Thursday, July 19, 2007

Books for Fiji schools

from w
Many schools in Fiji receive donated books from overseas organisations and concerned tourists who develop a relationship with a school. Okay, that's fine, but it is hard to know what kind of books are suitable. Every Tuesday and Wednesday mornings a few of us in Geelong sort out piles of boxes of books donated from schools when they upgrade their libraries. These go into containers bound for the South Pacific or Asia. We look through the books and decide which ones might be of use. It's hard to know sometimes - the reading level, the accessability of the material, the relevance, the hundreds of senior level maths and science books but may not be suitable. So unfortunately many of the books go to the tip. Even the organizers of monster book sales don't want them. I retrieved a few interesting ones the other day - the life of John Wesley, a history of sculpture, stained glass windows, a high school art book, even an old Reader from the 50s which was nostalgic for me but so unattractive in print style, etc. I sort the primary and secondary fiction mainly and leave the hard choices to others. Here's an example of the difference between a school text of the 50s and the 2000s.

Some websites of interest on this topic are

Living by the book – a peace corp volunteer’s adventures with books in a Fijian village

An academic at the USP writes about school libraries and book resources in schools in the South Pacific

books for sale for primary children in Fiji – on a New Zealand website


Julie Oakley said...

Your post reminds me of the English comprehension books we had when I was at school in Lautoka. They were very old books written for African children so we all knew the treatment for malaria and the dangers of a lion visiting the village!

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

A lion in the village? What fun! Well, I guess it is one better than 'Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been. I've been to London to visit the Queen.' The literature when I was in high school was so British-based, (except Ireland was forgotten) the colonial cringe or - sentimental bush ballads of Australia.

The books we send to the islands these days are sometimes in print that is too small and the language is difficult, even for people who speak English all the time.

One other point - the subject matter of lots of teenage fiction here is very dark - about superstitions, ghosts, terror, cruelty, assaults - that sort of thing, so are not conducive to upbeat positive feelings about life.

Anonymous said...

Am a parent at Holy Family Primary School and since the flood in Labasa during the first term, the children have no excess to library books because the books was destroyed by the flood. Even a child at the age of 6 to 7 have no knowledge of books in the library. We, the parents of this school are having a aim or a drive to bring in school library books for our children. We desperately seek your help - I can be contacted at (a concern parent): as books are the sources of knowledge to a child.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Leba, I just sent an email to you but it didn't work. Actually we did send over a hundred boxes of school books to Labasa, and labelled at least 12 for your school. They went to the Commissioner Northern's office, so you need to ask there if there are any boxes of books left for you. We certainly knew that your school got flooded and we immediately started collecting and packing a container for urgent flood relief for Labasa. Peceli was there two months ago and helped distribute the books. I don't know what happened then to your boxes of books.
w. said...

Oh my god, there's so much effective information above!

Michele Darmanin said...

How were you able to deal with the taxes and levy fees they want to charge you at Customs at Nadi International Airport when collection the boxes of books.??? Love to hear from you as I am experiencing this exact issue trying to get the books to Viwa Island, Fiji - Yasawa Group.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Michele, We haven't dealt with customs at the airport, but in sending containers to Lautoka where two containers were held up for more than a year because of the demand for about $20,000 in duty!. One was released after paying about $4000A. The Fiji regime seems desperate to money so pust the hard word on people who give gifts. It should be duty free for schools but sometimes they demand duty. I'll try and find the letter and post it on babasiga that spells out duties.