Parents and caregivers can trust us

Teachers ready for a positive start to welcoming Fijian children back to school

Adi Wong
Salveen Narayan, Head of the Language Department at Rampur College.
15 February 2022

"We need our children to come back to school. At the end of the day, our children are the most affected by not being able to come back to school. The more they stay home, the more they will be behind in their academic studies," said Salveen Narayan, Head of the Language Department at Rampur College.

Rampur College, located in Navua, about 40 minutes away from Suva and a learning institution for 448 children, has actively prepared to re-open its gates for safe school learning.

All the teachers redecorated their stations as they eagerly waited for their students to return. Hand sanitizers were kept in each classroom to help contribute to the COVID-19 protective measures.

"We are ready. Staying at home and not being able to learn in a school environment will only push the children back. And that is what we do not want. All our students need to follow the COVID-19 preventive measures and protocols. We are prepared well in school - the desks are properly sanitized, hand sanitizers are provided, and we also have a good temperature check system in place," said Salveen.

He shared that he is also a father and that he will also be sending his children to school as he felt confident that schools are safe.

"We ask them to sanitize their hands before entering the classrooms and ensure to keep a vigilant watch that this safe practice, along with others in place, are strictly complied with. There is the first announcement in the day through the intercom, which will act as a reminder to our students to maintain physical distancing at all times. At no point are they to remove their mask unless they need to for necessity reasons including drinking water or having a bite to eat."

"During their breaks, we always ensure children do not share water bottles and lunch," he added. He highlighted that these practices and safety measures were already in place before.

JN Jokhan Primary School is another school also located in Navua where teachers have geared up for in-person learning. Vinina Tuge, a year eight teacher who has been teaching for the past eight years at the school, took it upon herself to regularly communicate with her students' parents and caregivers, ensuring that their school was safe and ready to welcome their students.

"We are in a big bubble now, and parents, as well as caregivers, can trust us, the teachers. Whether the children are vaccinated, unvaccinated, fully, or partially, they need to know when they come into my classroom; they are safe."

"We are their family at school. Each child is like our own when they come to school. We do not treat them just like students but as our own children. We share a bonding with them as well. Of course, we have the best interests for them at heart and will do all it takes to keep them safe."

Vinina added that she will constantly watch her students to ensure that they always wear their masks during school hours. She also shared how her son is also in her class and how she explains to him every day on how to be safe and learn to adjust to the new normal.

She went on to add how her students took it upon themselves to get to school. "One day, I was sitting at my desk, noting down their time, when I noticed how late each child was. I asked my students why they were so late. They responded with, ma'am, no school bus, so we walked." Vinina expressed how touched she was and filled with joy to see how her year eight students were so determined to return to school, despite the unknown obstacles thrown at them.

UNICEF is working closely to support the Fijian Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and other partners, to ensure children are safe and supported as they return to school for the new 2022 school year.