Updated: Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The Education System in Fiji has evolved gradually over the years, much for its betterment.
Since Fiji’s independence in 1970, a major concern of successive governments has been to ensure equality of access to educational services for all children. Today, the country boasts a net enrolment rate of 98%, contributed by a tremendous surge in enrolment at both primary and secondary levels. Let alone, pre-school and tertiary.
Negative factors have been minor deterrents only, and yet the system has come along way since its introduction by the Europeans in the colonial era. Fiji’s geographical features and isolated position in the wide Pacific Ocean, makes its location a major challenge in the provision of education. This however has become of an advantage to the system, rather than a ‘let-down’. Because it sits in the hub of the South Pacific, Fiji is home to students from far and wide.
Currently, the education system is undergoing a transition period where policies are being formulated to effectively cater for the educational needs of certain groups of students.
Provisions are made by the government for those in the care of financially-challenged households. Scholarships and aid are handed out year after year, not only by the government, but by the institutions themselves. The partnership between the state and the wider community is one of the distinguishing features of education in Fiji and in most developing countries where the standard of living is not as high, the task of having to educate children can be burdensome. The ideal scenario perhaps would be to move towards compulsory and free education. While tuition-free education has been granted to students from Year One to Year 11, other educational expenses are borne by the parents. However, whether government can afford free education is a major question to be addressed in a developing country like Fiji.
The major priority for government is to offer a relevant education of good quality - a system of education that will enable students to venture into self-employment activities and be less reliant on the formal sector of the labour market. This seems to be the best approach for a small island state like Fiji.
More than ever before, the Government and the Ministry of Education are now fully committed to enabling all students to fulfil their potential through access to good quality education.