I hope this finds you well. I have a very exciting report for you today. Quite a long factual report but we hope the data shows clearly the impact this project is having on the children in Fiji.
Global Vision International introduced a one-on-one tuition program at Ratu Meli Memorial School in January 2012. The aim of the program is to help those students who are furthest behind in their class to reach the same academic level as their peers. With the success of the remedial program documented at the end of 2012 through feedback from the class teachers, an additional goal was set for 2013 to gather more quantitative data in order to measure the impact the program was having on the recipient students. This data would then be used to track the progress of students on the 1-on-1 program and also help GVI to tailor make the program to further meet the specific needs of the pupils.
The qualitative data gathered at the end of 2012 indicated that there was a proven need for the one-on-one tuition program and that it was having a positive impact on the academic capabilities and confidence of participating students. Whilst this feedback has proven extremely useful for the GVI Education Project, the purpose of generating quantitative data would be to provide further evidence of the success and provide greater scope for analyzing the progress of individual pupils and the one-on-one program as a whole. The first step to compiling quantitative data on the one-on-one program was to gather benchmark statistics to gauge the current capability levels of the students on the program. In collaboration with the class teachers, GVI wrote short tests for each year group that focused on assessing the numeracy and literacy of the pupils. Along with the teachers’ input, GVI also used class learning records compiled historically by volunteers, which identify specific achievement targets for each subject and student.
The initial results indicated that most students were having difficulty in either Math or English but rarely was a student behind in both subjects. Thus, the volunteers were able to tailor their one-on-one lessons accordingly, increasing the impact of the sessions. During the penultimate week of Term 1, the students were given the same tests and the results were recorded following the same procedure as when they were first delivered.
Almost every student showed all-round improvement in their test scores which is a hugely positive result for the program. It also reinforces the conclusions made from the qualitative data gathered at the end of 2012; the one-on-one tuition program is helping the students that are furthest behind to catch up to the level of the rest of the class. The results also showed a relationship between the number of pupils in a class that are on the one-on-one program and the overall improvement in results. Those classes with the fewest pupils on the one-on-one had the greatest improvement in results. The most likely explanation for this trend is that these pupils received more tuition than in classes where the volunteer had to split their time across a greater number of pupils. Thus, one of the most important lessons learnt from this first set of testing is that the ratio of one-on-one students to volunteers needs to be more evenly distributed so as to ensure that each student has sufficient time with volunteer tutors.
Since the inception of the one-on-one program GVI has been building profiles for each of the pupils receiving additional tuition. These profiles are used to track their progress, record successful teaching techniques and set specific learning goals and timelines for individuals. The results from these first two rounds of testing will be used to enrich the student profiles further, helping to document progress and provide a more comprehensive understanding of individual students’ needs for the volunteer tutors.
The data and feedback gathered from the one-on-one tuition program has shown both qualitatively and quantitatively that it has greatly contributed to improving numeracy and literacy at RMMS, which is one of GVI Fiji’s key goals for the Education program. The results have also provided invaluable information which can be used to develop the program further and ensure that the volunteers are able to have maximum impact while involved with the school. Currently the results generated can only provide a short term indication of the impact the program is having on the pupils’ academic performance, but in time the qualitative and quantitative data gathered will provide a wider outlook of the improvements achieved through one-on-one tuition.
Many thanks as always for all your support. I hope this shows just how much of a sucess this project has been with your support.
All the best
On April 22nd GVI Fiji’s team celebrated Earth Day by planting Vesi trees at Ratu Meli Memorial School (RMMS). Vesi are commonly used for coastal protection and windbreaks in Fiji, but in this case the main purpose for planting these trees was to help prevent soil erosion and flooding that occurs at the school during the rainy season. The volunteers were helped by groups of Class 7 and 8 students who were extremely enthusiastic and keen to get involved.
A total of 18 trees were planted at RMMS, and each group of students will continue to monitor the growth of the trees that they planted as part of their weekly gardening lessons. The aim of getting the students involved in the planting of the Vesi trees was to foster a sense of responsibility for their group’s trees and in so doing ensure they are cared for and properly nurtured. The students were already talking about a competition to see whose tree will grow fastest and tallest! In addition to planting the trees, the volunteers also facilitated discussions with the students about the importance of trees, protecting the environment and climate change. When asked why it is beneficial to have more trees in their villages and around the school, many of the students shouted out that it is because trees give you oxygen and provide shade
Along with promoting Earth Day, planting Vesi will also help RMMS become recognized as a Blue School by the International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance. In addition to re-forestation initiatives, the Blue Schools Programme aims to increase the scope of lessons on environmental protection in schools and Earth Day presented an excellent opportunity for GVI to do so in a creative way with the students of Ratu Meli School.
On Dec 17th 2012 the Fiji Islands were bombarded by a Category 4 Cyclone, gusting up to 270km/H and causing widespread damage across the island group. The eye of Cyclone Evan passed directly through the region of the Yasawa Islands where GVI has been working since June 2011, damaging infrastructure and destroying crops. The communities in the remote Yasawan Islands rely heavily on rainwater catchment and subsistence farming to provide food and water to the population. The damage caused by Cyclone Evan compromised both water and food security in the region significantly increasing the vulnerability of the island communities. In the aftermath of the cyclone GVI has been able to provide resources, funding and volunteer labour to assist the communities in their recovery.
Although all 9 villages that GVI has been working with were affected by the cyclone, reports from community members across the region suggested that Naisisili had experienced some of the most extensive damage in the Nacula Takina and was the first village to receive assistance from GVI. In order to assess the needs of the community GVI volunteers interviewed families and carried out visual inspections of damaged rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems. For each household the volunteers gathered information on family size and income, as well as assessing the structural damage to houses and the status of each families access to food and water provisions. From these discussions volunteers were also able to determine whether the families had already received aid from the government or other organizations and if they had begun to re-plant their crops.
After assessing all sixty-four families in Naisisili, it became apparent that food security was the community’s immediate concern. Although the Fiji government had provided the village with adequate food in the early aftermath of the cyclone, those rations were now running low and DISMAC efforts needed to be focused on assisting severely damaged villages on Yasawa-i-Rawa Island. GVI informed Government officials of GVI’s capacity to assist and was given the go ahead to take action. From the information gathered in the needs assessment, the volunteer team was able to calculate the quantity of food aid needed to help supplement current supplies in Naisisili whilst they waited for their crops to recover.
Using donations from the Charitable Trust, GVI was able to deliver 1964kg of dry food, which included flour, rice, lentils and sugar to our Yasawa Base for distribution. In Naisisili GVI worked with the village spokesman to distribute 4kg of flour, 2kg of rice, 1 kg of lentils and 500g of sugar per household, with extra rations given to the largest families and those who cannot work, such as the elderly or sick. A total of 495kg of food was distributed in Naisisili, and GVI completed repairs on 10 RWH systems.
The remaining 1469 Kg was then distributed across seven further villages by replicating the same needs assessment methodology used for Naisisili and in total GVI was able to provide food aid to 200 families. GVI volunteers were also able to carry out further maintenance on damaged RHW tanks and the repairs to a total of 25 RWH systems in the region has restored the ability to collect and store over 100,000L of drinking water. Through the GVI Charitable Trust almost $6000 FJD was fundraised to help fund these Disaster Relief Operations thanks to GVI’s network of donors and ex-volunteers.
Two local primary schools also required assistance in re-opening for the new school year. At Ratu Meli Memorial School, which is the site of GVI Fiji’s Education Project, Cyclone Evan destroyed the roof of the boy’s dormitory and knocked down one of the walls in the school hall. The classrooms also suffered water damage, with the majority of the textbooks being ruined. Fortunately, AusAid has been extremely active in the area, providing generous grants to help affected schools recover as quickly as possible. GVI volunteers have been active on the ground, cleaning the classrooms, compiling an inventory of the damaged school materials and repairing the school RWH systems. The inventory has been used by the Headmistress to prioritise the allocation and application of AusAid funds. Nasomolevu Catholic School was not as severely damaged by the cyclone but there was still need for substantial repairs to the RWH systems.
Although GVI has made considerable progress in tackling the short term problems caused by Cyclone Evan, the communities of the Yasawas are still recovering. GVI will continue to repair the RWH systems that were damaged as part of the ongoing assessments of water security. GVI has also secured a major book donation that will supply enough books to contribute to both Ratu Meli’s and Nasomolevu’s library, replacing those that were lost. Finally, GVI is now working with the village communities to help replant vegetable gardens and crops. The gardens will provide a variety of vegetables for the community, facilitating a more nutritious diet and improving long term food security.
This information was provided to the Fiji Government, The Red Cross and relevant organisations in order to ensure data on GVI’s collaboration with Disaster Relief efforts was reported in keeping with DISMAC planning.
As the 2012 school year closed and the 2013 year began, the GVI Education team can now reflect on the progress and achievements made during the first full academic year completed at Ratu Meli Memorial School (RMMS).
Throughout this academic year there have been several key developments in the Education Program which have resulted in positive changes at RMMS. Literacy levels have improved across the whole school and international volunteers have helped foster new enthusiasm for reading, boosting the confidence of the pupils. The one-on-one tuition program now provides ongoing support to pupils with learning difficulties and over the last year has ensured that 26 pupils are no longer as far behind their peers. School environment improvements, including a new computer lab, have created a more stimulating learning environment for the pupils and a number of health initiatives have improved nutrition, sanitation and the availability of fresh water.
In order to successfully develop and improve the education program at RMMS in 2013, GVI asked the class teachers and headmaster to complete a questionnaire and participate in feedback sessions with GVI staff. The teachers’ response was extremely positive, particularly with respect to the increased confidence they have observed in their pupils when speaking English. All the teachers described how the additional support offered by GVI appointed class volunteers has alleviated the pressure of their workload and broadened the experience of the students. In addition, the teachers highlighted the impact the one-on-one program has had on the slow learners and that they would not normally have sufficient time to provide individual support to students who are furthest behind in their classes. All of the teachers articulated their thanks for GVI’s contribution to the school’s infrastructure with the improvements to the toilet block, library and classrooms.
Overall it has been a successful year for the GVI Education Program. The relationship between GVI and RMMS is cemented and has proven to be productive. Pupils, teachers and volunteers have responded positively and with enthusiasm to the teaching assistance program delivered. GVI Fiji is dedicated to providing long-term support and despite the successes of this year, there is still work to be done at RMMS. The Education Program will continue to evolve next year, building on the achievements of 2012 and working towards a new set of objectives to continue enriching the education provided at RMMS.
In collaboration with the RMMS community, GVI have established a set of core objectives that will shape the program in 2013
- Water and sanitation improvements, including additional RWH systems and compost toilets in time for the next dry season
- Waste management plan
- Health and Hygiene, Environmental Protection and Peace and Tolerance awareness lessons
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager