The Pacific Regional Education Framework Facilitating Unit (PFU) and implementing agencies including The University of the South Pacific, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) played a crucial role in supporting Fiji’s Ministry of Education successfully organise its first education summit in 18 years.
The Ministry of Education (Fiji) plans to soon launch The Fiji Education Policy Framework document outlining specific focus areas of Fiji’s Education sector for the next 10 years as agreed to at the education summit.
The Fiji National Education Summit (FNES) brought together educators, policymakers, stakeholders, and experts to chart a transformative path for Fiji’s education system.
The Minister for Education, Honourable Aseri Radrodro who hosted the summit, expressed his satisfaction with the accomplishment, emphasising its significance in laying the foundation for educational development in Fiji.
He acknowledged the invaluable contributions made by the panelists and participants who shared diverse perspectives, needs, and solutions during the summit. Over the course of three days, the summit addressed key issues, with a particular focus on aligning Fiji’s education system with the principles of sustainability – green and blue economy.
Key Outcomes from the Summit
- Access to High-Quality Education Programmes: The summit recognised the importance of providing all learners with safe and supportive learning environments that offer high-quality and relevant educational programs. This commitment aims to ensure that education is meaningful, inclusive, and future-focused.
- Effective Assessments Methodologies: It emphasised the need for standardised assessment procedures that monitor student learning and align with curriculum reforms. This will ensure assessment processes are fair and credible and aligns with global best practices in assessment.
- Teacher Quality: The summit underscored the significance of top-tier pre-service and in-service training for teachers, along with leadership skills development. The objective is to ensure that teachers at all education levels are well qualified and competent in their teaching and are regularly upskilled in modern teaching pedagogies and monitored for effectiveness. The Summit also noted the huge number of teachers exits from the system and called for an urgent review of teachers’ conditions and welfare.
- Inclusivity and Equity: Fiji is committed to providing equal access to education for all students and to learn in inclusive, equitable, safe, resilient, and healthy environments. This includes eliminating geographical barriers, addressing gender and socio-economic disparities, combating discrimination, abuse, and bullying, and building resilience against natural hazards and climate risks.
- Equity in Service Delivery: The summit emphasised the need to strengthen service delivery through effective policies, regulations, and resource allocation to ensure that education services reach all communities, regardless of their location. This includes a priority review of the Fiji Education Act as the basis for building an effective organization structure the better serves and delivers education equitably.
- Flexible Learning Pathways: Recognising diverse learning needs, the summit highlighted the importance of multiple and flexible learning pathways that includes through non-formal education, TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) programmes, and higher education to provide equal opportunities. In this respect, the summit raised concern at the reduction in the TVET subsector over the past years.
- Technology Access: Access to information technology was identified as a critical factor in improving education quality and access. Efforts will be made to enhance technology access across Fiji, furthering equity in service delivery.
- Data-Driven Decision Making: The summit emphasised the importance of policies, regulations, and streamlined operations backed by research, strengthened data collection, and analysis for evidence-based decisions and policies. This aligns with the priority of reviewing the Fiji Education Act.
The Way Forward
The Summit participants endorsed the Fiji Education Policy Framework that recommends strategies under each of the Thematic Areas that will transform Fiji’s education system and improve student learning outcomes. A crucial next step is the development of The Education Sector Plans for each of the implementation Phases, which will provide detailed activities to be implemented by the Ministry of Education annually.
PFU Coordinator and Advisor for the Core Working Group for the Summit, Mr Filipe Jitoko highlighted that Education is the cornerstone of sustainable development, and the outcomes of the FNES will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Fiji’s educational landscape for years to come.
“The Pacific Regional Education Framework Facilitating Unit (PFU) is proud to have played a significant role in facilitating Fiji’s first education summit in nearly two decades. It reflects our commitment to supporting member countries in advancing their education systems.
PacREF remains committed to supporting Fiji and its fellow Pacific nations in their educational journeys,” Mr Jitoko added.
The FNES was held at the Sheraton Denarau Resort on 19 – 22 September 2023.