Asia-Pacific Apr 15, 2013
In Fiji investing in education is a key priority of Australia’s development assistance. Education has consistently been recognised as the cornerstone of development for any country or region, and one of the highest return development activities. This has been reflected in the Australian aid program’s strategic goal—Promoting Opportunities for All.
Promoting opportunities for all is what AusAID’s Access to Quality Education Program (AQEP) is striving towards, in partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Education and key education stakeholders such as school controlling authorities and school management committees.
Through AQEP, Australia is working to ensure that the poorest and most marginalised children in Fiji, including students with disabilities, can go to school, can stay in school and can have access to a quality school education.
AusAID’s education program will provide grants to improve school infrastructure and learning environments, and education access and quality for 180 of the most disadvantaged primary schools in Fiji. This makes up 25 per cent of the primary schools in the country and will benefit an estimated 43,000 disadvantaged students over five years from 2011 to 2015.
In 2012, back to back floods in January and March caused significant damage to schools in the Western division with flood waters wreaking havoc on school infrastructure. AusAID supported 50 flood affected schools through either infrastructure rehabilitation, social protection or both, which benefitted 14,882 students. Through the infrastructure rehabilitation, AusAID repaired 158 classrooms, 26 toilet blocks, 65 school facilities (including teachers’ quarters, kitchens, dining rooms, and dormitories) and 13 water tanks.
In addition to the infrastructure repairs, close to 1,500 students in 10 primary schools which were the most affected by the floods had their schools levies paid by the AusAID program. The school levy grants were aimed at enabling families who had suffered financial hardship from the floods to continue sending their children to school. Students also received a school kit, consisting of a backpack, school stationery and exercise books.
Through AQEP, Australia is serious about making a difference by increasing access to school for the most disadvantaged children, and improving infrastructure and facilities in the most disadvantaged school communities to ensure adequate and safe learning environments which contribute to improved learning outcomes.