Failure of Technical Colleges needs full Inquiry
Wednesday 18th November 2020
Any decision to close some Technical Colleges on the basis of them lacking qualified teachers requires a fully independent inquiry into why the current Fiji First government’s much lauded initiative was a failure from the beginning in 2015, said National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad.
Professor Prasad said several millions of dollars of taxpayers’ funds have been used to both establish and provide loans to students under TELS to enroll and learn trade skills at these Colleges established throughout the country in many centres that were previously secondary schools.
“But to now learn from Government through the Attorney General that some Colleges will close because they didn’t have qualified teachers is preposterous and totally unacceptable and gives rise to many questions that can only be answered by a totally independent and full inquiry”.
“These are: -
“Is Government now saying that the Colleges, managed by Fiji National University, were staffed by unqualified teachers all these years since the inception of this program 5 years ago in 2015?”
“If this is indeed the case (as Government is claiming some teachers will come under scrutiny), then does it mean many of the few thousand students who have graduated from these Colleges did not receive proper education and learning?”
“What happened to the so-called OMRS – Open Merit Recruitment System – in hiring teachers for these Colleges?”
“Or is Government making teachers scapegoats to absolve itself of financial responsibility in funding both the operations of some Colleges and providing TELS to the students?”
Professor Prasad said notwithstanding clear and precise answers to the above questions, the fact remains that the program was hastily conceived to give credibility to Fiji First government’s bogus claim of providing “free education”.
“This was done without any consultation nor a thought being given to the program’s effectiveness in churning out quality and qualified skilled personnel to gain meaningful employment and contribute towards national development”.
“We don’t know how many of the students who have graduated with certificates in trade skills found decent paying jobs before the Covid-19 pandemic this year”.
“It must be remembered that the practice of a designated Technical College and accreditation/certifying authority, Fiji Institute of Technology and FNTC/TPAF (Fiji National Training Council later known as Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji) were churning out quality personnel in various skilled trade areas through apprenticeship programs for a few decades until the Bainimarama regime abolished their primary roles and formed FNU”.
“One of the two major reasons for the scarcity of skilled personnel in various trade sectors (apart from job opportunities overseas) has been the abolishment of the apprenticeship scheme”.
“Also the fact that 90% of training levy paid by employers is used for other purposes denies the right of employees to enhance their skills”.
“This is yet another erosion of a fundamental right of ordinary workers by a misguided government”.
Professor Biman Prasad