Minister for Youth and Sports

Korovuto College Thursday
Nadi 22 June 2017

The Honourable Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts
Senior Education officials
The Principal Korovuto College and teachers
Invited Guests, Students,
Members of the Korovuto Community
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka, Namaste, Salaam Aleikum and Good morning to you all

It is an honour to be here this morning and I must acknowledge the efforts take by the school and the community to welcome us.

Earlier this year I was guest at a UNDP event where I said that ‘the understanding and respect of each other’s culture effectively contribute to social cohesion’. Social cohesion is the bond that binds a multi-racial nation like Fiji together.
Our Government envisages Fiji as a socially cohesive society, which works towards the wellbeing of all its citizens as enshrined in the 2013 Constitution. And again I thank the school and the community for the traditional reception accorded to both myself and my colleague, the Honorable Minister for Education, this morning.

Thank you for your understanding and flexibility to bring this ceremony forward by a week as it was intended to coincide with the 58th Sanatan Convention next week. Unfortunately I will have to leave for and official engagement overseas. But I wanted to be here with you and the Minister as it is an important event for both our Ministries.

Government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, is tasked committed to enhance the development of sport and physical activity in the country. In the past months, the Ministry has conducted a review exercise for the National Sports and Physical Activity Policy. Members of the public submitted their thoughts, opinions and suggestions regarding sports development and physical activity, which go hand in hand. We see the development of sports as a key platform that is essential to lay a solid foundation for our people, young and old, male and female, with and without a disability, and Government will provide unwavering support to harness development through sport in Fiji.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Government through the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Ministry of Education, cannot over-emphasise the need for us Fijians to stay healthy and physically active. Through our participation in sports and physical activity, we will stay healthy, which is good for our communities and our economy. I want to reiterate that sports and physical activity are essential to preventing illnesses and combating non-communicable diseases; to promote mental wellbeing; combat bullying; improve academic results as well as build social cohesion. Teachers and schools need to be agents of this change and impress on our young minds the need to stay fit and healthy and adopt this as lifelong learning to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the upgrade of this Korovuto College school ground cost the Ministry of Youth and Sports $35,000. This upgrade ensured the ground meets required standards and size. It is the commitment of my Ministry to ensure that we provide the best investment in sports development and sports facilities. This was done, of course, with support from the Ministry of Education and the school leadership.

I must also commend the commitment already taken by the school management to lift this development to another level. Apparently other developments have already taken shape and I am sure that more come later in the year.

Students, teachers and parents, there is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that increasing physical activity and physical fitness improve academic performance through time in the school day dedicated to recess, physical education classes, and physical activity in the curriculum. Some academics and researchers have also concluded that mathematics and reading are the subjects that are most influenced positively by physical activity.

Teachers also know that children who participate in vigorous - or moderate-intensity physical activity benefit the most. Therefore, the amount of time allotted for learning, students should be provided portions of it as physical activity breaks that are developmentally, age and ability appropriate. Physical education gives more opportunities at an early age to develop hand-eye coordination, muscle and skeleton development, balance, team spirit for all young people, particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities. It is also key to promoting healthy living thus fostering a healthy Fiji.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education promote school-based sports programs as they can bring out noticeable positive development and behaviour in students. Students spend a substantial amount of time at school, in settings that provide safe and convenient programs and facilities to promote physical activity.

I also want to encourage you to participate actively on 30 June – our National Sports and Wellness Day. It will be an ideal time to get out of your homes and organise mass physical and sports activities. Mass participation in physical activity and sport easily leads to a healthier population and provides a larger base of athletes participating and progressing into elite sport. Sport and physical activity have positive effects on both individuals and society in general – as we all saw when our team topped the podium in Rio.

I hope you will maintain your sports ground and ensure that it is utilised the fullest for the school and the community. I hope it brings you many hours of fun-filled activity as families coming together to enjoy healthy living.

Vinaka vakalevu, Dhanyavad, Shokran and thank you all very much.

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