With reconstruction works completed comprising two-triple classroom blocks outfitted with solar panels, Lekutu Secondary School in Bua, Vanua Levu was handed over to the school principal this week.
The handover comes nearly two years after the school building was damaged during category 5 Tropical Cyclone Yasa in December 2020.
Led by an Australian Defence Force-Republic of Fiji Military Forces Engineer Squadron, the school construction which began last year was also supported by members of the New Zealand Defence Force and the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes said the highlight has been witnessing the defence partnership between Fiji and Australia flourish.
“The project is one of many examples where our Pacific vuvale have come together to support and strengthen its outstanding history of cooperation and friendship. These high-quality investments will make a genuine difference in the lives of Fijians,” he added.
School principal Avinendra Kumar thanked the governments of Australia and Fiji for investing in the education of children in Lekutu.
“These new classrooms offer us hope that we are on the road to recovery and that our students’ education won’t be disrupted by future cyclones as the classrooms have been built to withstand cyclones,” he said.
Reconstruction works were also supported by the generosity and hospitality of the surrounding communities who had welcomed construction teams into their homes and offered them many meals over the month of their posting to Lekutu. The local economy was also supported through the purchase of building materials from companies based in Labasa.
Later this year, a private construction company will commence construction of an ablution block, staff quarters, a library and computer room, dining hall, kitchen, dormitories, and an administration building.
The project is part of an Australian Government FJ$28 million commitment to the Fijian Government’s Fiji Cyclone Recovery Program.
Australia is supporting the longer-term reconstruction and transformation of the learning environments of nine schools and two hospitals that were worst hit during TC Yasa. The overall Recovery Program will include the construction of at least 22 classrooms, 14 teachers’ living quarters, 76 ablution blocks, dining halls, and dormitories which will be constructed under Australia’s ‘build back better’ principles – to withstand future category 5 cyclones.