Leading Fiji’s TVET Sector

Alumeci TuisawauAlumeci Tuisawau is a respected name when it comes to Fiji’s Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) section. She has served in a number of senior positions in the education sector of the nation with her most recent position being the Director TVET at the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (MEHA).

Aiming at making Fiji a knowledge-based society, the Fijian Government has listed education as an important item on its agenda. TVET is marked as a cornerstone of reform in the educational sector and is also seen as a means of supporting sustainable development, thus, is a major focus for MEHA.

Tuisawau, who is from Lomanikoro, Nausori was always keen to be a doctor. This did not come as a surprise having been raised by medical professionals. Little did she know that over time this interest would change and lead her in a completely different field.

As time went by, Tuisawau realised that her parents were always busy and had to sacrifice family time. Being a Medical Doctor, her father was transferred numerous times to different hospitals and had to be on call a lot of the times. Her mother was a district nurse and had a hectic schedule as well.

“As I grew up and began to understand more, I realised that the medical field demanded a lot of time and this could limit family time which was very important to me, therefore, I decided that I did not want to be in the medical field,” she recalls.

Education and Career

Tuisawau attended various primary schools as her father was transferred numerous times during this time. She attended Lelean Memorial School to attain her secondary education.

While in high school, a team from the Fiji College of Agriculture (FCA), now College of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (CAFF) had gone to her school for an information session which is when Tuisawau grew an interest in the field of agriculture.

Thus, in 1983 she began a new journey at the FCA. She stayed on campus as this was mandatory.

“We had to stay on campus as this was compulsory. There were very few females and the class numbers were smaller too. I have very fond memories of my time at FCA. I enjoyed it a lot,” said Tuisawau.

She is also grateful for the education she received at FCA as this gave her the foundation she needed for her career.

“The lecturers were mostly from Massey University who owned farms so were able to teach theory and relate it to practical work as well. We also did a lot of practical work. We were required to live and work on farms, which was an interesting as well as a challenging experience,” she added.

She was initially placed at a dairy farm which proved to be a bit difficult as it required her to wake up as early as 3.30 am. Later she was placed on a crop farm which she states as less challenging.

She graduated with a Diploma in Tropical Agriculture in 1986. She was also awarded the Best Crop Student. At this time, MEHA was looking for Agriculture Teachers and approached the Principal of FCA.

“The Principal submitted my name and I was given a scholarship to complete an Advanced Diploma in Teaching (1987) which was a one year program at the University of the South Pacific (USP), Alafua Campus. This would enable me to teach,” she said.

She taught for two years before being awarded another scholarship to complete her Bachelors in Agriculture (1991), again at the USP, Alafua Campus. After this she taught for an additional two years before she received another scholarship to study Masters in Environmental Science (1998) from the Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan.

After graduation in 1999, she joined MEHA as the Senior Education Officer. She was later promoted to Principal Education Officer. After a few years she was promoted to Director Curriculum Advisory Services in 2012. Soon afterwards, the position of Director Curriculum Advisory Services and Director TVET merged. She served on this post for sometimes before it was separated again and she was given the role of Director TVET in 2014, a post which she currently serves.

Personal Life and Words of Wisdom

Tuisawau lives with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. She involves herself in community work through a group she has formed at work as part of Corporate Social Responsibility. Through this group, they work with selected communities to mentor youths and raise awareness amongst youths regarding education and leading a good and honest life.

“So many youths are not going to school and are on the streets and asking for money. They are becoming notorious. This is way we thought it would be a good idea for us to mentor them into being good human beings and pave a good path for themselves,” she said.

Her advice to students and new graduates is to have the right attitude towards whatever they do, listen to their leaders, be honest to themselves and learn as much as they can from their job.

She is retiring from the civil service in April after 32 years of services and listed travel as one of her hobbies.