The Minister for Education Hon. Rosy Akbar had a meeting with Faith Based Organisations (FBO) on Wednesday to discuss a number of pressing issues pertaining to the reopening of schools under the current circumstances.

She was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary, Miss Susan Kiran, and the Head National Education Service Delivery, Mr Timoci Bure.

Faith Based Organisations play a vital role in Fiji’s formal education sector with more than ninety per cent of the schools having been established either by FBOs or community based groups.

Their contributions, including a number of solutions to the challenges faced while trying to keep the schools open amidst these uncertain times, is commendable.

The Hon. Minister thanked the founders of those institutions – visionary leaders who realized and appreciated the value of educating children and helping them to become tolerant and resilient citizens.

The FBOs were informed that 40% FEG grant has been released for all the schools which have submitted the required documents.

The remaining 60% will be released in week 8 of term two.

“All schools must ensure that their ancillary staff continue to be paid since the Fijian Government has not reduced any funding under the FEG grant for payment of ancillary staff,” said Minister Akbar, while reminding them to practise prudent financial management.

Some of the major issues discussed included adjustment of the school term dates, realignment of the curriculum, readjustment of external and internal examinations and COVID-proofing the schools under the new ‘normal’.

The representatives brought the benefit of their knowledge and experience to the table while discussing the suggested changes and plans to assist students and teachers in adjusting to the new ‘normal’, in the shortest possible time-frame.

One of the major issues discussed was the current socio-economic background of the children, especially those whose parents were worst hit in the tourism and aviation sectors and what forms of psycho-social support will be provided to them.

The Faith Based Organisation representatives were clearly informed that they were under no restraints from the Ministry when it comes to providing any form of support.

“Humanitarian support is at the top of our back to school agenda and I assure the Faith Based Organisations that you have the approval of the Ministry to provide any form of support that your organisations come up with,’ said Hon. Akbar.

The Ministry of Education will carry out a survey which will give substantive data and a clear direction for the Ministry in what form of support is immediately needed and FBOs will be given access to the data to assist them in planning their intervention strategies.

Minister Akbar said, “I am very thankful that all stakeholders have come together like this, during such trying times, and we’re working closely together to map out the way forward. At the end of the day, we all have a common agenda – the future of the children of Fiji.”

“During times like these, our faith becomes ever important, especially the message of love, peace and unity that is the basis of every religion,” Minister Akbar added.

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