The Honourable Minister for Education,
Na Turaga na Tui Bua,
The Head of Campus, staff and students of the
Ratu Epeli Ravoka Campus of the Technical
College of Fiji,
Parents and Friends,
Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
I always say that our education revolution is my Government’s proudest achievement. So I’m delighted to be back in the North today to celebrate the official opening of the Ratu Epeli Ravoka Campus of the Technical College of Fiji.
It’s less than a week since some, if not many of you, joined me in Labasa for the wonderful “welcome home” celebration for our Olympic Gold medal winning Rugby Sevens team. What a great day it was for us all. A great day for the North. A great day for Fiji. And a day that those of us who were there will never forget.
I told the huge crowd in Labasa as well as those in Nadi and Suva that we are privileged to be living in a golden age for Fiji. And this Campus and the training you students are receiving are an important part of that. Because never before in Fijian history have so many of our young people had access to education. The free schooling and scholarships and tertiary loans that are a feature of our education revolution. Plus the specialist training in colleges like this that are equipping you with skills to carve out a better life for yourselves and also help us continue to build the new Fiji.
I’m very proud that my Government has fulfilled its promise to set up a network of campuses like this throughout the country to instruct our young people in the various trades our nation needs. This is the second campus of the Technical College of Fiji to be officially opened in Vanua Levu after the Labasa campus was launched last year. And I will also have the pleasure to officially open the third campus in Macuata tomorrow.
These are wonderful assets for Vanua Levu and for Fiji because they are important building blocks in our plan to build the North and also take our nation to the next level.
Here in Bua, we are offering Level 2 national certificates in Automotive Mechanical Engineering and carpentry. And I’m very pleased to see that there are currently 80 students enrolled here from more than 40 communities stretching across the whole of Bua Province from Wainunu to Nasarawaqa.
To our students, I want to say this: If you work hard and complete these courses, they will transform your prospects of earning a decent sustainable iving. These are formal qualifications that will be recognised all over Fiji. So we are also broadening your horizons and giving you what you need to earn a living not only here in the North but the whole of Fiji and beyond.
In a wider sense, we are laying out a vision for our people of a skilled nation – an educated nation – in which no young person who wants to work hard and improve their lives is prevented from doing so. A nation in which no-one is left behind. When you eventually get your certificates, you will be part of the army of tradespeople Fiji is creating to take our nation forward.
That is why it is a golden age for you and everyone like you at the eleven other Technical College of Fiji campuses around the country. Because we are empowering you in a way your parents and grandparents could only dream of. And we are empowering our nation in a way that Fijians of previous generations could never have imagined.
You’ll have heard me talking last week about the importance of teamwork, of all of us following the example of our Rugby Sevens Team. They took on the world and won gold. And Fiji as a nation can do the same – will do the same – if we all work together as a team.
Each of you will use the skills you are learning here to help build up the skills base of our nation. All those things any nation needs to be successful. Whether it is the mechanics or carpenters that you will eventually become. Or any number of other things our young people are studying at the Technical College campuses throughout Fiji.
Like our Rugby Sevens Team, our nation intends to be great. And I want to fire your imaginations about what is possible if we all set our eyes on the goal of being winners and work as a team. The prospects for every Fijian are better now than at any time in our history. But we can only be great if we stick together. One nation, one people. Looking out for each other. Caring for each other. And making sure we take everyone with us on our journey forward.
That is why I place so much emphasis on developing those parts of Fiji like the North that still don’t have all of the facilities enjoyed by those living on Viti Levu. It is simply not good enough for many people up here to be deprived of the kind of things that people take for granted on our main island – good roads, electricity, water, proper health care and efficient communications. As I have said many times before, I will not rest as Prime Minister until every Fijian – no matter where they are – has the same level of services. And that, of course, includes access to proper training facilities at campuses like this.
Not that long ago, you would have all had to travel to Viti Levu – or perhaps Labasa – to gain access to the training you are now beginning to take for granted here in Bua. Now, you can be close to your families and friends and still acquire the formal qualifications that previous generations could never acquire in the North. And you have a choice. You can stay up here and use those skills to help us develop the North and help achieve its full potential.
Or you can venture out into the wider world. Because we value every single person and we want you to achieve your full potential. It is a wonderful part of Fiji and deserves better than the years of neglect you suffered under previous governments. And I promise you that over time, you will all see more improvements to add to those the FijiFirst Government has already delivered.
Students, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to close by thanking the local people here who joined hands with the Government to make this campus possible – the Nawaca Primary School Committee, the Vanua o Nawaca and the people of Bua.
I deeply appreciate the traditional welcome you have given me today and the enthusiasm with which you have greeted me. And I wish you the very best as a community, as well as each and every one of our students as they work to pursue their dreams.
May God Bless us all as we work to fulfill those dreams not only for ourselves but for our nation.
May God Bless our beloved Fiji.
Vinaka vakalevu, Thank you.