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Fiji Time: 4:13 AM on Friday 18 April

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Tents for classes

Repeka Nasiko
Friday, December 28, 2012

SOME schools in the Western Division will have to conduct classes next year under makeshift tents.

This is the word from the divisional education officer west, Lorima Voravora, who put the initial damage assessment for education at $5million for Western schools alone.

He said the figure could increase as government officials continued with repair assessments.

"The cost is $5million and counting. The damage to schools in the west is too much to comprehend at the moment," Mr Voravora said.

"In Lautoka alone, the cost of damage could be at $3million and that is not counting the schools in the Yasawa and the Mamanuca groups.

"We have less than a few weeks left and that is our main concern. We are working against time here and a lot of things have to be done to get the schools back up and running.

"Because of that we have contingency plans in place like we might have to put up makeshift classrooms or tents for the students when school starts next year," Mr Voravora explained.

"There was a lot of damage and we have been working round-the-clock to assess the situation at every school and after this we will put together a final cost of damage," he said.

"Schools in the Yasawa and the Mamanuca groups were also badly affected. We have been getting damage assessment reports and we have been working closely with the Ministry of Education directors to try and come up with solutions to assist the rebuilding of each school."

He said some schools were completely wiped out by Cyclone Evan. This included Bukama Primary School which had most of its classrooms destroyed by the category four cyclone.

He added that a meeting with the school board heads would be held today.

"We want to get them on-board in the cleaning and repairing process.

"Making sure that the school is fixed and up to standard will not only be government's responsibility but also theirs.

"If the school is owned by the Methodist Church or the Fiji Muslim League then they would also be the ones that we will talk to," said Mr Voravora.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Works has also confirmed its involvement in rehabilitation works for damaged schools in the west.

Permanent secretary for Works, Commander Francis Kean said the ministry had been tasked by the National Disaster Management Office to assist the Ministry of Education in the damage assessment of all school in the Western Division.

"A team of six quantity surveyors have been deployed from the Central Division to assist in this operation.

"The report from this exercise will be submitted to the Commissioner's Office and also to NDMO. The divisional education officer in Lautoka has been liaising with our team on this tasking," said Cdr Kean.