Speech by DSG Feleti Teo at the opening of 8th FEdMM



Your Excellencies
The Rt Hon Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare, Hon Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea;
Our Host the Minister of Education for Papua New Guinea; Hon James Marabe
Cabinet Ministers of PNG and other Local Dignitaries
Education Ministers of Forum Island Countries
Senior Government Officials
Delegates and observers to the meeting
Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me start by acknowledging and registering, on behalf of the Education Ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum and their senior Officials and all the delegates and observers to the Forum Education Ministers’ meeting; our collective sincere and heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to your Excellency the Rt Hon Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea for gracing us with your presence at this opening ceremony. We are indeed humbled and touched by your presence. Your very presence is testimony to your continued commitment and the importance you give to education development, not only in Papua New Guinea but for the rest of the Pacific region.

2. I thank the organizers of the meeting for the opportunity and privilege accorded to the Forum Secretariat to make a statement at this opening ceremony for the 8th meeting of Forum Education Ministers. I am, of course, representing the Forum Secretary General, Mr Tuiloma Neroni Slade, who unfortunately cannot be here because of his other commitment this week at another Ministerial meeting. He asked me and I do so convey to you Ministers his regret and apology for not making it to your meeting and he extends his best wishes for a successful meeting.

3. Prime Minister, Sir, most of the Forum Education Ministers and ourselves delegates have been here in your beautiful country for several days already. Not only had we had the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of Port Moresby; but Ministers were also treated to a rare opportunity of visiting Madang and shown some of your education and training institutions and facilities located there.

4. Thank you also to the organizers of the meeting for treating us to such an elaborate and very entertaining and colorful ceremony to mark the opening of this year’s Forum Education Ministers meeting. Particular thanks to the performers and especially the children involved.

5. Since the time of our arrival here in Port Moresby, we have been received and welcomed very warmly by your people. And I take this opportunity, on behalf of all of us attending this ministerial meeting, to covey to and through you Prime Minister to the government and people of PNG, our enormous gratitude and appreciation for the warmth and sincerity of your welcome and the generosity of your hospitality. Tangiu tru.

6. The occasion of the Forum Education Ministers meeting provide a regular forum for education ministers around the region to come together and share their experience, their common concerns, difficulties and development challenges in the area of education.

7. On this occasion, we gathered here in Port Moresby as a consequence of the kind and generous invitation by your Education Minister to host this year’s Forum education ministers meeting.

8. Convening this ministerial meeting in the past had its own challenges. Limited resources at the disposal of the Forum Secretariat to convene such a meeting, was always a constraint and challenge. For this year’s meeting, we are deeply indebted and highly appreciative of the generous support provided by the government of Papua New Guinea in terms of the financial support extended to facilitate the attendance of Ministers at this meeting.

9. The Forum Education Ministers met for the first time in 2001. That was in response to a directive of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting. The economic ministers in calling for such a meeting of education ministers, acknowledged the significant contribution that quality education development and a highly educated population can contribute to a stronger and sustainable economic development. This acknowledgement remains true of today and will do so well into the future.

10. Since then the education ministers have continued to meet on a regular basis, and in doing so have developed a formidable body of work that has guided the region well in the common pursuit of the delivery of quality education services and equipping population with the necessary tools of knowledge and skills to allow them to contribute effectively to their communities.

11. The provision of education services, of course, remains and must always remain the primary responsibility and prerogative of national governments and administrations.

12. But the unique geographical characteristics and attributes of our region; the diverse sizes of economies and population of countries and territories in the region; and the common severe resource constraints and the vulnerabilities of economies in the region makes a strong case for countries and economies around the region to address their development challenges in a collective and coordinated fashion.

13. It is that very pursuit of collective responses (or regional responses) to common development challenges that underpin the Pacific Plan. The Pacific Plan, now generally accepted as the regional framework that enunciate the regional development priorities that the region must collectively address by pooling together their resources and capacities.

14. Education development in its many facets was considered a Pacific Plan priority and one that warrants collective and coordinated regional responses.

15. I do highly commend our Host the Minister of Education for PNG for the timely and highly relevant theme for this year’s meeting of Forum education ministers. The theme of “sustaining pacific education through regionalism” is the very essence of the Pacific Plan.

16. It is the very objective and rationale for education ministers of the region to gather here in Port Moresby this week, as they have done so in the past, to share, discuss and agree on collective initiatives (or regional responses) in support of and add value to their own national efforts in addressing their education development challenges.

17. The region has been well served by the work of the Forum education ministers meetings.

18. At their inaugural meeting in 2001 education ministers adopted what was called the Forum Basic Education Action Plan. That action plan provided the regional framework for coordination and collaboration of development efforts in the delivery of basic education in member countries.

19. The main implementing strategy for that action plan was the regional project called the pacific regional initiative for the development of basic education (or PRIDE). A project that was funded in the main by the European Union and New Zealand and we owe them our sincere gratitude and appreciation. PRIDE comes to an end at the end of this year and its final report will be presented to ministers this week.

20. But like all other plans and strategies they need to be reviewed and updated to retain their relevance. So the education ministers in their meeting last year in Tonga, did exactly that and adopted a successor to the Forum basic education action plan.

21. The region now has the Pacific Education Development Framework adopted by ministers at their meeting in Tonga last year. The Framework’s underpinning philosophy is to nurture, develop and prepare all children in the region to be able to live life to the full, participating effectively in national development, maintaining their traditional and cultural identities and be able to live sustainably within the impacts of globalization.

22. The education ministers this week will consider, with the view to adopt, an implementation strategy for the Pacific Education Development Framework. Such an implementation strategy is critical in coordinating regional efforts to supporting national efforts in the area of education development.

23. The key is coordination. There must be effective coordination of the development resources of national governments and those provided by development partners to minimize the risk of duplication of efforts and wastage of resources. This must be at the forefront of the implementation strategy for the education development framework. And I am please to advise that the document that will be presented to ministers outlining the approaches to the implementation of the education framework was developed in broad consultation with member countries and with many stakeholders with vested interest in education development.

24. So the education ministers meeting here in Port Moresby this week will have some historical significance in regional education development if the implementation strategy for the education development framework is adopted by ministers here in Port Moresby.

25. But whatever regional framework or regional initiatives in the education sector, the test of their successes can only be gauged if those regional initiatives can be translated into practical and tangible benefits at the national level.

26. The children must be the ultimate and primary beneficiary of these regional and national efforts to deliver quality education and training services. For they are the leaders of tomorrow and investing in education is investing in the quality of the leadership of tomorrow.

27. And it is through sustainable quality education development, that the region may aspire to fulfill the vision of Pacific Leaders under the Pacific Plan for a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity, so that all of its people can lead free and worthwhile lives.

I thank you

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