BY BEN BILUA
ROBY Paul is described by others as a super hero, a visionary person and a man full of concern towards shaping better human resource for the future of his community, his province and the country Solomon Islands.
His legacy will be in the history books of Buri Community High School which accommodates more than 300 students and 17 teachers.
I met Paul during my visit to Buri Community High School on Thursday last week. He was the first to greet us when we arrived at the school’s jetty.
He is outspoken, funny and a cool person to talk to. After spending few minutes chatting at a leaf hut on the jetty we climbed a hill approximately 30 metres high – the gateway to the school.
We were greeted by students dressed in dark blue and light blue uniforms and the sounds of teachers lecturing students.
After a site visit to the school compound, we went to the school assembly hall for a cup of tea while chatting.
Curious about the history of the school, I sat next to Paul – the chairperson of the school and we had a conversation.
“This school was built from nothing. No fund, no support from government, what so ever. It’s a community project. We traded gravels for timbers to build our classrooms. We sell food to raise funds to meet our financial needs,” Paul began.
“What made me want to build this secondary school is, I saw students falling out from the education system due to lack of access to secondary school and I felt sorry for these students.
“Another thing is, the nepotism practice that privately owned schools have towards student’s education,” he added.
Paul said privately owned or church owned secondary school to be precise only picked their students for secondary school – a practice he described as well rooted on selfishness and greedy.
He said the initial plan to establish Buri Community High School was made in 1999.
“It was a household conversation at first, but later it became a community commitment. We put together our resources and kick started our plan.
“Our first move was consulting those who owned this land, (Seventh Day Adventist Church) and to our surprise, we were given the green light,” Paul explained.
He said the school project run smoothly and assistance was flowing in from kind hearted individuals.
“At the very beginning, we were fortunate to have the assistance of Timol Enterprise. It really helped us with these classroom buildings.
“First, we built form one classroom and the years that followed we built form two classroom then form three classroom and now form five classroom,” Paul said.
He said Buri CHS is expected to open its doors for form six soon.
A classroom building was already completed awaiting blessing from the Western Provincial Government – the education authority that looks after the school and the national government through the Ministry of Education and Human Resources.
Buri CHS’s great achievement was not unnoticed; the Chief Executive Officer of Western Province Education Authority also spoke highly of the school’s development aspirations and also academic performances.
Looking back, Paul said he gave all glory and honor to God for the great achievement that he and his community have achieved towards building the school over the past years.
He also acknowledged the Western Provincial Government for its great support towards the school’s development since the school become part of Western Province Education Authority.
However, Paul said this glamorous history has one unsolved issue – efficient and effective water supply system.
“Currently our water supply system is not that effective and we want to improve this area. We are working hard to make sure this issue is addressed.
“I can say that my achievement can be fulfilled if water supply system of this school is addressed,” he said.
The School made a call for assistance towards their water supply project last week.
School Principal, Gregory Patovaki said the school’s need of proper water supply can only be addressed if kind hearted individuals or organisation donates seven poly-pipe roll with 150 metres in length to connect a supply line to one of the school’s unused tank to the existing supply line.
“We believe this is the only hope we are waiting for and we are seeking assistance from our partners to help us with this project,” he said.
Located at a hill top over-looking Vella Island lays Buri Community High School. The beautiful view is breathtaking but also left behind a living testimony of pure community cooperation and commitment towards building education and also future human resources of the country.
For Paul, he is still the chairperson of the school since it was established in 2002. He has been undefeated for the school’s position of chairmanship; he reclaimed his seat in numbers of meetings due to his dynamism towards the school’s development.
For me, I think we need more people like Paul and his companions.