Dictionaries for schools in Fiji - Report

Mike and Stephie
Jul 17, 2019

Dictionaries for schools in Fiji - Report

Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside & Education First Trust – Joint Dictionary in Fiji Project

Project Background
Education First Trust in 2014 identified there was a huge problem with literacy particularly English language and numeracy in low decile and many rural schools in Fiji. It was accepted that students lacked teaching aid that may assist in improving their understanding of English language. It was recognised that Rotary Usborne Illustrated English Dictionary was an ideal tool to assist with English learning and may assist with other subjects. Following approach to Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside it was decided to embark on a joint project to have the dictionaries available to students in low decile/ rural schools. In 2015 first distribution was undertaken covering 22 schools and 456 students in Lautoka Fiji. In 2016 second distribution was undertaken covering 40 schools and 509 students in Ba / Tavua district. In 2017 Following success of past two distribution of dictionaries in schools in Fiji, Rotary club of Auckland Harbourside and Education First Trust approved an ambitious programme to distribute 1600 dictionaries to schools in Nausori, Nadi, Sigatoka and Labasa which was successfully delivered to 84 schools in above districts.

2018 Dictionary Distribution
The 2018 dictionary distribution was scheduled for April 2018. Unfortunately, due to cyclone Keni distribution was abandoned and rescheduled for Monday 30 July to Friday 4 August 2018.

Rotarian and Trustee of Education First Trust Joyti Singh, Anil Varma Trustee of Education First Trust and Sursen Singh Honorary Rotarian and Trustee of Education First Trust volunteered to deliver 1006 dictionaries to 953 students in 46 rural schools plus donating further 53 books to school libraries and District Education Offices for the August 2018 project.

It was one of the most challenging distribution we undertook over past 4 years both in terms of remoteness of the schools and limited volunteer resources to undertake this task. In total we covered more than 2000 kilometres in trying Road conditions in 5 days. The normal start time was between 4.30 am to 5.30 am just to reach schools in time. We normally arrived back by 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm to main Town centre for late lunch.  

Irrespective of demand on time and travelling, the whole experience was extremely successful and satisfying to see the smile on faces of the children who rarely received visitors let alone a gift of learning that was well received and appreciated.

There is a definite need by these Rural Fiji Schools of Dictionaries and Books for Libraries. For most students, this is their first book belonging to them. They were absolutely happy kids after receiving their own Dictionaries.

We were extremely fortunate to receive valuable assistance and support from Setareki Rika Senior District Officer Sigatoka and his staff and Sanaila Nauga Senior Education Officer RA and his staff. They not only provided personnel support but also 4wheel drive to assist with distribution. It is acknowledged without their help the distribution was not possible.

We have received several complimentary comments both verbally and in writing from Head Teachers on the quality and standard of the dictionaries that really suited their English curriculum. 

In summary we have to date delivered 3571 dictionaries to 192 schools in Fiji including donation of the dictionaries to school libraries and Education District offices.

2019 Dictionary distribution
We are scheduled to distribute the 2019 dictionaries in Fiji from 29 July 2019 to 2 August 2019 of 1050 Rotary dictionaries. Volunteers attending will be Joyti & Sursen Singh, Gill & Grant Cossey, Helen Parker & Vidya Nand.

Improvement in Literacy is indeed a need in the Rural schools in Fiji as most Rural schools we have distributed dictionaries in Fiji so far to the 9 year old students, these dictionaries are the first book they own and will assist them hugely with English learning.

Joyti Singh
Education First Trust – Chairperson / Trustee
Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside – Member / Past President

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