Navesi Gone Turaga na Tui Wailevu;
The School Committee;
Parents, Guardians and Students;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
This marks my first stop on a tour of our Northern Division, where I’ll be commissioning several new projects that will uplift the quality of life here in Vanua Levu.
Through the week, I will also be assessing damages done by Tropical Cyclone Tino, which recently swept over Fiji, causing mass flooding and, tragically, cutting short the lives of two Fijians in its wake. Our disaster officials are still on the ground in badly-affected communities helping reclaim what was lost in the cyclone.
But my visit to our Northern communities this week is not only about what we lost. It is about the strength and resilience of Vanua Levu, and about the many great things we are building here, together, for the benefit of every Fijian who calls this island home.
That’s why I’m starting this tour here in Nakorovatu this morning, where we are officially opening two new teachers’ quarters at Uluivalili College –– an investment of over $268,000 Dollars in your community.
Home to students in years nine to 13, Uluivalili College was established in 2012, located a full 46 kilometres from Savusavu Town.
Before this school existed, parents had to send their children to secondary schools in Savusavu, or even as far off as Taveuni, Labasa and Viti Levu.
Today, the student body –– around 250 strong –– hails from many small communities around the area, from Wailevu West to other nearby villages and settlements such as Naiqaqi, Laucala, Valeni, Natuvu, Vunidamoli and Natua.
From Uluivalili College’s construction to where we stand today, it’s clear that my Government has served as a pillar of support to this school in its journey forward. This college is a symbol of progress. Its growth has meant a growth in opportunities available for your young people. And this addition to your campus marks a continuation of our dedication to this school and to every member of this community.
When I toured the Northern Division in 2017, I spoke to members of your community and learned that the school would be better served with the addition of two new teachers’ quarters. That day, I personally committed to funding this new project –– and I’m proud to return here now for this commissioning of yet another delivered promise.
Wherever I visit in Fiji, I truly value the time I spend on the ground in our communities, directly speaking to my fellow Fijians, learning about your needs and exploring how my Government can help you in any way possible.
The Government I lead does not make its decision sitting in the comfort of offices in Suva. We go into our communities. We listen to ordinary Fijians. We see the issues they face with our own eyes, we hear their concerns, and we work with the right people to quickly take action.
That personal, face-to-face interaction is what I love most about Fiji. And it’s why I’m happy to see your smiling faces today, as I we open two new, high-quality quarters that your teachers can call their home.
We all know that a great teacher can have a lifelong impact, and they hold the future of so many young Fijians in their hands every day. For this reason, my Government has recognised that we cannot take their comfort or quality of life of Fijian teachers for granted. With the peace of mind, independence, and security that this new, proper housing will provide, your teachers can now fully focus on what matters most – teaching.
They’ll rise every morning, well-rested and ready to start the day on the right foot. And I’m confident that this heighted quality of life will be directly felt by the girls and boys of Uluivalili College. Sometimes, all it takes is that extra push from a motivated teacher to inspire a passion that stays with students for the rest of their life.
I want to close by talking directly to your students. Every Fijian girl and boy has a greatness within you, and education allows you to tap into that greatness –– and discover your true potential –– to create whatever life you want for yourself. As you continue through this term, and through all of your educational journey –– from secondary school to beyond –– I want you to remember that. Today in Fiji, you can do anything you put your mind to; so don’t let the immense opportunities that exist go to waste.
My friends, I wish you nothing but the very best in the year ahead. Let today mark the beginning of a new chapter for Uluivalili College, and for all of Vanua Levu. I look forward to seeing your students grow up to achieve great things in the years to come. No matter what dreams they hope to achieve for their future, my Government will be there to support them, every step of the way.
Vinaka vakalevu, Thank you and God bless.