After an 8-year community-driven effort to enhance the local school in the Udu district in Macauta, Fiji. a significant milestone was achieved with the official commissioning of the new dining hall on Tuesday, 25th July, by the Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Fiji Sakiusa Tubuna, marking a long-awaited development for the Udu District Schools.
Located in Vunikodi, the school is an essential educational institution for children from neighbouring villages, namely Nabouono, Vunikodi, Nukudamu, and Nukusa. However, over the years, the school needed more progress. Until recently, it lacked an internet connection, requiring the Head Teacher to travel to Labasa for FEMIS system updates.
Before Assistant Minister Sakiusa Tubuna’s visit, the last government official to visit the remote school was Ro Teimumu Kepa during her tenure as Education Minister. Two decades later, Minister Tubuna’s visit was regarded as a positive omen for the region, signifying potential positive changes.
The recently completed project, the new dining hall, replaced the dilapidated structure in disrepair. The project initially commenced eight years ago but faced a setback due to mismanagement of allocated funds by the previous management, ultimately depriving the students of a suitable dining facility.
The community of Udu, facing the challenge of minimal external assistance for many years, took the initiative to revive the project and sought government support to complete it. Hon. Tubuna commended their self-reliance and determination, praising their departure from a “handout mentality.”
Addressing the community, Minister Tubuna emphasized the importance of government collaboration with proactive citizen-driven initiatives. He acknowledged the mismanagement of funds in the past but urged them not to allow it to hinder the progress of their children’s education.
The partnership between the school management, community members, and the government helped achieve the project’s completion.
“This is what the Coalition Government wants, to see people step up and initiate their projects, and Government will step in to assist you, which is the case here at Udu District School.”
The community-sourced timber locally and constructed the structure of the building before seeking assistance from the Office of the Prime Minister, which provided materials like corrugated iron for roofing and walls to finalize the dining hall project.
Expressing his gratitude, Hon. Tubuna praised the people of Udu for their commitment to preserving natural resources and fostering a sense of ownership in their endeavours. He encouraged the villagers to explore opportunities in agriculture to meet local and international market demands, particularly with the potential for Food Processors Limited expansion in Vanua Levu.
“There is a huge potential for Vanua Levu, and with the recent plans by Food Processors to expand their operation in Vanua Levu, you should seriously consider taking advantage of it by planting more to supply the market.”
“Food security is very important, and please ensure your families have an abundance of food every time,” said the Minister.
In conclusion, Minister Tubuna emphasized the importance of self-sufficiency and responsibility, advising the community to instil cultural values in their children and take charge of shaping the district’s future. He assured them of the government’s willingness to support initiatives driven by proactive communities like Udu, fostering a spirit of collaboration for future projects.
“Government will only help those who help themselves, which is the crux of the message I want to convey today. Congratulations
on the achievement of this project, and I look forward to working together with your district to bring your other projects to fruition.”
Furthermore, Minister Tubuna commended the people of Udu for their efforts to preserve the environment, notably the thriving population of turtles in their seas by adhering to the ban on turtle slaughter.