Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Rabuka on Poor Education Infrastructure Rehabilitation


18 January 2017

The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Party Leader Major General (Retired) Sitiveni L Rabuka today admonished the Minister for Education Hon Dr Mahendra Reddy for failing to ensure  full and timely rehabilitation of schools damaged by severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in February 2016.
Students in a tent classroom supplied by UNICEF. Photo from UNICEF
© UNICEF/UN011706/Sokhin. Accessed 18/1/17 from

Rabuka said that Hon Dr Mahendra Reddy should resign as Minister for Education, as he has brought disrepute to all members of the Fijian Cabinet, and the leadership of the Hon Prime Minister, for failing to ensure the welfare of the thousands of students still attending classes in tents, 11 months after severe TC Winston devastated schools and communities in Fiji in February 2016.

“It is now almost one year since severe TC Winston destroyed many schools; yet, as the 2017 school year starts, all the Minister has to offer is new tents to replace those tattered remnants that students had been studying in.”

“The delay is unacceptable and the idea to have sponsors in the first place, to bid for and repair selected schools was unfair and discriminatory, leaving out the many schools in the hard to access maritime islands and the remote highlands of our nation.”

“The Minister’s demonstrated incompetence over Queen Victoria School (QVS) is only the tip of iceberg. We have an Education Ministry that is overloaded with the Minister’s various ill-conceived schemes. I am a former student of QVS but I recognise the continuing urgent needs of all the other cyclone affected schools.

“Minister Reddy is applying the same ‘shotgun’ myopic reform agenda in the very large Education Ministry, reflecting the government’s poorly planned and executed service reforms since the 2006 coup d’etat. One must first maintain the current system before trying to introduce wide-scale reforms. In a year with so many schools and infrastructure devastated, the Minister insisted on the rollout of tablets (now yet again shelved) rather than focus on rebuilding schools. The Minister has clearly lost sight of the national journey and should resign forthwith.”

“Minister Reddy simply toed the line, rather than stood firm for the welfare of the Education Community (Students, Parents, Guardians, Committees etc.) still operating in temporary accommodation. He should have asked the Minister for Economy to find the public funds to rehabilitate our schools. Instead, he toed the line and agreed with expenses like a new Office for the Prime Minister and Executive Residence. It is ironic that government is spending millions on State House at this time of national need. Reddy should be ashamed for agreeing that students can wait, and be subject to the goodwill of donors, rather than the objective application of national resources for the repair of schools.”

“Having served with His Excellency, General Konrote, in the Fiji Military Forces, I am sure he will agree that fixing the Education Infrastructure is of greater national importance than the renovation of State House – we both endured tents and poor accommodation facilities in Fiji, New Zealand and in the Middle East – and they are no fun.  He will want our children to quickly return to good quality learning environment.”

Authorised by:

Party Leader, Major General (Retired) Sitiveni L Rabuka
Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA)
Telephone: 3301544