By SALOTE QALUBAU
The Honourable Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Dr. Mahendra Reddy signed a memorandum of agreement on Thursday, January 22, for a new technical school based within the premises of the former Nadi College which will now be the Fiji Technical College’s Nadi campus to cater for vocational students.
“I never thought that I would be here on this historic day to transit Nadi College from offering secondary education to tertiary education,” Dr. Reddy said.
“Any effort to develop skilled people would not only immediately deal with the shortage of skilled labour in Fiji but also could provide Fiji a rapidly increasing and sustained source of foreign exchange should we be able to export skilled human resource for other countries.”
The Honourable Minister stressed that failure to cater for sectors that relied heavily on skilled workers such as the tourism sector would result in missing out on foreign exchange.
In addition, the government has provided a total of $7million for the establishment of ten technical institutes, three of which will be established this year while the remaining seven will be established in 2016.
The full list of courses offered in the Fiji Technical College Nadi campus will be announced in two weeks time, however courses offered will include hospitality, electronics and mechanical studies to mention a few.
“There is a sizeable proportion of students in Fiji who’s aptitude does not lie in the higher education stream for example to become an economist, dentist or a chemist but their aptitude lies in skilled areas to become an engineer or an electrician and by pushing these students into a higher education stream we are not only wasting government money but we are doing injustice to them, because they will only fail once we screen them for exams.
“It is for this reason that government has decided to establish technical colleges to provide a pathway to students who’s aptitude lies in technical areas after year 10, so when students complete year 10 they will then have the option to move to the technical college or continue to year 11 and so on, there will be no forcing of anyone.”
Students will also be able to pursue subject areas that they are passionate about and as such those enrolled in the technical college will be eligible for the TELS scheme in terms of acquiring financial assistance and short courses will also be offered for school dropouts for the time span of one month or one week and will be fully funded by the Ministry of Education.
Dr. Reddy concluded that paramount vision of the Bainimarama government was to assist students in tapping into their hidden talents by providing them with a quality education regardless of the race, creed or background.