The Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation turned the frowns of underprivileged parents and children in some squatter areas upside down when they handed out their school essentials.
As the first term of the 2019 academic year progresses, the Ministry found many students to be staying back home because of not having adequate school supplies.
After the initial scoping of some informal settlements around Vatuwaqa, Suva, the ministry assisted  several families in the Nanuku Settlement earlier; and the scoping and distributions continued last week in Wailea and Jittu Settlements as well whereby, the Ministry handed over school stationeries to 124 children. The recipients were identified by the heads of the settlements and a social welfare officer.
The packages, which included books, pens, crayons, book covers, bags with water bottles was provided to motivate students and to assist parents in ensuring that their children are prepared well to continue their studies in the new school year.
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa believes that assisting these needy children is one of the best investment a Government can make.
Vuniwaqa told students that taking responsibility of their education means respecting and listening to their parents, guardians and teachers; allocating time for study and homework daily; and, ensuring that they go to school every day. She also said that in a truly knowledge-based society, every student must have a foundation of support for their education. “The Ministry encourages every family to prioritize their children’s education first as children will need their support if they are to reach their full potential in school”.
Vuniwaqa said that the financial responsibility on parents for sending their children to school has been largely offset with all that Government is contributing by way of social wages through free tuition, bus fares, text books, subsidized water and electricity charges etc. The  onus then is on parents to step up to their responsibility in ensuring that they complement what Government is trying to do through these initiatives – give all Fijian Children a fair chance to be part of a knowledge based society. “Parental responsibility also extends to the need to provide a safe environment for children to live in particularly given the statistics on child abuse that’s permeating society at this point in time.”
Vuniwaqa encouraged parents and guardians to teach their children human values of honesty, respect, integrity and hard work as whatever we sow in our children today is what they will reflect as leaders of our nation in the future.
Meanwhile, the Head of Wailea Settlement, Mr. George Bukalidi, was pleased to receive the school stationeries. “I would like to thank the Ministry for providing the school stationeries to our community in this time of need,” Mr. Bukalidi said. “Most of the students in our communities have gone to school without some school stationeries and the assistance will ensure that our children are well prepared for this academic year.”
“I would like to thank Government for providing equal opportunities and access to education and providing resources for the underprivileged children that will greatly assist them in school and at home.” Ms Yogeeta Kumari said.
Solomone Viriki, 76 years old from Jittu Settlement was in tears while receiving the school stationeries and said that now, he is in a position to send his six grandchildren to Gau Secondary School, Ratu Navula Secondary School, Lelean Memorial School and Cathedral Secondary School  by next week.
Ulamila Cililoto, 64 years old speaking on behalf of all the parents of Jittu Settlement thanked the Ministry’s staff  for handing over the packages to the underprivileged children in their community.
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