Tech­ni­cal col­leges a worth­while in­vest­ment that will trans­form peo­ple’s lives

Fiji Sun - - Comment - NE­MANI DELAIBATIKI Feed­back: ne­mani.delaibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

The open­ing of the Nadroga-Navosa Pro­vin­cial Tech­ni­cal Col­lege cam­pus is a new mile­stone in the ed­u­ca­tion rev­o­lu­tion that is sweep­ing the coun­try. Tech­ni­cal col­leges are now be­ing set up across the coun­try in a ma­jor move by the Gov­ern­ment to make ed­u­ca­tion ac­ces­si­ble to all Fi­jians. They pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for those who other­wise would have no chance of ac­quir­ing new skills or qual­i­fi­ca­tions be­cause they don’t mea­sure up to the stan­dards re­quired in the nor­mal school sys­tem. We know that stu­dents have dif­fer­ent lev­els of aca­demic abil­ity. There are those that do well and there are oth­ers who are sim­ply not cut out for the aca­demic world. This does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that they have no hope. We all be­lieve that ev­ery child born is en­dowed with tal­ents unique to him or her. What needs to hap­pen is to de­velop those in­nate tal­ents and abil­i­ties. So those who drop out of Year 10 be­cause they fail Fiji Ju­nior, or fail to get past Fiji School Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate or Year 13, can ex­cel in other ar­eas. Many in this group are good with their hands. Give them a ham­mer, a saw, a chisel, a screw­driver or a span­ner and you will be amazed with what they can cre­ate or pro­duce. All they need is some for­mal train­ing to en­hance those nat­u­ral tal­ents.

The tech­ni­cal col­leges will pro­vide the op­por­tu­nity for them to ac­quire new knowl­edge and sharpen their skills. This is what ed­u­ca­tion is all about. It helps us to de­velop our tal­ents and abil­i­ties. Ed­u­ca­tion is not only about get­ting qual­i­fi­ca­tions to ob­tain of­fice jobs. In fact many jobs in­volve tech­ni­cal work that in­volves build­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, engi­neer­ing and me­chan­i­cal. Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama said yes­ter­day when he opened the Nadroga-Navosa tech­ni­cal col­lege that com­pa­nies were look­ing abroad for skilled and qual­i­fied work­ers be­cause there was a short­age here. The jobs in great de­mand are ex­pe­ri­enced trades peo­ple who can work in build­ing our in­fra­struc­ture and other cap­i­tal works and main­tain­ing them. The re­al­ity is that we can­not ex­pand our econ­omy quickly if we don’t have skilled man­power to meet the in­creas­ing de­mand.

Tech­ni­cal col­leges pro­vide the es­sen­tial train­ing ground for work­ers to fill the va­can­cies for skilled labour. There are full­time cour­ses and there are short cour­ses which in­volve evening classes only. For ru­ral peo­ple, Gov­ern­ment has even of­fered to pro­vide trans­port costs to en­able them to en­roll in these cour­ses.

On July 25, 700 vil­lagers in the Rewa delta are ex­pected to at­tend a two-week cer­tifi­cate course in 15 dis­ci­plines that in­clude cook­ery, sewing and re­pair­ing of out­board en­gine. The cour­ses will be run by the Fiji Na­tional Univer­sity at Vu­tia. They will em­power the par­tic­i­pants to start their own busi­ness, ac­quire a job, or en­roll at tech­ni­cal col­lege for ad­vanced train­ing that will lead to a diploma pro­gramme at FNU or other ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions. It is clear the Gov­ern­ment is tak­ing ed­u­ca­tion to the peo­ple and mak­ing it ac­ces­si­ble.

It is un­prece­dented and its pos­i­tive im­pact will be felt in years to come. It’s an in­vest­ment that will trans­form peo­ple’s lives.

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