READ TO LEAD- FIJI SPREADS THE JOY OF BOOKS TO FIJI PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Wednesday 15 April

Mrs Mary Bainimarama, wife of Hon. Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, today launched the Pilot Phase of Read to Lead ? Fiji, a nationwide reading program committed to delivering over 185,000 new children?s books to all of Fiji?s732 primary schools.

Read to Lead – Fiji Patron, Mrs Bainimarama officiated at thelaunch this afternoonwith Minister for Education, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy at the Pure Fiji Art Gallery in Vatuwaqa.

?I am indeed honoured to be part of such a significant project which is sure to inspire our young children to realise the importance and joys of reading and caring for books,? Mrs Bainimarama said. ?Ultimately we hope that all year 1 to year 5 school children who will read these books provided in the kit will be able to comprehend more about the world around them.?

The FIJI Water Foundation, the Australian High Commission?s Direct Aid Program (DAP) and Scholastic Inc, the world?s largest publisher and distributor of children?s books, aresupportingthe Pilot launch of Read to Lead ? Fiji(an initiative of local NGO Vision Fiji) to reach 330 of its targeted 732 schools.

Combined assistance of $200,000 from the FIJI Water Foundation and $100,000 from the Australian High Commissionwill seeRead to Lead ? Fiji deliver Box Library sets of 250 books per school, to330 primary schools. Librarysets include teaching resources such as a CD-ROM, reading activity guides and lesson plans.

Vision Fiji Chair Lynda Tabuya called for further support to enable Read to Lead ? Fiji to reach the remaining 402 schools across the country.

?The aim of this initiative is to ensure that by the end of year 5, children should accomplish the art of reading and comprehension. VF believes that improving the literacy level in our children is paramount,? Ms Tabuya said. ?There is an urgent need to secure further funding to this end, and therefore we call on the Government, private sector and the public to assist us in creating this generational change.?

“High quality educational books over and above those already supplied by the Government should be accessible to all school children in Fiji, so we felt compelled to partner with Read to Lead in Fiji on this worthwhile program,” said Roko Nabalarua, Chief Executive Officer, FIJI Water. “Read to Lead falls right in line with the mission of the FIJI Water Foundation, which is to give back to the people of Fiji.”

?The Australian High Commission is delighted to partner with Read to Lead and Vision Fiji,? said Margaret Twomey, Australia?s High Commissioner to Fiji.?By encouraging young minds to flourish through reading, Read to Lead can help build a strong foundation for life-long learning.?

?Scholastic applauds the efforts of Vision Fiji and Mrs Bainimarama to give more children in Fiji access to books,? said Carol Sakoian, VP, Scholastic International. ?We are proud to support the Read to Lead program and hope that the Everyday Book Box will help students in Fiji to succeed in school and to open a world of possibilities through books.?

Read to Lead ? Fiji was developed with the Ministry of Education and Library Services of Fiji to sustainably benefit primary school children through integration into Fiji?s education system.

Library Services of Fiji Director Merewalesi Vueti urged NGOs and groups organising book donations to work through Library Services of Fiji (mvueti@govnet.gov.fj) to maximize the benefits of their efforts.

PRESS RELEASE