NEWS

A-G’s Focus On Students Forward-Looking, Augers Well For Country’s Future

In an unprecedented move yesterday Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum held a Budget Forum in Labasa only for senior secondary school students. The response was overwhelmingly positive from
10 Jun 2016 10:17
A-G’s Focus On Students Forward-Looking, Augers Well For Country’s Future
Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum talking to the students during the budget consultation at Labasa College yesterday. Photo: SHRATIKA NAIDU

In an unprecedented move yesterday Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum held a Budget Forum in Labasa only for senior secondary school students.

The response was overwhelmingly positive from more than 20 schools. Students expressed their appreciation for being given the opportunity to speak directly to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum. They said it was a privilege to discuss issues with him face to face.

It’s refreshing and encouraging to know that  our young people are being consulted on national developments and the National Budget. This is because many in year 12 and year 13 will turn 18 before the 2018 general election, which means they can vote. In a simultaneous move, the Fijian Elections Office is going from school to school registering students who will be eligible to vote in the next election.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told the students Government wanted to hear from them to help it draw up a Budget that was responsive to their needs. And they responded.

Sitashnu Vandana, a student of Naikavaki College in Bua, informed Mr Sayed-Khaiyum that a suspension bridge in Bua Village which was built by the Government was broken last year.

She said since then some students used boats or rode on horseback to go to school.

She added it was time consuming and discouraged students from going to school  to study at night.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum assured her that he would consider her request and thanked her for bringing up the bridge issue.

Atelina Vakare of Bua Central College asked Mr Sayed-Khaiyum if the Government could work on making electricity accessible especially in rural areas like Bua.

She said without electricity it was impossible to study at night.

Her school and surrounding villages do not have electricity.

She said “how can you expect students to excel in studies when there is no electricity?”

This was a major issue and concern to her school.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum asked: “Are you off the Nabouwalu-Dreketi Highway?”

She replied the electricity was up to Nabouwalu and nearby villages but not up to the school.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “We will take that on board.”

Those frank and open discussions were very special. They brought home to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum the urgent needs in some of our rural communities. His response demonstrated the Government’s commitment to addressing these needs.

Generally, the students spoke about issues that affect everyone.

Roads, bridges, electricity, water etc.

This is the first time that a Government finance minister has gone right down to the schools to listen to the students.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyun shows he is serious and committed to hearing from as many people as possible before he finalises the Budget.

The focus on the students is forward-looking and it augers well for the future.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 


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