Early childhood education

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa was spot on when she said emotional, social and physical development of young children could have a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they would become.

Ms Vuniwaqa launched the Early Childhood Education Week at Nabitu District School in Tailevu yesterday.

The State has made no secret about its commitment to the development of education over the years.

Increased salaries for teachers, allocations for the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme and the recruitment of more teachers were areas the allocation for education went to in the new budget.

The sector was given the biggest share of the budget, a staggering $964.4 million, of which $490.1 million was set for the Ministry of Education. This was an increase of $223.8 million from last year’s budget.

As Ms Vuniwaqa said yesterday, the importance of early childhood development was simple.

That is why, she said, understanding the need to invest in very young children was so important, so as to maximise their future wellbeing.

And sure enough, education is fundamental to development and growth.

Foundational skills acquired early in childhood, she said, made possible a lifetime of learning for children.

The traditional view of education as starting in primary school takes up the challenge too late, she pointed out.

“The science of brain development shows that learning needs to be encouraged early and often, both inside and outside of the formal schooling system.”

It is getting difficult to shrug aside the fact that early childhood education is critical to the development of skills and habits, factors that could be nurtured and be ingrained in people for the rest of their lives.

Would it be correct to suggest then that early education could possibly be a powerful investment by the State?

The line of thought that calls for the effort to expand early childhood education runs parallel to that which suggests an increase in the possibility for future earnings, and fewer brushes with the law. That’s if we are to consider knowledge gained through an education system that serves as a solid base for our children.

Do we make education a big deal then?

Surely we can’t ignore the fact that a solid foundation is important in the development of a child.

The State effort deserves acknowledgment.

Our children have a great opportunity before them. The onus is on us as parents and guardians to reach out, create the optimum level of awareness, and place value on early childhood education.

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