Last week Global Vision International was honoured to be invited to attend a training session as part of Australian AID’s Access to Quality Education Program (AQEP). The program, which seeks to help improve children’s ability to gain access to a quality education, was holding a training session for the schools involved at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.
The program, which is running all over Fiji, seeks to work with 180 of the most in need primary schools over the next three years and has a budget of $50 million Australian dollars. Such a large program is clearly a positive step for the country and GVI was very grateful to be able to attend this training session.
Our relationship with Australian AID began in January when they visited our project site at Ratu Meli Memorial School to donate a significant sum of money to help the school recover from the damage caused by Cyclone Evan. This donation, part of Australian AID’s Emergency Response Fund, has been a huge help to the school and enabled the school to reopen its doors in time for the new school year.
Having worked closely with RMMS and GVI, Bianca Murray (AUS AID’s Social Protection Specialist) invited us to attend the training session. Although Ratu Meli Memorial School is not part of the AQEP program, it was felt that GVI would benefit from seeing what the program was all about and observing the training sessions.
For three days, we were fortunate enough to learn how to better manage school resources, work with the community and recognise and help children who might otherwise fall through the education net. The training was eye opening in the way in which it showed how, with few resources, you could make steps to help children stay in school and provide them with a first class education.
Seven schools were in attendance and it was a great opportunity to share ideas and talk about what we have done to help improve our school. We heard how some schools have been making honey to increase their school revenues and how others have been making chicken coups and raising chickens to sell at market. We took the opportunity to explain our one-on-one program to the schools and brainstorm how they could involve members of their community to help them provide extra tuition to the students.
The AQEP staff were very hospitable and it was an honour and a pleasure to meet and discuss our work with Dr Priscilla Puamau, an education expert who has helped to set up the program. She gratefully accepted a copy of our 2012 Annual Education Program Report and gave us lots of advice and encouragement about how to help improve the education of children in Fiji.
We are sure that the program will be a great success and leave a lasting legacy on the country. It was a privilege to be invited and we wish all the staff at Australian AID the best for the future.