Students Laud Budget Talks

Students have given the thumbs up to Budget consultations in schools. At Vashist Muni College in Navua, where school consultations began yesterday, students filled the school hall to capacity and
11 Apr 2017 11:00
Students Laud Budget Talks
Attorney General and Minister for The Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, speaking to students from around Suva and Nausori during the budget consultations at the Suva Grammar School on April 10th, 2017. Photo: Jone Luvenitoga

Students have given the thumbs up to Budget consultations in schools.

At Vashist Muni College in Navua, where school consultations began yesterday, students filled the school hall to capacity and gave an emphatic yes to the consultations.

This was replicated at Suva Grammar School later in the afternoon.

Students interviewed said they welcomed the consultations by the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

They said it was an insult to suggest that they were being brainwashed as claimed by some politicians.

In fact, they said they were glad they attended because they had learned a lot and had been empowered.

Vashist Muni College headgirl Sofia Sahim, a Year 13 student, said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s presentation was very informative.

“I do not agree with what some people said against these consultations. We are the future leaders of this country. In fact, not only students should attend. Parents should also go and listen because they are the ones who will teach their children.”

Latianara Secondary School Year 12 student, Ratu Osea Bolawaqatabu Tuivunilagi, in Korovisilou, Serua said: “I am a science student and I want to be an architect. I am glad I came there today because I have learned a lot on the range of opportunities out there. I found the A-G simple and down to earth.”

Colleague Taniela Uluiviti said as an accounting student, he found the consultations very informative.

Fellow students Josese Seru, Solomoni Racolata and Aporosa Tabakaucoro, all accounting students, said the consultations had deepened and broadened their understanding about the processes involved in formulating a national Budget.

They learned it was not a simple exercise because of the competing interests. They said they were impressed with the A-G. They found him easy to get along with.

Latianara Secondary School was one of several schools from the Navua, Serua, Namosi represented at the consultations in Navua.

At Suva Grammar School in Veiuto, Nicole Powell, Year 13 prefect of St Joseph’s Secondary School said: “It was very informative. I learned a lot and it has helped clear some doubts that existed.

“You hear about certain things but today that’s all cleared.”

Sweta Chand, Year 13 student of Gospel High School, said: “The consultations were very good. Before, I knew very little about the economy and the Budget process.

“I only thought about education but there are other considerations too. The A-G has spelt them out very well and now I understand.”

The principal of Namosi Secondary, Milika Bolatawa, and Lomeri Secondary School teacher Sereana Balenaivalu endorsed what the students said.

Ms Bolatawa said students were given a wonderful chance to speak out on issues. Mrs Balenaivalu said the students had been exposed to how the Budget worked.

Several schools in Suva were represented at Veiuto. Mr Sayed Khaiyum outlined the processes involved in drawing up a Budget and how the Budget worked. He said the information they gathered from these consultations would be incorporated in the Budget.

A range of issues was raised by the students at the Navua and Veiuto venues.

These were some of the issues:

  •  Attendance problems in some Navua schools. Sickness was given as a reason.

It was suggested that doctors should be made available to check students.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it would not be practical to have a doctor posted to each school. He said that was why the Navua Hospital was built to care for sick people.

  •  At Nuku Secondary School it was reported that bad road conditions had led to poor attendance.

It is located on the border between Namosi and Serua in the upper reaches the Navua River.

  •  Internet of  connectivity problems at Namosi Secondary School and no electricity at Wainimakutu Secondary School. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told Suva students yesterday this was the reality in some rural areas.

He was responding to questions about when Year 13 students would get tablets.

There was also a suggestion about  e-education. He said the content was important to ensure that all students were watching the same programmes.

  •  There was concern Foundation students seem to have an advantage over Year 13 in the Toppers  scheme because they scored better grades.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the solution would be to improve the quality of education for Year 13. Economy Ministry staff have noted the issue for action.

  •  Some tertiary institutions were allegedly “dragging” courses which finished later than the usual three years.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said some were becoming a bit greedy.  He said they had increased their intake of students but they did not have the capacity to deliver.

  •  Mr Sayed-Khaiyum again raised concern about the small number of students pursuing science.

That’s why more scholarships will be given for science-related fields. He said there were too many lawyers. But there was a shortage of medical professionals.

He said it was a tragedy that we did not have specialists like a specialist for an open-heart surgery or a speech therapy etc.


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