Na Yavusa Naboro, Komai Tubalevu;
The Head Teacher, Teachers and Students;
Parents and Guardians;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka, everyone, and a very good morning to you all.

I’m happy to be here with you all in Naitasiri, as we officially commission the new teachers’ quarters for Sawanikula Primary School. Thank you for the warm welcome.

My friends, the most obvious beneficiaries of this new project are the seven (7) teachers who, day in and day out, are housed under its roof. They now have a new, high-quality place to call home, allowing them to focus fully on what really matters –– teaching.

And that renewed energy and dedication among your teachers will be felt by your 110 students. When we talk about those formative years when our young minds are developing most, every class, every syllabus, and every lesson plan matters. When our teachers are well-rested and well-prepared, that shows in the energy they bring to their instruction – which very well can inspire a lifelong passion for maths, sciences, or the arts in their students that shape their future degrees and careers.

But my friends, the real impact of this investment goes far beyond those 117 students and teachers, beyond Sawanikula Village, and even beyond the bounds of Naitasiri Province. For every student that benefits from a better education in Fiji, from that step forward, every life that they touch will be enriched just a bit more.

The ripple effect of a quality education expands far and wide, and helps fuel the progress of our economy and our nation as a whole.

This broader realisation is why, throughout my time as Prime Minister, Fijians have seen such priority placed on our education sector by my Government through new investments like this one in Sawanikula. I opened two other teachers’ quarters much like this one just last week – – one at Ratu Veikoso Primary School and the other at Cautata District School. And next week, I plan on commissioning quarters at two more schools.

In years past, for many schools, the quality of construction at teachers’ quarters was sub-standard. Only our largest schools in urban areas are offering housing to their teaching staff, which actually widened inequality. To add to the problem, the remote teachers’ allowance was a fraction of where it stands today, meaning that there was little incentive for teachers to come to teach in communities like this one.

The best-suited teachers found teaching opportunities in our more remote areas unattractive or altogether unliveable; an unfortunate reality for the communities and students who needed them most.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s exactly why my Government stepped in –– to bridge this divide. But my commitment to uplifting the quality of education goes far further than the many new teachers’ quarters that are being built with funding either from the Ministry of Education or, like in Sawanikula, my Office’s Small Grant Scheme.

All throughout Fiji, we have reconstructed our schools –– many of which were badly damaged or destroyed completely by recent cyclones –– to higher standards of construction. And recognising the value of working together with all schools, we’ve made this future-facing investment in infrastructure at institutions both Government-owned and privately-run, putting vast Government resources behind schools that would otherwise be left to fend for themselves.

Even with all this incredible progress, the job is far from done. Our education revolution is ongoing –– and will continue to be ongoing as long as I am Prime Minister. Because improving the lives of our students is never complete, and the education landscape never stops evolving. We will continue to find ways to improve curriculum to better suit individual student needs. We will continue to fill our classrooms with modern tools and technologies to ensure they keep pace with the demands of a modernising global economy. And, as you see here today, we will continue to make sure our teachers are well-supported to serve their students in schools across the nation.

The teaching profession today is paying more than ever, it is opening more doors of opportunity, and it is being backed by resources and structural reform to improve service delivery. I challenge all Fijian teachers to live up to this support that Government is providing them; we’ve raised the bar, and we need you to meet it –– for the sake of Fijian students, and Fiji’s future.

My friends, on that note, I look forward to watching the young faces I see today grow into the leaders of tomorrow. It is now my great pleasure to officially commission these new teachers’ quarters at Sawanikula Primary School.

Vinaka vakalevu. Thank you.