EI's affiliates, the Fijian Teachers’ Association (FTA) and the Fiji Teachers Union (FTU) have started to implement an Action Plan to launch their campaign linked to the EI Unite for Quality Education campaign.
Both FTU and FTA has written to the government requesting a significant increase in the education allocation in the 2014 National Budget. And they have consulted with other public sector unions and made a joint submission on the need for a salary increase for teachers and civil servants that is consistent with the increase given to the Permanent Secretaries. These two moves were reported to a large gathering of FTA and FTU members where strong support for the campaign was expressed.
“We have started working on a number of steps related to the FTA's Action Plan. It is indeed exciting and we look forward to seeing the fruits of its success,” said FTA Industrial Relations Officer Peni Delaibatiki. “We have prepared a questionnaire for teachers, which is Step 7 on our Action Plan, and it is ready to be handed out to them. FTA will then make a submission to the Ministry of Education based on our findings, as we believe that teachers are unnecessarily overworked and underpaid, affecting quality education in Fiji.”
No salary increase
Fiji’s teachers and other civil servants have received no salary increase since 2006, even though the cost of living has increased rapidly, rendering their pay in most cases insufficient to cover basic expenses. As a result, most of them are living on borrowed money in between salary payments. This has affected their teaching practice and work to a large extent and their morale is low, compromising the education quality.
Other key points of the Fiji Teachers Action Plan are:
- Lobbying government officials on the need for the government to commit more of its resources to education and look after remaining government schools. The Government also needs to look after teachers better as the latter are the ones who make the difference in the teaching and learning process despite modern technologies in place.
- Planning outreach programmes to schools and school communities to urge them to play an active role in their children’s education.
- Informing members during meetings, through newsletters, radio broadcasts, etc. about the need to unite and mobilise for quality education. Teachers make a huge and lasting difference in the lives of children they teach.
- Partnering with other organisations to assist in providing remedial and homework programmes for slow learners and other marginalised children in communities.
- Conducting a survey on the impact of CBAs (Classroom Based Assessments) and CAT (Common Assessment Tasks) and External School Review Inspection’s documentation on the teaching and learning process in schools.
- Urging the Ministry of Education to cut down on the number of CBAs completed by students as it is time consuming and leaves little time for teacher-pupil quality teaching time. CBAs also involve more time in filling records which affects the quality of teaching and learning taking place inside the classroom.
EI: Right direction for quality education
“EI welcomes the Action Plan developed by its Fiji’s affiliates,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “This plan and activities linked to it go in the right direction to ensure quality education for all in this country.”