With the support of the New Zealand government, Save the Children New Zealand has been working with communities in Fiji to establish and grow our Mobile Playgroup Project.
High levels of unemployment, housing insecurity, repeated flooding and difficult economic conditions have meant an increasing number of children have little access to early childhood education.
Our work is helping preschoolers to socialise and learn, assisting their transition to primary school. It is also helping members from within the communities train in early childhood education and making it possible for them to gain a formal qualification and earn a small income.
Since the launch of the programme a number of centres have been established in Fiji. Local projects are helping fund some of the programme costs. Save the Children Fiji is also providing technical and advisory services and ongoing programme support.
Our community preschool project
Save the Children is ensuring pre-school children enter primary education better prepared for successful learning.
The newest stage of our early childhood education programme in Fiji is our community preschool project, known as Vuli Taumada Shishak (VTS).
VTS works with economically disadvantaged communities in three districts of Fiji: Labasa, Lautoka and Central Division (Suva and Nasinu) and has two main objectives:
- Provide pre-school children with high-quality early childhood education; and
- Mobilise communities to develop income-generating activities
Save the Children knows that children who get a good start at pre-school are much more likely to advance into primary and secondary education, with the active participation of their families, wider community and teachers. We believe that in the longer term, children who get a good start in life will have a greater chance of improving their and their families’ incomes and lifestyles.
An important aspect of this project is focused on the centres becoming self-sustaining and maintained by their communities.
Community Education Committees are being established to make sure management and ownership of the centres are rooted in the community and that those involved gain transferable, marketable skills. Our qualified early childhood educators are also working with local communities to identify and train Fijian teachers for the early childhood education centres.
With an increased skill base within communities it is expected that this will allow people, especially women, to pursue broader economic development opportunities.
Save the Children’s VTS project works in partnership with the Fijian Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Housing, the Ministry of Health, the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprise Development, the Fijian Early Childhood Association, and other private sector and civil society partners. This ensures that the early childhood education centres have a good base of support and an excellent chance of continuing to serve Fijian children and their communities well into the future.