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Tube ride to school

Shayal Devi
Thursday, January 18, 2018

STUDENTS from the district of Naqalimare in the province of Nadroga/Navosa have to brave the cold conditions of the Sigatoka River to attend school. The students, who would rather take the hazardous trip than stay home, are accompanied by parents who use inflated tubes to assist them across the river. The school, which usually transports the students by boat, cannot do so this year because the boat needs repairing.

LIKE most parents, Losana Matalau gets up by 5am daily to prepare breakfast and lunch for her children aged seven and 10.

By 7am, she joins other parents from Vunaqoru Village to help students swim across the Sigatoka River in inflated tyre tubes in time for classes at Naqalimare District School.

There are about 70 students from four villages - Koroua, Vunaqoru, Natawatawabi and Toga - who swim across because the only boat owned by the school developed engine problems two weeks ago.

"We've contacted the school, but they've informed us that there are problems with the engine, but we haven't been told when it will be fixed," Ms Matalau said.

She said children preferred to swim across the river rather than stay home.

"The children want to go to school and students from all four villages are affected by this.

"If the Government can provide a new engine or a new boat, just so the children can go to school, it will be very helpful."

School treasurer Melaia Koronisagana said the management was in the process of getting the engine fixed.

"There is just one boat the school relies on and these villages are a bit far away from each other so we also find it difficult to transport the kids.

"It takes time to transfer children and it takes almost 20 minutes to and from each village so transportation takes about one hour."

Ms Koronisagana said the boat in question was being used for more than five years.

"Some of the kids are still staying at home because of the flooded river, attendance is affected too and we will see what can be done."

As many as 225 students are enrolled at the school.

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