Caption: Students with Centre Manager Jone Robanakadavu.
Government’s position on making education available to every Fijian in the country was commended today by two students who are both persons with disabilities.
For 20 year old Elia Levi and Epeli Vualili, their determination to have an education were met with success when the Public Service Commission opted to provide them both scholarships under the the Scholarship Scheme for Special Children (SSSC).
20 year old Elia Levi originally of Somosomo, Taveuni who now resides in Suva said he was thankful to Government for this scholarship which allowed him to be able to complete his certificate in Cabinet making. Speaking in the iTaukei language, Elia who is the eldest in a family of three boys said this opportunity will now allow him to look for employment and help look after his mother and father as well as his siblings.
The other recipient of this scholarship, Epeli Vualili, 27 cannot hear or speak. He said he was delighted and happy to have been assisted through this scholarship scheme. Speaking through a sign language interpreter he said that “his opportunity has enabled me to get a certificate in a trade that I enjoy. I would like to set up a small business in future and so be able to support my parents.” “I am thankful for the allowance that I was given and thankful to PSC for giving me the Scholarship to complete my training.
Sanaila, Epeli and Elia completed their eight weeks training at the Fiji Vocational Technical Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities on the Cabinet making course which involves the carving of wooden items such as chairs, tables, kitchen boards, garlic pounders and so forth.
Centre manager, Jone Robanakadavu said the main focus of the centre is to provide adequate skills training for young adults with different disabilities in order for them to gain open self-employment.
“With the Government initiative to provide special scholarships for disadvantaged students, we were very fortunate to be part of this new move. The news was received with gladness and we are so grateful for the open door policy in terms of education for disadvantage students of this country,” he said.
The students will both receive Certificates on Cabinet Making.
PSC Permanent Secretary, Parmesh Chand said that the SSSC is designed for underprivileged children who grew up in special circumstances.
“Helping special children is considered worthy of attention and as such the SSSC came into being with $200,000.00 set aside earlier this year to cater for this programme. There are currently forty four (44) students who have been provided these Special Scholarships this year,” Mr Chand said.
He said that Government’s commitment to providing access to basic education is a right for all Fijians.
The Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had announced this new Scheme in February this year saying it was important to recognize that there are young people in Fiji who have grown up in very adverse conditions and many of whom were neglected and abused. He said these young people needed another option and it was critical that Government provided educational opportunities for everyone.
To apply for the SSSC, one has to obtain an offer letter from a tertiary institution for evidence of their enrolment, to be eligible for assistance.
Further, they must live in registered special homes like Dilkhusha Girls or be a part of the organizations like the Fiji School of the Blind, Marist Champagnat Institute for example. Entry into all the Scholarship schemes are based on income first and then the marks achieved by the applicants are taken into consideration to ensure that the student applying has achieved the required marks.