Australia gives $15.4m for schools rehabilitation

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Australian High Commission charge de sffairs John Williams Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

IN a bid to ensure Fijian students studying in tents are quickly moved into classrooms, the Australian Government yesterday signed a funding assistance of $15.4 million.

Australian High Commission chargé d’affaires John Williams said the money would be used to rehabilitate nine schools in the Northern Division as part of the Australian Government’s broader plan to ensure infrastructure in Fiji and the region were climate resilient.

“From an Australian perspective, this program is not just about rebuilding schools from tropical cyclones Yasa and Ana in 2020 and 2021, it’s about a broader blueprint for Australia, in terms of the sort of climate resilient infrastructure and standards we would like to see here in Fiji and across the Pacific,” he said.

“So all nine schools will be built to very high-level of environmental sustainability with renewable energy in all school buildings.

“We are aiming for a very high-level of climate resilience infrastructure; these school buildings will be able to withstand a category five tropical cyclone.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad thanked the Australian Government for the support and said the assistance was timely as students in nine schools were still studying in tents.

“When we visited these schools, we felt many of these students and parents were suffering, there were students in tents, and I think this support is timely” Prof Prasad said.

He said apart from the close to $F44 million under the cyclone rehabilitation program, the Australian Government had in the last three years assisted Fiji with about $300m in budgetary support.

Prof Prasad said the schools would be built to withstand severe weather events as they would be used as evacuation centres during natural disasters.

He said construction on seven of the nine schools had commenced with the first school project expected to be completed by mid-year.

The nine schools are;

Lekutu Secondary School, Lekutu District School, Nukubulu Primary School, Maramarua District School, Dreketi District School, Bua District School, Dama District School, Wailevu West District School and Ratu Luke Memorial School.

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