THE Repatriation of all local continuing students studying in other regional institutions to return home for their Christmas break is in doubt.
This is due to the cost of charter flights and accommodation at the quarantine sites during the 14 days period.
As such the Ministry of Education said it would prioritise repatriate all the graduating students this December.
This was highlighted during yesterday’s weekly talk-back show.
Deputy Secretary at the Education Ministry James Bosamata said the priority will be given to the graduating students to return home.
For the continuing students, the plan to repatriate them or not is still under discussion, he added.
“The issue under discussion is whether to bring them home for Christmas or just allow them to remain at their respective institutions.
“This is considering the limited number of quarantine spaces here because right now it might cater to all of them if we bring all of them home for Christmas,’ he said.
Secretary to Prime Minister (SPM) Dr. Jimmie Rogers yesterday said to just to bring all the graduating students is equivalent to about four charters.
“Three for Fiji and one for Papua New Guinea,” he said.
He further explained that repatriating all the local students studying overseas into the country come December will cost the government millions of dollars in charter flights and quarantine.
He said at the moment the camp management cost is at $1500 per person per day.
“So if all the 1500 students return and are being placed on 14 days quarantine it would cost the government more than $31million.”
He further highlighted that space at the quarantine centres remain an issue to bring all the students home.
The SPM said it's important for the students to consider the costs involved when planning to return home.
“I think it is very important when we start repatriating we relate it to the cost the government has to meet,” he said.
“Because upon arrival students will be required to undergo two weeks of quarantine. And upon their return to their respective institutions, they also require to undergo quarantine which will cost money and time,” he said.
Dr. Rodgers said for this month and October repatriating of all the local students in the Philippines will be the government’s priority.
The first repatriation flight is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.
The SPM said on October 25 a repatriation flight from New Zealand will be organised to bring home more than 100 locals.
He said in December the focus will be on getting the graduating students from other regional institutions.
Dr. Rodgers also highlighted yesterday that between 600 to 800 local citizens are on the list to return home towards the end of the year.
These included more than 100 nationals in New Zealand, 90 in Fiji, 28 in Kiribati, and 31 footballers from UK.
He said the list is with the Foreign Affairs and is growing.
However, he said the issue of camp management involving lack of space is an issue.
But he added, they are looking at options whether to expand the quarantine centres in Honiara.
By FOLLET JOHN