By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
EDUCATION should be made compulsory for the nation’s children, a top educationist has suggested.
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Dr Franco Rodie, offered the suggestion when opening the 5th Education Authority Conference at Tavanipupu Resort in Marau, east Guadalcanal, Monday.
“I strongly believe that education should be regarded the same as a right to life and our government should make early childhood education, primary and secondary education compulsory to all boys and girls in our country,” Rodie said.
“Most importantly, we should all contribute towards ways in which education can be made mandatory or compulsory, and that all children have access to quality education,” he told participants.
“Furthermore, I would like to reiterate what I have stressed already about improving the quality of teaching and learning in all our schools.
“Although it is often said that the quality of an education system cannot be raised above the quality of its teachers, I wish to reiterate that both my ministry and Education Authority can and should influence real change at the school and classroom level to improve students’ achievement levels.
“Therefore, we have the responsibilities to explore ways to do things a bit differently from the past and still achieve the outcomes we wish to achieve,” Rodie added.
Representatives of education authorities across the country are attending the four-day event.
Rodie challenged education authorities to ask themselves what else can they do in 2020 and beyond especially in the next 5 years to drive real change expected at the school or classroom level?
“I’m posing this challenging question because I believe our country has come to what I described as a very critical stage in its development.
“....particularly in terms of education development or in charting our journey or destiny - to become what we want to be as a country and people.
“Our country as you will appreciate is at a cross-road and requires not only our political leaders to decide the destiny of our country and people in the next 10-20 years.
“…. but also we in the education sector must play our part in terms of our leadership and drive real change at the school and classroom level so that we can produce or graduate high quality students from our school system - particularly at the end of secondary school education.
“Being at the cross-road may imply different things to different people in our country and would be associated with fear, skepticism, optimism, increased opportunity to develop our country further – in terms of social and economic development.
“…and to be bold in our approach to make change as well as to encourage those that we lead and taking a bold stand to push beyond the limit, to intensify efforts to further reform our education reform agenda.
“We must yearn for change that will drastically improve our standard of education in the country and our quality of life – if that is what we believe education can do for us.
“The quality of students graduating from pre-primary level education, primary, secondary and tertiary education, which include university education and Technical Vocational Education and Training (or TVET for short) must be improved,” Rodie said.
“And I dream of a day when the quality of our students graduating from our school system in terms of their competencies and skills are comparable to the rest of the world!
“I hope you share the dream I have and is ready to influence further change at your education authority level,” he said.
Rodie urged everyone including the government, his ministry and the education authorities to work together and push themselves to limit.
He said this is in terms of the country’s commitment and perseverance, in order to elevate students’ competencies to a much high standard compared to their current levels of achievements; “All our students, girls and boys – young men and young women must be equipped with the desirable 21st century skills including soft and social attributes that industries and our communities desire the most.”