Wednesday, 23 April 2008 9:57 AM

RAMSI Builds Bridge from Isabel to Sydney

The Lepi Primary School in Isabel has formed a sister school relationship with a primary school in Australia, following a visit to the island by the Minister for Police, the Hon Sam Manetoali, and Professor Cindy Davids of Macquarie University in Sydney.

Mr Manetoali, who is the MP for Gao-Bugotu was accompanied to the island by the Commander of the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) Denis McDermott, and the Commander of the RAMSI military, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Flannagan.

Professor Davids presented a Letter of Introduction to the Principal of Lepi Primary School, Michael Lase from the Principal of Newport Public School in Sydney, Harry McErlean.

The letter invites Lepi to join Newport Public School in a sister-school arrangement to build a bridge of support and encouragement from Australia to the Solomon Islands and back again.

Professor Davids', whose children attend Newport Public School, said she is very keen to help build the bridge between the two very different primary schools.

"I hope this is the start of a long relationship where the students of both primary schools can learn about each other's countries and cultures and communicate with each other. We would also like to assist Lepi Primary and I intend to begin fundraising to assist with building a special classroom to house a school library," she said.

Hon Manetoali was also very positive about the new relationship.

"This is a great opportunity for the future of this primary school," he said. "I want to thank Professor Davids and the principal of Newport Public School, Mr McErlean, for this wonderful initiative."

PPF Commander McDermott said that he felt very happy to have been able to assist in bringing the two schools together.

"The RAMSI Participating Police Force and the RAMSI military are here to help you," he told the crowd of about 30 school children and 30 villagers who had attended the welcoming ceremony.

"In the usual Solomon Island way, they made us all feel very welcome. This is the third visit the PPF has made to this village as the friendship develops."