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Postby Vuanimasei on Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:40 pm

School's plea for help
Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Children of Nadi District School after school pose in front of the school signboard
IN plain sight and ugly yet boasting one of the district's worst kept secret.Located two minutes into the Narewa/Denarau stretch, the condition of Nadi District School belies the pride and history connected to this neglected building of learning.

It is at this school grounds where the legendary Jo Levula took his first paces, baby steps that transformed into world- famous strides today used as the Flying Fijians trademark. Levula is the first inductee into the Fiji Sports Hall of Fame. He is among the many successful locals who have emerged from this little known school, notable among them are the Tuidraki brothers and current Fiji Television head honcho, Mesake Nawari.

Established more than 70 years ago, Nadi District is one of the oldest school in the vanua of Nadi. The school structure has been neglected and is in serious need of repairs and fresh paint. It is in dire need of a makeover.

This is why the school is sending out an SOS call to old scholars and the vanua of Nadi, to respond in large numbers to a fundraising drive this Friday. It is expected that the eight villages of the province of Nadi and veiyasana, the settlements in the Nakavu area, will converge on the school grounds.

Each village Saunaka, Navoci, Nawaka, Narewa, Namotomoto, Yavusania, Maqalevu, Sikituru and Nakavu has been tasked to raise $1000 each.

Old scholars living abroad will stage their fundraising later in the year. Funds raised from the drive will go towards the school five-year development plan from 2008-2012 which includes the construction of a 20-classroom, double-storey block.

The school was established in 1932 and was first situated at Koroivolu which now houses the police barracks directly opposite Prince Charles Park.

The move to Narewa came in the 1940s after the yavusa Nakovacake agreed to provide a piece of land for the transfer of the school, to give way to the setting up of government institutions at Koroivolu.

The school was one of the six district schools within the vicinity of the old Nadi province that included districts of Vaturu, Sabeto, Nawaka, Sikituru, Rukuruku and Nadi.

With a school roll of 560, it comes in second to Nawaka District as far as academic achievements among Fijian schools in the Nadi area is concerned.

Headteacher Alipate Tuidraki said the school started in the 1930s and had classes one to six with about 100 students on the school roll.

He said the schools registration number, 1415, spoke for itself as being one of the oldest schools in Nadi.

He said there were eight classes when the school moved across.

"Most of the buildings that were around then have been replaced but we still have a building that was constructed in the 1960s. And we have tried our best to maintain that," he said.

"Most of the infrastructure in this school needs a complete renovation and maintenance. It has been a struggling journey.

"The last works carried out was last year with an extension to the administration office block. The school would not have been in this condition if the school committee handled the funds they received for the upkeep of the school. But unfortunately the school had to pay the hefty price because of the absence of a five-year plan."

Mr Tuidraki said problems began with the commencement of the Denarau hotel project where many students just looked towards gaining employment at the hotels rather then completing their education.

He said although it was good that jobs were being created, students and parents should be educated on the need to complete their education first.

Last year the school received a donation of $60,000 from the Sheraton's Westin Resort for the schools fencing project which was needed to prevent drunkards from trespassing onto school premises.

"This donation should serve as an eye opener for the stakeholders. The hotels in the area are always there to lend us a helping hand and we are grateful for that."

Mr Tuidraki said the teachers and the school committee have spent time searching for ways and means to improve academic achievements to surpass previous records.

He said they recognised that the school infrastructure and facilities needed to be improved first to create a good learning environment for the children.

He said a change in environment would facilitate a change in the students' attitude. "If we also change the condition of the current teacher's quarters to a superior standard we could easily attract the best teachers to come to our school," he said.

"If this happens then the steps we have taken will contribute greatly to the betterment of our academic achievements.

"Whatever measures we have taken so far is geared solely towards the improvement of our academic progress and we must be extremely careful if we are to make right choices and to achieve the necessary results."

For Mr Tuidraki and assistant headteacher Ilisapeci Vuniyayawa the school holds a lot of fond memories as they are former students.

Ms Vuniyayawa said back when she was in school, teachers were more dedicated to their jobs.

"My old classroom is still here. Back then, that building housed classes one to four and we managed."

"The school is trying very hard to maintain that building for sentimental reasons and also it's part of our history," she said.
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