Waimaro Levulevu Vua na Gone Turaga na Ratu;
Honourable Minister for Education;
Board Chairman of Tailevu North College;
Principal of Tailevu North College;
Teachers and Students;
Parents and Guardians;
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
I can’t imagine a better place to end my week than back home in Tailevu. No less, celebrating yet another development to further our children’s education.
Today, we’re investing in the security and comfort of our teachers, who we entrust with nurturing the next generation of Fijian doctors, nurses, engineers, farmers, artists, entrepreneurs and other innovators who will one day lead Fijian society. Here at Tailevu North College, we’re opening an over Half-a-Million-Dollar investment in new teacher’s quarters, so your teachers can live here in the community they are dedicated to serve.
Across the country I’ve opened newly built quarters like these to serve teachers who have dedicated their careers to serving Fijian children in our more rural and maritime regions.
It is of vital national importance that we see students in these pockets of the country receive the same quality of education found in Fiji’s major urban areas –– and that’s why your Government is committed to seeing teachers in these regions be well-supported.
No teacher should spend their days making long, difficult treks just to get to work. Your community has seen how unreliable that can be. On days with heavy rains, your teachers could find themselves stranded on the wrong side of floods affecting the Nausori and Korovou highways. But reports or rain shouldn’t determine whether or not class at the Tailevu North College is in session. So, we’ve built these new quarters to give your teachers a home on this campus, making each of them full members of the Tailevu North College community.
Friends, seeing yet another school campus open and welcoming its students makes me incredibly grateful. As we all know, due to COVID-19, most schools around the world are closed. Fiji’s decisive action to stop the spread of the virus has spared us the suffering endured around the world. But this global pandemic is nowhere near over, and its economic impacts will not relent for some time.
With such a tremendous strain put on our Government revenues, we’ve thought carefully about every dollar spent. In a way, this crisis has revealed where your Government’s greatest priorities lie. We haven’t cut the salaries of any civil servant, including our teachers. Nor have we removed free education, free textbooks or subsidised transportation to school. Why? Because we are a Government that believes education is the greatest investment we can make –– now and always.
I know education is usually seen as a long-term investment; something that pays off returns a generation on from now as young people grow up and apply their knowledge throughout their careers. But in opening new schools, upgrading new school buildings and seeing funding go towards free education, free textbooks and subsidised transportation to school, I can tell you: The pay-outs on these educational investments are immediate.
With these new quarters open, our teachers can live in comfort today. They can instantly support themselves, their families and their students better than ever before. And when the rest of Fiji sees our students do well, it lifts the spirits of us all. It lets us know that ––yes, things may be tough today –– but we are still building for our future. It assures us that Fiji’s best days are still ahead, that our children will be equipped for the opportunities that will be there when the clouds of this global pandemic eventually do part.
Because, rest assured, better days will come, and we must be prepared to seize the possibilities that brighter future will bring.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.