There is no disarray - 18% of students yet to redeem their bus cards 8 weeks into the term - Gavoka

There is no disarray - 18% of students yet to redeem their bus cards 8 weeks into the term - Gavoka

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 22/04/2024
FijiFirst MP Hem Chand, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Viliame Gavoka and former Education Minister Premila Kumar

The full efficient implementation of the E-ticketing process for students remains an issue as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Viliame Gavoka says they are looking at the introduction of Vodafone Point of Sale terminals in schools for the redemption of subsidised and non-subsidised cards.

Gavoka says 82 percent of the students who are part of the bus fare subsidy programme this year have redeemed their cards.

While responding to former Education Minister, Premila Kumar’s comments that the implementation is so poor and the question on why is the Ministry is keeping the money for the last eight weeks while parents were forking out money from their pockets, Gavoka asked if we can all cooperate to educate the parents and the students on how to do it, instead of going around spreading lies.

He stresses there is funding there, it is public funds, there is a process in place and the 18 percent of the students and their parents need our help to try and get them to do the right thing and the Opposition can help instead of telling other stories.

FijiFirst MP, Hem Chand raised the matter in parliament that recently many parents and students expressed concerns over the failure to redeem student bus cards eight weeks into the term, and asked the Minister the reasons behind the disarray and how the Ministry will compensate the parents, and the strategies to ensure this is not repeated.

Gavoka says there is no disarray. He says this is a system that has been here since 2018 and these are recurring problems.

Gavoka says the Ministry of Education is doing its work, and if the parents and the students do their job, everyone will be cozy in this country in terms of this.

He says on the action plans, new students’ applications are registered and sent to schools; change of cards were submitted from the District Offices and funds are loaded; and Head of Schools are reminding parents and guardians to apply for the bus fare assistance.

This is for those students whose family income is under $16,000.

Gavoka says the system has been in place since 2018, and it started off with 56,728 students, and at the end of 2023 into 2024, there are now 71,203 students who are now using e-ticketing.

He says it is growing by the day, but there are processes that need to be observed which is affecting the full implementation of the scheme.

The Ministry of Education has data that 63,454 out of the 77,539 students have successfully redeemed their subsidised cards for Term 1, 2024 inclusive of the 2023 eligible students.

Gavoka says the public was informed accordingly regarding the redeeming of subsidised cards for Term 1 2024, via a Press Release on 15th January, 2024.

He stresses that parents and guardians must ensure that the transport assistance application forms are submitted at the school.

The Head of School assesses the application and updates verified applications into the Fiji Education Management Information System (FEMIS). The Ministry Headquarters staff then extract the transport assistance data of students that have applied and send it to Vodafone Fiji to provide the student’s recent card number and balance.

The Headquarters staff then calculate the fare from the family’s data and add the balance from Vodafone Fiji to upload the funds to the subsidised cards to cater for them for the school term.

Students then redeem their subsidised cards at the redeeming centres.

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