Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

Speech by He Te Beretitenti Anote Tong for the Opening Ceremony of the New USP Kiribati Campus at Teaoraereke on Tuesday 3rd November, 2015

Acting Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Ms Fekita ‘Utoikamanu,
Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific, Professor Rajesh Chandra
Vice-President for Regional Campuses, Properties and Facilities, Dr Giulio Masaso Paunga
Director Pacific Department, the Asian Development Bank, Ms Emma Veve
Our local dignitaries, the Honourable Vice President, the Honourable Speaker together with your good lady,
The Honourable Minister for Education, Ministers, Members of the diplomatic corps,
Our Church leaders who are here to join us,
Our USP Campus Director together with staff, students, other members of staff of the University campus who are here, distinguished guests and all those who have joined us on this occasion,

Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is indeed a true honour and privilege for us to be part of this opening ceremony for this new USP Kiribati campus. As I recall it was only last year July the 16th to be exact when I had the very distinct pleasure of officiating here also at the ground breaking event, marking the first day of construction of what we see here before us today. Our dream as a Government and as a nation is indeed taking shape and becoming a reality. It is for our young and future generation that this dream is centered around. It is for them, that we strive as a government to ensure accessibility to a level of education comparable to that within the region and globally.

Ms Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and ADB representative a very warm welcome back to Kiribati and it is only fitting that you are here with us to jointly witness this very positive reality. Together we can shape the future of our young and future generation for the better.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
This building symbolises the commitment of Government and its partners – USP, ADB and all who have supported our endeavours for accessibility to higher level and quality education for the people of Kiribati. Not only that but it affirms USP’s commitment to continue to be a dynamic institution responsive to regional and global developments and challenges.

We have witnessed the growth of the USP Centre since when it operated out of a one-room office at the Government Secondary School, King George V in 1976. The growth has not only been in the size of its buildings and resources, but most importantly in the number of students. Today, there are more than 1,000 students enrolled in this campus as compared to when there were only a handful of students 40 years back.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
As I highlighted during the ground-breaking ceremony, the numbers pose challenges indeed.
Every year about 2000 school leavers exit the education system. Only 500 get scholarships and jobs so on an annual basis 1500 youths join the pool of unemployed people. We remain a young and growing population, so this pool will keep growing.

This is the underlying reason why Government has invested in the development of vocational and higher education. Last week I attended the KIT 2015 Open Day and this week, marks the opening of a brand new USP campus. They are indeed very positive developments targeting a resource that if nurtured and supported will be the cornerstone for the development of Kiribati. We only have to look at our more developed neighbours and the evidence is very clear – a well-educated population is the foundation for positive economic and social development. I am very confident that this state-of-the-art training facility will be able to absorb much of our young population to further their potential to become more marketable and resourceful for their nation.

Indeed through this facility, the numbers will become opportunities and they will foster greater positive growth for our economy and our people.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
As I highlighted during the USP Council Meeting, as a nation we have high aspirations for USP Kiribati Campus. And I remain committed when I repeat that it is a mark of pride, if an alumni from our institution, proves his/her worth among his/her peers in any setting and any situation. That is the benchmark by which we should determine USP’s development and its future plans. There is no stopping us from aiming high and there is no stopping us from aiming for the sky. As the saying goes ‘the sky is the limit’ and why should it not be for our children and our grandchildren?

Today we celebrate the completion of this facility that marks the beginning of a brand new USP Kiribati campus, one step up from being a Center. Who know, 5 or less years from now, we may gather here again to celebrate this campus being a sub-regional campus focusing on key sectors unique to Kiribati such as the Atoll Research Center and impacts of Climate Change on Atoll Nations to name just a few. I am a staunch advocator of stepping off the edge, for in doing so we remain ahead of whatever challenges that are part and parcel of globalisation and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today we not only celebrate the completion of this building, but we celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in higher education for Kiribati and I dare say for the region.

Against this background allow me on behalf of the people and the Government, to convey our appreciation to the USP through the Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and our Kiribati Director, together with the ADB for realizing the need to meet the ever increasing demand for capacity building by our people through such institutions like USP. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and hard work of FORTECH Construction in Fiji, who despite the logistical challenges have completed this facility that will be the pride of USP Kiribati campus.

Not only that but the output from this facility, our young and future generation, will be the pride of Kiribati and will shape the future destination of our young and growing nation for the better. Together we have moved one step further in fulfilling our responsibility and obligation to supporting our young and future generations’ dreams and aspirations. It is for THEM that we celebrate this milestone today.

With these few words I declare the USP Kiribati campus open and before I close please allow me distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen to share with you all our traditional blessing of Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa…KAM RABWA.

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