Calls for review of education budget disparities

March 12, 2024 4:10 pm

Permanent Secretary for Education Selina Kuruleca has brought attention to a prolonged disparity in budget allocations exposing a consistent bias towards secondary and primary education at the expense of Early Childhood Education (ECE).

During an interview at the Regional Early Childhood Education Conference in Nadi, Kuruleca advocated for a substantial reevaluation of budget priorities.

Disclosing that the conference convened representatives from 15 Pacific Island Countries, Kuruleca highlighted the collective effort to shape the future of ECE.

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Recognizing the diverse profiles of participating island countries, she highlighted the pressing need to address challenges in Fiji focusing on essential measures like teacher training and infrastructure support for ECE classrooms.

Emphasizing the role of establishing a robust educational foundation, the PS expressed concerns about Fiji lagging behind in ECE development.

She stressed the urgency of scrutinizing teacher remuneration and ensuring ample teaching resources for ECE classrooms.

“We are committed and I believe a lot of work needs to be done. Investment needs to be done in our ECE so that we can the foundation right for our teachers later on as the child progresses through formal education.”

Kuruleca also highlighted ongoing initiatives to assess the adequacy of more than 800 ECE Centers in Fiji whether standalone or attached to primary schools as part of the budget preparation process.

Addressing regional challenges, UNICEF Pacific’s Chief of Education Anna Smeby notes actions to tackle ECE issues such as access, quality and system resilience.

“It’s really important for children to benefit from quality early learning and stimulation in their home in carrying supportive environments in the home and community as well.”

Smeby also shared objective of nurturing resilient learners geared for success in school and beyond emphasizing the need for a tailored approach by each country in the region to support ECE.