Volunteer achievements

Establishing kindergarten schools


Think Pacific projects are establishing the first ever Kindergarten schools in the Lomaiviti islands of Batiki, Nairai, Gau and Moturiki. These projects are of huge importance to the island communities who we support. The kindergarten schools provide a vital learning environment for all pre-school Fijian children and offer a fundamental head start to their long term education.

Achievements in pre-school education

We are already starting to great successes from all the hard work and dedication of our volunteers and the local Fijian women to develop these projects long term. So far, we have established five kindergarten schools, providing access for over 100 children and these projects are flourishing month by month. Teachers from the local primary schools on Moturiki Island are already seeing the difference in children who’ve experienced our village kindergarten school programmes, with strong reports received from the staff regarding the children’s increased knowledge, skills and attention span and a far greater understanding of the English language. The curriculum in Fijian schools is taught solely in English and it is therefore vital for their long term school education that village children, who will learn Fijian as their first language in the home, have a grounding of English language before they enter primary school.

Locally managed education

Each kindergarten school that we help to establish is funded and supported financially by Think Pacific. We purchase materials and resources to enable activity lessons to take place and work with Fijian volunteers and primary school teachers to design an appropriate pre-school curriculum.  The kindergarten classes are run on a daily basis each morning by local Fijian volunteers and supported by our volunteers during their projects. The local management and delivery of the classes is paramount.

Sustainable funding and development

The Fijian government have a policy to fund each kindergarten school that we can create in the long term, providing that the local people are able to establish the kindergarten programme within the village and keep these lessons running over a six month period. This is a real target to work towards to enable the schools to be registered under the Ministry of Education and for everyone involved to be working towards a system of government training and employment for local people if their volunteer efforts lead to results.  This is a key example of how a short term volunteer project can lead to a meaningful, sustainable development solution. The time, effort and funding of a single team can generate a legacy of educational development in rural areas. During one project, Think Pacific is able to work with the local communities to support the establishment of these schools and help the Fijian volunteers to initiate a full activity and learning programme under guidance from the Ministry, which then continues to grow, develop and be sustained within the village without the need for any long term volunteer assistance or external funding from Think Pacific.

A Volunteer's perspective:

Cat Goodenough, who volunteered with Think Pacific and helped to establish the kindergarten programme in Nasauvuki village, explains the impact of this initiative;

“You really see how much you are achieving in just a short space of time in the kindergarten. The children are expected to go into school when they’re six years old and understand basic English and mathematics. Without this project they wouldn’t even know how to count to ten or how to read a single word in English. It’s vital to be able to give the children this head start. Even through nursery rhymes, the children are learning vital vocabulary. We do so many different activities from story time, games, colours, numbers and teaching English songs. It’s such an incredible feeling when the children understand something you’ve taught them and to see the impact you have. The whole experience is so rewarding.”

 

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I had the absolute time of my life with Think Pacific. Everything was just so far beyond what I could have asked for, or expected.
Alex Jenkinson, Belfast
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