Ni sa tiko saka na turaga na Tui Magodro,
Ni tiko talega na Turaga kei na Marama, e na tikina vakaturaga o Magodro,
The Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts;
The School Manager and members of the Committee;
The Principal and Staff,
Our new students;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
I’m delighted to be here today in Magodro for a day truly worthy of celebration, the official opening of the new Magodro Secondary School.
Thank you all for the wonderful welcome. I can think of few ways better to start off the new year than to be among all you today, surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of your community and celebrating a new beginning.
I always feel blessed when I am able to leave Suva and spend time in the communities that form the backbone of our nation, to be with my fellow Fijians from all over our country who work hard every day and who count on their government only to give them and their children the same opportunities that others have. And being here with you all today to bring new opportunity into the lives of your young people – I can safely say – is the best part of my job.
Expanding access and improving the quality of our children’s education has been one of my Government’s most significant accomplishments over the past decade. It has been a very personal quest for me, and I consider it to be far and away my proudest achievement that we have realised for the benefit of the Fijian people.
There are many responsibilities that a Government owes to its citizens. And one of the most important and most sacred of those duties is laying down a solid foundation for the next generation. So that they inherit a country we are proud to pass on to them. So that our children can build upon the progress we have achieved, and have the wisdom and the ability to overcome the challenges that are to come.
That begins with education. That begins with inspiring our young people to pursue their passions in life and to learn as much as they can during this stage of their lives. And for the people of Magodro, that begins right here with the construction of this new secondary school.
Thanks to our free education initiative for Years 1 to 13 and our free fares for travelling students, all across our islands students have been able to attend school without financial limitations. Limitations that once held back far too many of our young people. And due to the construction of new primary, secondary and tertiary institutions throughout the nation, young Fijians have educational options available to them as never before seen in our history.
I understand that adequate access to secondary education has been a long-standing issue for your community. That some of you have taken your children all the way to the Thomas Baker Secondary School or to Government boarding schools, or even sent your young ones to live with relatives in Nadi – all in the pursuit of secondary education opportunities for your children.
Allow me to first commend you on the commitment you have shown to your children’s academic success, and let me assure you that the days of sacrifice that you have endured are over. The academic options you have struggled to bring into the lives of your children are now at your doorstep, and the education your children will receive here will rival that received by students anywhere else in Fiji.
Now your children can dedicate their time and effort to their studies without suffering the stress and inconvenience and wasted time of traveling long distances to school. They can attend school as they should, in the comfort of their own communities, where you, their parents, can more easily take an active part in their educations. That is because the schools will be here, and the teachers will not be distant strangers located many kilometres away, but real people who live among you and know you as friends and neighbours.
The establishment of this school is a small part of the large vision my Government is setting out for our country – for the new Fiji. A Fiji where location does not determine the opportunity Fijians can access or the success they can find in life. That applies not only to increasing access to education, but access to reliable infrastructure, to water, electricity and telecommunications, and to other essential Government services. Of course, this will take time. But every day we are working to bring improvements – such as this new secondary school – into the lives of Fijians from every corner of our country.
I was very pleased to learn that your community’s commitment to education extended to the very establishment of this school. And that residents of the Bukuya, Nadevo, Navaga, Tabalei, Tabuquto, Nasivikoso and Bila villages all contributed towards the construction of the new premises. Vinaka vakalevu for all your efforts.
My Government has invested a total $95,000 for the construction of a new classroom and a bedroom house to accommodate our teachers. Renovations have also been made to the ablution blocks to give students access to proper wash facilities. And given the impact I know this new school will have on your community, we are glad to have invested every penny.
To our pioneer students of Magodro Secondary – congratulations. Take ownership of your new institution, and be proud to be leading the way for the many generations of students that will follow. Care for your new school, respect your teachers and take advantage of the limitless opportunities that secondary education can bring into your lives.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I very much look forward to seeing your young people work hard and succeed at this new institution.
Thank you again for your warm welcome, and it is now my pleasure to officially declare the Magodro Secondary School open.
Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.