Caption: Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in discussion with chairman of Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Board, Mr Dixon Seeto and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum . Photo: SUPPLIED
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama met more than 100 students and parents this morning to address their concerns regarding the Tertiary Education Loans Scheme commonly known as TELS.
The consultations-style meeting was in response to concerns raised by students and parents on the various processes involved in disbursing funds for students to begin or continue studies under the loan scheme. This included the disbursement of funds for book allowances, the guarantors for students who qualify for student loans and the changing of courses that may affect students? eligibility for loans.
The Prime Minister was joined by other senior government officials and members of the TELS Board to meet directly with students and their parents. The Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister?s Office Mr Pio Tikoduadua said the Prime Minister shared the concerns of the students and called for today?s forum to ?iron out their issues?.
?The Prime Minister has expressed concern that the issues faced by students needed to be addressed to ensure that their education is not disrupted?, Mr Tikoduadua said. ?Education assistance in this year?s national budget is significantly higher than previous years because Government wants to make sure that no child is left behind.?
The positive meeting today between the Prime Minister with the students and their parents was a positive step towards ensuring that students have access to education without any financial difficulties. He highlighted at the meeting that the investments carried out by Government in the education sector was designed to improve the lives of students and to help in the overall development of the nation.
Also present at today?s meet was 62 year old Ranjeet Singh of Bau Road in Nausori. Despite his age, Mr Singh travelled to Suva this morning to meet with the Prime Minister and present concerns regarding his son?s education.
?My son, Satya Jeet Singh completed his diploma in Education from the Fiji National University in 2012 however, due to no place for teaching; he stayed home until 2013 and was under a waiting list. I advised him to complete his degree in Education and apply for the TELS,? Singh said.
Mr Singh said his son is studying for his Bachelor of Education at FNU but his son?s loan was not approved resulting in overdue fees for his course.
?I am so fortunate and proud to meet the PM and he is the first Prime Minister who sat with us and listened to our concerns. I got assurance from him and the board that my son will get the loan approved. I have faith in the PM and I?m glad that finally my son can go ahead with his studies.?
The Tertiary Education Loans Scheme provides low-interest Government loans to any Fijian student who is accepted at one of the tertiary institutions in Fiji covering full tuition costs.
Meanwhile students around the country that require assistance or clarifications regarding the loan scheme are urged to email firstname.lastname@example.org