New Delhi: Dr. Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development; and Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India led the Indian delegation to the 20th Conference of the Commonwealth Education Ministers (20CCEM) held in Nadi, Fiji during 19-23 February 2018. The theme of the Conference was “Sustainability and Resilience: Can Education Deliver?”
Dr. Singh made a `response statement` to the presentation “20CCEM Thematic Issues” made by Dr. Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor of University of South Pacific, Fiji on 21 February 2018. The Minister mentioned that the core of Sustainable Development goals is inculcating and nurturing the universal, humanistic, moral and spiritual values among our teachers as well as students. He stressed that good education should become a global agenda. Unless the children of all countries are well-educated, skilled and employed – the prospects of ensuring world peace will be evasive.
The Minister had also given a statement on “Adult Education and Learning” during deliberations on Sustainable Development Goal-4 (SDG4) on 23 February 2018. Dr. Singh conveyed to the participating Commonwealth members about various schemes that Government of India started in adult education like ‘National Literacy Mission’, ‘Saakshar Bharat (Literate India)’, Government’s various initiatives for electoral literacy (to enhance voting percentage), financial literacy (Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna), legal literacy for marginalized sections and vocational training (skill development) courses for adults, ICT-enabled learning transformation [Massive Open Online Learning Courses (MOOCs) / Swayam], National Digital Library, etc. He reiterated that no child grows as an adult without education. Statements and comments of the Minister were very well appreciated by all participating countries.
On the side-lines of the Conference on 20 February 2018, Dr. Singh called on the Prime Minister of Fiji, Rear Admiral (Retired) Hon. Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. On behalf of the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi Ji, Dr. Singh extended invitation to the Fijian Prime Minister, for Solar Summit to be held in New Delhi on 11 March 2018. Fijian Prime Minister expressed thanks and confirmed his participation in the Summit. Dr. Singh also had discussions with Fijian Minister of Education Mr. Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum.
Dr. Singh had fruitful bilateral meetings with Dr. Nick Gibb, British Minister of Education, Ms Karen Andrews; Australian Assistant Minister of Education, Mr. Penisimani Epenisa; and Minister of Education, Kingdom of Tonga on 21 February 2018. Hon’ble Minister also met Ms. Jenny Salesa, Asst. Minister of Education of New Zealand to discuss various bilateral issues on 24 February 2018.
Dr. Singh had an excellent meeting with Ms. Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of Commonwealth to discuss multilateral cooperation on 21 February 2018.
Dr. Singh visited Vivekanand College run by Ramakrishna Mission where he interacted with teachers / students of the College.
On 22 February 2018, the Minister travelled to Suva to interact with representatives of India Diaspora at the Indian High Commission where ‘World Hindi Diwas’ was celebrated. He presented awards to three Fijians, who are contributing immensely in promoting and propagating Hindi Language in Fiji. Dr. Singh’s speech on ‘Hindi Language and Culture’ touched hearts of Indian Diaspora.
On 23 February 2018, the Minister inaugurated a new school complex of Rabulu Sanatan in Tavua. Ms. Elisen Bruchell, Permanent Secretary, Fijian Ministry of Education; was also present on the occasion. This school was badly damaged in February 2016 due to Cat-5 Tropical Cyclone ‘Winston’.
Dr. Singh visited Girmit Centre in Lautoka, where he gifted 100 books to the Centre’s Library and interacted with Girmit Centre authorities on 23 February 2018.
Thereafter, the Minister visited the Rabindranath Tagore Centre at the University of Fiji in Lautoka, where he donated 100 books to the centre and had an excellent interaction with Indian diaspora during the presentation of a book “The Subaltern Indian Women” (on Girmit women) edited by Prof. Prem Misir, Vice Chancellor, University of Fiji. Mrs. Leela Devi Lachchman, Mauritian Minister of Education was also present during these community interactions and appealed the diaspora to participate in big number in ‘World Hindi Conference’ to be held in Mauritius in August 2018. Dr. Singh spoke on ‘role of women in nurturing culture, society and civilization’ as well as on ‘preserving health, language and culture’, which Indian Diaspora found very much inspirational.