FENC Fiji
Foundation for the Education of Needy Children in Fiji
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About FENC Fiji

Fenc Fiji is a non-political, not-for-profit, cause-oriented, voluntary organisation with a mission to provide education and related support to the under priviledged children of the Fiji Islands.
Founding Document

INITIATIVE FOR THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILDREN OF THE POOREST OF THE POOR IN FIJI

1.     BACKGROUND

The growing numbers of people now trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty in Fiji is a matter of very serious concern, to communities, especially families at the local level, and to the nation as a whole. Estimates are that over 30% of Fiji’s total population are now below the poverty line, with these people struggling to meet their very basic needs. In the wake of the recent unprecedented flood disaster, the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable will have worsened.

Access to education is widely recognised as a basic need and a means through which such people can get themselves out of the poverty trap, and to make real and meaningful improvements in their lives. Yet, such access is not always readily and equitably available, particularly to the very poor and the severely disadvantaged in our society. Where such access exists, often it is to poorly resourced and badly maintained schools, and the struggles of the poorest, instead of being ameliorated, are compounded. The parents of children in very low income families are often not able to raise funds to send their children to school by supplementing the grants given by the Government. The incidence of school dropout has been on the rise; and the children of very poor and marginalised families are the main victims. Over 10 percent of Fiji’s children aged 5-14 years do not attend school. More than 50 percent of those completing primary school do not have the opportunity to attend secondary school.

There is a need to address both access and equity issues to ensure greater social justice, promote harmony and unity in Fiji. The difficulty of access because of poor infrastructure in rural and remote areas combined with the meagre incomes of most families are among the major factors contributing to the high dropout rates, and also the disparities in academic achievement between the poor in rural and urban areas and the well-to-do families.

The need to ensure greater access to better education facilities, and to reduce poverty are matters given very high priority in the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress. In this context, one specific and concrete proposal that emerged through the Peoples Charter process is the initiative to ensure and facilitate education for the children of the poorest of the poor families in Fiji.

 

2.     THE PROPOSAL

The proposal is to establish a Fund or Foundation, as a national initiative, registered under the Charitable Trusts Act, to serve as a voluntary, non-profit, cause-oriented organisation that would provide educational and related support to children of the poorest of poor families in Fiji. Such support, in the form of scholarships covering fees and other education related necessary requirements (transport, food, school levies, text books, stationery, etc ) would be extended at primary, secondary as well as tertiary levels.

The funding for this initiative is to be mobilised through contributions from the Government; the private sector; civil society including charitable organisations; and from individual Fiji citizens including Fiji people now living abroad. In addition, it is anticipated that external donor support may be forthcoming for this initiative. Once the Fund ( or Foundation ) is established and operational, it is anticipated that various ways and means will be pursued to ensure sustainability of funding for this purpose including annual, nation-wide fund-raising activities.

It may be noted that there are a number of organisations as well as philanthropic individuals who are currently doing or seeking to do similar type, cause-oriented activities to assist the poor and the needy in Fiji. Often, despite the noble goals and efforts, the overall impacts are constrained because all of such efforts require organisational, managerial, and follow up actions which can be burdensome. The proposed Fund / Foundation, could serve as a national level umbrella body, and a conduit to facilitate delivery of assistance to the targeted very poor and needy children.  

It is both desirable and necessary that this initiative is free from any narrow political affiliations or encumbrances. The role of the Government, however, both in terms of overall support for this initiative and in enabling successful outcomes, will be very important. The proposed Fund / Foundation will need the active support of the following Ministries in particular : i) Education; ii) Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation; and iii) National Planning which is now under the Prime Minister. The Government of Fiji has allocated a sum of $200,000 in the 2009 Budget, as seed capital and as its initial contribution, to get this initiative started. In addition, the 2009 Budget includes the following additional incentive measure for contributions specifically for this purpose by the private corporate sector, individuals, community and voluntary organisations: a 200 percent tax deduction for contributions of $50,000 and above.

In addition, Yashwant Goundar of Fijilive has already committed 200 annual scholarships for school leavers at $2,500 each or a total of $500,000 worth annually at Fijilive’s IT  school, NIIT. This is in addition to the IT education worth $500,000 they have promised for Form 7 students Fiji-wide to enable many of them to enter the workforce, without further education. Various other existing charitable trusts and foundations ( such as Vodafone ATH Foundation; Fiji Water Foundation; etc ) will be approached to support this initiative.

Going forward, it is anticipated that the proposed Fund / Foundation, (with a name that suits the initiative) will have a governance arrangement through a Board of Trustees. The proposed Fund / Foundation is to be the first of its kind in Fiji, ie a partnering undertaking that would involve the Government, the private sector, civil society as well as individual Fiji people, from within the country and overseas.

It is imperative that the proposed Fund / Foundation is organised and run through governance and management arrangements that ensure transparency and accountability. As an integral part of this, it is important to ensure that the Fund / Foundation adheres strictly to principles of voluntarism, it being registered under the Charitable Trusts Act. Put simply, the Fund / Foundation must account for every dollar that it raises, ensuring that its assistance to the very poor and needy children are channelled to the beneficiaries as directly as possible, through voluntary ways and means, while keeping the costs of administration and overheads, to the barest minimum. In addition, the Fund / Foundation’s assistance activities must be guided and be consistently within clearly established objective criteria and guidelines as to who constitute the most needy, disadvantaged children ie children of the poorest of the poor families in Fiji.

The body corporate and organisational structure of the proposed Fund / Foundation will need to reflect its national-level character, purpose and outreach. Again, put simply, it must not be only Suva-based and Suva- specific in its composition. The organisation structure should include the coverage of the whole of Fiji so as to outreach and extend assistance to the very poor throughout the country. To ensure this, there will need to be local level presence, consisting of volunteer teams, of the proposed Fund / Foundation in all the main centres across the country. This is what will ensure the overall strength as indeed the future success and impacts of the assistance activities of the proposed Fund / Foundation.

 

3.     NEXT STEPS

The following is a checklist of action items on which further work is now required :

Ø Determining, through objective criteria and guidelines, who are  the poorest of the poor families in Fiji and identifying and quantifying the overall total numbers of the target needy children population ( who are they, where are they located, and an assessment of needs per child ). Annex 1 is a note on actions to be taken in regard to this;

Ø Identifying additional prospective substantial contributors ie individuals and corporations that will volunteer to contribute substantively to help launch this initiative with a “ big-bang” ( ie contributions in excess of $50,000);

Ø Identifying a Patron (s) and prospective Trustees and establishing a governance and accountability structure ( See Annex 2) ;

Ø Agreeing on a suitable name for the Foundation and registering it under the Charitable Trusts Act (See Annex 3) ;

Ø Determining the date and venue for a “ big-bang” launching of the initiative ( See Annex 4 );

Ø Ensuring sustainability of funding ( See Annex 5 ); and

Ø Identifying a core team of people, highly dedicated to this cause, who will volunteer requisite time to serve as members of an Organising Committee to do all the grunt work in establishing and getting the proposed Fund / Foundation operational ( see Annex 6).

 

                                                                  16 January, 2009

 Annex 1

 

IDENTIFYING THE POOREST OF THE POOR CHILDREN IN FIJI

1.       INTRODUCTION

Accurate identification and targeting of poverty alleviation programs is crucial to program success. Nearly all poverty alleviation programs target a particular sub-population who must meet certain criteria.

A number of initiatives are available through Government and civil society to meet part of the education costs of the poor children. Many of these programs identify the poor from those living below the poverty line, usually the Basic Needs Poverty Line (BNPL). The BNPL increased from $83.00 in 1990 to $130.43 in 2002 per week for a household of four equivalent adult. Statistics collected from the various HIES indicate the proportion of Fiji’s population living below the poverty line increased from 9% in 1977 to 35% in 2002/2003.

According to the 2004-2005 Employment and Unemployment Survey, 10 per cent of children aged 5-14 years were not attending school, due mainly to the financial constraints faced by their parents. Worse still, more than half the total numbers in the final year of primary school, do not progress to secondary education.

The Family Assistance Scheme (FAS) and the Care and Protection Allowance (CPA) administered by the Department of Social Welfare, which target the poorest of the poor in the country, provide useful starting points for identifying the poorest of the poor children for possible assistance through the Poverty Relief Fund for Education.

2.       CURRENT EDUCATION-RELATED PROGRAMS FOR THE POOR

2.1     Remission of Fees

The Ministry of Education allows waivers of school fees for boarding students whose parents earn less than $8,000 a year, under the remission of fees scheme.  Depending on the parental income, the Ministry of Education pays one-quarter (1/4), one-third (1/3) or half (1/2) of the school fees of poor students in boarding schools. An allocation of $0.4m is provided in the 2009 budget for this scheme.

2.2     PSC Student Loan Scheme

The Student Loan Scheme is for all disadvantaged communities who cannot pay for their children’s tertiary education with the combined parental income of less than $12,000 per year. For 2009, an allocation of $1.0m is provided for this scheme.

2.3     Multi Ethnic Scholarships

The programme is designed to provide disadvantaged students from the Indian and other minority communities improved access to education and training and to lift achievement in higher education. Students eligible to apply must have a joint parental or guardian income of $10,000 and below. A budgetary provision of $5.5m is available for this scheme in 2009.

2.4     Family Assistance Scheme (FAS)

The Family Assistance Scheme (FAS) is a poverty alleviation program with the Department of Social Welfare. It is a form of supplementary allowance given to families who do not have the means to meet their daily needs due to loss of income earning power either through circumstances related to death of breadwinner, being deserted by spouse, being chronically ill, prisoner dependent, physically disabled, elderly or being a single parent. The minimum allowance paid per month per household is $60.00 and a maximum of $120 per month.

The recipients of the FAS must meet the following criteria:

(i)     more than 60 years of age (elderly);

     (ii)     if a person is less than sixty years he/she needs to produce a medical   certificate confirming that he/she is not able to work (Chronic Illness/Permanently Disabled);

                (iii) Prisoners dependents;

                (iv) Deserted by spouse;

        (v)  Death of Breadwinner/Widow; and

        (vii)Single Parent

A total of 24,781 families were assisted through the scheme in 2007 (see Table 1). An allocation of $20million is provided for FAS in 2009.

Table 1   Family Assistance Recipients by Category and Gender 2007

 

Fijian

Indo Fijian

Others

Total

Total

Category

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

 

Chronic Illness

1331

2331

1286

1501

53

65

2670

3897

6567

Death of Breadwinner/Widow

2648

192

2411

97

69

9

5128

298

5426

Deserted by Spouse

713

57

739

35

28

4

1480

96

1576

Elderly

2082

2094

1189

801

75

69

3346

2964

6310

Permanently Disabled

840

811

869

558

41

47

1750

1416

3166

Prisoners' Dependents

147

22

62

3

6

1

215

26

241

Single Parent

1120

130

166

24

24

1

1310

155

1465

Total

8881

5637

6722

3019

296

196

15899

8852

24751

        Source: Department of Social Welfare

2.5     Care and Protection Allowance

The Care and Protection Allowance is a form of financial assistance provided to children who are at risks. It was incepted in 1974 when the Juveniles Act was enacted and adopted to provide care, protection and control to children who are victims to any form of child abuse, neglect and abandonment.

Unlike the Family Assistance Allowance, Care and Protection allowances is offered only to children. It is paid out on two streams: for children at Residential Homes and those that are residing with families at community levels.

The scheme specifically targets children, whose parents/guardians are not able to meet the daily needs of the child which includes meeting daily sustenance, education, health needs etc. This is applicable in cases where parents(s) have deserted/abandoned the child, or where parents have died and children are left in kinship care (guardians) or residential homes. In addition, single parents who do not have the financial means to support the child.

The rate of allowance per month is based on the following criteria:

1.     Non School child- $25.00

2.     Primary School-$30.00

3.     Secondary School-$40.00

4.     Child with disability-$60.00

5.     Child in Institution-$60.00

The maximum allowance paid to a family is $110.00 per month

There are a total of 793 poor children benefiting from the C&P allowance (see Table 2).

Table 2 Recipients of Care and Protection Allowance in February, 2008

Payments to Children in Institutional Care

Institution

Number of Beneficiaries

Amount

St Christopher’s Home

18

$1,080.00 per month

Dilkusha Home

36

$2,160.00 per month

Chevalier Hostel

10

$600.00 per month

Veilomani Boys Home

10

$600.00 per month

Treasure Home

13

$780.00 per month

Total

87

$5,220.00

Payments to Families

320 families

 706

$234,240.00

Total

793

 

        Source: Department of Social Welfare

There is a budgetary provision of $400,000 for this activity in 2009.

2.6     Grants to Voluntary Organizations

Government provides direct funding support to Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) that supplement the role of the Department of Social Welfare through the provision of welfare services and community-based programs aimed at alleviating poverty and improving the quality of lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

A total of 36 NGOs were assisted in 2008. Organizations assisted were mostly those that provide services to people with disabilities, including education related assistance (see Table 3).

Table 3 List of NGOs Receiving Grants under Grants to Voluntary Organizations (2008)

1

Fiji Association of Social Workers

$10,000

19

Fiji Vocation & Technical Training Centre

$28,000

2

Project Heaven

$12,000

20

Fiji Disabled People's Association

$3,000

3

The Good Neighbour International

$15,000

21

Fiji Sports Association of the Disabled

$8,000

4

Fiji Society for the Blind

$9,000

22

Spinal Injuries Association of Fiji

$13,718

5

Rescue Mission Community Association

$2,124

23

Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries

$5,000

6

Poor Relief Society

$10,000

24

Pacific Counselling & Social Services

$17,750

7

Methodist Veilomani Boys Home

$8,885

25

Western Disabled Peoples Association

$16,974

8

Dilkusha Girls Home

$28,500

26

National Council of Women

$21,500

9

Senior Citizens Ba Community Centre

$3,657

27

Handicraft Center Kioa Womens Community

$17,546

10

Homes of Hope

$9,000

28

Fiji Disabled People's Association

$3,900

11

Agape Community Association

$2,834

29

Psychiatric Survivors Association

$7,320

12

Fiji Crippled Children Society Ba

$3,800

30

Fiji Association of the Deaf

$9,470

13

Labasa School for Special Education

$12,358

31

United Blind Persons of Fiji

$9,800

14

Fiji Crippled Children Society - Sigatoka Branch

$5,150

32

Methodist Veilomani Boys Home

$3,721

15

Gold Foundation

$3,600

33

Fiji Red Cross Society

$12,630

16

Soqosoqo Vakamarama I Taukei

$13,414

34

Fiji National Council of Disabled Persons

$25,356

17

Counterstroke Fiji

$10,000

35

Lifeline Counselling Service, Ba

$7,545

18

Fiji Crippled Children Society-Suva

$24,448

36

Fiji Association of Social Workers

$5,000

        Source: Department of Social Welfare

2.7     Save the Children Fund

Whilst the Save the Children Fund (SCF) has moved away from welfare-type assistance, it assists needy children on a case by case basis. Through projects funded by donor agencies schools have benefited through a textbook hire scheme, provision of water tanks for schools in drought prone areas, dormitory and classroom furniture, library blocks and books, sanitation projects and classroom block construction.  The SCF assisted children affected by the closure of the Vatukoula Gold Mine through paying school fees and purchasing stationery.

3.       IDENTIFYING THE POOREST OF THE POOR CHILDREN TO BE ASSISTED THROUGH THE POVERTY RELIEF FUND

The Family Assistance Scheme (FAS) and the Care and Protection Allowance (CPA) administered by the Department of Social Welfare, which target the poorest of the poor in the country, provide useful starting points for identifying the poorest of the poor children for possible assistance through the Poverty Relief Fund for Education.

Most of the seven categories of recipients (totaling 24,751 in 2007) support at least one child. This information is not available on a database and therefore needs to be compiled from files in the four divisions. The Department of Social Welfare is considering compiling data on the children who are supported by the recipients of the FAS.

A breakdown of the children assisted through the CPA needs to be compiled by the Department of Social welfare.

Databases on poorest of the poor children supported by the recipients of FAS and CPA will allow effective targeting of the Poverty Relief Fund. As well, the other government and civil society organizations will also be able to improve their programs when such information is readily available.

4.       WAY FORWARD

The National Organising Committee for the establishment of the proposed Foundation to undertake the following, in coordination with the Ministry of National Planning, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation:

1.       compile a database of all children who are supported by the recipients of Family Assistance Scheme;

2.       compile a database of all children who are supported by the recipients of the Care and Protection Allowance, and Grants to Voluntary Organizations; and

3.       develop criteria and guidelines to be followed by the proposed Foundation including assistance activities and delivery modalities for the poorest of the poor children at primary, secondary and tertiary level support operations. These will need to take into account that there are very poor children who fall outside the FAS and CPA, and who may genuinely need assistance.

                                                              Annex 2

 

Note : the names listed below are all indicative only. No decisions have been made about any of these names.

A.   Prospective Patron(s) :

·        His Excellency, the President of Fiji

·        Sir Moti Tikaram

·        Archbishop Petero Mataca

B.   Trustees :

To ensure broadest possible geographical coverage of the country, identify a number of persons ( social/community leaders ) from each of the Central, Northern, Eastern and Western Divisions, plus a number of prominent business leaders. In addition, there should be appropriate representation , as Trustees in the Fund / Foundation, from the Government of the day which, initially, would be the current Interim Government. Also, the substantial overseas supporters of the Fund / Foundation may be represented in the governance structure of the Fund / Foundation, as Trustees. However, the actual total number of Trustees will be determined through a due consultation process and will also need to follow established norms.

The following are some names ( indicative only at this stage ) of prospective Trustees:

Some Prospective Trustees :

( Note : The total number would need to be kept to about 6-8 maximum)

1.     Central Division :

·        Mrs. Lorine Tevi

·        Mr. Josefa Serulagilagi

·        Daniel Whippy

·        Dewan Maharaj

·        Rev Akuila Yabaki

2.     Northern Division :

·        Morika Young

·        Satish Gulabdas

·        Don Bull

·        Greg Watson

3.     Eastern Division :

·        Ratu Meli Vesikula

·        Ratu Jolame Lewanavanua

4.     Western Division :

·        Radike Qereqeretabua

·        Y.P.Reddy

·        Mrs. Prue Rouse

·        David Hopcroft

·        Kanti Tappoo                                                                    

 

 Annex 2

SELECTING A SUITABLE NAME ( some suggestions, but note, that a final decision on this matter to be based on broad consensus) :

Ø Poverty Relief Fund for Education, PRFE

Ø Initiative for Needy Children Fiji , Inc. Fiji

Ø Fund for Needy Children in Fiji, FNCF

Ø Fiji Foundation for the Education of the Poor, FFEP

Ø Foundation for Needy Children in Fiji, FNCF

Ø  T.E.A.C.H ( Trust for the Education of All Children)

Ø No Child Left Behind ( NCLB ) Foundation

Ø Yes We Will for Fiji Foundation ( YWWFF)

Ø Fiji Foundation for Education ( FEF)

Ø Fiji Peoples Education Foundation ( FPEF)

Ø Free Fiji of Poverty Foundation ( FFPF)

Ø Foundation for a Fiji Free of Poverty ( FFFP)

                                                                           Annex 3

LAUNCHING OF THE INITIATIVE

It is proposed that a high profile, big bang” launching of the initiative be held. On the day designated for the launching, it could be marked by several activities, such as the following :

Ø Throughout the country ie in all major urban centres ( Suva, Lautoka, Ba, Nadi, Sigatoka, Labasa, Savu Savu, Raki Raki, Navua, Nausori, Levuka), a 10 km walk / run to be held as a fundraiser;

Ø On the same evening, fundraising dinners could be held in each of these centres;

Ø Also on the same evening a “ Concert in the Park “ could be held, bringing together top singers and entertainers from that part of the country;

Ø In Suva, where the main Launching Ceremony is to be held, the fundraising dinner and the Concert in the Park events will be carefully sequenced. It is anticipated that the Suva Concert will attract a number of Fiji’s high profile celebrities ( singers such as Paulini Curuenavuli, sports players such as Joe Rokocoko, Lote Tuqiri, Waisele Serevi, Sitiveni Sivivatu  and Vijay Singh, etc )

Following this type of launching, then each year, similar events will be held on a pre-planned designated day, as part of a big-push national-level fundraising drive. In this context, it is anticipated that starting with the allocation of $200,000 this year, the Government will make annual contributions to the Foundation. The Government’s financial contribution could be earmarked to defray the necessary administrative and organisational expenses of the Foundation so that every dollar that is raised from other parties ( ie the private sector, individuals, from Fiji people overseas ) could all be channelled to the beneficiary children.

                                                                             Annex 4.

 ENSURING SUSTAINABILITY OF FUNDING

Mobilising and sustaining adequate levels of funding is of critical importance to ensure that the proposed initiative to promote and facilitate the education of the children of the poorest of the poor achieves success over time.

Currently, there are a number of organisations as well as philanthropic individuals engaged in similar, cause-oriented activities. These include community and religious organisations ( such as the T.I.S.I. Sangam, and the Arya Samaj among others ) and NGOs ( such as Save the Children Fund ). Among the individuals known to be involved in or contemplating similar activities are Melbourne-based Jerry Jairaj; and in Fiji, Hari Punja, Kanti Tappoo, Yashwant Goundar of Fijilive with NIIT, Fiji Water Foundation; Vodafone ATH Foundation, and others. A proliferation of such efforts with low levels of funding support, yet each requiring a basic minimum of organisation and management, is likely to have minimal overall impacts.

The proposed Foundation, in contrast, would be a first of its kind in that it would involve a partnering between the Government, the private sector, civil society organisations including NGOs as well as individuals. It could, therefore, serve as an apex body through which the various organisations and individuals could channel their assistance, thereby assuring due recognition as well as greater impacts. For instance, and by way of example only, instead of setting up and operating separate charitable trusts in their own names, such prominent and altruistic business leaders like Mr. Hari Punja and Mr. Kantilal Tappoo may fully fund, each year “x” number of fellowships at “y” dollar-cost; and the proposed Foundation administers all these fellowships, each designated as ( the “Hari Punja Fellowship” and the “ Kantilal Tappoo Fellowship”, etc ). In such instances, the beneficiary children and their families will be fully aware of who is providing the assistance to them. Some donors may not seek such name recognition but still be significant contributors to the Foundation.

In mobilising and its utilisation of the funds raised, the proposed Foundation must adhere to sound governance and accountability principles. To the maximum extent practicable, the assistance that the proposed Foundation provides to the very needy children must be channelled directly to the beneficiaries, through voluntary ways and means, and avoiding sizeable administrative and related costs, including overheads. It is desirable that the proposed Foundation operates on voluntary principles.

It is anticipated that one of the accounting firms will provide its services, gratis, to take care of accounting and auditing for the proposed Foundation and its activities.

                                                                              Annex 5

National Organising Committee ( NOC)

The following are proposed to initially serve as members most of NOC; and others may be co-opted:

·        John Samy ( Initial Coordinator/Chair)

·        Krishna Murti ( Tappoos)

·        Kamlesh Kumar ( K.Kumar & Co.)

·        Yashwant Goundar (Fijilive)

·        Aisake Casimira (PCC)

·        David Roth ( Fiji Water)

·        Lorine Tevi ( FCOSS)

·        Radrodro Tabualevu (Telecom Fiji)

·        Father Kevin Barr (ECREA)

·        Nisar Ali ( Suva)

·        Morika Young ( Savusavu)

·        Dixon Seeto ( Hexagon Group)

·        Pita Wise (PS National Planning)

To ensure broad-based representation and country-wide outreach, small working committees consisting of dedicated volunteers will be set up in each of the four Divisions in the following centres : Levuka; Labasa; Lautoka; and Suva. The National Organising Committee will coordinate with these four local level working teams.