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All for their children

Solomoni Biumaiono
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NAKAVIKA Primary School manager Keleto Naqurutia was building a new water filter for the school when we arrived with the 200-litre plastic drums that are going to contain the filtered water.

Even though the start of the new school term for 2013 is still a week away, Naqurutia and the headteacher, Sunia Matanisiga, are working hard to try to put everything into place.

The new water filter will allow the children of Nakavika to have access to safe drinking water and this project is just one of many Naqurutia has helped set up for the school.

He practically spent his entire life living in his village and has not ventured very far or very long away from its boundaries and the establishment of the school has been one of the highlights of his life.

"I was part of the committee that actually started off this school and that was way back in 2003 when it first started and since then the village has not looked back," Naqurutia said.

The idea to establish their own school was mooted by a retiree Leone Tuvutukana who had worked for the Namosi Provincial Council office.

"He was concerned with the difficulties villagers had to overcome especially when sending their children to school with the long distances the schoolchildren back then had to travel to attend school in Navunikabi," he said.

Naqurutia said the villagers never hesitated once they had the idea of the school in their heads and energetically pursued this aim.

"The school just started off with two buildings built from bamboo and the teachers were billeted with the villagers," he said.

Once the school was up and running the villagers selected the then 38-year-old Naqurutia to be the school manager, a role he never thought he would be able to successfully handle because of his limited education.

"I only went as far as Namosi Secondary and came back to live in the village but I think I was also determined to make it work that I never backed down from the responsibility, "Naqurutia said. "It was difficult at first because I didn't know how to run a school."

Now 47, Naqurutia is into his second term as school manager. He remembers how he used to be a constant presence at the Ministry of Education office in Navua in his quest to entice teachers to move up to Nakavika. Teachers however were not his only focus.

"I would always be in their offices constantly as I always try to get teachers or any other matter concerning the administration of the school. It was difficult but the education officers gave me a lot of help," Naqurutia said.

From two buildings constructed from bamboo, Nakavika now boasts two concrete classroom blocks and one wooden block complete with three teachers' quarters.

The school has grown from a roll of 50 students in classes One to Six to 111 students in classes One to Eight.

"We have also received a lot of help from Rivers Fiji, a company which has helped us a lot with the school with their donations which helped us build some of the teachers' quarters and other classroom facilities," he said.

Along with headteacher Matanisiga, Naqurutia is now working to try and repair the damage to some of the classrooms caused by Cyclone Evan.

The two are hoping they will receive some form of help for the school. But right now their main priority is to get the water filter up and running before school starts.

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