My niece had enrolled her 4 year old child at a kindergarten in Suva and was given an invoice for school fees. She was taken aback by this and said very timidly, "Isa, I though education was free?" The lady at the kindy smiled and said,"Sorry dear, we were not included."
Well, unfortunately early childhood education (ECE) was not included in the free education for 2014.Government probably has it reasons. But I feel its unfortunate. ECE is a vital part of education in that it prepares a child for class one. Many parents add value to their children's education by preparing them for kindergarten. We cherish ECE but we neglect, and the evidence is its not being included in the Free education for 2014. It is not too late to include them in free education.
The Ministry of Education can still do a little for young parents struggling to get their children to start education and prepare them for primary school by allocating funds. I'm sure there are funds still kept safe that can be given to kindergartens.All we need to do is set up stringent measures for kindergarten owners to follow.
Kindergartens must now be included ( I hope they are already) in curriculum development unit of the MOE so that we can say that " We care for early childhood education."
But I know my friend Dr.Brij Lal will tell us why it was not included.
Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Fiji. I thank Allen for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.
Thursday, November 21, 2013.
MINISTRY for Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal has confirmed regulations will be put in place on school fees for kindergartens.
While he awaits the decision by Cabinet on the proposed regulation, he would not release any further details.
He said while the government did not run kindergartens and did not provide free kindergarten education, it did encourage the opening of kindergartens, training of teachers and provision of support for kindergartens.
The 2014 National Budget provided an allocation of $3.3million to strengthen kindergarten education.
"We don't have kindergartens for all children in Fiji because we don't have the money to build these new kindergartens," Dr Lal said.
According to Dr Lal, there are 1002 private kindergartens in Fiji.
Kindergarten teacher Analesi Tuicaumia said early education was important because of the rapid brain development that occurred in children up to eight years old.
She is a global leader for young children, a designation given to her by the World Forum for Early Care and Education.
"Education is a great equaliser but for those who cannot afford early education and are left at home, there is no smooth transition to Class One or formal education," she said.