1. MONACO AND FIJI ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS – The Principality of Monaco and the Republic of Fiji formalised diplomatic relations at a ceremony at the Fiji Mission to the United Nations in New York this week.
2. BIGGER PLANS FOR OLPC PROGRAMME NEXT YEAR – More schools in the country will become part of the Ministry of Education’s One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme by the end of this year.
3. NEW ROAD CONTRACTOR FOR NORTHERN DIVISION – Fulton Hogan Hiway, one of the largest road maintenance contractors in New Zealand, are the new contractors of road maintenance work in the Northern Division effective from 18thNovember.
4. EDUCATION IS THE WAY FORWARD – Dedicating almost a fifth of the entire national budget to education demonstrate Government’s seriousness towards making Fiji a nation led by bright and young individuals.
5. LTA TO INCREASE ROAD SAFETY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN – The Minister for Transport, Colonel Timoci Lesi Natuva officially launched the LTA road safety awareness bus today demonstrating their commitment to intensifying road safety awareness.
6. VIABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY THE WAY FORWARD: VANIQI – Government continues to stress the need for viability and sustainability in all Fiji sectors to ensure that the growth of these critical industries remains positive.
7. FIJIAN STUDENTS PARTICIPATES AT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL IN NEW DELHI, INDIA – Fijian Students studying under the Indian Cultural Scholarship Scheme by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) participated at the XXI International Students Festival of Dance and Music held at Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi, India this week.
8. MINISTER VISITS NORTHERN YOUTH – The Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr Viliame Naupoto visited several projects and youth groups in Vanua Levu this week.
1 MONACO AND FIJI ESTABLISH DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
The Principality of Monaco and the Republic of Fiji formalised diplomatic relations at a ceremony at the Fiji Mission to the United Nations in New York this week.
The Permanent Representative of Monaco to the United Nations, Ambassador Isabelle Picco and her Fiji counterpart, Ambassador Peter Thomson, today signed a joint communiqué establishing diplomatic relations between the two States.
The communiqué expresses the desire of Fiji and Monaco to establish their diplomatic relations in accordance with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, guided by the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and international law.
The communiqué calls for the promotion of mutual understanding and the strengthening of friendship and cooperation between Monaco and Fiji.
Following the formalisation ceremony, Ambassadors Picco and Thomson held talks on areas of common interest to their two countries at the United Nations, focusing on the priority placed by both upon good stewardship of oceanic resources. Discussions covered efforts to create a Sustainable Development Goal aimed at healthy oceans and seas for the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda.
In concluding the meeting, the Ambassadors assured each other of the mutual support of their Missions in the furtherance of common causes in multilateral affairs.
2 BIGGER PLANS FOR OLPC PROGRAMME NEXT YEAR
More schools in the country will become part of the Ministry of Education’s One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme by the end of this year.
The Minister for Education, Filipe Bole highlighted this during his visit to the Assemblies of God Primary School in Kinoya today, where he launched the OLPC programme and the school’s new computer lab, the ‘Greeno Room’.
Mr Bole said that more than 18 primary schools are now using the OLPC programme, which is all about equipping Fiji’s future leaders with the necessary tools to prepare them well for a variety of career paths.
“The Fijian Government, in its commitment to the OLPC in primary schools, has approved $800,000 in the budget for 2014 to further equip more of our primary schools with OLPC programme next year,” Mr Bole said.
“Computer education programme prepares individuals to be more creative and artistic by offering courses in graphic design, game design or web design and animations. It leads further to a variety of career paths such as software developers, programmers, database administrators, system analysts or computer scientists.”
AOG Primary School received 30 XO laptops this year which are being used by classes 1-7. Next year, the school will start the intake of class 8 students, who will also benefit from this programme.
“This is the beginning of the transition of a new education culture in which the information and computer technology are being used to facilitate teaching and learning.
“The laptops are just tools for teaching and learning. It is the content that is more important. Therefore, teachers are encouraged to be more knowledgeable, because we need you to be ahead of our children,” Mr Bole added.
The Education Minister also urged parents to assist the teachers in the development of children, particularly when government is going to provide free education for primary and secondary schools from next year.
AOG Primary School head teacher, Mr Mataiasi Kamunaga said they have received an overwhelming response from students since the start of the OLPC programme a few months ago.
“We are going to together with the plans of the e-learning programme that is happening around the world and I am sure we are one of the countries in the Pacific that is going with this programme,” Mr Kamunaga said.
Mr Kamunaga said they will ask for assistance from the Ministry of Education to provide them with 10 more laptops to cater for about 40 students per class.
“Each class gets 45 minutes per week to use the Greeno lab and we have 21 classes altogether at the school. The lab is open from Monday to Thursdayfor the children’s use.
“We also need more e-learning equipment as we want our children to have kids wizard online programme. The OLPC programme makes the learning for our children very easy and teachers are also learning at the same time so that they are able to answer all the queries of our children,” Mr Kamunaga added.
AOG Primary School has a roll of 800 students and 22 teachers.
3 NEW ROAD CONTRACTOR FOR NORTHERN DIVISION
Fulton Hogan Hiway, one of the largest road maintenance contractors in New Zealand, are the new contractors of road maintenance work in the Northern Division effective from 18th November.
This was revealed by the Fiji Roads Authority chief executive officer, Mr Neil Cook at a press conference held today.
Cook said that following the receivership of Blacktop Construction Limited two months ago, FRA reached a resolution to continue road work for short-term in the North, a long-term solution to replace Blacktop and protect Fijian sub-contractors owed money by Blacktop.
“Blacktop has left the trail of bad debt in Fiji owing millions of dollars to local businesses. FRA has no legal responsibility for these debts but in this specific case Government has decided to step forward to assist Blacktop’s unsecured creditors especially the small suppliers because the system of outsourcing road maintenance work to the private sector is still in its early stages,” Cook said.
He said many of these suppliers and sub-contractors were not in a position to fully assess the commercial risk and the liability under the new structure thus; government has developed a debt relief package for these small contractors.
“Criteria will be followed for the payment of money owed to these contractors in full and this would be in excess of $3 million to small suppliers and sub-contractors.”
Mr Cook said roads in the North are worse than elsewhere with works commencing this year and continuing in 2014.
Road maintenance in the North would cost $25 million a year adding additional effort for unsealed roads.
4 EDUCATION IS THE WAY FORWARD
Dedicating almost a fifth of the entire national budget to education demonstrate Government’s seriousness towards making Fiji a nation led by bright and young individuals.
And for this, Prime Minister Josaia Bainimarama was congratulated by head of Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong in the move towards availing primary and secondary education to all for free.
Speaking at the Corpus Christi Teachers’ College graduation, the Prime Minister told the graduating teachers that the education budget was the best investment “we can make to fulfil my Government’s vision of Fiji as a clever country, a nation peopled by those with fine minds and fine skills”.
“Any nation that is willing to invest almost a fifth of its national budget in education is a nation that takes education seriously. No Fijian child is going to be left behind,” the head of Government said.
“Poverty will no longer be a barrier to education.”
The archbishop said this was important to the church because education has been an integral part of the church’s mission from the early days.
Two of the 34 graduates of Corpus Christi Teachers’ College, who will soon join the ranks of the rest of the teaching fraternity, said they were happy with the move to make primary and secondary education free.
For 22 year old Lavina Reddy of Labasa the happiness she feels for her future students is tinged with a bit of sadness.
“When I heard the Prime Minister speaking today on free education I had tears in my eyes because I remembered how hard my parents worked to send me to school especially since they are farmers,” she said.
“I just wished the Government’s in the past had the foresight to do that but I am happy that parents will no longer struggle.”
Another inspired youth, Amenatave Rokodave from Naitasiri believes that there should be no school dropouts now, which was prominent in the past.
The proud teacher said he was happy that the profession he has entered will help the nation by educating young people who lead the nation in the future.
The 2014 budget has allocated $541.5m to education and Corpus Christi, which is managed by the Church, has received a grant of $150,000.
5 LTA TO INCREASE ROAD SAFETY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
The Minister for Transport Colonel Timoci Lesi Natuva officially launched the LTA road safety awareness bus today demonstrating their commitment to intensifying road safety awareness.
During his speech Natuva highlighted that the new vehicle will allow the authority to visit more communities, villagers, settlements, schools, towns and selected maritime islands.
“The launch of the LTA road safety bus will intensify the current road safety awareness and outreach momentum to a new height right across the country,” said Natuva.
A series of successful road safety campaigns by the land transport Authority (LTA) has been implemented and the launch of the road safety bus will enable the authority to be more mobile and visible on the roads at all times.
“A number of factors such as non use of seat belts, excess speed, drinking and driving and insufficiently maintained road are the major causes of traffic related injuries.
“Therefore it is imperative for government to ensure the national road traffic causality reduction targets to be achieved by the end of the decade,” said Minister Natuva.
6 VIABILITY AND SUSTAINABILITY THE WAY FORWARD: VANIQI
Government continues to stress the need for viability and sustainability in all Fiji sectors to ensure that the growth of these critical industries remain positive.
Ministry of Sugar permanent secretary, Manasa Vaniqi while naming the newest vessel to carry Fiji’s sugar to the United Kingdom ‘MV Wuchang’ at the Queens Wharf in Lautoka this week said this was one of the cornerstones of Government.
“The Fijian Government in its effort to revive the Industry has implemented measures to ensure its viability and sustainability,” he said.
“As a result of these measures, we can see the improvements: one to be noted is the increase in Mill reliability and efficiencies for the past 2 years.”
Mr Vaniqi who officiated at the maiden voyage of the new ship said, the major challenge facing the Industry is working to increase the cane yields to reach the 4 million tonne mark.
Diversification projects are underway to ensure that the Industry continues to be a vibrant and viable one despite the challenges and volatility of the sugar market.
“I am confident that the new partnership between Swires and the Industry will develop and strengthened to support our recovery and future growth,” Mr Vaniqi said.
The ship was constructed in China and the Queens Wharf was its first Port O’ Call and will travel to Malau Labasa before sailing to London.
“To accomplish growth, we need partners and we are thankful for Swires Shipping Line for their commitment to this partnership.
7 FIJIAN STUDENTS PARTICIPATES AT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL IN NEW DELHI, INDIA
Fijian Students studying under the Indian Cultural Scholarship Scheme by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) participated at the XXI International Students Festival of Dance and Music held at Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi, India this week.
The event with the theme “Friendship Though Culture” was inaugurated by Dr. Karam Singh, M.P President of ICCR.
Dr Singh made special of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, independent India’s first Education Minister and founder of ICCR on his birth anniversary. He stated that the Council helps formulate and implement policies pertaining to India’s external cultural relations, to foster mutual understanding between India and other countries and to promote cultural exchanges with other peoples.
The General Cultural Scholarship Scheme (GCSS) is one of the most important and popular schemes of the ICCR for foreign students. Scholarships are awarded under this scheme annually to international students belonging to certain Asian, African and Latin American countries for the undergraduate, postgraduate degrees and for pursuing research at Indian universities.
The Government of India, under Indian Council for Cultural Relations scholarship programme offers various scholarships to students in Fiji to study in India offering 25 scholarship slots annually. The courses include Accounts, Agricultural Science, Arts, Commerce, Engineering, Humanities, Hindi, Indian Classical Music, Indian Classical Dance, Information technology, Languages, Mass Communication, Painting, Science subjects, Social science, sculpture etc.
The scholarship provided by ICCR has seen many students from Fiji attaining higher level of qualifications from various reputable universities in India. Students have not only graduated with higher qualifications but have returned to Fiji and secured good jobs with government departments, private firms and corporate organisations.
Currently there are 72 Fijians undertaking studies for various courses at institutions in different parts of India.
The Fijian students presented a typical Fijian dance “Meke” and students from 17 other countries also presented their national dance and songs.
The event was attended by various diplomats from respective countries, friends and associates of ICCR. The Fiji High Commission was represented by Second Secretary, Mr. Om Goundar.
8 MINISTER VISITS NORTHERN YOUTH
The Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr Viliame Naupoto visited several projects and youth groups in Vanua Levu this week.
The two-day visit by Minister Naupoto was to assess ongoing projects scattered in Bua and Cakaudrove provinces, to visit the ministry’s training and vocational schools and motivate youths in Vanua Levu.
On Monday he visited the Naleba Training School outside Labasa, Dreketi youth clubs (3) in Macuata, Naqere Training School and Waivunia village in Savusavu. He then visited Adi Elaine Primary School in Wainunu and Makolei Youth Club in Solevu both in the Bua province on Tuesday.
His message was consistent throughout while speaking to rural young people that “youths are the energy of the nation”.
“One thing is certain that youth have a lot of energy but it is often directed to wrong use,” Minister Naupoto told the youths in Dreketi on Monday.
“Many energetic young people are holding back while the elderly in our society and homes are doing the hard work and chores in our homes, villages, communities, churches and society.
“That needs to change and we have to direct our energy in supporting our elderly and womenfolk and help in the building of our nation,” Mr Naupoto told the youths in Dreketi.
Dreketi Youth coordinator Sakaraia Toga said, “We are really glad the minister visited us today and checked on our progress.”
“The youth ministry has provided some assistance to three youth clubs here in Dreketi and they are thriving right now,” Mr Toga said.
“There are plans to develop and expand our projects further and we are grateful for the timely motivation by the minister today,” Mr Toga added.
There are three separate youth clubs in Dreketi.