16 Oct 2013

Calls for more details over Fiji government's education plans

5:27 pm on 16 October 2013

The Fijian Teachers Association is calling for more details over the Government's announcement that it will pay for every child's education from next year.

The Fijian Government has pledged to fund the education of students from Year 1 to 13.

But the association's general secretary, Maika Namudu, says he is waiting for more information about the proposal before celebrating.

MAIKA NAMUDU: It's good that the government is saying that. But we'd like to know what actually they meant by saying that they will fund every child's education. What does it mean? What does it entail? Does it mean that they'll pay for their school fees, as well as their lunch fees, their transport and other related costs? This is what we would like to know, because in the past they've been saying that they're funding education, but we continue to see that people, parents, continue to raise funds to support themselves in schools, as well as the actual running of the schools is still done by the parents and the management of the school. But on the other hand, we heard that the Fiji government has given free education to every child in Fiji.

AMELIA LANGFORD: Has the government released any details about what it will entail?

MN: That is something that we haven't really heard or seen, but we hope that they'll tell us the details of the things in the budget of whatever they're going to give this programme, like what will a child gain from that project, when they say free education means Years 1 to 13 are going to be free, fully paid by government. And will it cover every child in Fiji? These are the questions that we need to hear the answers from the government.

AL: So there are a lot of questions that remained unanswered at this stage?

MN: Yes. A lot of questions to be answered. 'Cause in the past they've been talking about free education, but we can't see that the people are really recipients of free education in the sense of 'free'. What is freedom? What is free education? Free everything? You can send your child to school if it's free? What will the government do if the child is not sent to school, even though it's free education? Will they take their parents to court? These are the questions we will ask which could be related to that kind of project.

Maika Namudu says the cost of living has gone up in Fiji and it's increasingly tough for parents to pay their children's school fees.