Beyond the Scope | The education challenge

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Classroom teachers are educators who work in a traditional school setting, typically instructing students from kindergarten through high school. Picture: FILE

Classroom teachers are educators who work in a traditional school setting, typically instructing students from kindergarten through high school.

They play a fundamental role in the education system, responsible for delivering lessons, facilitating learning, and supporting students’ academic and personal growth.

Classroom teachers are crucial to the educational process, as they have a direct impact on students’ development and future success.

They serve as mentors, role models, and sources of inspiration, guiding students on their educational journeys.

This week, the Minister for Education Aseri Radrodro has provided some insightful data on staffing and student numbers in Fiji’s schools.

Teacher resignations

AS many as 469 teachers resigned from the Ministry of Education between January and June this year, Parliament was informed this week.

In total, the ministry lost 478 staff members through resignations, retirement, death and retirement on medical grounds.

In January, 107 staff members left the ministry with 100 resignations.

These resignations were 66 from secondary schools, 26 in primary schools and seven from early childhood centers (ECE).

In February, 62 resignations were received by the Ministry of Education.

Thirty-eight teachers from the secondary schools left the ministry and 21 teachers from primary schools departed the service.

In March 78 teachers resigned from work with 38 from secondary schools and 28 from primary schools.

There were seven resignations of ECE teachers in March.

Fifty-eight teachers resigned in April with 23 leaving their jobs in secondary schools and 24 from primary schools.

There were five resignations from ECE schools.

Eighty-nine resignations were received by the Ministry of Education in May with 41 teachers from secondary schools, 42 teachers from primary schools and six from ECE.

Sixty-seven teachers resigned in June with 29 from secondary schools, 28 from primary schools and seven from ECE.

“The number of teachers who have resigned from January to June 2023 – 80 per cent of them have migrated for greener pastures and 20 per cent have moved around to other job opportunities in the Pacific region and in Fiji,” Education Minister Aseri Radrodro told Parliament this week.

He ensured teaching and learning environment for students was not at any time compromised.

Mr Radrodro said 96 new teachers were recruited in 2023 for ECE, five for special school, 303 for primary schools and 164 for secondary schools.

“For primary schools – 80 teachers retired and 46 were re-engaged. For the nine ECE teachers who had retired, not one of them have expressed interest for re-engagement.

“We have already executed the plans to ensure that quality education in all our 176 secondary schools, 736 primary schools and more than 800 ECE centers are not at any time compromised as we are committed to ‘leaving no child behind’.”

Vacant positions

There are 20 Special Schools and inclusive schools in Fiji that requires 184 teaching staff.

Currently only 172 positions are filled and the Ministry of Education needs another 12 teachers.

Most of the 12 vacancies are in rural or remote areas where teachers’ quarters aren’t available.

The Ministry of Education states there are 863 ECE schools in Fiji with 1405 teachers required as established staff.

Currently 1386 positions are filled with 19 vacancies.

736 primary schools around Fiji need 6415 teachers.

Currently only 6231 positions are filled with 184 positions vacant.

The Ministry of Education states new recruits, retirees and those who left due to the “no jab no job” policy have been hired.

6620 teachers are required at 176 secondary schools in Fiji.

Currently there are 610 vacancies.

The Ministry of Education says 64 classroom teachers are yet to be filled due to mismatch of subjects and the combination of graduates.

“The Ministry of Education is currently working and discussing with local universities and training institutions on the alignment of subject
combination on the intake of education programs in line with the need in our schools as we are the biggest employers of graduates from universities in regards to the teaching profession,” said Mr Radrodro.

No jab no job

One hundred ninety-eight teachers had left their work due to the “no jab no job” policy.

Twenty-two were ECE teachers and out of this 5 have been rehired.

One hundred and five primary school teachers had resigned after they refused to be vaccinated and since then 63 have rejoined the Ministry of Education.

In the secondary schools, 63 teachers had left and 51 have so far re-signed as teachers.

2023 school roll

There were 246,281 students in schools on September 8, Education Minister Aseri Radrodro reported to Parliament this week.

He provided the information in answer to a question by Opposition MP Hem Chand who wanted to know the total roll of schools this year.

Mr Radrodro said there were 19,160 students in early childhood centers (ECE), 153,344 students in primary schools, 72,528 students in secondary schools and 1240 in special education schools.

The highest number of students was in Suva where 62,625 children were in ECE, primary, secondary and special education classrooms; 45,671 students were registered in the Lautoka-Yasawa area and 43,034 were attending classes in Nausori.

The Macuata-Bua area had 23,822 children in school while 16,792 were on the roll in the Ba and Tavua areas; 16,581 students were in schools in Cakaudrove and 16,161 children were in classes in Nadroga and Navosa.

The Eastern Division had 11,868 in schools while 9727 children were in school in Ra.

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