Weekender

Master Tamani calls it a day

Written By : Mela Tuilevuka. After almost four decades in the teaching profession, Rupeni Tamani has called it a day. The Yaroi villager from Matuku in Lau was farewelled by
18 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : Mela Tuilevuka. After almost four decades in the teaching profession, Rupeni Tamani has called it a day.
The Yaroi villager from Matuku in Lau was farewelled by students of Draiba Fijian School in Nasese as he decided to retire from service on his 60th birthday on Tuesday.
Master Tamani, as he is commonly known to most of his students including me, tried to brush the fact that it was also his birthday during the interview but some students gave it away after they were heard rehearsing the birthday song in a nearby classroom.
“Oh, and yes, it is also my birthday today, I turn 60 and I have also decided to make my exit from the teaching profession today,” he said.
Master Tamani started out in this humble profession way back in 1971 as an assistant teacher until 1973.
In 1974, he climbed up the ladder as he got his first posting as assistant Head Teacher at Savusavu Government School in the Northern Division. He held on to the position for six years.
In 1980, he went another step further as he got promoted to Head Teacher of Savusavu Government School and he held onto the post for seven years.
In 1987, he came back to the Central Division to take on the post of Head Teacher at Veiuto Primary School.
“Being promoted as Head Teacher of Veiuto Primary School was the pinnacle of my career, as it was the largest primary school in the country at the time with more that 1000 students under my wing,” he said.
In 1993, just down the road from where he previously taught, Master Tamani was again posted to Draiba Fijian School as Head Teacher, a post he has held until Tuesday.
“I have enjoyed teaching, especially being in the classroom and interacting with the children,” he said.
Master Tamani said he loved doing classroom work with the children but he missed direct interaction with his students when he was being promoted to head-teacher so early on in his teaching career.
At Draiba, Master Tamani started a Character Education class as a way of interacting with his students from the junior grades to the very senior ones.
During his teaching career, Master Tamani faced a lot of different challenges but the toughest ones he faced was during his term as at Draiba.
“I came across two incidents here that I had never come across before,” he said.
“The first was when one of my female students got pregnant in 1993 and the second I think was in 2002 was when a couple of my senior boys experimented on marijuana just months away from sitting their exams,” he added.
Master Tamani said it was the first time he had come across such incidents during his career and he had to find a way to handle both matters in a professional manner.
“One thing I learnt during these incidents was that it was important to know and understand a student’s background,” he said.
He said, with the marijuana incident, he made an undertaking with the boys’ parents that they would be allowed to sit for their exams provided they take their sons to attend a Drug Awareness Programme.
“I had to think of their future, if I had expelled them just before their exams. Their parents would have a hard time looking for other schools to take them in,” he said.
Master Tamani said he was happy with his decision not to expel the boys as they managed to pass their exams with flying colours.
With six grown up children and 10 grand children to keep him busy after retirement, Master Tamani said he is keeping his options open.
“I have plans to go back to university or maybe help my brother out in running his school and maybe I will enter politics later on,” he said.
Apart from teaching, Master Tamani’s other area of interest is in the development of rugby at primary school level.
A keen rugby player, he is currently the president of Fiji Primary School’s Rugby Association and he also first introduced the 10-a-side Kaji rugby in the country in 1998.
“In 2002, with the help of Fiji Rugby Union, I managed to find a sponsor for the competition known as Milo Kaji Rugby but today it has a different sponsor – FMF Chow Kaji Rugby,” he added.


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