The inclusion of early childhood development in the SDGs obliges Fijian Government  to ensure that the youngest citizens get the best start in life and the government has consistently invested a large part of the national budget in the education sector.

These were the words of the Minister Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation , Mereseini Vuniwaqa while officiating at the closing of the Early Childhood Education Week at Kulukulu Primary School in Sigatoka yesterday.

Vuniwaqa highlighted that access to Early childhood education (ECE) can provide children who have been marginalized by poverty, ethnicity, disability, location or gender, the means to engage in academics and achieve better for the future.

To ensure that a child succeeds  in school, the Fijian Government will be working closely with teachers, caregivers and parents to reach every child and help build solid foundations for individuals and for our national prosperity.

Vuniwaqa told teachers, parents and caregivers  that when a child receives health care, good nutrition, early simulation and learning, and protection against violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, then this child is set for success and we as a nation is set to have a strong and better foundation.

Vuniwaqa stated that quality parenting involves factors such as a loving home and learning environment, parents warmth and care,  spiritual upbringing and parental control and discipline will all contribute to greater achievements for children in schools.

With the theme of the  2018 Early Childhood Education week celebration ‘Quality Early Childhood Care and Education  – Everyone’s Responsibility’,   Vuniwaqa stated that Early Childhood Education achievements will thrive when various community stakeholders come together to contribute critical roles in the provision of ECE services in Fiji.This includes Government, community leaders, faith-based organizations, NGOs, private entities and individuals.

She further said that education is a powerful weapon which  can reduce poverty, increase income, boost economic growth, and increase the chances for one to have a healthy life.

“This provides the enabling environment for Governments to make efficient use of limited resources, streamlines the delivery of services and as research shows, the return on investments.”

Vuniwaqa encouraged parents, caregivers, students and teachers to  work together with the Fijian Government  to help achieve these goals and raise our children with all the support they need to allow them to become successful people in life and to become a better Fijian citizen.

“We require the commitment and perseverance in the belief that the education of our Fijian children is the ultimate solution for the achievement of sustainable and inclusive development for our nation “, Vuniwaqa said.

Vuniwaqa concluded her remarks by highlighting the alarming data on sexual offences and victims of sexual offences that had been released by the office of the DPP for the period January 2017 to June 2018 stated that out of the 308 victims of rape and sexual offences,121 offences were against children the perpetrator is related to the child  and 34 perpetrators are children themselves.

On the other hand, as part of the program at Kulukulu, Mr. Francis Lee the General Manager of Fijian Resort also officially handed over a 10,000 litre water tank under the “Make a Difference Project”. The school board and teachers were very much thankful to Shangri – La’s Fijian Resort & Spa for the donation and said that the water tank will solve the clean and safe drinking water issues that they had been facing for a number of years.

The Kulukulu Primary School currently caters for grades one to eight  with 281 students with 9 teachers and 46 students with 3 teachers for Kulukulu Kindergarten.

During the Talanoa session, Vuniwaqa also took the opportunity to inform the parents, caregivers and teachers about the social protection programmes and other government programme that was announced during the 2018 -2019 budget  that could assist and improve  the lives of the needy families.

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