THE issue of constructing safer and secure school buildings for the new school year has been highlighted by authorities.
Speaking at a heads of department meeting in Lautoka yesterday, divisional education officer west Lorima Voravora said there was a need to build more secure and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) compliant schools.
"We know some of the schools are not strong enough and we are trying to change that," said Mr Voravora. "We are working with engineers from the Public Works Department, the Lautoka City Council and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to put together building plans that establish a standardised building plan that each contractor will have to adhere to.
"They will have to go through the normal processes of certification to ensure that we are constructing safer buildings for our children," Mr Voravora said.
Identifying schools that needed major repair works, Mr Voravora said Bukama Primary School in the Yasawa's and Jasper Williams High School of Lautoka were the worst affected by Cyclone Evan.
"So far the total cost of repair works lies at more than $4million.
"This is the cost for us to fully restore all of our damaged schools and get them ready for January 21.
"Some schools have their cost of damage at $20,000 while others only suffered minor damage."
Mr Voravora also said the Ministry of Education with the assistance of the commissioner western's office had put together a Cyclone Evan Education Rehabilitation Strategy.
"Our rehab plans involve all of the rehab works that we have and will be carrying out until January 21.
"Some of the strategies that we have are the construction of makeshift tents. We can confirm that UNICEF will be donating tents for makeshift classrooms," he explained.
Mr Voravora revealed that $1.3million was allocated by government to assist in the rehab works while $2million was given by AusAID.