CAPTION: iTaukei Scholarship recipients after the orientation program at the Suva Civic Auditorium.
1. FIJI FOREIGN MINISTER MEETING TO PROPOSE REGIONAL WATER PROJECT – The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met with representatives from the Wisdom for future Foundation (W-Foundation) to discuss an initiative which aims to provide fresh water to Pacific small island states that face difficulties in accessing drinking water.
2. GOVERNMENT HEARS THE PLEA OF A COMMUNITY IN RA – The women of Navolau village in Ra were commended this week by government for approaching the Ministry of Women to look in their daily struggles that they face.
3. SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS REMINDED OF OBLIGATIONS TO FAMILIES AND TO THE NATION – More than 550 students, who are recipients of the iTaukei scholarship, went through a scholarship orientation programme with the Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs this weekend.
1. FIJI FOREIGN MINISTER MEETING TO PROPOSE REGIONAL WATER PROJECT
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola met with representatives from the Wisdom for future Foundation (W-Foundation) to discuss an initiative which aims to provide fresh water to Pacific small island states that face difficulties in accessing drinking water.
W-Foundation is a non-profit foundation established on 2 May 2012 which is accredited to the Ministry of Knowledge of Economy of Korea.
Ms Christine Lee, the Representative Director of the W-Foundation said that they wish to provide comprehensive support to the people of the Pacific islands by providing fresh water and in the long term assist these countries in building seawater desalination plants.
The W-Foundation intends to obtain the assistance of the Government of Korea to carry out this work and is looking to Fiji for its support.
“This is a great project that Fiji could be part of. We have water in Fiji which we could provide with your assistance to facilitate this project as part of our assistance program to the region,” Minister Kubuabola said.
“This project will address a very critical issue in the Pacific that affects our daily lives and livelihoods. It will be a good example of regional cooperation in our collective endeavour to effectively address the adverse impacts of climate change.
“Fresh water is a real issue for our island countries. This is the kind of issue we intend to discuss in the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) which Fiji will host in August this year. It is important that we discuss this with a view to finding strategies and ways to effectively address issues ofreal concern to us, and fresh water is an excellent example,” he added.
At the meeting, Minister Kubuabola also invited W-Foundation to be part of the Pacific Islands Development Forum (formerly known as the Engaging with the Pacific Meet) where they will have the opportunity to present their project to the leaders of Pacific Island countries.
2. GOVERNMENT HEARS THE PLEA OF A COMMUNITY IN RA
The women of Navolau village in Ra were commended this week by government for approaching the Ministry of Women to look in their daily struggles that they face.
There are a total of 78 women living in this community who are regarded as the backbone of this village because of the daily chores they undertake to support their families and their village.
The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni had face to face consultations with the Navolau villagers in Ra this week and commended them for their resilience.
Mrs Vasemaca Narebai, president of Soqosoqo Vakamarama in Navolau said that they have requested for a meeting with Dr Luveni and were amazed with a quick response on this request.
“We have heard about the Minister’s visit to many rural communities on the radio and were determined to meet her and discuss the plans on developing our village. We are so glad that she came all the way from Suva to meet us at our doorsteps,” Mrs Narebai said.
She said that the meeting with Dr Luveni has been fruitful and the women will be assisted with an income generating project that will improve their livelihood.
“The direct consultation with the Minister gave us an opportunity to discuss about our plans to start a first ever bee-keeping project in this village. There is a good market demand for honey in Ra. We are motivated by Ministry’s support to help us by providing the trainings to learn about bee farming and have financial literacy skills before setting up this project. We also look forward to the financial support in making this project a reality,” she said.
Mr Ilisea Ulutegu, turaga ni koro for Navolau acknowledged Dr Luveni for her vision to empower the women in Fiji.
“This is the first time for any government minister to visit us and we are so thankful to Dr Luveni for her support. For years we have been waiting for a government official to visit us and help us and today our prayers have been answered. We have found a direction to work towards a better future. The honey project will give us a good start to use the resources that are currently lying idle. We have realized that the answer to improving our lives is embedded within our natural agricultural and marine resources,” Mr Ulutegu said.
Sharing similar views, Mr Semi Waqa, youth coordinator in Navolau expressed that the Ministry’s assistance couldn’t have come at a better time.
“This is one village in Ra that is trying to become independent. The bee keeping project will also engage the unemployed youths to invest their time in expanding this venture. Honey is a good income generating project with one liter is sold at $10 to $15. The information that the Minister has shared with us today has motivated us to work hard in fully utilizing our resources to build a better future for our children,” he said.
Dr Luveni, in her opening address to the Navolau villagers, reiterated that the key to poverty alleviation is through empowering women.
“There are a lot of economic potentials for women in rural communities and government would continue to open up opportunities for communities to take ownership of the income generating and economic projects that will open up new pathways for improved livelihood and promote sustainable development in Fiji,” she said.
3. SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS REMINDED OF OBLIGATIONS TO FAMILIES AND TO THE NATION
More than 550 students, who are recipients of the iTaukei scholarship, went through a scholarship orientation programme with the Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs this weekend.
Speaking to the 569 scholarship recipients at the Suva Civic Auditorium, the Ministry’s permanent secretary Mr Savenaca Kaunisela said the orientation programme, which started three years ago, is designed to prepare students for a good academic life and performance at higher education institutions.
Mr Kaunisela urged the students to work hard at USP and make the best use of the opportunity provided by the Government as scholarship assistance does not come easy.
He added that with a scholarship allocation of around $10million, government can now cater for new incoming students and the ongoing students at various local and overseas universities.
“In the previous years, we used to get a smaller number but this year we have a much higher number. I think in terms of the students’ achievements in secondary schools, prior to their selection, i-Taukei students have improved a lot from their examination results. And there is quite a lot of competition from the students,” Mr Kaunisela said.
The permanent secretary highlighted that they also look at the labour market needs of Fiji before awarding scholarships for various programs at the universities.
“We tried our best to offer it all across but then we are guided by the national planning standards and the requirements of the nation in general. We tried to spread to most of the programs that are taught at the University of the South Pacific,” Mr Kaunisela added.
The ministry is also planning to create more awareness about its scholarship programs to enhance the services provided by the Scholarship Unit.
“In the last two years, we have improved a lot as far as awareness programs are concerned. This year too, we’ll have to do a lot of awareness programs in schools and also with the parents”.
To the secondary school students hoping to be awarded i-Taukei Scholarships in the near future, he stressed the importance of commitment to studies and to aim higher.
“I urge them to study hard from Form 6 and get good marks and also before they apply, they must be focused. They should know which courses they want to take up and be focused. The bottom line here is to get good marks in Form 6 and Form 7,” Mr Kaunisela advised.