BY BEN BILUA
WESTERN Province Premier David Gina yesterday opened the sixth National Education Conference in Gizo.
He said his province was honoured to host the event.
“I on behalf of the government and people of this province warmly welcome you to Gizo,” he said.
“It is my hope that you will enjoy your brief stay with us in our province as we learn, share and unite together this week,” Gina added.
“I believe, for some of you, this would be your first trip to Western Province.
“If you are one of these first timers, I convey a big welcome and be informed that Gizo is not Western province.
“We have hundreds of islands, coral reefs, scenery beaches, rivers and hospitable people out there that you can visit if time permits.”
Gina said education is vital as it can set a foundation for a greater nation where joy, peace, progress and prosperity can be achieved.
He adds that the conference is a very important event that will establish new directions that would provide a systematic approach towards providing better access to education.
“I’m aware the subject of your discussion this week centers on the socialization with all stakeholders to form new directions and better prepared for the Education Bill is enacted.
“This is a very important and mammoth task and is no mean-undertaking.
“We need to question ourselves whether our education system have properly addressed the needs of the nation looking back 43 years ago since independent,” he said.
Gina told those present that the theme of the conference “Moving forward in Education now and beyond” speaks volume of the need for thorough evaluation of existing system to achieve positive change.
He said the present generation is responsible for making changes through refocusing and redirecting of potential requirements to address the need of the people.
Gina said the goal of the education system should be centered on the need to improve the lives of the people.
Delivering the keynote address, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, Dr Franco Rodie expressed his gratitude towards Western Province for its commitments in preparations towards the event amidst COVID-19 challenges.
He also acknowledged the presence of the Premier of Western province and his executive during the opening of the conference.
Rodie further extends its acknowledgement donor partners and Educational Authority officials who made efforts to be part of the conference.
He said the country’s potential and aspiration depends on investment towards the development of the country’s children and young people.
Rodie said the existing government is very much supportive of the transformative role of education and training in building human capacity, empowering youths, women and marginalized groups.
“Discussion in depth of our people’s or country’s expectations and aspirations in education is deemed important because we can distill from such discussions, renewed commitments and plan that can enables us to develop the potentials of our country.
“How we frame education now affects what is possible later. Choosing our words carefully is paramount.
“Fatalism is high right now, and the public needs your help to see what’s possible and where they fit into creating positive and effective change.
“By strategically framing this moment and the solution that can see us to the other side of it, we can mobilize greater public will for long-term social and systematic change,” he said.
Rodie said the education system in the country is exciting yet challenging and that needs collective supports from stakeholders to minimise or address the challenges.
He told education officials present during the opening program that the responsibility to influence, make positive change and improve access to education in all levels depends entirely on collective participation of the Ministry of Education and Provincial Education Authorities.
“It is you and I together with the support of the government, community and development partners that can improve the quality of education standard in the country,” Rodie said.