GVI has now been working at Navunisea District School (NDS) since April 2013. Our key focus at the school is improving English literacy because the school has some of the lowest exam results in mainland Fiji. English is the language of instruction in spite of being a second or third language in Fiji. This has a huge detrimental effect on student's success.
There are also many other factors impacting on education in the area. These include a livelihood based on subsistence farming and fishing, often demanding that children contribute to the plantation and household chores, poorly resourced schools and teachers, and a lack professional development for teachers. NDS currently has two composite classes meaning that space for teaching and learning is very limited. Crowded classrooms and the absence of teaching assistants has posed a huge challenge for children at the school historically.
During the first quarter of our third year at NDS we have radically developed our literacy programme at the school. Thorough assessments of pupil's reading levels have been made and books in the library have been classified accordingly. This enables both teachers and volunteers to match children with 'just right' reading books and literacy activities, vastly increasing their interest in English and fostering a love of reading.
Volunteers now take literacy groups according to ability and focus on guided reading and comprehension activities with pupils. Teachers had also identified creative writing as an area in which pupils struggled. Volunteers now deliver a programme of composition workshops for classes 5-8 and there is a writing corner in the library where pupils can come to engage in creative writing activities and prepare for exams. The development of good writing skills is vital, not only for the future prospects of our pupils but also for their self-expression, empowering them to advocate for themselves and their communities.
This programme has been supported by additional training for volunteers to ensure the quality of support delivered, as well as professional development workshops for local teachers in the areas of literacy, writing, and classroom management. The library offers a great venue for training courses as well as a space where resources can be created and shared with the school.
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The flush toilets at DSS require constant, costly maintenance and ongoing plumbing and water source issues make them unpleasant and often unusable for the students. A frequent lack of toilet paper means students often resort to using pages from their notebooks which in turn blocks up the fragile plumbing system. When water pressure runs low in the dry season, the problem is exacerbated and children face the unacceptable prospect of going to school without adequate sanitation facilities. The two new composting toilets eliminate all of these issues in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. They are also cost-effective and more pleasant for the students and staff to use.
The generous donation from the Stelly School Group allowed GVI to start work on the project. Students from Stelly School and GVI worked hard to lay the foundations of the structures before the Expedition team came in to finish the job. Both buildings have two toilets inside. Only one is used and once that is full (approx. 6 months) it is sealed and begins the composting process and the second toilet is then used.
In order for the compositing process to take place the staff and students must know how to correctly use them. GVI volunteers worked with students to identify the benefits of composting toilets and then provided training on how to use the toilets and ways to ensure proper upkeep. The volunteers combined activities such as poster making, quizzes and tours of the facilities to fully engage with the students ensuring that all students understood all sides of the concepts and methods involved with this new sanitation system.
Now that the construction and awareness lessons are complete, both students and teachers can start using an alternative sanitation system that is both environmentally friendly and sanitary.
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All the best
In February, our Silana base was buzzing with excitement when we received a visit from The Minister of Youth and Sports. While speaking to members of the community in Dawasamu, the Minister said:
“It was a pleasure to witness the progress of the youth groups in the area especially in Silana as a direct result of working in partnership with GVI.The relationship between GVI and Silana youth is a unique one and it is good to see the hard work paying off for all stakeholders in the community,” said Hon. Tuitubou.
The base manager for GVI in Dawasamu Mr Owen Doel who is from Wales said, “We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2013. Today was a great opportunity to show the senior officials from the ministry our projects in Dawasamu and also for some of our volunteers to share their experiences with the Minister. We are looking forward to partnering with the ministry in the future,” added Doel.
In other news, we currently have students from Stelly's School, who have been busy assisting with a variety of construction projects at three local schools. Their extensive to-do list includes: building a new kindergarten classroom walkway; repainting classrooms and school buildings; fixing tables and chairs; building a new boat playground for the children as well new composting toilets. It's great to know that by the time Stelly's is finished with all their hard work, the children at all three schools are going to have beautiful classrooms and an infrastructure conducive to a positive learning environment.
Thank you for your continued support on this project.
In March, GVI began the construction of the new Library as part of its long term goals to improve the infrastructure, increase literacy and facilitate creative and physical development at Navunisea District School. The aim was to provide a facility which would give children access to books, educational games, music and sports equipment and artmaterials to improve their knowledge and education.
The library project would not have been possible without the generous contributions to the GVI Charitable Trust. Many of the former volunteers returned home and donated or fundraised to the GVI CT, collectively donating $15,000. It was with these funds that GVI was able to purchase the materials required and commence construction.
The library project required a large amount of timber. GVI made it a priority to use materials which were sourced locally and sustainable, rather than relying on imported materials. The team also hired a foreman and a small team of tradesman from the community, to work on specific elements of the construction and support, train and guide the volunteers. These elements were important and contributed to our goals regarding the wider community and the environment.
The library was officially opened by the Divisional Education Officer for the Central division of Fiji. The new library not only houses wonderful books and offers a secure storage space for materials, the library also acts as an additional learning space, which relieves the two large composite classes.
The completed library, filled with books and resource Literacy levels have already be estimated to have improved by nearly 30% across the whole school and international volunteers have helped foster new enthusiasm for reading, boosting the confidence of the pupils. The library showcases the fantastic range of fiction and nonfiction books available and the GVI Dawasamu team hopes it will foster a love for reading amongst the children even further.
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Since GVI began work in Ratu Meli Memorial School in 2011, the kindergarten has been without a classroom and it has been one of GVI’s goals since the project began to assist the school in establishing a suitable classroom environment for the kindergarten. Recently, GVI has successfully worked with the school to establish a kindergarten classroom.
Routine is invaluable to children as it provides the opportunity to repeat, practice and improve upon an activity. Unfortunately, for the past two years, the Nacula kindergarten was held in the village hall. By facilitating the shift to a classroom at Ratu Meli Memorial School, GVI is able to provide a greater level of assistance to the pupils and teacher; therefore, having more of an impact in improving the numeracy and literacy and facilitating the creative and physical development of the 20 kindergarten students.
The education project staff discussed with the kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lusia, how GVI could further assist in enriching the education of the twenty children who attend Nacula Kindergarten. It was decided that the provision of more volunteer time and an increase in resources would enhance the students’ development as would a more structured routine. At the start of 2014, The Ministry of Education assigned only 7 teachers to RMMS, which led to a composite class and left one empty classroom.
GVI project staff and Mrs. Lusia organized meetings with community members from the four villages on Nacula Island, the kindergarten chairman and RMMS school committee members to discuss moving the kindergarten from the village hall to the newly empty classroom at RMMS. At the final meeting, Nacula village elders granted permission for the kindergarten to relocate to RMMS. After successfully securing a space designated solely for the kindergarten , GVI’s education team set to work on developing weekly kindergarten themes such as my family, plants and transport as well as constructing a daily schedule to include arts and crafts, singing, and tooth brushing.
By facilitating the move from the village hall to Ratu Meli Memorial School, GVI has helped make a huge step forwards in improving the education standard of the kindergarten students. Having their own classroom gives the pupils a more consistent routine and allows more time for volunteer involvement. Focusing on the older students, GVI volunteers can help ensure these children are prepared for class 1, which will give them a solid base for their primary education. GVI’s education team will continue providing support to Mrs. Lusia and work towards developing the kindergarten program to promote learning by playing.
Thank you for continuing to support this project.
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager