The Dictionaries in Fiji Schools is a joint project of the Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside and the Education First Trust.  The project has now been running for five years and is an amazing hands-on project.
The 2019 distribution, which took place from 29 July to 2 August 2019, was mainly in rural schools in Ba, Tavua, Vatukoula, Nadrivatu and Ra located in the north-west of the main island of Viti Levu.  Twenty-four dictionaries were also delivered to Peter Drysdale of Koroipita Community Children and a further twenty-four dictionaries were distributed by Vidya Nand to Masimasi Primary School and Sabeto Primary School in Nadi at the specific request of donors.  In total, 1,079 dictionaries were distributed to forty schools. 

Marist Convent School Vatukoula – an awesome welcome by the whole school.
The volunteers distributing the dictionaries were from the Rotary Club of Auckland Harbourside and the Education First Trust.  They were Sursen Singh, Joyti Singh, Gill Cossey, Grant Cossey, Helen Parker, Ranjit Singh and Vidya Nand.
The volunteer team.
The volunteers were divided into three teams which enabled them to spend time in the classrooms with students, training them how to use the dictionary and explaining the Four Way Test that forms the introduction.
Vidya in action.
The team also visited Malake and Mataso primary schools in Ra (a northern province of Fiji) which were recipients of the 2018 distribution.  Teachers from both schools advised that the dictionaries were extremely helpful as learning tools.
The dictionaries in Malake Village School on Malake Island in the Rakiraki district, are kept in the library and are available to all students.  The principal advised that they kept the books in the school library so that not just the Year 5 students, but all year levels students get the benefit of them and already they were seeing good results.  This way, even the older students in the school would get the benefit as well as the Year 5 students.  This was just part of some great feedback.  The gist of general comments was that dictionaries represented a great learning tool and were expected to assist in uplifting the student’s literacy level.  The teachers also expressed their appreciation that the project was targeted to rural schools which most of the time were left out of such initiatives.
These dictionaries are very much needed by these rural schools in Fiji.  One head teacher said in his thank you speech, “This is the best dictionary for these children as it is no ordinary dictionary.  It has over 1,000 pictures with illustrations which makes it so much easier for these children’s learning”.
It is also noted that the Ministry of Education in Fiji are now taking more interest in this project and hopefully they will add this dictionary to the school’s curriculum in future.
Helen in action.
Some feedback from one of the volunteers.  “The dictionaries are a wonderful resource and it is not until you work with them with the students on a daily basis, that you appreciate how great they are.  The dictionaries are ideally suited for the Year 5 students who are at the right level to be using them on a regular basis.  I would highly recommend this project and of all the projects I have done over my thirty plus years in Rotary, both in NZ and in the Pacific Islands, I would have to say this is one of the best and most rewarding, particularly seeing the children getting so much out of it.”
A special thanks to Assistant District Governor Milika Wata-Marshall for hosting the volunteers for dinner and providing transport to distribute dictionaries to Nadelei Catholic School and Lewa SDA School in Nadarivatu.  Finally, special thanks to the trustees of the Harold Thomas Rotary Trust for providing ongoing funding for the project.  Also, thanks to Graham Kearns of the Bill and Lorna Boyd Charitable Trust for his valuable support in making the dictionaries available for shipment at short notice.