What was the motivation behind this project?

Seated in this photo from left to right are: Mr Ram Jiwan Sharma (Secretary), Mr Bechan (President), Mr Raghunandan Singh (Vice-President), Mr Sarju Prasad (Manager). Standing from left to right are the Head-Teacher – Mr Ram Charitra Sharma, Mr Shri Ram (Treasurer) and Mr Ram Prasad (Executive). Absent from this photo are the following members of the school committee – Mr Budh Ram, Mr Shri Krishan, Mr Dhani, Mr Jhinnu, Mr Karan Singh, and Mr Dur Swami.

A visit to my old primary school in Fiji some years ago was the motivation behind this project.  I had gone to take some photos of places within the school that had become etched in my memory – like the classroom where my year two teacher slapped me so hard the first time that I wrote in an exercise book with one of those thick black pencils. To this day I still do not know what I had done wrong. It was some writing activity which must have horribly gone wrong.

Naidovi Primary School opened its doors in 1924 – in a village called Cuvu. Today the school has about 400 students on its roll from Years 1 to 6. On one of the walls in head teachers office is the photo (shown above) of the founders of this school.Two of the people in this photo were my great-grandfather (Mr Bechan) and my grand father (Mr Shri Ram). While the people in the photo were either illiterate or had limited education, they believed that educating their children and the future generations was important. Education was seen as the passport to a brighter future. Through donations from the local community, Naidovi Primary School was setup.

When I toured the school with the Head Teacher, what hit me the most was the “library”. When I was student there, the library empty – when I went back this time…almost 40 years later – it was still empty. I feel that the lack of exposure to appropriate books early in my childhood may have impacted on my interest in reading. Even today – I do not read much fiction (I may be making an excuse…but it sounds logical). The thought of the school making a transition to the digital age did cross my mind – but sounded very foolish at the time.

This visit made the need for print and digital resources at this school very obvious.  Of greater importance was the development of an effective model that could provide a framework for the effective integration of these resources in the classrooms. Consequently, our key objectives for this project emerged from this experience. After about 18 months brainstorming ideas we decided that we will make available to these students – digital (laptops, robotic kits, cameras and anything else we could get our hands on) and print resources (library books).

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