Bula vinaka and a good morning to you all.

It is a pleasure to be here with you all today here to open these new and renovated classroom buildings for you students and teachers. So far, 2016 has been a great year for the students of Fiji, because my government has been able to provide new buildings and equipment to schools from Labasa to Naitaisiri and many places in between. I can’t imagine a better way to kick off the new year.

Every minute I get to spend time with our nation’s children brings a smile to my face. Watching their faces light up when they see the new improvements to their schools is always a treat. It’s rewarding to see students happy and excited about their education, and I share in that spirit of optimism for what they’ll be able to accomplish.
Our schools, especially in rural areas, are much more than just buildings where teachers work and student go to learn. They are centers of activity for our communities and a home away from home for many of our students. The Naqaliare District School serves the villages of Toga, Tawatawadi, Vunaqoru, Koroua, Rarabasaga, Naveyago, Sautabu and Koronisagana in the District of Naqalimar. Those are eight villages that rely on vthis institution to provide their children with a safe, comfortable space to grow up and learn valuable lessons in life.

When our students see the investments made in their education, when they see the new, modern infrastructure they are provided, they feel important and they rise to the occasion, meeting the great expectations that we place on them. My Government believes in the potential of our children, and that is why we are committed to the Naqalimare District School, and every other school in Fiji.

Education brings opportunity. The better equipped our students are now, the better suited they will be to lead our country one day. And providing our children with a quality education – as any parent here can agree –is well worthy our time, our energy and our money.

My Government has held firm to that conviction since the day I become Prime Minister. That is why we launched the free education initiative, that is why I’ve visited schools all over Fiji, and that is why I am here with you this morning.

Today, we are officially opening the renovated classroom building, new kindergarten building and ablution block – something we would all call a bathroom. This project has been completed at a total cost of $168,041, every penny of which has been used to give your students the learning environment they rightly deserve.

My Government has heard the request of your school management and moved the kindergarten closer to the primary school to make life more convenient for your students and your teachers. We’ve built the new bathroom facility so you can stay clean and healthy while focusing on your schoolwork. And we will continue to keep our ear to the ground, and develop future assistance that is tailored specifically to what your school needs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our children will one day inherit this country from us. It is our duty to make sure we build a new Fiji that we can be proud to pass onto them. That new Fiji should be a country that rewards on the basis of merit that has a strong, sustainable economy and a network of reliable infrastructure. That Fiji should also be have a flag that represents an independent nation-state with a rich history and culture to call its own.

That is why we are currently in the process of finding a new national flag. Our current flag has flown well for Fiji, but is time that we as Fijians fly a flag that symbolizes our national unity with imagery that says, “This is Fiji”.

The deadline for flags submissions has been extended until the 29th of February. In March, you will have the chance to make your voice heard on five final flag designs, then on Constitution Day 7 September. Fiji will raise a flag that shows the world the beauty of our country and makes a strong statement on what Fiji has become, and where we are headed.

It’s an exciting time for our country, so I will hope you will join us by submitting your designs and sharing your opinion on the final five designs. The process of finding our new flag is better off every time another Fijian contributes to this important national conversation. So together, let’s leave behind a strong country and a flag that truly speaks to who we are as Fijians.

To our students: please appreciate and respect your new school buildings. They represent our hopes and dreams for what you can accomplish. Study hard, be curious in the classroom and I know you’ll lead the next generation of Fijians to do great things.

Thank you, vinaka vakalevu.