CAPTION: The Vice Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra,Prime Minister of Tonga (centre), Lord Tu’ivakano, and Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr IkbalJannifwith the USP Council members at the official opening of 76th Council Meeting.
The 76th USP Council Meeting was formally opened by the Hon. Prime Minister of Tonga, Lord Tu’ivakano at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre, Nuku’alofa, at 3pm on Wednesday 15 May 2013.
Lord Tu’ivakano said he was very pleased to deliver the opening address and noted that Tonga was a founding member of the University of the South Pacific.
In his address, the Prime Minister highlighted various pertinent issues including the importance for USP to continue to provide quality education that continuously aligns with the aspirations of Tonga’s youth; and noting that USP is becoming regionally relevant and is now the first choice for those seeking higher education for better opportunities.
“With the internet being utilized as an educational support mechanism at our secondary schools in the outer islands, it is my vision that this programme of collaboration between the University and the government will continue to benefit our citizens,” he said.
“I strongly believe that the connection of high-speed broadband in June will also strengthen the collaboration and the relationship that had been built between USP and Tonga”, the Prime Minister added.
In appreciation for His Majesty King Tupou VI’s forthcoming USP Chancellorship appointment, the Prime Minister commented on how honoured Tonga was, “of the forthcoming appointment of His Majesty, King Tupou VI, as the new Chancellor of the University in July, and that His Majesty’s first official function, as head of the region’s premier University, will be to preside over Tonga’s graduation ceremony on the 27th of July.”
In closing, the Prime Minister thanked the Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council, the Vice Chancellor and President of the University, and the University Council for graciously accepting Tonga’s offer to host the 76th USP Council Meeting and wished the Council a fruitful and successful meeting.
His Lordship, Bishop SoanePatitaPaini Mafi of the Catholic Diocese of Tonga offered the opening prayer and special blessings for the meeting supported by a representative of the Schools in Tonga, the Tupou High School Choir with a special choir item which climaxed in the rendition of Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus.
In welcoming the guest of honour, the Pro Chancellor and Chair of Council, MrIkbalJannif expressed gratitude to the Hon. Prime Minister for graciously agreeing to deliver the opening address which is one of many USP occasions graced by the Prime Minister this week, including the launch of the USP Strategic Plan 2013-2018 earlier in the week.
In referring to the launch of the University’s Strategic Plan 2013-2018, the Prime Minister stated that while it is an ambitious Plan with a bold vision, he once again congratulated the Council and the University Management for the completion of the Plan.
The Pro Chancellor further noted that this formal Council opening by a Prime Minister is the second time that a USP Council meeting has been officially opened and went on to say that it is his desire that Council will continue with this fine tradition.
The Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra expressed sincere gratitude to the Prime Minister for his presence and thanked him and his government’s strong support and commitment to the University of the South Pacific.
He assured Lord Tu’ivakano that USP will take every step to provide quality education that would meet the aspirations of Tonga’s youth and other stakeholders.
The Council opening was attended by around 40 Council members, other officials in attendance as well as Tongan Government Ministers, dignitaries, members of the clergy and invited guests.
The occasion was indeed a significant demonstration of Tongan hospitality with the various sectors of the community coming together to join the celebration to mark the official opening of the 76th USP Council meeting in Tonga.