Deputy Secretary Primary & Secondary Education Mr Timoci Bure (front with garland) and Dr Maki Hayashikawa, Chief Section for Inclusive Quality Education UNESCO Bangkok (with garland), with ECCE workshop participants.
Early Childhood Education (ECE) is the foundation of the education system and plays a vital role in cementing the education journey of one’s life, said Mr Timoci Bure, Fiji’s Deputy Secretary Primary and Secondary Education.
He made the comment while officially opening the Sub-regional workshop on ECE Teacher Development in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at Novotel, Nadi in Fiji on 20 June, 2017
The three-day conference will focus on pivotal areas to develop frameworks to strengthen the capacity of teachers involved in the Early Childhood Education Sector as well as strengthening networks through the South South Cooperation to share experiences and adopt best practices.
Fiji, he said, is amongst the many countries represented at the workshop which is committed towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal Number 4.2 which is to “ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education”.
“Fiji for the past two years is focused on empowering its early childhood education sector noting that ECE is the cornerstone to the success of the Fijian Education System,” he stated.
According to Mr Bure, 102 new ECE centres were established in Fiji in 2015 and in 2016, 47 new centres were established. He stated there is also now a pursuit to establish ECE centres in all our primary schools.
He mentioned that a new salary structure has also been implemented for all ECE teachers in Fiji and this was in light to the announcement in the 2016 -2017 budget for the increase in the salary grant of Early Childhood teachers which has been raised to $6.8 million to cater for the 1,139 teachers.
An ECE grant was also endorsed by the Fiji government in late 2015 to provide free education grant to all ECE students who are 5 year olds. He noted that these are some of the significant strides made by the Fijian government to empower the Early Childhood Education Sector.
Mr Bure made special mention of the project ECE Teacher Development in Southeast Asia (SEA), the UNESCO Asia, the Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO), the Pacific Regional Council for ECE (PRC4ECE) created by the Pacific Forum Education Ministers Meeting (FEdMM) and the Malaysian government for the insight and commitment to convene this forum.
“Their sound commitment has materialised today as we are now in the pursuit to dialogue and professionally address challenges faced in the early childhood education sector,” he remarked.
Deputy Secretary Primary & Secondary Education Mr Timoci Bure opening ECCE workshop in Nadi.
“This conference provides the opportunity for us to take stock of our progress, celebrate achievements, reflect on how we can improve, and just as importantly, catch up with old friends and make new acquaintances and connections,” he stated.
“Fiji is dubbed the hub of the South Pacific and we are honoured and humbled by the confidence that the hosting agencies has placed in us to preside over this three days conference,” he noted.
Mr Bure added that teachers in ECE should be assisted to enable a more supportive working environment knowing that aside from their core teaching and caring duties, our teachers have to undertake a range of administrative duties, many involving the use of pen and paper.
These he said, are important tasks to ensure the safety and well-being of our children, it should be made less tedious with technological solutions.
“This will free up more of our teachers’ time to be channeled to developing our children or engaging parents. I think that there is more we can and should do to acknowledge our teachers for the important and hard work they do,” he said.
The objectives of the workshop are to share countries’ policies and practices, challenges, opportunities and needs related to ECE teachers/practitioners and their support systems; and to review and revise the first draft of the ECE teacher/practitioner competency framework.
Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy, Fiji’s Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts will officially close the workshop on 22 June, 2017.
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