Message from the Minister for Youth & Sports
Honorable Parveen Kumar Bala
International Youth Day – 12 August 2019
I am pleased to write this message to commemorate International Youth Day.
With this message, I extend to you all an exciting and dynamic vision for International Youth Day 2019 and beyond.
12th of August is recognized as International Youth Day. It is a day set aside globally under the umbrella of the United Nations to commemorate young people’s achievement and set visions and goals for them, and more importantly with our youths.
The International Youth Day 2019 theme “Transforming Education” highlights the global vision and part of Fiji’s 5- and 20-year National Development Plans (NDP) to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth.
Fiji’s vision aligns itself with Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The International Youth Day 2019 is an opportunity to continue dialogues on how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education. And assess and provide input in order to cultivate an enabling environment towards the achievement of our NDP goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Fiji Government is committed to implementing significant transformations to make education systems more inclusive and accessible: Making education more relevant, equitable and inclusive is crucial to achieving sustainable development. Education is a ‘development multiplier’ in that it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, according to a UN statement, released in 2019.
Given the importance of our youth, the celebration is spread over a month with countries under the banner of the United Nations determining their own programs to recognize this important day.
In Fiji, the celebrations began with our partners the UNDP at the ‘Youth Fest SDG+ Event’ and at a ‘Cultural Night’ for youths. Both were held at the University of the South Pacific on Monday 12th August. The programs will culminate in a national celebration on August 30. These events had a global flavor bringing together the diverse cultural cross section of our youth from USP member countries and international students. My Ministry will continue this partnership to ensure progress through education and innovations for our youth. This is an important step to converse on issues in order to face up to challenges, of local and regional importance.
On this important occasion, I would like to share with you some perspectives on the Ministry of Youth and Sports assistance to young people of Fiji which comprise two components - vulnerable youths and sports. Through Skills Trainings: The Ministry provides mobile skills training in communities for males and female youths and specific skills at our Youth Training Centers. Skills fuel innovation and there is no simple recipe as innovation in different sectors and levels requires different sets of skills.
In Youth Grants: Our grant programs enhance skills and innovation through the provision of funding. This funding supports innovative business ideas that can transcend into fully fledged businesses.
Through Empowerment programs: Our empowerment programs help young people in decision making, leadership, change of mindsets, setting up positive personal goals, resilience, improvement of livelihoods and developing positive mental attitude. All of these contribute towards holistic development and fosters innovation in young people.
Program Delivery: Our program delivery is very flexible. This Non-Formal Education set up provides our youths with choices they are comfortable with when it comes to learning, ensuring no one is disadvantaged or left behind. In considering our intake to our programs, there is no outlined pre requisites, with the onus on the individual to come up with the desire to learn and be innovative.
Through Sports Trainings, equipment and development of sports facilities: we assist National Sporting Organisations through sports funding to further develop athletes’ skills and enhance their talents and includes international sports tours and hosting’s – to promote innovation in sports.
National Youth Policy and the National Sports Policy: Both policies provide an enabling environment where youth and sports development is mainstreamed into the various focal areas of national development. The Policies accepts that our youths are instrumental to Fiji’s future generation and development, it is imperative to develop their full potential and their active participation in nation building. Integrating them into the local-global dynamics is also important, given that this will promote their sustainability.
Fiji National Youth Council: This is the platform that collates and discusses youth issues and submits to Government for policy interventions through the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
National/Divisional Youth and Sports Conferences: Youths convene to share and discuss views on local and global issues on different thematic areas and disciplines, particularly those with profound implications on young people.
The role of innovation in the development of Fiji cannot be understated. And in this regard, the role of young people in shaping Fiji’s economy is clear. Youths are the largest population group in this nation making up about 1/3 of Fiji’s population. Globally now more than ever, youth make up almost 50% of the global workforce. Given this increasingly young labor force, there is a growing need to explore alternatives to traditional job-creation strategies.
My Ministry is committed to innovation to grow skills that align with industry demands. These involves a holistic approach inclusive of the three categories of skills required for innovation: technical skills, skills in thinking and creativity, and behavioral and social skills. Although not a formal discipline, entrepreneurship education programs are also included to develop an entrepreneurial culture among young people.
The theme of ‘Transforming Education’ – is foundational to youth development. Access to quality inclusive education creates opportunities and improves life chances, according to the Commonwealth Secretariat in their statement released in 2016. Education helps prepare youths for work, life and capabilities. Investing in human capital of young people is central to growth for any country. It requires acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values for long life personal development.
I acknowledge our partnership with UNDP, USP and AusAID under the Youth Co: Lab initiative. I share my appreciation to other key stakeholders that have assisted the Ministry in developing a space for innovative opportunities. For example, USP and Commonwealth Secretariat working in collaboration to develop an online curriculum for Professionalising Youth Work in the Pacific.
In conclusion, due to unprecedented environmental, economic and global pressures for opportunities and resources, there is a need for a strong and clear focus on the purposes of education policy, strategy and programs. And the Fiji Government has demonstrated through their budget allocations and innovations in education, that we are committed and involved in every facet of all Fijians transitioning from youth to adulthood.
I wish all the youths of Fiji, Happy International Youth Day and the very best in your endeavors.