Makeshift ‘kindy’

Selina Sulita with Buyabuya Kindergarten School students at Nadarivatu in Savatu, Tavua. In the background is Ms Sulita’s house which is now the kindergarten. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

AN early childhood education teacher in the interior of Viti Levu moved out of her home just so her 11 kindergarten students could have a “school”.

Selina Sulita’s sacrifice is proof that the unique bond between teachers and students is one forged in love, commitment and sacrifice.

Buyabuya Kindergarten School in Nadarivatu, Tavua, was destroyed in 2016 by Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston and classes were moved to the community hall.

However, things became uncertain when the teacher was informed early this year they could not use the community hall any more.

“We didn’t have any other place to go,” said Ms Sulita, who is originally from Navala, Ba.

“After Winston, we were given a small part of the community hall.

“I had made a small partition in the community hall by hanging up some curtains and we used it in 2017 and last year.

“When told we could no longer use the hall, it is difficult to start the year with that news. But I don’t blame anyone. It wasn’t our building to start with.” She said she spoke to her husband about their predicament.

“I was in Suva when I got the call about the community hall, so I asked my husband if we could use our house for the children.

“We moved out as soon as we returned to Nadarivatu and I’ve been trying to turn it into a classroom for the students ever since. “I now live next door with my husband’s family.”

Students from Buyabuya and Marou villages attend classes from 9am to 1pm. Students from Marou Village which is about 20 minutes travel from Buyabuya are escorted by Ms Sulita to their drop off point every day.

The “school” — a nondescript affair — with a mat floor and tin walls, is covered in children’s artwork and educational charts.

On one side of the wall is the school’s “library” — stacks of timber nailed together for a handful of books to be stored.

Near the door is Ms Sulita’s work table, a standard high schooler’s desk inundated with teaching materials.

Despite the meagre furnishing and limited resources, Ms Sulita is adamant that nothing will stop her from delivering the best possible early childhood education experience to her students.

Meanwhile, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Education, Alison Burchell, last night said: “We are aware of the unfortunate damage experienced by the school.

“However, on this instance, we have to refer you to the Ministry of Economy as they are managing this issue.”

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