Bula vinaka and a good afternoon to you all.

It’s a pleasure to be here today at the Natutale Primary School here in Ba. This is the fourth day of my tour of the West, and it’s been a privilege being here in the Western Division, meeting people and knowing that we are able to use the resources of government to make their lives better.

The projects, services and infrastructure that my Government is opening here in the West and all over the country are designed to do just that. They are targeting the people in this country who work hard every day—the people who sacrifice so their children can be well fed, well clothed, and well educated, the people who struggle to maintain small business or do well in their job, and the people who must think hard about every purchase they make to be sure they get good value for every cent they spend.

I am on this tour because Fiji’s economic success isn’t only because of the big businesses in Suva or Lautoka. It is because of all of us. Every Fijian, in their own way, is making daily contributions to Fiji and helping us develop in ways that seemed impossible a generation ago. And you deserve every effort my Government can make to help you improve your quality of life to the level you want—on a par with that of our Fijians living in larger, more developed regions. It is a long effort, and it will not happen overnight, but we will take the steps together. Government will create the infrastructure and the programmes to create equal opportunity, but the rest will be the product of your own ingenuity, ambition and sweat.

I’ve also had the chance to visit a number of schools here in the West. And each time I do, it reminds what I love most about my job. I have children and grandchildren, and I know how valuable education has been and is in their lives. So every time I have a chance to improve the classroom experience for our students in Fiji, it brings me a lot of joy.

Here at the Natutale Primary School, you are in a beautiful location. But it is also a remote location, and that can make it difficult to provide much-needed services and support. That is why schools such as your require special attention from my Government.

The quality of your education should never be decided based on where someone chooses to call home. For generations, many of you have lived here in Natutale – so it is my Government’s job to come to you and not the other way around. It is my duty as Prime Minister to make sure that your school and your community receive as much assistance as needed to give your students the same opportunities in life as anywhere else in our islands.

The VTSAT system that I am opening today has been funded at a cost of $20,307. We’ve secured this funding for your school because we want you remain connected to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world. This simple project is one way to lessen the isolation of living here in the highlands and open new pathways of learning for your children. Through modern communications, we truly begin to create One Fiji—for our children, for the teachers who are giving them the skills they will need for productive adulthood, and for this community.
Communication is a major key in keeping your students and teacher up-to-date on new policies, materials and developments from across the nation. Your school now has the ability to make calls and access the internet – a vast wealth of knowledge that will better your educations.

In the age we live in today, information is the greatest advantage our students can have. Now you can receive new information the moment it becomes available, and use it to enhance your learning and development.

This can become the most powerful academic tool at your disposal, so I encourage to integrate this technology into your curriculum as best as you can and as soon as you can.

Ladies and gentlemen,
This tour I’ve also been spreading the word on how Fiji will choose its new national flag. Our current flag is a proud testament to our past, but is not the flag of our future. Fiji – and the Fijian people – deserve a flag that displays the beauty of our country and represents our unity, independence and vision for our future.

The deadline for flag design submissions has been extended until 29 February. I urge all of you to submit your designs so that we can best incorporate the spirit and creativity of our people into the new flag. In March, we will choose five final designs and then consult the public before raising our new fag on Constitution Day, which is 7 September.

With this new VTSAT system, you can stay engaged in this new flag selection process, one of the many new advantages it will bring. I hope you will treat this new equipment with the respect it deserves and achieve everything it will allow you to do.

Thank you. Vinaka vakalevu