The Dictionary in School project was instigated in the 2008-09 Rotary year following an initiative of Past RI President Bill Boyd a New Zealander.
During a visit to Fiji schools, introduction of Dictionaries was raised with Head Teachers and educationist in Fiji who advised that in recent years they have been concerned with the standard of both conversational and written English in the country. Clearly the standards were declining and providing a dictionaries to students as their personal copy should assist in addressing literacy to an extent.
The Project aim meets one of the key objective of the Trust i.e. increase the knowledge base of the underprivileged children and young adult through education medium, resulting in self-sustainability. As such it fits well with Education First drive for literacy development.
On the advice and recommendation from teachers in Fiji it was established the dictionaries were more appropriate to class 5 students year 10 in Fiji rather than year 9 as is the case in New Zealand.
A approach was made to the Board of Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside to extend “Dictionary in Schools” project to schools in Fiji as a joint project with Education First Trust.
Education First Trust offered to fund purchase of dictionaries and provide project leadership and logistics etc. under project leadership of Sursen Singh representing both organisations.
The proposal as outlined was approved by the Club.
Dr Narendra Reddy a Professor at University of Fiji was approached to assist in identifying schools within the guidelines i.e. rural, isolated and poor schools. Dr Reddy’s contact with Ministry of Education in Fiji proved invaluable he guided us in obtaining necessary regulatory approvals for the project and assisted in coordinating the project logistic i.e. custom clearance, warehousing and distribution schedule at the Fiji end.
Approval from Ministry of Education Fiji was obtained through a Memorandum of Understanding entered into between the Education First Trust NZ and the Ministry of Education Fiji. A dispensation from custom excise duty was also obtained for shipment of dictionaries to Fiji.
60 boxes (480 dictionaries) were shipped to Fiji in November 2014 and were stored at a private storage arranged by Dr Reddy. He also identified 22 schools suited for the project and prepared in advance a schedule of visits to the individual schools in consultation with the schools Head teachers.
The distribution was undertaken from 2-5 March 2015 covering 22 primary schools totalling 456 students in Lautoka district by NZ team. New Zealand team consisted of Pradeep Chand, Usha Kiran, Anil Varma, Rohini Varma from Education First Trust and Harjeet Golian and Sursen Singh representing both organisation. Dr Narendra Reddy and Sanjai Singh from University of Fiji joined the team in the distribution. The Group was divided into two teams.
Teams were briefed on presentation and local protocol before commencement of distribution. Two set of Pop Up banners highlighting project sponsors name and logos project were used to display the project at presentation ceremony promoting the two sponsors of the project. Both the teams met at the storage site each morning and after loading the boxes of dictionaries as per the day schedule travelled on to the schools.
We were warmly received at all schools, the dictionaries were formally presented to the class five students at an organised class ceremony. Those students who were absent dictionaries were left with the respective class teachers to present to the students. At all schools the students were very happy to receive their personal copy of the dictionary. We could clearly see the happiness on the faces of the children receiving this gift of learning.
Appreciation by the schools
The school teachers and management were very grateful to the donors for providing these dictionaries to the children, the Ministry of Education has since expressed their gratitude through Dr Reddy for both organisations effort and desire to assist in improving literacy in Fiji schools.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
The Project Leader wish to record his appreciation to all who participated in this project namely Anil Verma, Rohini Verma Pradeep and Usha Chand and Harjeet Golian who self- funded their travel and accommodation costs.
Special thanks and acknowledgement to our project sponsors who facilitated logistics warehousing, freight and transport at no cost; namely Rohit Naryan of UB Freight Limited, Sataya Pillay 3Dimeension Consultants, Singhs Rental Car Limited Fiji and Sanjai Singh of University of Fiji.
A very special thanks to Dr Reddy for his assistance, guidance and monetary contribution towards clearance and transport of books to warehouse, success of the project to a large extent is attributed to his valuable contribution.
The distribution of the dictionaries.
The following Primary schools in the Lautoka Education District were recipients of Dictionaries for Year 5 students
Nos. Reg.No Name of School No. of Dictionaries
01 1077 RaviRavi Sangam School 21
02 1085 Tavarau Bhartiya School 24
03 1086 Tuvu Primary School 16
04 3025 Teidamu Primary School 06
05 1054 Drasa Primary School 42
06 3026 Drasa Muslim Primary School 13
07 3083 Sathya Sai School 13
08 3001 Qalitu Primary School 10
09 1028 Vitogo District School 19
10 1053 Vitogo Deshbandhu School 08
11 1003 Lololo Primary School 03
12 1011 Ratu Saimoni Raseru Mem Sch. 09
13 1088 Vakabuli Primary School 07
14 1043 Amichandra Memorial School 42
15 3046 Gandhi Bhawan School 72
16 1087 Shri Ram Govind School 05
17 3031 Saru MGM Primary School 41
18 3020 Wairabetia Muslim School 04
19 1008 Dreketi Sangam School 06
20 1059 Gurukul Primary School 46
21 1097 Viseisei Primary School 31
22 3007 Lomolomo Public School 18
The balance of books will be distributed at next visit.