Turaga ni Mataqali Nauluvatu, Mr Luke Narabe,
President of Fiji Mission SDA,
Heads of Government Departments,
Elderly of the Church,
Kindergarten Committee,
Church Members of 27 churches in the District,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Let me begin by congratulating the dedicated mothers, fathers and church and community members of the Tebara District for making this new Tebara SDA Kindergarten a reality.

Your passion for your children’s education is nothing short of an inspiration. Fijian communities who share my Government’s commitment to educating our children play a vital role in our nation’s development. Throughout their development, particularly in their formative years, Fijian children benefit immensely from parents and community members who invest in their success as students, and I applaud each of you for showing the foresight to prepare your students for their educational careers.

I’m a father of six and a grandfather to 19. I know the life-long importance these early years hold for a child’s development. These are the years when intellectual curiosity is first sparked in young Fijian’s minds and when good values take root and grow in their hearts.

These are the years where the strong, kind and courageous Fijian leaders of tomorrow build a foundation of morality and intellectual rigour that will serve them all their lives.

Within the walls of this building, the children of your community will be gifted an invaluable start to their education. When they go on to primary school, secondary school and beyond, they will enjoy my Government’s total commitment to their success. Their education will be free, their textbooks will be free and – for those students who need it – we will subsidise their transportation to school. And, for those who one day dream of higher education, they can access record funding given to tertiary loans and scholarships to pursue a professional degree.

While we have so many young people gathered here today, I wanted to raise an important point. It is officially flu season, so it is very important that each of you remember to maintain good hygiene.

Basically, that means keeping yourselves clean so that you all stay healthy and are able to stay in school and spend time with your friends. Remember to wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze and, if you aren’t feeling well, make sure you tell an adult.

I don’t want to make a long speech today. I’d much rather hear from all of you, spend time with your community and explore how we can work together to help more children gain access to the high-quality education they each deserve.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Through your support of this kindergarten, it’s clear that you are committed to that old expression, and to raising your children right. For that, I thank you.

I look forward to watching this kindergarten flourish in the years ahead, and to seeing the many benefits of early childhood education spread throughout your young people and your communities for generations to come.

Vinaka vakalevu and God bless.

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