NATION

Education Minister Debunks Rumours. Again

How gullible has Fiji become that they would believe anything and everything? It is important to know fact from fiction because there are many out there who are trying to divide Fijians by spreading lies.
17 Oct 2019 14:01
Education Minister Debunks Rumours. Again
Minister for Education Rosy Akbar. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Rumours surrounding education in the country have been debunked by the Minister for Education Rosy Akbar.

She has put her foot down and made it clear once again that no parent will have to pay school fees, fundraising was never banned and is voluntary and Year 13 or the seventh form is not going to be scrapped.

These rumours have been getting some parents worried.

Mrs Akbar has labelled them as misinformation. This follows the reduction in the Free Education Grant by $2.7 million.

Rumour: School fees to be reintroduced and increased

“That is misinformation, no fees is going up. We are not going to charge any parent any fees,” Mrs Akbar has made this clear.

“Schools cannot charge school fees. We have removed the fees structure altogether, that was replaced by the free education grant. It will continue next year. We have given $67million in this financial year. It is just a $2.7m reduction.

“We have a cut in the budget, but it should not affect teaching and learning, priority areas will still remain, no child will be charged fees.”

Mrs Akbar said school managements have to prudently manage the grants and utilise the money for the purpose it is given.

“The slight reduction is because of the budgetary reduction, which should have no impact on the operations of the schools. We have been telling schools since 2015 that if you have utilised the budget specifically for the purpose we gave them for, then your libraries must be well-stocked, labs must be done well, the buildings must be maintained,” she said.

“We are currently doing an infrastructure audit and to date, it has been revealed that many of the buildings are in good condition and again we have given schools 20 per cent for building and maintenance.

“From 2015 to 2019, if schools had utilised the grants for the purpose it was given, the buildings should be properly maintained. We are keeping an eye on how the grants are being utilised and should school still have any issues, we will work directly with those schools to see how we can assist them.”

Rumour: Schools cannot fundraise

Mrs Akbar has said schools can fundraise. She said approval must be taken from the Ministry of Education and the project specified.

However, a warning has been given to school management that all fundraising must be voluntary and in no circumstances, parents and students can be forced or threatened to give towards projects.

“In terms of fundraising, fundraising has always been in the system. It’s just that we have said that if the management wants to do a fundraising for a project that they want to do, it should be voluntarily,” Mrs Akbar said.

“The management cannot pressure any student and the management cannot pressure any parent.”

Rumour: Levy must be paid in order to confirm a spot

Certain faith-based schools have levied a general fee whereby the student must pay the levy or not get a spot in the class next year.

“We expect parents to come and report to us. Any PTA fee has to be voluntary.”

Rumour: Year 13 to be removed next year

This is definitely contrary to the Government’s budget announcement and to what Mrs Akbar said.

The Ministry of Education has denied this saying it is nothing but a tall tale. It was also announced in the National Budget that Toppers Scholarships would now only be offered to students who come through the school system finishing Year 13.

What is undeniable now is that many Fijians succumb easily to fake news and misinformation either on social media or by someone telling tall tales at a communal gathering.

It is high time Fijians wake up and start verifying the news.

How gullible has Fiji become that they would believe anything and everything? It is important to know fact from fiction because there are many out there who are trying to divide Fijians by spreading lies.

Trust news only from reliable sources.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

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