Caption: Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy.
EDUCATION MINISTRY TRANSPARENT
The Hon. Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Dr Mahendra Reddy has highlighted that there will be changes to the work culture of the whole education faculty to make it fully transparent.
Dr Reddy made the comments yesterday while in Labasa and added that no information would be withheld from the public.
?Everything will be transparent and anyone can access information on changes and reforms on the Ministry?s website to get a view of the ministry?s plans,? Dr Reddy said.
?We are looking at redefining and re-planning our system of teaching and learning environment.?
Dr Reddy added that they are currently looking at training teachers to be specialized for class one and two and train every teacher for basic First Aid and OHS (Occupational Health and Safety).
?There are numerous initiatives we are embarking on to take education to the level it should,? Dr Reddy added.
?As you know we are introducing external exams from year 6 to year 13 as we are standardizing and of-course, all schools should be on the same level and there should not be any reason why students or parents choose other schools.?
The Honorable Minister visited Wavuwavu Primary School, Naduna Arya Primary School, Labasa Arya College and Batinikama Secondary School.
4.?ZERO TOLERANCE TOWARDS CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN SCHOOLS
Corporal punishment will not be tolerated in schools, said the Hon. Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Dr Mahendra Reddy during his first visit in this role to Labasa in the Northern Division.
Dr Reddy, while visiting various schools such as Wavuwavu Primary, Naduna Primary, Labasa Muslim Primary, Labasa Sangam College and Labasa Arya Secondary School, reminded teachers, parents and students that corporal punishment will not be tolerated in schools.
?Children will live in fear if corporal punishment is practised in school,? Dr Reddy said.
?At this day and age children are moulded, shaped and handled with care. Primary school education is very critical.?
Dr Reddy said the Education Ministry is very special as they handle children?s lives that determines their future.
?If we allow corporal punishment, children will not want to attend school. Their parents? dreams for their children’s future will be shattered and children’s future will be affected,? Dr Reddy said.
He added that the Education Ministry is here to fulfill the dreams of parents and lay down the foundation of their children?s future.
?This generation is in our control, the quality of education we provide must ensure that children gain wisdom and knowledge and we will get there.?
5.?TECHNICAL COLLEGES IN FIJI
Labasa Arya Secondary School in the Northern Division will be one of the three pioneer Technical Colleges being introduced by the Ministry of Education in 2015.
The Hon. Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Dr Mahendra Reddy during his visit to the school highlighted to parents and teachers that the college will only provide technical programs.
?The college will provide only technical programs, short courses and it is for free,? Dr Reddy said.
He said was established to provide a pathway for students who wished to further their education in skilled works and any student can attend the college.
Dr Reddy explained to parents and teachers that they will decide what other programs to offer because there will be other technical colleges in Labasa later on, so they will not duplicate courses.
?After these technical college study?s they can continue on to FNU to further their study?s in degrees and diplomas or they can continue or start working and return,? Dr Reddy said.
He said that vocational programs in schools will be closed and will have fully fledged award programs.
?At the moment, the vocational programs don?t have an award, you just do one or two units with no formal qualification to work but with technical college you will graduate,? Dr Reddy added.
?There will be no restrictions to students who study there, the award program is open to students completing year ten in the North as long as there is space.?
He said this was an amazing development in line with Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and throughout the world, where they are providing a pathway after year ten.
?Not every student can become an accountant; these are for skilled students who want to become engineers, electricians, machinists,? Dr Reddy said.
He said the college will provide a two year program which will also be offered in Nadi College and a school in Suva is yet to be identified.
?By 2016, ten more is going to be introduced and government has already made allocations for this,? Dr Reddy said.
He added that students cannot be derived off education.
6.?MINISTER URGES STUDENTS TO CULTIVATE DISCIPLINE
Students of Suva Muslim College have been urged to inculcate discipline as the foundation for achieving academic excellence.
This message has been imparted to them by the Hon. Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Sofia Akbar during the graduation ceremony for Year 13 students and annual prize giving ceremony held at Suva Muslim College in Samabula yesterday.
In her opening address, Mrs Akbar reminded the students on the importance of moral values and discipline.
?Discipline is seen in socially and morally responsible behavior that is motivated primarily by intrinsic factors, not solely by anticipation of external rewards. Research shows that self-discipline promotes positive relations with others and creates a positive school climate, fosters academic achievement, and promotes self-worth and emotional wellbeing,? Mrs Akbar said.
?Discipline simply means learning to obey necessary rules of conduct. The very essence of discipline is obedience to rules. At the end of the day, the main aim of any school is to produce a knowledge based society, virtuous leaders of high moral standards, who reach to their full potential and take pride in their national and cultural identity and contribute to the sustainable national development,? she added.
Ansar Abbas Ali, Dux for Suva Muslim College thanked his parents and teachers for their insurmountable support.
?I am grateful to my parents for their advice, which I would say has been a driving force behind my academic success. I have always believed in hardwork and commitment to excel in my studies which will ensure a better future for me and my family. Having faced numerous hardships in life, it has taught me the importance of education to reach to our highest potential in life. I would be pursing studies in Accounting and Economics,? Mr Ali said.
Suva Muslim College principal Mrs Bharti Singh commended the Government for investing in Fiji?s Education sector.
?This year we had a college roll of 585 students and 42 academic staff. This college caters for students all over the Pacific and we also have students from India and Pakistan. The academic year 2014 began with great vigor and enthusiasm as the external exam results have been promising and it has inspired us to continue with the team effort to improve our quality in every aspect,? Mrs Singh said.
?I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the present Government for the initiatives like free education, free bus fare and free text books,? she added.
7.?GIRLS COLLEGE APPLAUDS GOVERNMENT FOR FREE EDUCATION GRANT
The DAV Girls College has acknowledged Government for the free education grant that has completed the institutions vision on providing quality education for young girls in Fiji.
The College was established in 1952 and the vision is to assist young girls excel in academic achievement and pursue profound career paths.
The official acknowledgement was made by the principal of ?the College Arita Sarup during the annual prize giving ceremony held at the college premises in Samabula Suva this yesterday.
Mrs Sarup said that it is the governments free education grant that has enabled the college to bring about the necessary changes.
?On behalf of the DAV Girls College staff and students, I applaud the great initiative taken by the present government in providing free education grant. Through the government?s free education grant, we were to bring in improvements to the services provided by this College,? Mrs Sarup said.
?Text books for all the subjects were bought and library has been upgraded in terms of furniture and reading resources. More equipment and resources for the science department and PEMAC (Physical?education, music, art and craft) Department has been secured. Upgrading has also been done in terms of the new furniture and equipment to furnish the Home Economic Room.
?More computers were bought for Computer labs and the old desk and chairs were replaces by new ones. Long overdue problems were also solved example roof leakage, water problems and repairing of classrooms. Without free education grant it would have been difficult to bring about these much needed improvements to uplift the quality of education given to the students at DAV Girls College,? she added.
The official chief guest for this event, Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Rosy Sofia Akbar while delivering her address urged all students to make use of the Government?s free education grant.
?To assist you in achieving your goals, our government has made it easier for you to access education. Increased Budget provision for 2015 is a positive sign of developments in the Fiji?s Education sector that will have positive impacts in the lives of all the school children in Fiji. The government?s Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) has further strengthened and streamlined to make it more efficient and accessible. Government efforts are also in place to increase the ratio of teachers to students by 2016 which will result in the creation of enhanced learning environment. Government plans to further carry out a review of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy and will prioritize improvement in these basic skills. Our aim is to have skills-rich workforce so that our country can capitalize to foster economic growth,? Mrs Akbar said.
?I urge all the students in Fiji to seize free education opportunities provided by the government. The onus is also on the students to strive for excellence and aspire for higher education. You have a simple choice, work hard and reach to your highest potential,? she said.
The government has allocated a budget of around $560 million to Fiji?s education sector, representing around 16.8 per cent of the total budget for 2015.