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Attorney General and Minister for Education,
Permanent Secretary for Education,
CMF School Board Chairman Reverend Emosi Toroca, Senior Pastors for CMF,
School Principal Maika Benaca,
Students, parents, teachers and the community of Tacirua East…

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all!

I’m delighted to be here today as we officially handover this new school equipment to the deserving students of the Christian Mission Fellowship College.

I’m very pleased to say that we’ve had a very successful start to Term 1 for students around the country.

We have delivered free milk, Weet Bix, and government purchased textbooks to every school in the first week. So far, we’ve also registered over 63,000 students in the e-ticketing system, making travel to school easier and more convenient for our students, and giving them greater familiarity with technology at a very young age. Those who have not yet registered, please do so.

My fellow Fijians, the future of our nation will be defined by our work to expand access to high quality education. As your Prime Minister, there is nothing that brings me more pride than what we’ve achieved in widening the reach of the Fijian education system and levelling the academic playing field for young Fijians. Because it is you, our young people, who are the future of Fiji.

Under my leadership, we’ve taken the burden off of parents by making education free for the first time in Fijian history. My Government introduced free textbooks and subsidised bus fares, unshackling thousands of Fijian children from financial restraints. We’ve done this for every student in Fiji, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, no matter their religion, and certainly no matter who their parents, pastors or community members may support in our elections.

Our work in education is far bigger than politics. It is about building a better Fiji long after all of us gone. It is about raising a new generation of talented, ambitious and motivated young people who will carry this nation to even greater heights in the years ahead. That is our mission. That is the ultimate aim of my Government.

This year, we are also continuing the massive rebuild from Cyclone Winston, reconstructing and refortifying schools across the country to a far higher standard of resilience. The rebuild has made great progress, it is taking time because we aren’t doing what is easy, or politically expedient, by pursuing quick fixes. We are doing what is necessary, by building strong schools worthy of our children, and those who come after them. Because storms like Winston are only going to become worse in the years ahead, and it is our duty to prepare our nation for that reality.

We are fulfilling that duty to the Fijian people, especially for you, our young Fijians. But it is unfortunate that some media organisations in Fiji don’t share our commitment, and are instead only interested in brewing up false drama, all at the expense of our students. Only a few days ago, they’ve reported on students schooling in tents, when in reality they are in brand new school buildings. They’ve reported on children travelling in inner tubes to school, when in reality they are now travelling by boat. But gimmicky reporting won’t distract my Government. We are committed to staying the course. We are committed to our students, their parents and our teachers. We are committed to Fiji.

That’s why I’m glad to be here doing what matters most to me: making a difference for young Fijians by delivering brand new chairs, desks, tables and computers for your students to use in the classroom––assistance worth a total of nearly 130,000 dollars.

Here at the CMF College you are in the process of constructing a new campus to serve your students, and I’d like to recognise your school management for their work and financial commitment to helping young Fijians attain high quality education. My Government shares that commitment, and we are ready to do everything possible to support Fijian students today and in their journey beyond into higher education.

To our parents here today, I ask that you take advantage of what my Government has done for the Fijian education system. We’ve massively expanded access to scholarships and our affordable loan scheme, TELS, and made better suited to the needs of young Fijians. You should encourage your children to go on to higher education and fulfil their great potential as students and, one day, as the next generation of leaders in Fijian society. That is what we want for our young people.

I’d also like to speak to our students: when you do complete your journey in education, my Government is committed to making sure you find high-paying jobs in a modern and dynamic economy.

For eight years we’ve grown the Fijian economy, attracting new investment and welcoming new and better jobs for the Fijian people. Our unemployment rates stands at the lowest point in 30 years. And we are investing in the future, building new roads, ports, bridges and expanding access to essential services, bringing real developments that are making real differences in the lives of ordinary people.

We’ve executed a game plan for Fiji that has carried us to success. We’ve taken a big picture approach, considering what is best for Fiji today and in the years ahead. That work – that vision for our nation – must continue to shape our future. As the leaders of tomorrow, you must pick up the ball, and run with it. Making every year an even better year to be a Fijian.

I also ask that you honour this investment being made in your education. Use these materials well, and care for them, as they are invaluable tools to better equip you to take full advantage of your time at CMF College. Apply yourselves, listen to your parents and your teachers to learn, and I know that you will achieve great things.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.

© 2018 Ministry of Communications