"E RA ciciva na udolu (na dola) mai kea, ia ra guilecava na milioni e tu yani qo. (They pursue the thousands (of dollars) over there but forget the millions over here."
Isimeli Waibuta Tagicakiverata made the observation yesterday at the veranda of their Painapiu Rd home at Nakasi. He was referring to the countless youngsters who have left our country in pursuit of better paying opportunities overseas, mainly in the British armed forces.
It was not made in a moment of idleness as the subject of unemployed young people all over the country is something this native of Muanaira Village in the district of Vutia if not passionate about, is very interested in.
This Rewa man who has now set his sights firmly on TVET, (technical vocation education and training), began his education at Dilkusha Boys School in Nausori. In 1990 he moved down to the coast of Tailevu where he attended Queen Victoria School for forms Three and Four. For forms Five, Six and Seven, he moved back to Nausori enrolling at Lelean Memorial School.
After Lelean he was offered a scholarship by the Public Service Commission to pursue a bachelor's degree majoring in Education and English at the University of the South Pacific which he attained in 1997.
And it was back to the Nausori area but this time to a different school, Sila Secondary School to be exact, where he spent his next seven years.
While teaching, Isimeli who is a vasu (where his mother is from) of Vabea, Ono in Kadavu was again doing some studies. This time he was after a postgraduate diploma in education which he got in 2000. In 2004 the soft-spoken man had a master's degree in education under his belt.
It would seem the son of a schoolteacher, he is the son of Pita Tagicakiverata, has a destiny to be directly linked to schools or training schools.
Armed with his masters he went to work doing some research for what is now the Fiji National University from 2005 to 2007.
While at FNU Isimeli relates their carrying out three major surveys locally.
The first he says was a training needs assessment in which the survey teams visited 60 villages and talked to 1800 respondents around the country. In another, they spoke with 1000 students who were in Form Seven. For the third they spoke with 200 students who were then in forms Three and Four.
Central to all three surveys was the question of what would students want to be when they had finished their schooling.
In the course of all this, Isimeli and team members found things did not change much. They also found that those who had wanted to be teachers while in Form Three still nurtured that dream in Form Seven.
He also pointed out the survey findings revealed there were some in Form Seven who had not yet decided or given some serious thought as to which career path they would follow.
Isimeli says he and his team visited 40 of the 60 villages that were visited as part of the first survey. He said he was drawn to the plight of school leavers, some of whom had passed their forms Six and Seven examinations but were just idle in the village.
Referring to all the money and time that had been used to send those young unemployed people to school, he yesterday said: "E sa qai dua na lusi levu," (It's a huge waste.)
nMore on Isimeli and what can be achieved through TVET in this week's The Sunday Times.