FEEDBACK from schools has ensured Rotary’s Dictionaries In Schools programme continues.
Well past its original target of a decade of donations, Rotarians from the Invercargill North club are still handing out Usborne Illustrated English Dictionaries to Year 4 pupils throughout Invercargill and surrounding areas.
Past president John Flynn said the programme was continuing because “schools wanted [us] to keep it going”.
Into its 12th year, Mr Flynn said “we were going to stop at 10 years, but the demand from teachers and principals has encouraged us to continue”.
Mr Flynn began the initiative after attending a Rotary conference in the United States (US) where he was inspired after seeing a stand with dictionaries which were given to every child in the US.
After discussions, Mr Flynn arranged for an Australasian version of the dictionary to be published. Now hundreds of dictionaries are given away throughout Southland during Rotary International’s Literacy Month in March, with other clubs giving copies to children throughout New Zealand and in some Pacific Islands.
Rotary Club district 9980 assistant governor Dave McKissock, who was formerly a teacher, said “education was really important”.
Having good literacy to communicate, spell and write well was important, especially when in the workforce and in society, he said.
Speaking to pupils at St Patrick’s School at the official launch of this year’s programme last week, he encouraged them to “use their dictionaries every day… learning literacy in your early days can help later in life”.
St Patrick’s School principal Callan Goodall said literacy was one of the keys for children to succeed, not just at school, but beyond school.
The donated dictionaries were to be treasured, as each Year 4 pupils were given their own, personal one, which meant pupils didn’t have to share the resource and made accessing one easier, whether at home or at school, he said.