aims to redress this balance and ensure that all children can continuously access inclusive and quality learning in the country. The outcome of the consultation will be a National Statement of Commitment outlining Fiji’s plans to transform education and accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4. This Statement will be submitted for the Transforming Education Summit in New York.
“Education needs a new social contract, stakeholders’ joint action and economic commitment. Fiji is at the cusp of development where prioritization of the role of knowledge and lifelong learning is critical for its sustainable future,” said Director of UNESCO Office for the Pacific, Nisha.
Accessible and inclusive quality education is a core commitment for Fiji. The Ministry is facilitating this dialogue approach with the community to agree on priority actions to further leverage education in the country.
The national consultation on transforming education in Fiji is led by MEHA and supported by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, UNICEF and UNESCO.
In addition to the face-to-face consultation, there is also an online questionnaire that is open to the general public to share their views. The online questionnaire is open from 1 to 8 August and the general public is encouraged to use this platform to share their opinions on education transformation.
The Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts seeks genuine views from all stakeholders and particularly encourages students at all levels to participate in the consultations.
QR code for the online questionnaire
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.