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Classes under sheds

Luke Rawalai
Monday, January 22, 2018

DESPITE the delay in repairs to two schools on Taveuni, villagers decided to work together for the sake of their children by constructing sheds for makeshift classrooms.

While students of Navakawau Catholic Primary School could not attend classes on the first day of the school term, villagers worked round-the-clock to ensure students did not miss out on an education.

When this newspaper visited the school last week, school manager Josefa Koroca said the 144 students began classes on Tuesday after villagers constructed classrooms.

The school was destroyed during Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston two years ago.

Mr Koroca said a company contracted to rebuild the school alerted the school's committee on Friday, January 12, 2018, that it would not be able to complete the new classroom blocks in time for the new school year.

"This message was conveyed to the villagers who decided to work together and construct makeshift sheds for the sake of their children," he said.

"We are told that the company, which is a subcontractor of another major construction company, had to stall works after they had to wait for money from the main contractors.

"However, we are hopeful the new facilities can be completed by this year since it has almost been two years since children have been without proper classrooms."

When this newspaper checked again yesterday whether construction works have begun, the status quo remained.

Meanwhile, students of Vuna District School resumed classes on Monday last week with Year 7 students learning in a shed.

School manager Leone Baledrokadroka said they constructed a makeshift shed after tents given to the school after Severe TC Winston were damaged.

He said the tents were torn and worn out, adding they had no choice but to move into a makeshift shed.

"Children normally get wet during rainy conditions and during hot weather, they have to attend classes under trees because the sheds become very hot," he said.

"We had three classrooms and our library damaged during Tropical Ccyclone Winston and in the time being we have years 7 and 8 students in one classroom.

"Our kindergartners and year 5 students have been housed in one classroom after the cyclone.

"We have received all material for the construction of the new classrooms and we are hoping that the contacted company would resume work soon."

Mr Baledrokadroka said they were told the construction of the new classroom blocks may take four months.

"For the time being, two teachers' quarters have been constructed and we are just hoping that these children get their new classrooms so they can enjoy a new and safer learning environment this year," he said.

When contacted for a comment on Saturday, Ministry of Education permanent secretary Iowane Tiko said rehabilitation works in schools at Navakawau, Vuna and Taveuni South Primary School were still continuing.

Mr Tiko said any issues with the rehabilitation of schools needed to be raised with the Ministry of Economy.

Meanwhile, responding to questions from this newspaper yesterday, Economy Ministry's manager Construction Implementation Unit (CIU) Mohammed Shah said all questions should be forwarded to the ministry's permanent secretary, Makereta Konrote.

"Children normally get wet during rainy conditions and during hot weather, they have to attend classes under trees because the sheds become very hot," he said.

"We had three classrooms and our library damaged during Tropical Cyclone Winston and in the time being, we have years 7 and 8 students in one classroom.

"Our kindergarteners and year 5 students have been housed in one classroom after the cyclone.

"We have received all material for the construction of the new classrooms and we are hoping that the contracted company would resume work soon."

Mr Baledrokadroka said they were told the construction of the new classroom blocks may take four months.

"For the time being, two teachers' quarters have been constructed and we are just hoping that these children get their new classrooms so they can enjoy a new and safer learning environment this year," he said.

When contacted for a comment on Saturday, Ministry of Education permanent secretary Iowane Tiko said rehabilitation works in schools at Navakawau, Vuna and Taveuni South Primary School were continuing.

Mr Tiko said any issues with the rehabilitation of schools needed to be raised with the Ministry of Economy.

Meanwhile, responding to questions from this newspaper yesterday, Economy Ministry's manager Construction Implementation Unit (CIU) Mohammed Shah said all questions should be forwarded to the ministry's permanent secretary, Makereta Konrote.








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