$200 back-to-school assistance opens tomorrow

All students, from preschool level to year 13 this year, whose families’ combined income is $50,000 or less are eligible to apply for back-to-school support of $200 per child announced today by the Fijian Coalition Government.

Application forms can be collected from schools from tomorrow, Wednesday 11 January. Completed forms are to be submitted to schools no later than Friday 20 January when applications close.

Disbursement of the assistance will begin on Wednesday 25 January via existing payment modes. Similar initiatives, in the past, were paid out via Digicel and Vodafone’s payment platforms – MyCash and MPaisa respectively.

Making the announcement, Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said: “This is due to the hardship many families are facing in the last couple of years due to COVID-19 and the contraction of our economy whereby a lot of people have lost their jobs. It is our hope that this assistance will in many ways ease the way back to financial stability for families who are still recovering from the dire economic events of 2020 and 2021.

“Support for education as you may be aware is at the core of the coalition government’s commitment to the people of Fiji.”

Parents are also advised that separate forms must be filled out for each student.

Minister for Economy and Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad said they expect 220,000 students to benefit from the assistance, for which an allocation of $50 million will be set aside from the existing budget.

Professor Biman did not specify where within the existing budget the allocation will be sourced, only saying: “from areas, in our view, that are not priority expenditures.”

Furthermore, to protect against misuse of funds, the assistance will be opened up to parents first before it is expanded further to include guardians.

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