The principals and staff of the Loreto Catholic Primary School, Visoto Primary School & Lovoni Primary School,
Parents and friends of the schools,
Boys and girls,

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Easily the best part of my job as Prime Minister is to visit schools all over Fiji and come face to face with our children – the future of our nation and on whom our hopes to build a better Fiji depend.

It always makes me happy to see your shining faces because it reminds me that my main job as Prime Minister is to work as hard as I can to build a better future for you all. So I’m very happy this morning to be here at the Loreto Catholic Primary School to hand over some badly needed equipment to make your school lives better – not only at Loreto but the schools in Visoto and Lovoni.

I’m sorry I didn’t have the time to visit all your schools individually, but I’m very pleased that so many of you could come to Tokou Village to be with us today for this event.

I know that the desks and chairs we are providing for the three schools are going to mean a huge improvement to conditions in your classrooms and make the learning experience a lot more comfortable. We are providing 40 sets of desks and chairs to Loreto, 150 desks and chairs to Visoto and a further 60 sets of desks and chairs to Lovoni.

I have an important message to the children who will use these desks and chairs. I know you’ve been looking forward to this improvement for a long time. Your school day is going to be a lot more pleasant from now on, sitting on a comfortable chair at a sparkling new desk.

Please look after this furniture and treat it as if it is your own. It has cost us a lot of money to provide this benefit to you – more than $5,000 for the desk and chairs at Loreto, nearly $20,000 for the desks and chairs at Visoto and nearly $8,000 for the furniture at Lovoni. So we need you to look after these desks and chairs as best you can so they can be passed on in top condition to the children who come after you.

Now that life in the classroom has become more comfortable, I also want you to concentrate more on your schoolwork. As you know, my Government has provided free schooling for you both here and when you go to high school. This has relieved your families of a huge burden and the money they are now saving can be used for other purposes.

But what we ask in return from you – your parents and I – is that you work as hard as you can at your studies and take advantage of the opportunities you are being given. To go on to high school and then take advantage of the scholarships and student loans we are providing to do courses at university or technical college. Because it is all about learning the skills you need to get a well-paid, satisfying job and help us build our nation.

I’m especially proud of our free milk and free Weet-Bix program for year one students that is giving you the best possible start to every school day. And making you big and strong to face the life ahead of you.

In the case of the Visoto and Lovoni schools, we are also installing a satellite telecommunications system, or VSAT, to solve your communications problems. Until now, these schools have had no communications capability at all and the staff have had to walk to other sites to make phone calls.

Now we are providing you with the link you need to the outside world and the possibility to receive all of the communication benefits of any school on Viti Levu. These VSAT systems have cost more than $20,000 each. So again, use them well and look after them and they will provide you with many years of quality service.

Finally, boys and girls, I want you to realize that you are lucky enough to be growing up at the best possible time in the whole of Fijian history. All kinds of opportunities will open up for you if you work hard because the Fijian economy – the size of our national cake – is growing all the time. And because of my Government’s policies, we are able to give everyone a bigger slice of that cake in the way of government services — like the things you are receiving today.

Boys and Girls,

Take care of yourselves by leading healthy lifestyles. Take care of each other – and especially children who are smaller, sick or disabled. And be proud to be Fijian. Because we are already a wonderful country and by working together, we intend to be even greater.

Thank you for your wonderful welcome and I now have great pleasure in formally handing over to you this new equipment, that will make such a difference to the three schools you all attend.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.