The Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia;
H.E. Mr. Raden Mohammad Benjamin Scott Carnadi;
The Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Hon. Premila Kumar;
Na Turaga na Tui Dere;
Na Turaga na Tui Nabulebulewa;
Na Turaga na Tui Nawainovo;
Na Turaga na Ratu Dawasamu;
Na Turaga na iTalatala ni Koronivuli i Vulinituraga;
The Principal, Teachers, Parents, Guardians and Students of Queen Victoria School;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and good morning to you all.
What a joy it is to be with you at the Queen Victoria School to commission these two fine new hostel facilities.
It is a joy, first of all, because we are back on campus again after so many months of online learning. I understand that the Year 12s and 13s returned in November, and everyone else returned in January, so everything is fully back to normal. I think we discovered something important through that experience—that it was possible to attend class from a distance, but there is nothing like being physically at school with teachers and classmates. And it is especially important at a school like QVS, where there is so much hands-on learning.
It is also a joy because Queen Victoria School is celebrating its 70th Anniversary at this 300-acre campus this year, and its 115th Anniversary overall.
And finally, it is a joy to celebrate not only the completion of two excellent hostel facilities, but the fact that we are here today — thanks to the assistance of our great friend, the Government of the Republic of Indonesia. The dormitory facilities here were damaged beyond repair by TC Winston in 2016, and the Government of Indonesia adopted this project through the Fijian Government’s Adopt a School Programme, at a cost of $3.9 Million. These two new dormitories are not just places to sleep. They are designed for students who need spaces to study and relax as well.
And this is just Phase One. A two-storey building with classrooms, science labs, a computer lab and teacher rooms will be constructed this year to replace two classroom blocks at the school block area. Mister Ambassador, thank you for being with us today, and many thanks to the Government and the people of Indonesia for their timely assistance.
These facilities are built to withstand the kinds of winds that TC Winston assaulted Fiji with. Should another strong storm come this way, we know these buildings will be here after the winds die away.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen Victoria School occupies an important place in Fiji. The school that began as a place to educate the sons of chiefs is now a school to which students are admitted based on merit. Every student at this school can take pride in knowing that they earned their place.
The dormitories are an important part of our merit-based education system, because they allow people who need accommodation to stay on the school campus. In a society that values the principle of equality of opportunity, the need for boarding accommodations should never be an obstacle.
Ladies and Gentlemen, and students and future leaders, it is now my honour to commission these two outstanding new dormitory blocks.
Vinaka Vakalevu – Thank you.