Dream Come True for Beqa & Yanuca Islanders
Travelling by punts to mainland Viti Levu will soon be a hurdle of the past for students from Beqa and Yanuca islands. Students from these islands attending secondary schools in Navua and Suva will have a secondary school of their own by early 2011.
A groundbreaking ceremony for a new secondary school was held in Raviravi Village, Beqa last week by Provincial Development permanent secretary Colonel Manasa Vaniqi.
At present, a double storey building accommodates both the Raviravi/Rukua Primary School students and Form Three students of Beqa Yanuca Secondary School. For the villagers of Beqa and Yanuca, it was celebration of a day to remember.
An emotional Raviravi villager, 68-year-old Vilivo Nodrakoro, said he gave up his land for the education of children of Beqa. He said that since his childhood, villagers have faced difficulties in attending secondary education. “I remember my dad used to take me across before the school terms begins on rough seas and all our cloths and bags got wet during the sea trip,” Mr Nodrakoro said. He vividly remembers how his parents struggled over the years to provide him better education.
“They fished at night, collected coconuts and food to sell in Navua market or in Suva,” Mr Nodrakoro said. “Money earned from the market goes towards our education, such as school fees, bus fares and school uniform. School children now days are lucky that Government is providing assistance including bus fares.I gave up my land because I would not want to see my grandchildren struggle the way I did.”
Another 60-year-old, Akariva Ragogo of Rukua Village was also a happy man and said that God had finally answered their prayers by constructing a new secondary school on the island.
“School children of Rukua/Raviravi Primary School, Sawau District School Uluinakorovatu Primary and Yanuca Primary School located on Yanuca Island will surely benefit from the new project,” Mr Ragogo said. “Travelling by punt to Navua, which normally took us 45 minutes to one hour will cost a person $12 one-way and $150 to hire a boat.“The new secondary school will definitely pave way for a brighter future for students of Beqa and Yanuca islands.”
The principal of Beqa Yanuca Secondary School, Mr Saimone Nalewabau, 46, described the ceremony as a big achievement in terms of developing education on the island. Mr Nalewabau hails from Bukuya, Magodro in Ba and was posted to the school early this year.
He said that there were more than 20 students in Form Three with six teachers.
“At the moment the primary and secondary students had to share the same building, while the teachers had to live with the villagers,” Mr Nalewabau said.
“The only difficulties we face is water supply, this could be evident during dry spell when students had to walk across the village to bath in the river.
“Despite these difficulties Government is trying to address this issue as part of the project.”
Mr Nalewabau was posted to Ra High School in 2002 to 2009 before his move to Beqa Yanuca Secondary School.
Permanent Secretary for Provincial Development and Multi Ethnic Affairs Col Manasa Vaniqi said Government was seriously looking at education in disadvantaged areas.
"Educational disadvantage areas such as maritime islands have been forgotten in terms of development, especially education,” Col Vaniqi said.
“Beqa and Yanuca students will benefit from Government assistances in education. The new school will reduce urban drift and students will no longer rely on their relatives while attending secondary schools in Viti Levu.”
The Beqa Yanuca Secondary School project will Government $500,000 once completed.
The development project includes a classroom block, ablution Block, teacher’s quarters and improvement of water supply system.
The project will be completed early next year.
Government is committed to ensuring that education is accessible in rural communities as stated in the People’s Charter.