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What the politicians say on Education

Nasik Swami/ Dawn Gibson
Saturday, June 21, 2014

JESE SIKIVOU, Social Democratic and

Liberal Party, communications director

EDUCATION under the government has

been subjected to major changes such as introduction of the so called "free education" in its last year of administration which is basically similar to "tuition free education". The merging of FAB and multiethnic scholarships into one scheme, introduction of Toppers Scheme whereby the top 600 students are given scholarships based solely on merit, facilities on government schools like QVS, RKS, ASC were allowed to deteriorate with transport assistance to some categories of students. SODELPA will revitalise the whole education system and provide a more realistic approach to education which include compulsory primary and secondary education, tuition free education to primary, secondary and for special education schools, extend tuition fee-free education to kindergarten schools, provide financial grants to meet cost of textbooks, stationery, and specialist facilities at schools and upgrade facilities at government schools including facilities for schools in rural areas based on needs and an index of

difficulties.

PROFESSOR BIMAN PRASAD, National

Federation Party leader

THERE is an urgent need to review the

current curriculum to find out where we stand in terms of quality of the teaching and learning process. We appreciate and understand government's attempt to provide scholarship and loan for all students who qualify for higher education. We will, however, review the structure of Tertiary Education Loans Scheme and its secretariat while maintaining the goal of providing scholarship and loans to students. The NFP will institute an education commission to carry out a comprehensive review of all facets of the education system. The last such commission was 14 years ago. The NFP will keep the current Toppers Scheme for the 600 highest achievers in Form Seven. However, for those who do not make the cut in the 600, we will introduce a means tested scholarship. This will ensure that students from very poor families will get full scholarship and will not be forced to take a loan. We will also convert all loans in 2014 to means tested scholarships for those who meet the criteria. The NFP will review the teachers' salaries to ensure that we have a salary level commensurate with the work that teachers, specialists and

school heads undertake.

ROSHIKA DEO, Independent candidate,

Be the Change campaign leader

FREE education access is important

however, we still have some communities in which children do not (or regularly) attend schools and girls are taken out of school/universities which needs to be addressed as priority. Primary and tertiary education curriculum needs to be revised to incorporate creative arts, be interactive and make allowances for people with reading disabilities; a comprehensive SRHR curriculum is also critical to become a preventative measure for social concerns. National scholarships should be based on the realities of our education sector, where the quality of education is not the same in all the schools and in some communities children experience violence, do not have access to proper roads, electricity and water which all affects the time they put towards school work. Tertiary education courses need to be relevant and responsive to our economy, progressive and equip us with skills for the job market. Our education sector should be reformed progressively to become disability friendly, including for people with hearing and visual impairments. Preschool education is the most critical part of a child's development and we need to put more resources in its

development.

AMAN RAVINDRA-SINGH, Peoples

Democratic Party, general secretary

FIRSTLY there needs to be quality educa-

tion provided to our students. It is not good enough to say there is free education when in fact that is false. It is free tuition and there are more costs involved when you talk about education and this includes paying for school uniforms, lunches and books. Secondly, the education system needs to be geared more towards the needs of our society. Why does a student who comes out at the end of his or her high school year not have the necessary skills to get a job? If a high school leaver is trained with the necessary skills to get into a trade or vocation, this will at the least start off the process towards getting into the job market and working towards becoming established in that particular trade or vocation. PDP will provide more resources towards skills based training for students while they are in high school among other plans which will be

released in our manifesto.

MAHENDRA CHAUDHRY, Fiji Labour Party

leader/ general secretary

LABOUR believes that education is the right

of every child. No child should be deprived of educational opportunities because of financial constraints. We believe that despite the populist policies of the government such as free bus fares, textbook allowances and the so-called free education, the government has done very little to advance the quality of education, including adult education. Its "free education" policy, based on a per capita grant, in fact favours the bigger schools in urban areas with high school rolls. The smaller rural schools that are most in need of assistance are put at a distinct disadvantage by this policy. Labour offers a more fair distribution of resources to ensure that rural schools are adequately resourced to provide good quality education. We will also carry out a comprehensive review of the education system in terms of curriculum and the quality and

relevance of education provided.





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