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