Sayed-Khaiyum clarifies increase

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum leaves during a break in Parliament yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

THE Fijian Government expects to see an increase in students benefiting from the free bus fare scheme this year, hence the increase in budgetary allocation for the scheme.

The question on why there was an increase from $20 million allocated in the 2017/2018 budget to $25m in the 2018/2019 budget was raised by Opposition member Mikaele Leawere during the budget debate yesterday.

Education Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the budgetary allocation for the bus fare scheme increased because Government was expecting 105,049 students to apply for the scheme this year.

He said in 2017, there were 97,647 students who benefited from the assistance.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said from the 97,647 students, 65,374 were in primary schools, 31,335 in secondary schools and 1073 were in technical colleges.

He said this year, Government was expecting 70,952 students to be assisted in the primary school level, 33,000 in secondary schools and 1097 in technical colleges.

The Education Minister also mentioned there were plans to have a Scouts program rolled out in all primary schools from next year.

An allocation of $200,000 has been allocated for this project.

“As announced in the budget, it’ll be done from next year when the new school term starts. In the meantime, this money will be used for staff training because as you know a lot of these scouts are not present in the high school level, it’s generally primary school level,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“The idea is to have it in high school level, but we need enough teachers and other members to be trained in Scouts value, et cetera, so this funding will be used initially for that.”