Saturday, March 21, 2009

The difference between a university and a TAFE

from w
I was interested to read Mr Meo's discussion on the Fiji Institute of Technology, saying that it should not go the way of becoming a 'university' but be different. In Ausralian we call such institutions TAFE Tertiary and Further Edication. This is true. There is a difference between an academic (book/theory) institution and a hands on/practical/down to earth teaching facility. I like the idea of the FIT as an alternative way of learning for young and older men and women. In Australia such as in the city of Geelong there is the Deakin University and the Gordon TAFE and the latter is very very good. Mr Meo - who was pushed out from his position as principal of the FIT in Suva last year, but now the charge has been dismissed - is rightfully in a position to make a comment. The FIT website may not be up to date but here it is.

I read the following in an on-line Fiji website.

State told to save institute

The Fiji Institute of Technology will become a white elephant within five years if it continues in the path it has taken, says former director Kolinio Meo.
Mr Meo, who was acquitted last week of a charge of abuse of office yesterday broke his silence to the Fiji Sun as he called on the Interim Government to immediately do something if the institution is to survive.

“The Interim Government must recognise this and step in to ensure that FIT survives,” he said. “My prediction for FIT is that, within five years time, it is going to turn into an academic institute. FIT will lose its core functions. The way the current director and board are moving, we will have another university.”

“I hope that this government and minister will not allow that to happen.” He said changes brought about by former interim Minister for Education, Netani Sukanaivalu had left the institute destitute.

When contacted last night FIT director Dr Ganesh Chand wanted the questions faxed over to him and would respond today.

Mr Meo said with the plans he had put in place for FIT during his tenure, was part of the FIT Act which was supposed to be promulgated in 2006, the institute would have been an autonomous organisation and independent of Government assistance. “The Act itself would have been the solution to many of FIT’s problems. I knew it because I designed the strategic plan for FIT. So what happened was, the interim Minister of Education at that time (Netani Sukanaivalu) came in, he says he knows everything about technical and vocational education and he did not want the promulgation.

“If he had signed it then, we would have got money from the banks immediately to fund and develop the school.

“”When I advised the minister, please sir, you sign this, tomorrow we will go and sign with the Colonial Bank to release $16million to complete that building.

“The Hospitality and Tourism School in Nadi is a white elephant now. If it wasn’t for the Interim Government, the school would have been running now,”Mr Meo said the former Education minister had made it a personal and a ‘childish’ crusade to bring him down and put a plug in the pipeline for the plans he had put in place for FIT. “I even wrote to the Interim Prime Minister pleading with him to intercede for the sake of FIT. But the minister himself went along to the PM and said he wanted to change the Act. “How can one person do that when the Act has gone through sector committees in parliament and various stakeholders? It was childish. He ridiculed me and was the driving force behind getting me out of FIT so that someone else can come in.”

Mr Sukanaivalu’s phone was switched off when contacted last night.

Mr Meo said lecturers at FIT now call him to lament about the state of the institution. “Now it is turning into an academic institute and this contradicts with its core functions.

“FIT was supposed to be the engine room for government. Now, I don’t think we can say that anymore. They have changed the structure so many ways and they don’t know what they are doing,” he added.

Current Interim Minister for Education Filipe Bole was also not available to comment.

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