Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
I’m delighted to be here to open this new extension of four classrooms at the Andrews Primary School. This is a very important day for the school and the local community because of the great opportunity this extension provides to improve the education of our children.
As we all know, the school has been under a lot of pressure to house its students, especially since my Government introduced free schooling last year.
The students who have been using the school hall and library can now move into these new classrooms and into what is obviously a much better learning environment. It will also mean that children on the school’s waiting list can now be accommodated, which is great news for families in the Nadi area.
Of the $158,000 that it cost to build this extension, $108,000 has been provided by my Government through the Ministry of Education. So this is part of the education revolution that is taking place all over Fiji, in which we are improving conditions in our schools and giving our young people the best possible start in life.
Boys and girls, I’m sure you know that we made a very big difference to your families when we took over the responsibility – as a Government – for paying your school fees. No longer do your mothers and fathers, aunties or grandparents, have to worry about how they are going to pay for you to go to school. This is a wonderful thing and something I am very proud to have delivered as your Prime Minister.
As you know, you are also getting assistance with bus fares and textbooks, as well as the free milk program that will soon begin for students in Year 1.
Soon, at the beginning of Term 2, the Government will also start providing money for your early education centre, which until now has been funded by the school management.
The introduction of free education in designated pre-schools across Fiji this year means that your lifetime of learning can begin a lot earlier. And this is also one of my Government’s proudest achievements.
This school has an enrolment of more than 800 students. And so the community of Nawaka and the greater Nadi area is already taking up the opportunities we are providing for all of our young people to get an education – whoever they are or whatever their individual family circumstances.
You are all sharing our vision of building a smarter country – a clever country in which Fijian young people get the best possible chance to go on to higher education, whether it is in our secondary schools, technical colleges or universities.
Boys and girls, I want you to work as hard as you possibly can at your studies. The future for any Fijian child has never looked brighter. And there is a wonderful world out there – a world of opportunity that your parents and grandparents never had, but that you can enjoy if you work hard enough.
You already have one of the great keys to learning – access to 33 computers that the Government provided for you last year.
I’m also told that you had a careers expo here last September. This is very unusual for a primary school, but as your head teacher has told you, it is never too early to think about what you want to do when you grow up. It is never too early to think about what kind of work you would enjoy doing and, even at your age, to use that as a goal to aim for.
As I do all over Fiji, I want to say to you all: Dream big dreams. Reach for the stars. Nothing is impossible if you take advantage of the opportunities we are giving you. And nothing is impossible for our nation as we work together to make Fiji the great country that we all know it can be.
Thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. And I now have great pleasure in declaring the extension to the Andrews Primary School open.
Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.