Rural postings are always a challenge. This rings true for 40-year-old school teacher, Vereniki Namositava. And he says if you happen to be teaching in a boarding school, it is quite a task.
Mr Namositava is a school teacher at Vunisea Secondary School in Kadavu and is also the school's acting vice-principal.
Vunisea Secondary is the only government secondary school on the island and is the only one that most students on the island go to for secondary education.
Originally from Naivucini in Naitasiri, Mr Namositava has great memories of his 13 years teaching experience at the school. Growing up in the city most of his life, it was a big change for him when he had to travel to work in an island school.
"I worked in rural schools before coming to Vunisea," he said. But those schools were closer to towns and transportation was mostly by cars and trucks. And the environment was very different.
To Mr Namositava, being a Fijian and teaching in a Fijian-dominated school, has not made his work easy for him. In fact, it has opened his eyes to what island children and parents face to get children to school to have a proper education.
He has also learnt that in such settings, teaching children is more than just teaching them about books and what it says, because teachers have to concentrate on the children's upbringing as well.
"Vunisea Secondary School is a boarding school, so staff are tasked with a lot of work," he said. "Most students go back home only during school holidays. Most of their time is spent in school.
"So most of the time when we are teaching, we are just not teachers, but parents and guardians too. It is very challenging."
And having spent 13 years in the school, for Mr Namositava, every day is a learning curve. "When I first started, I felt like a student too entering a boarding school for the first time. I was amazed at most things I saw and heard," he said.
"And sometimes we have to teach students basic things that concern every day living. "I guess students face a culture shock when they come in to a big school, compared to their village schools and more so learning in a big environment that is preparing them for the big world out there."
Mr Namositava taught at Ratu Latianara Secondary School for three years from 1990 to 1993. He graduated in 1994 from the University of the South Pacific with a Bachelor of Science Degree.
He taught for a few months at Suva Grammar School before taking up the Vunisea posting.
Mr Namositava's wife also teaches at the school. They have no plans of leaving Vunisea soon because they are enjoying their stay. The school has a roll of 250 children from forms Three to Seven with 26 staff.
Mr Namositava's challenge to teachers out there is to take up teaching in rural schools, especially in boarding schools. "Most times we take things for granted while in the city and towns," he said.
"It's those small things that mean a lot to most people out there."
Adapted from the Fijitimes.com November 5th, 2007