[Source: Fiji Government/ Facebook]
Tents are not the permanent solution to schools damaged by cyclones according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
With some students still studying in tents since 2018, UNICEF Pacific Representative Jonathan Veitch says this is the responsibility of government and that is to ensure that students are provided with proper classrooms.
Veitch says they have been providing tents to these affected schools since 2016.
“We know those children have been under learning in tents for a long time because a lot of tents we provided and the problem is you provide it once and after a couple of years it wears out and somebody asks you to provide it again and the tent is not a permanent solution and those children need to be put into schools.”
Veitch says UNICEF is willing to provide the support needed by the government but not on the rebuilding of schools.
“Well we support the government to provide all forms of education at pre-primary and primary and in secondary as well. We are not the government so we don’t have the kind of budget to build schools, there are other donors that do that. We try and make sure that we invest in system strengthening as a whole and not in school reconstruction because this is…..very rarely do we do it.”
Education Minister Aseri Radrodro says they are currently awaiting the green light from the Government Tender Board in the rebuilding of these schools.
“The detailed damage assessment has been completed. Seven out of the 38 schools have been tendered, evaluated and have been submitted to the Government Tender Board for approval.”
Radrodro says rehabilitation work on the 206 schools damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016 have been completed.
Tropical Cyclone Keni and Harold in 2018-2020 damaged 38 schools whereas 126 schools were affected by TC Yasa in 2021.