The Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation has moved quickly to ensure that no child gets left when it comes to accessing education.
As the first term of the 2019 academic year progresses, the Ministry found many students in some squatter areas staying home due to inadequate school supplies and reached out to assist.
This move was welcomed to parents and children in some squatter areas as they received their school essentials.
After the initial scoping of some informal settlements around Vatuwaqa, Suva, the Ministry assisted several families in the Nanuku Settlement earlier.
Scoping and distribution continued last week in Wailea and Jittu Settlements as well and the Ministry handed over school stationeries to 124 children. The recipients were identified by the heads of the settlements and a social welfare officer.
The packages, which included books, pens, crayons, book covers, bags with water bottles, were provided to motivate students and to assist parents in ensuring that their children are prepared well for their studies in the new school year.
The line Minister, Hon. Mereseini Vuniwaqa believes that assisting these needy children is one of the best investment a Government can make.
Minister Vuniwaqa told students that taking responsibility of their education means respecting and listening to their parents, guardians and teachers; allocating time for study and homework daily; and, ensuring that they go to school every day.
She also said that in a truly knowledge-based society, every student must have a foundation of support for their education.
“The Ministry encourages every family to prioritize their children’s education first as children will need their support if they are to reach their full potential in school,” Minister Vuniwaqa emphasised.
She said that the financial responsibility on parents for sending their children to school has been largely offset with all that the Government is contributing by way of social wages through free tuition, bus fares, text books, subsidized water and electricity charges etc.
The onus then is on parents to step up to their responsibility in ensuring that they complement what the Government is trying to do through these initiatives – give all Fijian children a fair chance to be part of a knowledge based society.
“Parental responsibility also extends to the need to provide a safe environment for children to live in particularly given the statistics on child abuse that’s permeating society at this point in time.”
Minister Vuniwaqa encouraged parents and guardians to teach their children human values of honesty, respect, integrity and hard work as “whatever they sow in their children today is what they will reflect as leaders of our nation in the future”.
Head of Wailea settlement, Mr George Bukalidi, was pleased to receive the school stationeries.
“I would like to thank the Ministry for providing the school stationeries to our community in this time of need,” Mr. Bukalidi said.
“Most of the students in our communities have gone to school without some school stationeries and the assistance will ensure that our children are well prepared for this academic year.”
Ms Yogeeta Kumari, another resident, said “I would like to thank the Government for providing equal opportunities and access to education and providing resources for the underprivileged children that will greatly assist them in school and at home”.
Mr Solomone Viriki, 76, from Jittu Settlement was in tears while receiving the school stationeries and said that now, he is in a position to send his six grandchildren to Gau Secondary School, Ratu Navula Secondary School, Lelean Memorial School and Cathedral Secondary School by next week.
Ms Ulamila Cililoto, 64, speaking on behalf of all the parents of Jittu Settlement thanked the Ministry’s staff for handing over the packages to the underprivileged children in their community.