Transport woes for exam students
Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Friday 4th December 2020
All secondary school Heads and staff have been asked by the Education Ministry to make transport arrangements for students sitting for Years 12 and 13 external examinations in the afternoon from Monday due to restrictions on use of e-bus transport cards.
And all schools will have to use funds from the tuition-free education grant to pay for fares of affected students.
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad has described this directive as shameful saying the Ministry should have used common sense and arrived at alternative and viable solutions instead of further burdening the school heads and staff.
“And the fact that schools are being asked to fork out funds from the tuition-free education grant is yet another example of the Education Ministry’s fast drying up budgetary provision under this cash-strapped Fiji First government”.
“Common sense would suggest that the students be issued with vouchers that was previously done to maintain bus fare subsidy”.
The external examinations for Years 12 and 13 start on Monday (7th December) to Thursday 17th December.
Professor Prasad said in an email sent to all Heads of Schools on Thursday, the Permanent Secretary for Education Dr Anjeela Jokhan said due to restrictions on the use of e-bus transport card after 5pm.
In the email, Dr Jokhan states: -
“A number of subjects are scheduled for the afternoon session (2.00pm – 5.10pm). Due to the restrictions on the e-bus transport cards students will not be able to use the services after 5.00pm”.
“It is therefore the responsibility of each Head of School to ensure that every child who uses a bus card to travel home and is not collected by their parents is dropped home safely”.
Professor Prasad said it is absolutely nonsensical and ridiculous to note the directives issued to Heads of Schools by the permanent secretary.
“School Heads are being directed to carry out additional administrative duties at a time when the welfare of students is the top priority in terms of ensuring a climate conducive to the conduct of examinations”.
“They have to ensure that other school students end school satisfactorily and know what is required of them from January 2021 given that we have a much shorter end of school holiday”.
“Instead of totally focusing on this, school heads are being asked to prepare: -
list of affected students by the non-provision of bus fare subsidy;
arrange for their transport, ensure one staff member travels in every public transport while dropping off students;
organise payment from the tuition-free grant;
obtain parental consent for the affected students;
Send daily report before 3pm to the Divisional Education Office
“This type of administrative bungling and burdening others for one’s failures has become symptomatic in the Education Ministry”.
“The buck stops with the Minister for Education and it is not surprising that she is keeping quiet on this issue as well as other matters where the livelihood of people are at stake”.
Email sent out to Head of Schools from PS Education