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Reform Now Or Pay The Price Later

On the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation’s 4 The Record programme on Sunday, the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Dr Mahendra Reddy was quite clear about the way forward. Based on
22 Oct 2014 13:38

On the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation’s 4 The Record programme on Sunday, the Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Dr Mahendra Reddy was quite clear about the way forward.

Based on feedback, he would be re-introducing examinations at Year Six and Ten to help monitor and improve the quality of students. In Year Ten, students were also expected to determine what educations streams were suitable to them.  Depending on the quality of their marks, they would be set on a path towards university to help them develop as ‘critical thinkers,’ to use his phrase.

Dr Reddy understands the need for reform. As he pointed out, the education reforms are part of a bigger picture. Efficient service delivery is essential, not just for improved perception of the civil service, but for tangible benefits for all Fijians. Teachers hate the current oppressive administrative workloads. That’s why Dr Reddy wants to reduce file management and get teachers to spend more time on lesson planning.  This improves the quality of teaching. This will have a real flow-on effect. Happy teachers make happy students, so to speak.

The release of the Auditor-General’s reports has also revealed a myriad of problems. Lack of financial care and poor governance by civil servants have been exposed. If anything, the Auditor-General’s report only validates the Voreqe Bainimarama Government’s urgent call for reforms. With the overwhelming mandate of the Fijian people, the Prime Minister has made it one of the priorities of his term in office.  His address at last week’s, Public Service Commission’s Excellence Awards 2014, spelled out the Government’s intentions:
“To this end, my Government has already signalled that one of the main priorities in our new democracy is to reform the civil service to improve the overall standard of its service delivery to the Fijian people. We intend to do this methodically and well. And I have made it clear that we are going to work with the civil service as we make these changes, not against it,” the Prime Minister said last week.

Don’t be afraid of change, the Prime Minister has told civil servants. In fact the reforms should make their work easier. Less bureaucracy, less red tape is what the public wants. Everyone has something negative to say about any government department on any given day. From long queues at medical centres, to poor responses by the police, to the ‘isms’, nepotism, cronyism and outright corruption.

Reforms need to be done in a transparent manner. Like the Fijian General Elections of 2014 that involved the Multi-national Observer Group (MOG),  the civil service reforms will also involve international consultants.
Singapore is the international standard bearer for civil service efficiency. The Fijian Government wants to emulate the South-East Asian nation-state. For those opposing reform, Dr Mahendra Reddy had some strong words.  They will fizzle out, he said. Reform now or pay a heavy price later is the message from the Government. Surely, all sides of the political spectrum understand that.




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