CAPTION: PM Bainimarama shares a light moment with residents at Lovu.
1. BECOME GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS: PRESIDENT – Faith-based organizations and various non-governmental organizations have been challenged to design innovative ideas towards protecting our environment from the impacts of climate change
2. PM OPENS WAITING SHED FOR TRAVELLERS – A $40,000 waiting shed for seafarers, who travel to the islands in the Western Division from Lautoka, was opened by the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama
3. PM OPENS SENIYAYA WATER PROJECT – Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama opened a water project for more than 60 households at Lovu in Lautoka today .
4. PM VISTS RED CROSS LAUTOKA BRANCH – Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama paid a visit to the Fiji Red Cross Society’s Lautoka branch today, much to the delight of volunteers who serve there.
5. REGIONAL PICTURE-BASED TOOLKIT TO BENEFIT STUDENTS – The Ministry of Education is integrating components of climate change into the school syllabus to raise awareness among teachers and students.
6. CUBA OFFERS MEDICINE STUDY TO FIJIANS – The Government of the Republic of Cuba, in partnership with the Fijian Government, will for the fourth consecutive year offer scholarships to study medicine in Cuba, beginning in September 2013.
7. EXCELLENCE TRAINING FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS – The Public Service Commission has engaged the expert services of Paul Steel, a world renowned trainer in service excellence, to conduct a series of awareness and training on the use of the Malcotum Balridge Framework for measuring service excellence.
1 BECOME GOOD ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS: PRESIDENT
Faith-based organizations and various non-governmental organizations have been challenged to design innovative ideas towards protecting our environment from the impacts of climate change.
His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailaitkau raised the challenge during Fiji’s first National Faith-Based Environment Stewardship Summit held in Sigatoka today.
“The global environment is in a crisis. The messages are clear. Climate change is a reality. It is humanity’s greatest challenge today,” Ratu Epeli said.
“There is a critical worrying trend of biodiversity loss across the planet. The accelerating predominance of invasive species is becoming a real concern.”
Fiji has experienced the ravages of climate change and these include storm and wave surges flash flood devastation, excessive soil loss and riverbanks erosion, “talasiga” fires and biodiversity loss due to industrial pollution.
“These ‘negative values’ are propelling us towards an ever greater damage to our environment and all that depend on it,” Ratu Epeli said.
“However, we need to change our mindset towards the impacts of climate change and work together to address this issue at community level.
“We need bold and decisive transformational changes in the way we conduct ourselves. We need to deliver using innovative integrated approaches that are science-based; which are being successfully trialled and piloted.”
The President has encouraged participants to work together to protect Fiji’s fragile environment, conserve its threatened biodiversity and strive to utilize its resources sustainably.
“This is now the time that we have to be serious about being more committed stewards and guardians of Fiji’s environment,” Ratu Epeli said.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Local Government and Environment Colonel Samuela Saumatua shared similar sentiments on how climate change has impacted our region and country.
“In Fiji the sense of complacency has allowed climate change to seriously affect our islands, lack of urgency will sentence our future generation to much difficulties to much difficulties and even life threatening situations,” the minister said.
Colonel Saumatua said Government was already working towards the relocation of two of the coastal villages because of sea-level rise and coastal erosion.
“We need to look at education for awareness and the future generation and secondly a need for action to remedy the environmental damage already done,” he said.
The minister encouraged participants to focus on the outcomes of the summit that will pave the way forward in addressing climate change and how the various organizations could draw up mitigation and adaptation plans to tackle climate change.
2 PM OPENS WAITING SHED FOR TRAVELLERS
A $40,000 waiting shed for seafarers, who travel to the islands in the Western Division from Lautoka, was opened by the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama today.
The shed will benefit passengers while either waiting for a vessel, reuniting with family or to take care of personal business, Commodore Bainimarama said in highlighting the importance of critical infrastructure.
“It may look like a small thing for some people but it certainly is not small for my Government. There are no ‘small things’ when it come to the welfare of the people of Fiji,” the Prime Minister said.
“There are no small things when it comes to providing the infrastructure that allows our people to work and produce.”
The shed has been dedicated to Sergeant Major Apolosi Boleanamate the late Mata (representative) of Waya. It was his idea, however he passed away before witnessing the opening of the shed.
The shed will provide a decent place for people who commute to and from Yasawa and provides enterprising women and men the opportunity to sell good, well prepared food to hungry travellers and it will also be a place from where art and handmade products can be sold from.
The Prime Minister said the shed would serve rural and outer islands population both socially and economically.
Elders from Yasawa and the province of Ba were present at the opening of the shed located at the Lautoka wharf.
3 PM OPENS SENIYAYA WATER PROJECT
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama opened a water project for more than 60 households at Lovu in Lautoka today .
Residents had pursued the project for the past 12 years but upon the Prime Minister’s intervention it was fast tracked.
When opening the Seniyaya water project Commodore Bainimarama said infrastructure was critical in order to have a modern Fiji.
“A proper subdivision needs modern infrastructure and or course means water first and foremost,” the Prime Minister said.
“I want all the people of Fiji to have clean and safe drinking water no matter where they live. Indeed, access to clean drinking water will be a right of every Fijian.
“Today we begin a new era in your community. This new water source will give access to clean and safe drinking water will raise your living standards and keep yourself and your children healthy.”
The project was made possible through the partnership between Government, which provided two thirds of the costs while residents contributed the rest.
The community started off as an illegal settlement and did not have access to proper drinking water since 1994.
Residents endured through the hardships to now get proper water supply right in their homes.
“This shows the nation and the world what Fijians can do when they are determined,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.
“You didn’t wait passively for Government to assist you. The community will thrive and grow because of you – because of the hard work, dedication and care with which you are building Seniyaya every day. Pass this to your children and this community’s future will be secure,” Commodore Bainimarama added.
He also urged residents and all Fijians to take part actively in the form of submissions for the draft Constitution.
4 PM VISTS RED CROSS LAUTOKA BRANCH
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama paid a visit to the Fiji Red Cross Society’s Lautoka branch today, much to the delight of volunteers who serve there.
Prime Minister Bainimarama visited the office to personally thank the many volunteers who have always served Fijians during and after any natural disaster.
The visit by the Prime Minister underscores government’s commitment in working with all stakeholders to move the nation to prosperity.
Commodore Bainimarama also becomes the first Prime Minister to visit the branch office in the Sugar City.
The volunteers accorded him a full traditional welcome.
5 REGIONAL PICTURE-BASED TOOLKIT TO BENEFIT STUDENTS
The Ministry of Education is integrating components of climate change into the school syllabus to raise awareness among teachers and students.
Curriculum Advisory Services director Alumeci Tuisawau said upon approval in 2012, consultations with SPC/GIZ CCCPIR evolved and this resulted in the development of a picture based toolkit.
“There is a need to integrate climate change awareness into the curriculum aligning to the national climate change policy,” Mrs Tuisawau said.
“It is still an ongoing process with integration into the curriculum in progress. It also has to go in line with the review of the National Curriculum Framework which we are developing at the moment.
“After the trial, and in 2015 with the implementation, more students will be fully aware.”
The picture-based outreach toolkit is being developed by a team of consultants with education representatives from Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga.
In this context as part of the ongoing commitment to the Pacific- Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning (PACCSAP) program, PACCSAP commissioned SPC to develop the toolkit on climate change for the education sector in collaboration with SPC/GIZ CCCPIR and SPREP.
Advisor for SPC/GIZ Climate Change and Education, Hanna Sabass reiterated the provided support for the development of educational materials under the PACCSAP program would assist the teachers and students.
“The understanding of the impacts of climate change on a country’s economy, environment, on people and how the people can adapt to changes by helping in reducing emissions that is called mitigation,” Ms Sabass said.
“Development of picture-based medium will convey meaning better compared to scientific text. The scientific text is still too difficult to grasp, especially with children.
“Try to translate all the knowledge on climate variability impacting projections and how to adapt and mitigate on the context of Pacific Island countries into pictures.”
The focus is specifically on students at years seven and eight since Pacific Education ministries perceived this an appropriate time to introduce students to the science of climate change.
The Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) is working in close collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)/GIZ to develop a picture-based outreach toolkit for schools.
6 CUBA OFFERS MEDICINE STUDY TO FIJIANS
The Government of the Republic of Cuba, in partnership with the Fijian Government, will for the fourth consecutive year offer scholarships to study medicine in Cuba, beginning in September 2013.
The duration of studying medicine (MBBS) will be for seven years. There will be one year for learning the Spanish language and six years of medical study.
Public Service Commission (PSC) permanent secretary, Parmesh Chand said awardees would be required to return to Fiji after having completed their studies and would be bonded under PSC scholarship conditions.
“This will include the need to work in Fiji for a period of time under the government bonding arrangements for overseas studies,” Mr Chand said.
While the scholarship will cover tuition, accommodation, meals, book allowance, monthly allowance and medical and dental assistance, the Fijian Government will pay for return airfares with an annual supplementary allowance of $3,500 for the first year and $2,500 thereafter until the completion of studies.
Mr Chand said Fiji was deeply appreciative of the continued offer of assistance by the Cuban Government.
“Cuba is renowned for her world class public health system and commitment in training of medical professionals. We are pleased with having been accorded such an opportunity and for this we are very grateful,” he added.
7 EXCELLENCE TRAINING FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS
The Public Service Commission has engaged the expert services of Paul Steel, a world renowned trainer in service excellence, to conduct a series of awareness and training on the use of the Malcotum Balridge Framework for measuring service excellence.
Mr Steel is the president of Total Quality, a company that has served thousands of organizations worldwide since 1991 in achieving all levels of excellence.
Commission permanent secretary Parmesh Chand said the PSC was fortunate to have the services of Mr Steel for the second consecutive year. He said the strive for service excellence concept was a continuous process.
“It requires ongoing commitment and investment in areas such as training, systems improvements, monitoring and evaluation, responsiveness to client feedback, innovation and knowledge sharing and remaining proactive,” Mr Chand said.
Mr Steel will be in the country until April 20, providing training to evaluators, agency champions, senior executive level officers and all others involved in promoting and facilitating service excellence in the public service.
The Service Excellence Awards Framework was endorsed by Government as a system and customer approach towards improving organisational systems, processes and services with enhanced productivity and efficiency of the public service as the expected outcome.