Much has been said about the delay in allowances for overseas students especially SI sponsored students in PNG and FIJI. We have established High Commission Offices in PNG and now Fiji and with the Fiji office, I understand that there is or going to be an Education Attache with the High Commission in Fiji and he will be responsible for all matters concerning education for all SI Human Resources in FJ. That is how serious the Govt is in looking after its resources by providing consular services to our students and residents in PNG and Fiji. But every year the same story is being retold as Katie Fono mentioned in her post. Last minute awards and bookings and even chartering of aircrafts just to get our students on time. Where do we go from here? During our time, scholarship awards were done in September/October immaterial of the final result because a student is assessed from his Cambridge and first semester F6 results. Thus by December documentations are done and passports issued. You go home for holidays and get back to Honiara a week before leaving to your destination. No drama like we have now. The major problem now is securing sponsorship funds from donors in time so that necessary arrangements can be made. If the current Govt is serious (and I know the Minister is one of the best the country has produced) they should liaise with a Bank who offers the best deal so that funds are available for the students on time and leave the Department to sort out with the bank when funds from donors are realised. To continue go down the same path year in year out is not only acceptable but demeaning to the calibre of officers in the dept. The issue of the devaluation of the Fiji dollar must be taken into account as a normal thinking person should know that the price of goods will increase due to the 20% devaluation of the FJdollar. The Budget that was set last year for this years expenditures as far as tertiary education is concern is now blown out by 20% so a supplementary budget needs to be put in place to secure funds to cover the shortfall. This where sometimes the delay comes. To overcome this as I have stated earlier the Banks proposal should be ideal So that the Govt absorbs the cost of delay instead of putting it on the already stressed students who not only have to worry about textbooks and meals but his/her social and spiritual wellbeing. Ufala moa
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