Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Veena Tilly believes if you are not working with children you tend to lose focus on reality.
A high school English teacher in Hobart, Tasmania, Veena has been in the profession for 35 years and is in Fiji working on an education-based project with the Rotary club of Bellerive, Tasmania.
"If you are not working with children, you lose touch with reality, with what is happening with children with their learning in education," she said.
"I feel it is important to maintain some teaching experience and maintain that credibility with what students are learning."
Veena has been doing charity work with the Bellerive Rotary club of Tasmania for the past eight years.
She is the brains behind the Lautoka Schools Project.
The project was set up in 2004.
"I came with a team in 2004 to help build houses at Koroipita Village in Lautoka," she said.
"While we were there I could see that we were going to have a huge village settlement, so while talking to Peter Drysdale (past president of Lautoka Rotary), I told him that building the shelter was one part of what these people need.
"We also need to have the other infrastructure and also education and health.
"I said I could help with the education part because that was my background.
"So I went to the school that most of the children were going to which was within walking distance.
"It was a coincidence that it happened to be the Ami Chandra Memorial School and my father was the first head teacher there.
"So I said to the head master there that I would love to bring a team the following year to help out in their priority areas.
"The head teacher at Ami Chandra told me then that his view was to have a school library."
When the team returned in 2005, they focused on Ami Chandra and other schools heard about the assistance being provided by the team.
She said the team of nine completed the library and medical room project valued at $37,825.
Last year, a team of nine completed the school's computer laboratory valued at $31,294 with 25 computers, along with computers for the staffroom, the school office and kindergarten at Ami Chandra.
She said once the team realised they could spread their wings by helping other schools around Lautoka, the project name was changed to the Lautoka Schools Project.
She said apart from Ami Chandra, the team has helped schools like Lovu Sangam, Saint Thomas Primary and Drasa Secondary.
A former Lautoka resident herself, Veena attended Lovu Sangam until her family migrated to Australia when she was 10.
Her father, Andrew Mudaliar was at that time the head teacher of Ami Chandra Primary School.
"In Australia, you do four years high school and then you do two years of senior secondary and then you have university or TAFE," Veena said.
"So I did that pathway and finished my teaching degree then I did part-time Masters in Educational Studies. Now I am working on my PhD studies," she said.
"I have been in the teaching profession for about 35 years. I should be retiring but just this year I have a new job as an education consultant for our school.
"My new job is to support that project. If I had retired I would still be doing something in the educational field and certainly this project that we have started here would be an ongoing project for me.
"I feel committed to the fact that to work with teachers you need the credibility because the world is changing so fast and education is changing so fast."
Adapted from Fijitimes Online