The Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra (right) with the President of Kiribati, His Excellency Mr Anote Tong.
The President of Kiribati, His Excellency Mr Anote Tong paid a visit to the University of the South Pacific in Suva on 18 July 2012.
The President was visiting the Laucala Campus to take part in the Regional Conference on Local Governments for Climate Change where he presented a keynote address on Kiribati, the Pacific and Climate Change. The session was well attended by local and visiting academics, members of the public and school children.
During his visit, the President met with the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra.
In welcoming H.E. Mr Anote Tong to the University, Professor Chandra congratulated the President for winning the election for another term earlier in the year. This, he said was a demonstration of the strong support that the President enjoys in Kiribati.
Professor Chandra expressed his gratitude to the President and that of his Cabinet for supporting the University’s request for an Asian Development Bank loan to construct a new campus in Kiribati. He was confident that under President Tong's leadership over the next four years, developments in education plans and infrastructure would move forward as planned.
The Vice-Chancellor also expressed his confidence that President Tong's continued efforts to fight the effects of global warming and climate change on Kiribati, and his call for all to take a moral responsibility in this fight to ensure the well being of all, including all i-Kiribati, was commendable.
Professor Chandra thanked the President for the warm hospitality extended to him during his recent visit to Kiribati in June 2012. He noted the major developments that have taken place in Kiribati and other planned developments which will be underway soon.
The new developments led by the University include the construction of a new campus, training of untrained teachers project, open schooling programmes, and an expanded vocational, continuing and community education section.
In expressing his appreciation for the Kiribati Government’s support to the University, Professor Chandra said he looks forward to the continued strengthened relationship and friendship between the University and Kiribati.
As a founding member of the University, Kiribati and the University have maintained close relationships and cooperation in education over the years.
Professor Chandra highlighted the deep friendship and close bonds between USP and the people of Kiribati especially with USP alumni now forming a major and outstanding group of young and qualified people, many of whom hold important positions in Kiribati.
In response, H.E. Anote Tong expressed his gratitude and that of his Government on the role USP has and is playing in providing further education and in skilling the people of Kiribati.
With education being the key in building a strong and viable nation, the President has placed considerable emphasis on education as this will form the core of his Government’s development strategy.
He stated that an educated population will be needed to strengthen development in seabed mining, renewable energy, environment and sustainable development, fisheries, ICT, policy and planning, medical care and hygiene, clean energy, law of the sea, infrastructure, and vocational training.
H.E. Anote Tong added that as long as their budget permits, the Kiribati Government will continue to provide scholarships and establish specialized training for students.
He looks to USP to provide specialist training in some of these areas and called for assistance in seabed mining, policy analysis, management, economics, and vocational studies. He also called on USP to establish a team of academics, professionals and expertise to be able to respond to problems and find solutions to those challenges facing our small island states in the Pacific.
President Tong emphasized the importance of establishing some form of endowment to assist students with fees and scholarships to attend USP, and called on the University to look at various options for such a plan.
“This effort will strengthen partnership between the University and Kiribati and other member countries,” he continued.
The President thanked Professor Chandra for his leadership of the University and his commitment to the development of the regional campuses and the region.
He looks forward to working with the University on the development of the new campus in Kiribati.