In Fiji’s linguistically diverse context, vernacular and English literacy priorities for preschool children are significant. A meeting of Pacific Education Ministers prior to this study urged member nations to recommit to vernacular education and language learning, and to establish appropriate policies to support these practices. The need for multilingual literacy education programs is a concern in Fiji and throughout the Pacific region, where communities are keen to preserve their cultural identities and relations. At the same time, English is the language of Fiji’s government, schooling, regional economic development, media and global participation. Thus families and communities are also concerned about their children’s English proficiency.
Addressing these vernacular education and language learning priorities, this study’s aim was: To build sustainable local capacity in communities in Fiji that do not have access to early childhood services to foster their preschool children’s literacy development in their home languages and English.
Three communities, including 51 three to five year old children and their 44 families, participated. The research team worked across each community with children, their extended families, community elders and youth groups, as the team’s co-investigators in home and community settings. In these settings, strategies for fostering preschool literacy were developed, grounded in communities’ cultural, social, linguistic and material realities.