Reddy: New Zealand to adopt schools in Vanu­a­bal­avu

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - ARIETA VAKASUKAWAQA arieta.vakasukawaqa@fi­ Edited by Naisa Koroi

The New Zealand gov­ern­ment is look­ing at adopt­ing some schools dev­as­tated by Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Win­ston on the is­land of Vanu­a­bal­avu, Lau. This was con­firmed by the Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion, Heritage and Arts, Ma­hen­dra Reddy, af­ter the launch of ‘Adopt-a-School’ web­site at Su­vavou House in Suva on Satur­day. “Aus­tralia has al­ready adopted 26 schools; the New Zealand gov­ern­ment has vol­un­teered to adopt around five to six schools in the Lau Group,” he said. “They are ex­pected to con­duct an ob­ser­va­tion soon where a re­port will be sub­mit­ted on the dam­age as­sess­ment. Like with other Govern­ments com­ing with this data; more are ex­pected to come for­ward and as­sist us with the re­con­struc­tion of schools dev­as­tated by the cy­clone.” New Zealand High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji Mark Rams­den also con­firmed that they were look­ing at adopt­ing a few schools in Vanu­a­bal­avu.

“I be­lieve there are 13 schools in the group but first we will need to con­duct a dam­age as­sess­ment,” he said. Mr Rams­den said a team of en­gi­neers con­tracted with the New Zealand gov­ern­ment and a team from the Fi­jian Gov­ern­ment will travel to Vanu­a­bal­avu to­day to con­duct dam­age as­sess­ments on the schools. Mean­while, Mr Reddy said the re­con­struc­tion of Queen Victoria School (QVS) would be­gin af­ter spon­sors re­view the en­gi­neer’s re­port on the school’s dam­age as­sess­ment. He also said the new schools that would be re­con­structed are ad­vised to fol­low the build­ing codes. “Now who does the en­force­ment? It is the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment; they are the ones who ap­prove a plan so that is where the prob­lem lies,” Mr Reddy said. “No schools or build­ing can be con­structed with­out the ap­proval of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment au­thor­i­ties and they will have to give a com­ple­tion let­ter for oc­cu­pa­tion they need to make reg­u­lar vis­its dur­ing the phase of con­struc­tion,” he said.

New Zealand High Com­mis­sioner to Fiji Mark Rams­den.

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