30 Jul 2007

Benefit queried of Australian training college in Fiji

3:27 pm on 30 July 2007

A teacher advocate in Fiji says a new Australian-funded technical college could push some of the country's own training schools to the verge of collapse.

The Australia-Pacific Technical College is taking its first enrollments this week, with the hope of helping to fill critical skill shortages in the region.

Its main training centre will be in Fiji, with satellite campuses in Vanuatu, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.

The college will use Australian teachers and offer training in areas including construction, manufacturing and hospitality.

Susana Tuisawau, a former head of the school of general studies at the Fiji Institute of Technology, says Fiji already has a major institute of technology and more than 30 smaller vocational centres.

She says if Australia really wanted to help Fiji, it should have put the money into existing schools.

"These are crying out for funds, they're badly resourced, and if you're going to bring another competitor amongst them, the much needed funds will of course be diverted to paying fees to the Australia educational provider."

Susana Tuisawau says the Australia-Pacific Technical College will do little to provide work for the vast majority of unemployed people in the Pacific.