A primary school of perseverance
By Alfred Sasako
WHEN Gilo Primary School headmaster, Romano Pesira, wrote to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) recently, seeking help for the school, no one expected a timely response.
Mr Pesira asked CCECC, one of China’s 85 State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), to consider building an access road to Gilo Primary School, a stone’s throw away from the main road.
The company is completing a 10km-long stretch of road from Mberande to Mbokokimbo after it won the project last year. The project is due to be completed next month.
Country Manager Pengfei Huang told the gathering since its arrival, CCECC has been concentrating on construction work and building community relationship.
“This project began on 1st March 2018 and will be completed at the end of November,” Mr Huang said.
“With the support and help from government and communities, this project is progressing very successfully at this time. Meanwhile, a great relationship has been established between communities and CCECC,” he said.
The Company employs about 30 local workers on the road construction project. Mr Huang said CCECC is considering building a wooden bridge over a creek, which separates Gilo Primary School and its new access road.
“… we do hope that our construction work and concentration on communities will really improve this area and we do hope that you can continue to support CCECC,” Mr. Huang said.
Headmaster Pesira took advantage of CCECC’s presence in the area, knowing that once the road is completed, there might not be anyone else to approach about the needs of the school.
“It was more or less a shot in the dark,” Mr Pesira told Island Sun at a brief ceremony marking the completion of the access road yesterday.
Rackson Dadalo, a project engineer represented the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) at the ceremony. CCECC donated exercise books, note books, pencils, erasers and school bags for the 227 students who enrolled at the school this year.
Mr Pesira, from Makira/Ulawa Province, was not alone in his thinking that he might never receive a response, given that CCECC is a foreign company.
Community Chief, Gabriel Lovanitila told the small gathering that although Gilo Primary School in North East Guadalcanal is one of the Province’s oldest schools, it had been overlooked by its political leaders.
“We should now have classrooms in permanent buildings. But as you can see nothing has changed for this School in the last 50 years. We are still using classrooms made of sago palm leaf, Mr. Lovanitila said.
“This is because our requests for assistance have fallen on deaf ears over the years. We even asked for a police station to be built here, but nothing has been done,” he said.
“Today, we are really thankful to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation for its help.”
Negotiations to set up Gilo Primary School began in 1963. Formal classes began five years later. The School was initially administered by the South Sea Evangelical Mission (SSEM), now South Sea Evangelical Church (SSEC), but was later transferred to the Guadalcanal Provincial Government.
This year students raised some $3, 000 through a colorton organised by teachers.
“We have used the money raised by the students to build a new double-storey classroom to accommodate the growing number of students who have and will enroll here,” Mr Pesira said.