20 Apr 2020

Fiji schools to remain closed until June

11:31 am on 20 April 2020

Fiji's Education Ministry says schools across the country will remain closed until June due to the Covid-19 threat.

Primary school students in class at Daku School, Fiji

Primary school students in class Photo: RNZI/Sally Round

Schools were scheduled to reopen today but the ministry said that with the country's 17th covid-1 case confirmed on Thursday, the government recognised the virus would be around for some time.

Fiji's Education Minister Rosy Akbar said teachers would ensure learning materials were distributed for home schooling.

"It is important that we keep our children safe and ensure schools remain closed for the health, wellbeing and safety of our children," she said.

"Ideally, children should return to school when we are Covid-19 free. We want to be absolutely sure that our schools are safe when classes resume."

Classes were expected to resume on 16 June. It is not only the pandemic pandemic which is disrurpting schooling in Fiji - the devastation caused by Cyclone Harold last week in Fiji left more than 60 schools damaged.

A roof is blown off a school in Nausori during Cyclone Harold.

A roof is blown off a school in Nausori during Cyclone Harold. Photo: Supplied/Fiji NDMO

In badly-hit areas like Kadavu, 33 schools suffered severe and minor damage and in southern Lau, 11 schools were destroyed.

Ms Akbar said there were also restrictions imposed for Covid-19 and this made it difficult for some teachers to move around.

Teachers have been directed to report to school from 20 April to facilitate teaching materials for home-based educational activities.

"Where teachers cannot physically report to their schools, they can liaise with their school heads and work from home.

"Heads of School and teachers need to utilise this time for professional advancement and development of supportive learning resources for children who remain at home," Ms Akbar explained.

She said parents and teachers could work together on how children could use their time at home to upskill and develop successfully.

Education Minister Rosy Akbar.

Education Minister Rosy Akbar. Photo: Supplied/Fiji govt

Resource materials

The education minister said parents who could not access the online supplementary resources would be able to access the resource materials from their respective schools from 4 May.

Ms Akbar said school heads would facilitate this for their students.

She urged parents to continue accessing supplementary resources available on the "ministry's website, Google Shared Drive, FEMIS, Facebook and the ongoing radio programmes on Radio Fiji One and Radio Fiji Two".

"All English, vernacular and test subject project work which formed the basis of internal assessment has been removed this academic year due to movement restrictions.

"When schools resume for classes, internal examinations will be conducted for Years 1 to 8; literacy and numeracy assessment for Year 5 and 7, standard examination for Year 9 to 11 and external examination for Year 12 and 13."

Describing the current situation as "extaordinay times", Ms Akbar said "parental guidance, supervision and monitoring of children is paramount".

Accoding to he, the Education Ministry was working closely with the Ministry of Health and the National Disaster Management Office to assess the situation.

Children and curfew

Meanwhile, the Fiji Teachers Union is urging parents to ensure their children respect the rule of law and abide by the Covid-19 restrictions.

Fiji Teachers Union general secretary Agni Deo Singh.

Fiji Teachers Union general secretary Agni Deo Singh. Photo: Supplied/FTUC

Union general secretary Agni Deo Singh said they were saddened to see that children were among those arrested for breaching the nationwide curfew.

Mr Singh said parents were responsible to keep their children safe at home.

"It is an unnecessary cost to the nation and of course the risk that teachers are taking."