Free education and transport assistance for Early Childhood Education, primary and secondary school students will continue with a total funding allocation of more than $100 million.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says $45 million has been allocated to continue the ‘Back to School Support’ of $200 per child for students from early childhood to Year 13 for the school year 2024.
This will benefit over 230,000 students for families with less than $50,000 household income.
The education sector is given the highest allocation in this budget to a tune of $845 million.
The salaries and wages budget for the Ministry has been increased from $318.1 million to $322.6 million to cater for the funding for the more than 14,000 existing teachers and newly established 179 new teaching and non-teaching positions at the Ministry of Education.
$8.9 million is allocated for salary upgrade of teachers who have completed relevant qualifications to move to a higher band in line with the Teacher Remuneration Setting Policy.
Funding is also provided to Corpus Christi, Fulton College, Montfort Technical Institute, Monfort Boys Town, and Vivekananda Technical Centre.
USP will receive a total funding of $53.5 million.
The Fiji National University will be provided a funding grant of $43.4 million, University of Fiji is provided an increased grant of $2.8 million while the newly established Pacific Polytech will receive a funding grant of $1.0 million and Sangam Institute of Technology has its grant increased from $114,000 to $614,000.
On technical education which has been neglected over the past years and the huge skills gap with people leaving our shores, Professor Prasad says they are now going to invest in this and work together with existing service providers, including the newly established Pacific Polytech.
The government plans to revamp the apprenticeship scheme in the next few months and also review the NTPC levy and how best to support and fund skill upgrades in the workforce.
Professor Prasad says the employers have been suffering from this and the previous Government’s hasty decision to remove the NTPC levy.
$49 million is allocated for the overall maintenance and upgrade of schools including the construction of TC Yasa affected schools and staff quarters in Vanua Levu.
The Australian Government has provided $30 million towards this.
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