It’s a pleasure to join your Students, Teachers, Staff and Families, to officially open the new Nadrau Primary School.
For our most rural communities, a school represents more thanits buildings and classrooms; it is a centre for the community, it is a refuge in storms, and it is a connection to the rest of the country. So when this school was levelled by Cyclone Winston –– the strongest storm to ever strike our hemisphere –– your children and your communities lost something precious. And when your
Government set out to rebuild this school, we knew we had to get the rebuild right.
Every building of your new school has been built to be category five cyclone resilient. In total, this rehabilitation cost Government $4,362,488.38 –– and I want every child here to know that I believe your futures are worth every dollar of that investment. For that same reason, we made education free for the first time in this country –– so that no child would be held back by financial constraints. And for that same reason, we pay for free textbooks and subsidise transportation to school for those who need it.
You are our future, and we believe you deserve every measure of support we can afford to give.
In place of the old wooden buildings that used to stand in this space are classrooms and dormitories which comprise one of the most modern school campuses in the country. We are now in the cooler season, and I’m sure the students who board here are grateful that these facilities keep out the cold and keep them warm and comfortable at night. I’m proud to say this campus is built to resist more than cool weather. As your communities’ evacuation centre, it can be counted on when future storms bear down upon us.
The great test of these new buildings came in Cyclone Yasa –– which was nearly as powerful as TC Winston. This school was yet to be completed, but some structures were standing. When the winds came, your people took shelter there. And when the clouds parted, this school was standing and construction continued. Rather than walk amongst rubble, you could go about your lives in the dawn of a new day. There’s no price you can place on that sense of security.
I wish you and your students well in their studies and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible today.
Vinaka Vakalevu – Thank you.