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#Vote2018: Government’s Mission for Youth Empowerment is Going Strong

Youth empowerment has been a major focus of Government over the years. Opposition has described the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) as a burden on young Fijians. Far from it.
30 Mar 2018 10:42
#Vote2018: Government’s Mission for Youth Empowerment is Going Strong
Labasa youths take a selfie with the Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Land and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya in Labasa on March 29, 2018. Photo: DEPTFO News

Youth empowerment has been a major focus of Government over the years.

Opposition has described the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) as a burden on young Fijians. Far from it.

It has empowered them to step out of the shadows of their parents and guardians to become independent about their career choices.

For many young Fijians, TELS is the only way they could afford tertiary education. How does that make it a burden?

Sitiveni Rabuka as SODELPA Leader is harping on about how he intends to make tertiary education free. He is not talking about the cost factor.

By 2020 $750 million would be invested in our youth through TELS, but this money will be recovered and put to use in other sectors.

As the country’s Prime Minister for 12 years, Mr Rabuka had implemented a race-based scholarship system. Through this, if one child in a family had studied on Multi-Ethnic Affairs Scholarship, other siblings will not be considered for this scholarship. How does that make sense? How does anything which is divided along racial lines not a burden on younger Fijians?

What he failed to think of back then, he wants to go a step further and implement now. But again, he has not been able to do a cost benefit analysis.

Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Land and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya during the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme consultation in Labasa on March 29, 2018.   Photo: DEPTFO News

Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Land and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya during the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme consultation in Labasa on March 29, 2018.
Photo: DEPTFO News

SODELPA members such as Lynda Tabuya claim that there are no policies to assist youths now. Hogwash.

The most recent one which is picking up pace is the Young Entrepreneurship Scheme.

Apart from that, the Youth and Sports Ministry has to date assisted more Fijians in the rural areas to earn a livelihood.

Through a pilot programme, the FijiFirst Government recruited 20 talented and promising youth workers for the Ministry of Youth and Sports to work directly with communities. These workers were selected using the Open Merit Recruitment System and are paid for full time employment.

This is another way youths are helping other young Fijians develop.

The Government has not turned a blind eye to the fact that a number of young Fijians are in our corrections facilities. How have they helped them?

By starting work on a Corrections facility in Nasinu which will house younger Fijians away from what we have come to know as hardened criminals.

These young Fijians will also be given vocational training so that after they serve their term, they leave the Corrections facility with trade qualifications.

This is thinking about the welfare of our youth across societies.

Youths with the Minitser for Industry, Trade, Toursim, Land and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya at the USP Labasa Campus conference room in Labasa on March 29, 2018.  Photo: DEPTFO News

Youths with the Minitser for Industry, Trade, Toursim, Land and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya at the USP Labasa Campus conference room in Labasa on March 29, 2018. Photo: DEPTFO News

To entice young Fijians to get into farming and agriculture, the Government in partnership with the Fiji National University, offered courses to enhance their skills in agriculture. They also gave land to these students to farm on and gave cash upfront to start their businesses as well. This is empowering our youth.

Government has also set aside money which young professionals can tap into if they need money to buy a suit for their job interviews. The first-home buyers scheme has assisted hundreds of Fijians through which first-time young home buyers were given $5000 if they were going to buy a ready-built house or $10,000 if they want to build their house.

This is what youth empowerment is all about. Instead of seeing TELS as a burden, thousands of students have seen this as a life changing opportunity.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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