Education for underprivileged children in Fiji

Aug 27, 2012

RMMS Developments!

A double update today - the RMMS rugby tournament, and decorating Class 5!
Firstly, the rugby...
Every July primary schools participate in regional rugby and netball tournaments held all over Fiji. This year Ratu Meli Memorial School was the host of the tournament for the Yasawa Islands region. The tournament was held over two days with seven schools participating. Ratu Meli combined with Ratu Namasi School to form the northern team and went on to win under 9, under 12 and under 13 rugby, as well as under 10 and under 11 netball. The children trained hard in the weeks prior to the tournament as the best players from each school are selected to represent the Yasawa Islands in a nationwide tournament on the mainland held the following month.
Ratu Meli has many skilled young players in both netball and rugby, and the school was fortunate enough to have 31 students selected to play on the mainland. The teachers have been extremely supportive of their students receiving such an amazing opportunity and have all contributed their time helping to train the selected students. A selection of teachers will also accompany the students to the mainland to help coach the individuals during the tournament. The tournament also provides the students with insights into significant differences between the island villages and the mainland. Many of the older children will be starting secondary school this coming January and as most of them have not had the opportunity to spend time on the mainland, this tournament enables them a brief glimpse of what awaits them after Ratu Meli.
And then the painting... 
For all eagerly awaiting the new look classrooms at RMMS we'd like to unveil the snazzy and much improved class 5! It was inspired by the work Class 5 did on the Elmer book series when working with Miss Paige last month. Class 6, 7 and 8 are next in line for a GVI renovation...
Aug 17, 2012

Ratu Meli Memorial School IT Program

GVI and Ratu Meli Memorial School of Nacula Island have received 25 used laptops donated by  School District No. 23, Central Okanagan, Canada, which was facilitated by volunteer Keddy and her father Dave Pavlik.  Once the laptops were released from customs, GVI volunteers and staff set about developing an IT program for RMMS students and teachers.  This generous donation to both the resources available to GVI volunteers and RMMS teachers and students will be used to enrich lessons, provide an interactive learning experience and of course provide basic computer literacy training.  This new access to computers will help better prepare pupils for the transition into secondary school as word processing is a part of the national curriculum for all secondary school students. These computers have also helped the school to bridge the significant gap between the resources available to primary school pupils on the mainland and those available to the pupils of outer island school.

The first stage step in integrating the IT program into daily school activities was to gauge the pupil’s current IT knowledge. Pupils were asked to practice their laptop and word processing skills by asking them to copy text from their favorite books into a word processing program. It was clear from this test run across classes 5-8 that lessons would need to be arranged on basic computer literacy and word processing.

The second stage of the process was to liaise with the teachers of Class 6 to 8 and gather their recommendations on how IT could be worked into the current curriculum as a useful tool for lesson delivery. It was proposed that pupils would benefit the most from being taught on how to correctly use Microsoft word and Word Processing programs.

Once these skills have been mastered we would then be able to branch out into further tuition on office programs such as Excel and PowerPoint.  Excel will be used to progress their understanding of how data can be organized and manipulated easily with computers in a way that would easily enable them to organize and collate their work. PowerPoint is also an extremely useful tool as it they will utilize it to create presentations aiding them in their understanding of English literacy and personal presentation skills.

IT lessons have now become a permanent part of the curriculum, with each class designated to an afternoon of word processing lessons. Volunteers work one-on-one with the children to aid them in their training and track each of their individual progress. They commence with basic laptop use, progressing through to two hand typing, up to creating and writing their own reports.

We are currently researching educational software that will further enhance subject specific engagement, such as mathematics games, electronic encyclopedias, and other subject specific software, which would help enhance and diversify the learning experience offered to the children of Ratu Meli School. Math’s games have so far proved an exciting challenge for the students and a fantastic alternative learning environment in what can be a challenging class for many of the students.

We hope to increase the children’s future prospects by enabling them to have access to computers, early exposure to which will be an asset to them in higher education and improve future employability. This is an extremely new and exciting addition to the curriculum of Ratu Meli School, and one that we can see making a dramatic change to the students learning abilities and achievements. On behalf of Ratu Meli School and GVI, we would like to express our thanks to the donors that made this possible through their donation to the GVI Fiji Charitable Trust. Vinaka Vaka Levu (Thank you very much)!


Aug 3, 2012

Exciting Improvements!

A little over a year ago, Susan Carter arrived in Fiji on our first ever intake of volunteers. As an experienced teacher working at the Singapore American School, Susan was moved by the challenges faced by the island schools and the lack of resources. Susan thoroughly enjoyed her time volunteering at Ratu Meli School and formed a close connection with the local students while gaining first hand experience as to the everyday challenges that the children face in the islands. After returning to Singapore, Susan gave presentations on her experience and linked in these experiences to 6th grade student's study of water issues and disease. Susan and GVI Fiji project leaders exchanged information and photos as the water unit studies continued. Susan explained the challenges effected RMMS school, water shortages, lack of clean drinking water, no working toilets, cracked water tanks, and the resulting impact on daily life. The students of the Singapore American school, motivated by the their teacher's experiences, set out to raise funds to help improve the water facilities at Ratu Meli School. The response and success of the student's individual fundraising initiatives was amazing.

The GVI Charitable Trust received $7681 Fijian Dollars from the Singapore American School water fundraising project. To date, using roughly half the funds made available by SAS, the GVI construction team have installed 8 working toilets and 2 showers in a toilet block that has been unusable for almost two years. The children now have a place to wash and shower and access to flushing toilets. The solar powered water pump has been repaired and a steady flow of water now supplies the water holding tank, also purchased by SAS funds that feeds the plumbing. With the remaining funds GVI will carry out more improvements to the toilet block and to the rainwater harvesting systems at the school.

Thank you SAS!

Jul 30, 2012

Volunteer Life

On Saturday morning a mini bus of 6 GVI volunteers left Nadi headed for the Silana Village, in Eastern Viti Levu, to begin working with a new community and primary school. When we arrived in Silana on Saturday evening we were welcomed by a chorus of villagers and their guitars. With the help of some Fijian muscle we moved into our new home which is a beautiful, traditional Fijian bure constructed by the village youth for our arrival.

We then made our way down to the village hall for a traditional Sevu Sevu ceremony where we presented a waka of Kava to the head men. We were officially accepted into Silana village by the elders and would now be treated as members of their community. We all celebrated together with a Fijian feast, followed by a few bowls of kava and a dance lesson. Then on Sunday we were introduced to the whole community during the morning church service.

On Monday morning we were very excited to meet the teachers and pupils of Silana District School for the first time. SDS is a locally run school attended by pupils from Silana and the surrounding villages. At the school there are 7 teachers for 6 classes and a kindergarten. The whole school community was very welcoming and appreciative of our support in the classrooms. They were particularly delighted with the few books we managed to bring with us as there is no library at the school and hardly any books for the pupils to read.

The volunteers have spent the week assisting in class and, with the guidance of their teachers, leading lessons themselves. Our books have already seen a lot of use during story time in class 1-3 and also when listening to the older pupils read individually. The classrooms are looking noticeably more colorful as volunteers have been testing out the creative skills of their pupils during arts and crafts lessons. On Thursday the Class 5 and 6 teacher had to attend a meeting in a nearby town and one of our volunteers, Georgie, was able to step in and teach the 35 pupils that would have otherwise been left unattended.

On Friday we were invited as guests of honor to judge a talent contest at the local secondary school. This involved an elaborate display of drama, music and dancing performed by pupils aged 14-18. It was tremendously entertaining, all the pupils were extremely talented and it was refreshing to see them participating in creative arts subjects at school. The raucous laughter from the mothers for the duration of the show also added to the entertainment.

We have all had an excellent first week living with the villagers of Silana and they have made us feel extremely welcome. During the days we have been getting to know the pupils and teachers of SDS and our evenings have been spent cooking with the women, eating delicious food, dancing to Fijian music, learning the local language and having a go at traditional mat weaving. We were lucky enough to end our week by visiting the local pod of dolphins then returning to Silana where the villagers had prepared us a lovo (underground bbq) filled with chicken and fresh fish.

Jul 6, 2012

New Room at RMMS

In the last few months we have converted a room previously used for storing broken chairs and desks into a work and storage space for GVI volunteers at RMMS.

With the help of the construction team we began by emptying the storeroom, which as you can see in the photograph above was no mean feat. We were able to salvage and repair a number of desks and chairs that are now back in the classrooms. After a coat of paint and a thorough clean the room was unrecognizable. The construction leader Ben and his team of volunteers then tiled the floor and constructed shelves and a desk.

This new space is now used for storing all the school resources we have accumulated over the last year, including art and crafts materials, books, sports equipment, musical instruments and stationary.

Not only does this room offer a secure storage space but it has also enabled us to make the resources more accessible for the volunteers to use with their pupils on a daily basis. Previously all resources were stored back on our base but now volunteers no longer need to transport materials backwards and forwards by boat each day. Volunteers and staff will also be using the room as a workspace for lesson planning, writing student reports, providing one-on-one tuition and teaching computer studies.

It’s fair to say that the education team is delighted with their new room and it is already making a huge difference to our daily operations at RMMS

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Project Leader

Ross Deans

Exeter, Devon United Kingdom

Where is this project located?

Map of Education for underprivileged children in Fiji