The Fijian Teachers’ Association (FTA), one of EI’s national affiliates, has started to implement its action plan to mobilise for quality education. It launched its campaign and plan in 2013 in conjunction with EI’s Unite for Quality Education (Unite) campaign. The FTA campaign’s results have been encouraging and FTA members are working with the Fiji Teachers Union (FTU) to ensure that the fight for quality education is successful for the sake of the students in Fiji.
Following on one of the action plan’s key points, FTA wrote in 2013 to the government requesting a huge increase of the education allocation in the 2014 national budget. FTA firmly believes that no government can succeed without investing its resources in education, which is instrumental in eliminating eliminate poverty and improving the quality of people’s lives.
The education allocation in the national budget received a significant boost – one popular measure was the introduction of tuition grants given to schools to ensure free education for all and to meet the new Ministry of Education (MoE) initiatives.
Primary schools received 250 Fijian dollars per student, while the allocation for secondary schools goes from 440 Fijian dollars per student up to 610 Fijian dollars per student. The government was also able to give salary increases to civil servants as of 1 January 2014, from 4–7 per cent for teachers and civil servants receiving a salary of more than 46,000 Fijian dollars, to 23 per cent for teachers and civil servants receiving a salary of less than 15,400 Fijian dollars.
Other schemes by the FTA include planned outreach programmes to schools and school communities to urge them to take an active role in educating their children. FTA Executive Board members are visiting schools, trade union branches, and school communities.
FTA also has weekly radio broadcasts, quarterly newsletters and monthly meetings for its branches. Through these initiatives, it informs members on the need to unite and mobilise for quality education. The main message is that teachers make a difference in the lives of children they teach, leaving a lasting impression on their students’ lives.
Partnering with other organisations, FTA is also providing a quality teaching and learning environment and offering remedial and homework programmes for students with below average cognitive abilities and other marginalised children in Fijian communities. Some of the FTA’s partner organisations have the necessary funds to assist participating teachers with their travel costs.
Grass roots level
FTA also committed itself to promoting hygiene in schools and to conducting workshops for selected schools in rural and remote areas for this purpose. FTA believes that healthy bodies and minds are very important pre-requisites for quality education.
Concerning classroom-based assessments (CBAs) completed by students, FTA has urged the MoE to reduce CBA numbers as they are time consuming and leave little time for quality teacher-pupil teaching time. MoE officials have assured FTA that tasks linked to CBAs would be significantly reduced.
Government must reciprocate
“The FTA fully supports the global Unite for Quality Education campaign and prepared this action plan bearing in mind that the government needs to allocate appropriate resources to education if our campaign is to be successful,” FTA President Tevita Koroi said. “Teachers have been playing their roles with diligence and care to ensure that students under their care receive the quality of education that they deserve. It is only fair and proper that they are fully supported in their commitment by a government that reciprocates the same way.”
The Government has responded favourably to FTA calls by increasing the education budget for 2014, allowing the huge increase in tuition fee-free grants to schools and the funding of new initiatives by the MoE, acknowledged Koroi. Because of the huge increase in the education budget, teachers and other civil servants have been able to receive a salary increase for the first time since 2006, he added. “This was warmly received, as it gives teachers and all civil servants better living conditions”. FTA believes that a teacher who is well looked after will be able to successfully achieve the desired results in the teaching learning process and provide all students with quality education.
EI: Decent working and living conditions vital
“We commend our Fijian colleagues for their efforts to ensure access to quality education to all students in their country,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “We totally agree with them that public authorities hold responsibility for guaranteeing decent working and living conditions to educators.”
To learn more about the FTA, please click here