Fantastic Phonics in Fiji
Fantastic Phonics team started the year, 2014 with a visit to one of our closest neighbours… Fiji.
As we flew over the pristine turquoise waters of Fiji, we were excited to be returning to this beautiful country. We were visiting to meet with members of the Fijian Ministry of Education and to also meet Corrine Angus from New Zealand, who works tirelessly each year in her charity to donate crates of books and computers to schools in Fiji.
When we spoke to people from the local village about our work with Fantastic Phonics reading program in schools in developing countries, they invited us to visit the local school, Ratu Filise Memorial. The teachers were very welcoming and interested in our phonics reading program for their school. The children sang to us a melodious song in their local language. It was a stunning performance, as were the children.
The next day, Corrine arranged a visit to a local Catholic school where we took a set of the Healthy Living Series books for the library and looked at the books that Corrine had donated. They also spoke of their need for a phonics reading program. We met with the Principal and other staff members, and of course the beautiful Fijian children. They were having morning tea under a huge tree next to the sea in the playground and others sitting on the sea wall with friends.
Another meeting was arranged with staff at the Fijian Ministry of Education in Suva, where we spent several hours discussing the trial of Fantastic Phonics reading program in 200 schools in Fiji for 2014.
Our next visit was to Luwaki school in a remote area in the north of Fiji. This school was already using Fantastic Phonics. The night before our visit, howling winds and torrential rain battered the coast, but we continued to progress with our plans. We picked up Corrine and a staff member of the Fijian Ministry of Education in our only car and drove through the soaked countryside.
On arrival at Luwaki we were given magnificent hand-made necklaces of large brown seedpods and ushered to special seats next to the Principal at the front of the main hall. The Principal, teachers and children had prepared well for our visit and to our surprise and delight we were honoured guests. The children filed into the room, then young boys aged 8 years old and dressed in traditional costumes filled the front rows.
It was a moving experience and we were mesmerized by the natural beauty and strength of these handsome young painted faces as they performed a traditional warrior dance. Their backing music and chorus produced the most glorious sound of strength and harmony. Several teachers had written speeches to thank us for our visit. There was even an official printed program to mark the occasion.
A special morning tea had been prepared and we drank coconut juice from freshly picked coconuts and ate delectable fresh foods prepared by the teachers and other staff. More books were donated, and we visited the classroom to read the Healthy Living Series to the class. The teachers were also very excited to show us the children’s progress in reading with Fantastic Phonics.
The generous staff gave us bags filled with fresh local fruits for our journey home. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of these dedicated teachers and the performance of these beautiful children and hope to visit again in 2015.