Chinese-financed school cited as symbol of nations' healthy ties
President Xi Jinping on Friday encouraged young people in China and Papua New Guinea to pass along and practice the friendship between the two countries as he attended the opening ceremony of Butuka Academy, a China-aid school project.
The academy, established in 1984, is once again glowing with vitality after its reconstruction, financed by PNG capital Port Moresby's sister city, Shenzhen.
"Teaching one to fish is better than giving him a fish. The reason China helped to construct Butuka is to help cultivate talented people for PNG," Xi said.
In recent years, exchanges between China and PNG in culture and education have been increasingly frequent and regional cooperation is booming, Xi said, and Butuka Academy is a fruit of such cooperation.
The new school, 10 times bigger than the old one, has a total land area of more than 50,000 square meters and is now equipped with three buildings, for elementary, primary and secondary schools. It also has staff apartments, a multifunction hall, a large flag-raising platform and courts for basketball and volleyball.
Now it can accept more than 3,000 students from local villages.
Xi said China is willing to make joint efforts with PNG to deepen the profound friendship rooted in the people of the two countries and lay a more solid foundation for bilateral ties to move forward.
"We believe that cultivating talented people from generation to generation will certainly provide strong support for PNG to realize sustainable development," he said.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, who also attended the ceremony, said Butuka Academy is another example of the strong relationship between PNG and China. His country thanked China for the school and also for providing opportunities for PNG's young people to study in China, he said.
Ma Shuai, managing director of China State Construction Engineering Corporation Steel (PNG), the contractor on the Butuka project, said, "The local government and villagers have been very supportive of the construction work."
The head of Kila Kila, the village where the school is located, invited the workers to join their celebrations for the New Year, he said.
"The school is an excellent thing compared with the past one. When the villagers see the buildings and the facilities, they all want (their children) to study here," said Eret Someon, a 38-year-old who teaches fourth-grade students at Butuka.
"We really appreciated it. We thank the Chinese government for doing this very much," she said.
Sheryl Thomson, 12, a fourth-grader who lives nearby, is one of the 1,429 students currently studying at the school.
"The old school was quite broken with rubbish all over and we didn't have enough classrooms. I'm so proud of the new one," she said.
Mathematics is Sheryl's favorite subject, and she wants to be a bank clerk when she grows up.
"Our sweat and efforts will be worthy if any graduate from Butuka one day becomes the cultural transmitter and envoy of friendship between China and Papua New Guinea," said Li Pu, managing director of the PNG branch of Shenzhen SEZ Construction & Development Group, which also participated in the project.