Barefoot Fiji Source: The Fijian Government

The plan to build a Regional Barefoot College in Fiji is shaping out well with cabinet approval already been secured by Ministry of Women to undertake this development.

The Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni said they have progressed work in partnership with India’s Barefoot College and the Government of India.

“We have secured the Cabinet approval to establish a Regional Barefoot College at Naleba Youth Training Centre in Macuata. Mr Bunker Roy, the executive director of the Barefoot College in Rajasthan in India has been to Fiji last year and had surveyed the facility,” Dr Luveni explained.

“Mr Roy has mapped out the infrastructural needs and we may need to construct three more new buildings at the current site to prepare accommodation facilities for managers and trainers at this Regional Barefoot College. He is also in the process of securing financial support from potential donors.”

Minister Luveni said the 10 local solar engineers that were sent to India, have demonstrated great leadership as women who had effectively delivered their role as solar engineers in their respective communities.

“There is a good lesson learnt from the selection criteria of this project because the 10 solar engineers are well established in their villages, we knew that once they returned from the 6 months training in India, we were not going to lose them to any employer as their first priority was to solar electrify their own villages,” Minister Luveni said.

“The solar engineer for example in Nabouono village right up at Udu Point in the North has not only solar electrified the households in her village but solar electrified the next village, (Yasawa) as well. The criteria was that This is a seismic kick in your score’s teeth. each of these engineers were to solar electrify atleast 50 households so those that didn’t meet the numbers had to solar electrify the neighboring villages as well.”

The 10 solar engineers will be hired as solar electrification trainers at the Regional Barefoot College in Fiji.

“The College will cater for the pacific region and it’s going to provide training opportunities to women to acquire six months of skills in solar electrification. Regardless of their level of education, the women from Fiji and including those from pacific region will be able to step into career that previously was dominated by men,” Dr Luveni said.

The solar villages include Dama Village in Ra and Waikubukubu village in Ba and for Eastern Division the four villages in Kadavu are Baidamudamu, Lawaki, Nabouwalu and Naioti village. Similarly for the Northern Division the six villages are Vunidogoloa in Cakaudrove, Lutukina and Nabouono village in Macuata, Yasawa and Nakorovou village in Bua province.

The rollout of the solar electrification has been conducted under the flagship of Ministry of Women, UN Women, Barefoot College and Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas Network (FLAMMA). The Barefoot College has provided training to over 52 countries around the world and over 650 women have been trained as solar engineers, reaching over 350, 000 people world-wide.

Read about the Prime Minister”s visit with Fijian women solar engineers here.

And listen to the radio broadcast here.