Venkat Raman –
Fiji is undergoing a revolution in its education sector, providing opportunities not only for teaching and administrative staff but also for investors and others engaged in education business.
That was a message which Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama gave while speaking at a Symposium organised by ‘Fiji Trade and Investment’ at Stamford Plaza Hotel on Thursday, October 20, 2016.
“My Government’s education revolution is our proudest achievement and the cornerstone of our nation’s development. For the first time, we have introduced free schooling at primary and secondary level, along with more scholarships for higher education and a tertiary loans scheme,” he said.
The government has provided F$ 66.4 million in this year’s budget for new initiatives including grants to schools that comply with the prescribed criteria, free textbooks to children, bus fare for children of parents earning less than F$ 15,600 per year, free milk to all Year 1 students (launched last year) and other benefits.
Mr Bainimarama said that while the three established universities, namely the University of South Pacific (Suva), University of Fiji (Lautoka) and Fiji National University (Suva) are functioning well, his government has established a new work of three Fiji technical colleges.
According to the Education Ministry, these include Dr Shaukat Sahib Ali Campus in Nadi, Arya College in Labasa (Vanua Levu) and Nabua Sanatan College in Suva.
With a budget of F$ 7 million, these colleges offer National Qualification Programmes, enroll students to use the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) to finance their education and offering students technical pathways after they complete Year 10.
“We have established technical colleges to provide Fiji with the skills base it needs to prosper and provide employers with a workforce that is more formally qualified than at any other time in Fijian history,” Mr Bainimarama said.
Mr Bainimarama said that education was being offered on equal opportunity basis without discrimination.
“We have put behind us the lost years; the years in which we argued about who among us deserved more rather than working together as one people to take our nation forward. With everyone now enjoying the common identity of being Fijian, there is a new sense of belonging, a new sense of unity, a new sense of purpose and the feeling of inclusiveness of taking everyone with us on our journey forward. We have entered a new era of confidence and sustained growth in the Fijian economy,” he said.
Lifting the poor
Stating that Fiji is now investing in new infrastructure, he said that the government is launching schemes to improve the lives of the disadvantaged Fijians by providing them with subsidized electricity, free water and medicine and the country’s first-ever social security pensions.
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Bainimarama at the inaugural ceremony of Shaukat Sahib Ali Campus in Nadi last year.