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PART III PROSPECTS

11.0 POLICY DIRECTIONS FOR THE FUTURE – THE WAY FORWARD

The Challenges for Education:

11.1 Ensuring that the education system is sensitive and responsive to the challenging needs of the community and the economy, supporting strong and progressive social and economic development which is sustainable.

11.2 Providing a flexible, innovative and rigorous curriculum which addresses all areas of learning in order to support comprehensive educational development , preparing young people for their social , economic and civic roles within the community.

11.3 Maintaining and strengthening community partnerships in education; recognising the important role that education has in contributing to the overall life and vitality of communities and identifying and using the potential resources that exist within the communities to support reaching and learning.

11.4 Strengthening our primary educational resource; the knowledge and skill base of our teachers and ensuring that their professional needs are supported.

11.5 Addressing access and equity issues in order to support social justice and promote unity and harmony within the country.

11.6 Preserving a clear Fiji Islands identity while recognising the increasingly global environment in which we live and work.

11.7 Exploring and harnessing the opportunities provided by the emerging new technologies which can support and transform educational development in all areas.

11.8 Providing continuity of learning from birth to adulthood and advancement towards lifelong learning for all in order to support positive human development and contribute to the development to the republic of Fiji.

11.9 Establishing accountability for educational outcomes , optimum resource management and use and informed decision-making supported by a sound research and planning base.

11.10 The need to focus on quality and improvement in educational provision and to promote the values, benefits and outcomes of education.

11.11 The anticipated impact of these changes and challenges have been used as the starting point for the development of the objectives and outcomes for education in Fiji to the year 2020.

11.12 Fiji's education policies and directions attempt to promote the best for all students and help create a forward looking and productive society. Mindful of the fact that young people are the most valuable resource, one avenue for providing a prosperous and sustainable foundation for them is via an increased focus on planning at all levels of education. Having in place a framework for strategic and management planning which will ensure that the efforts of all partners integrated for the benefit of all students, the community and the nation.

11.13 The vision : 'Educating the head, the hand and the heart'.

11.14 The mission : ‘To develop the potential at the heart of each student; their capacity to know, to do and to live together for the benefit of the individual, the community and the nation.'

11.15 Fiji sees as vital the provision of a relevant and responsive curriculum which develops in students the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to enhance their quality of life and contribution to society. Fiji Islanders want a society that is well educated, optimistic, forward looking and enterprising in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities and meet the challenges of the 21st century. The capacity to build relationships, develop as individuals and to learn are all essential to achieving these goals. Core values of honesty, fairness, respect for truth and justice, integrity, responsibility, compassion, sense of family and community and faith provide the foundation for all teaching and learning.

11.16 Students will will develop students who respect others, appreciate Fiji's multi-cultural heritage and are responsible, informed and involved citizens of both Fiji and the world. We will strive to create a sense of national consciousness that will act as a binding force for national

progress. It is important for young people to develop the skills and understanding which will see the people of the Fiji Islands living in harmony and unity, promoting social justice and the economic and social advancement of all communities.

11.17 The Government will strengthen and promote community partnerships in the management of schools and the provision of education resources, policies and programs. Partnership and co-operation in education provision has seen the development of a strong and vital education system throughout the country which must be sustained. A school's community is all of those groups which have a vested interest in, and concern for, the education which it provides. Schools have a responsibility to involve the communities which they serve in all aspects of education provision. This will support schools and students to develop a sense of identity, common purpose, shared interest, mutual respect and obligation to others and will enrich the teaching and learning which the schools provide.

11.18 Another area of focus is to develop and support a professional teaching force which is responsible and responsive to both learning and the learner. Teachers are the core of the education system and they carry the primary responsibility for the quality of teaching and learning in educational institutions. The relationships between teachers and learners are the heart of the learning process. The teacher's role is changing from transmitter of knowledge to facilitator of learning who encourages research, inquiry, questioning and debate. This will require them to update and improve their own knowledge and techniques throughout their career. It is essential that their critical role in these endeavours are acknowledged and supported.

11.19 The Government will promote quality and excellence in the management and administration of all elements in the education system as investment in education is investment in the future. The constant focus must be on improvement and in order to achieve this activities must be planned, monitored and evaluated in all areas. Government will establish standards, monitor, account for and seek continuous improvement in the performance of all learners and organizations. A focus on quality and standards will help to ensure that education system provision supports the best possible outcomes for all students. It is only through monitoring and evaluation that strengths and weaknesses can be identified and improved.. It must also be ensured that the standards which are set are inclusive of all valued areas of learning and a range of opportunities provided for their attainment. At a time when the Government is required to do more within a finite capacity for expenditure and finance, it is essential to be accountable for efforts and achievements.

11.20 The Government will target resources and support to allow all students to achieve full benefit from educational services. Education is a basic human right and a universal human value. There is a prime responsibility to address inequities in the distribution of resources in society and ensure that the full benefits of teaching and learning are available to all, irrespective of gender, beliefs, ability, cultural and linguistic background, socio-economic circumstances or location. All Fiji students must have the opportunity to achieve their personal best and opportunity to make a positive contribution to society.

11.21 The development and promotion of sustainable policies and programmes which respond to and anticipate emerging educational needs and demand are also seen to be important and will be pursued vigorously. All must be proactive and responsive to the emerging educational needs of the community. Renewal and any corresponding reform of education must, however, be the result of profound and thoughtful examination and understanding of what is known about successful practice and policy. It must also be based upon an understanding of the specific conditions and requirements relevant to the Fiji Islands context and its impact on all parties involved taken fully into account.

11.22 We also see as important the exploring and utilisation of technologies which support, extend and enhance the delivery, quality and effectiveness of education. The emerging new technologies have the capacity to amplify, extend and transform learning and the environment in which people work and learn. Their introduction has seen a universal revolution in the way information and knowledge can be gathered and we it must be ensured that there are opportunities for students to participate as equal partners in these global developments. It is also necessary to be mindful of the need for an increased capacity to discriminate in the use of new technology and to have the ability to understand, assess and distribute the information and knowledge accessed.

11.23 The Government anticipates increasing educational participation at all levels encouraging the development of a learning culture with community recognition of the importance and value of educational training throughout life. The world is in the midst of the greatest revolution since the Industrial Revolution at the turn of the last century.

This is the information revolution where advances in science and technology are rapidly making the learning and know-how that people acquire in their initial education obsolete and where new learning is increasingly becoming an on-going requirement in all areas. Fiji students must have the motivation and skills to engage in lifelong learning and be able to approach the future with optimism, purpose, and the capacity to contribute to the development of their society. It is vital a community of learning is fostered and supported; no initial fund of knowledge will serve for a lifetime.

11.24 The success of the Fiji education system depends on a balance on creative and effective planning for local needs, coupled with clear statements of purpose and direction for the whole of Fiji’s education providers.

CONCLUSION

Since the Jomtien Conference in 1990 Fiji can look back on the last ten years with much pride in its achievements , supporting basic education focussed on capacity building for expanding access to, and improving the quality of education.

The intention to extend free education to the Form 6 level adds greater impetus for children and, with certainty, will help to further the cause of the initiative. Recognising that the poverty trap can only be broken through education the People’s Coalition Government has already decided to give priority to education and health in the Year 2000 budget.

In order to formulate a comprehensive plan for the new millenium the Government is putting in place an Education Commission 2000. The Commission is expected to provide its initial report early in the Year 2000.

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