NATION

Reddy Concerned With Quality Of Graduates

The Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Mahendra Reddy says he is concerned about the quality of our university graduates in Fiji’s workforce. He raised his concerns at the opening
08 Sep 2015 11:24
Reddy Concerned With Quality Of Graduates
Fiji Higher Education Commission executive chairman Richard Wah and Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Mahendra Reddy. Photo: Shahani Mala

The Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts Mahendra Reddy says he is concerned about the quality of our university graduates in Fiji’s workforce.

He raised his concerns at the opening of the Fiji Higher Education Commission meeting at the University of the South Pacific in Suva yesterday.

“I want to remind you about the serious flaws in the quality of higher education graduates that is produced by our higher educational institutions” Mr Reddy said.

“They are fraught with lack of soft skills,  lack of competencies in English proficiencies, unwilling to think outside the box and poor research capacities,” he said.

Minister explained: “Just last week, I asked a senior officer an investigative report on the three students of a primary school who committed suicide; I had to provide a report to Prime Minister.

“The report was poorly done, fraught with English grammar and comprehension and sentence structure mistakes, demonstrates poor research skills.

“We are worried for how long we have to carry these kinds of graduates in our system. This person did a Primary Teacher Training Certificate, Bachelor of Education, Postgraduate Diploma in Education and a Master’s degree in Education. There are hundreds of them in our school system and ministry.

“We are bleeding because the university academias are failing to provide us finished products.

“I am asking them not to be defensive but quickly relook at their higher education programmes before, it’s too late.”

A participant, Alifate Drawe, teacher at Monfort Boys Town, said: “Most of the graduates come in two sectors. Most of them go to white collar jobs while others go for trade sectors.”

“We should solve the problem which arises from in between some of them, are reaching the job environment or outcome of their learning strategies,” he said.

Saketa Rabuatoka, a third year Bachelor of Science degree student in biology, chemistry, said: “I am here to learn what industries expect from the graduates.”

“I am a student and I am eager to know what the workforces want from us, so we can provide them with our knowledge as graduates,” he said.

The meeting, which was attended by university officials, students and industry representatives, ends today.

 

Reactions

Fiji Higher Education Commission executive chairman Richard Wah said: “The Minister is right in that regard but it’s not only for Fiji but it’s the same everywhere in the world.

“Even the most developed countries like United States try to make sure that we find out what the gaps are and we are working towards it in reducing these gaps.

“We having these workshops so that industries can tell us what the gaps are and we make sure that we equip the universities in terms of the staffs and teaching facilities to meet the gaps.”

Fiji Qualification Council member Humphery Chan said: “For some of the graduates that are out in the work field if you are lucky to get the job so good luck to them but there is so many graduates now we look at it in the industry, no matter how much certificate or diploma you have got, if you cannot perform you are useless to the industry.

“What we want is people who can perform and can do the job without minimum of supervision if at possible.

“We don’t want to be at the back of the students and say look why don’t you do this or do that because you have been trained to do that but here in Fiji unfortunately, at lot time, you tell them what to do they will do it but beyond that, there is no initiative   for them to think in a wider scale.”

“This is a weakness and it has to be changed.”

Meanwhile, University of Fiji senior lecturer Wasantha Amaradasa said: “They may be having little experience but this is a problem in many third world countries.

“The industry and the university the gap is there in terms of education. This is common but we need to establish some mechanism to bring the gap closer and explore these mechanisms and this is a good start.”

Feedback:  shahani.mala@fijisun.com.fj



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