Following the successful completion of another school year at St George’s, Year 6 teacher Ms Walsh has embarked on a very different kind of summer break: working with a tribe on a tiny and remote Fijian island to provide training to teachers and support to their school.
Fiji is perhaps best known as a postcard destination with beautiful beaches and year-round sunshine. Ms Walsh explains: “Yes, it is those things. But it is also home to many tribes whose traditional way of life is becoming obsolete. Education is becoming more and more important as parents are realising that their children will need a good education in order to flourish in this changing world. Access to quality education can be a challenge for Fijian children who do not have access to food or transport.”
For Ms Walsh, the opportunity to dedicate her summer to helping educators in Fiji has allowed her to expand her professional horizons, whilst also ensuring that much of the knowledge and compassion she applies at St George’s can be transferred to another community.
“I hope to build good relationships with the community in order to share our skills with one another and hopefully make a long-lasting impact on the education of the children. I am also concerned by rising STI and teenage pregnancy rates, and hope that my work in Relationships and Sex Education will play a part in what I can offer there. I am hoping that this will be the beginning of a lasting and fruitful relationship to all involved.”
The organisation Ms Walsh chose to work with is called Bridge The Gap. It has been working hard for years with the local tribes to create a sustainable tourism programme.
“What I will be doing is different, as the focus will be on me growing relationships with the teaching staff and pupils, observing and assessing their needs and offering ideas, mentorship and lesson demonstrations. Anything I can to help with their professional development.”