From Fiji Times Online (16 March 2005)

Alfred Taito follows his destiny

by Timothy Naivaluwaqa

Alfred Taito stresses a point at his teaching centre

INSPIRED by the thought of seeing children realise their potential to give them the edge to succeed, Alfred Taito has embarked on a journey to ensure all children in the West are equipped to excel.

After teaching at various institutions around the country for 14 years, the man from Malhaha, Rotuma, decided to establish an education centre to tutor the country's future generation.

Setting up the Kip McGrath Education Centre at Waqadra, Nadi, Mr Taito has started tutorial for children from five to 15 years of age.

Even though only three weeks old, the centre has already received an overwhelming response.

The centre has more or less stamped its mark as one of the few centres in the country dedicated to such tutoring.

Of the 120 positions available at the centre, 75 students have already enrolled in the program.

The number of new students enrolling is expected to be more than 100 by the end of the week.

Mr Taito said he always knew that teaching was his destiny.

He has had extensive experience in several schools in the Western Division and islands before he realised that he should take on the role of tutor and administrator. After 12 years as a teacher with the Ministry of Education, Mr Taito resigned to join International School in Suva where he was exposed to the school's primary and middle-year program.

In his second year at the school, Mr Taito was appointed year-seven co-ordinator, giving him the opportunity to liaise with teachers, parents and students on the hardship encountered by children.

"For 12 years, I was employed by the Ministry of Education.

"Mostly I taught in schools in the West including Ratu Meli District School on Nacula Island, Ratu Naivalu School on Waya Island in Yasawa, Nadi District School, Mulomulo Muslim School and Ratu Nalewavada Public School in Nadi," he said.

"In 2003, I received a certificate in Basic Education Management and Teacher Upgrading Project from Griffith University.

"The certificate enabled me to facilitate the transition by teachers from older forms of curriculum to modern subjects or methods of teaching.

"After spending two years at International School in Suva, I joined the College for Higher Education in Suva last year where I first came into contact with the Kip McGrath program."

The program, which is a worldwide initiative, is named after an Australian teacher who started tutoring students 20 years ago.

Mr Taito said after moving up the rank within a year from being a tutor at the college to managing the Kip McGrath Program in Suva, he decided that it was time to share the experiences and skills he had gained, with students in the Western Division.

The youngest of nine siblings, Mr Taito admits that he never dreamt he would run an educational institution such as Kip McGrath.

He believes that his decision was influenced by the words of his parents.

"I dedicate my efforts to set up this centre to my parents.

"I still remember my father, who passed away in 1997, telling me that the only way I would be able to succeed in the world was for me to use the pen.

"The pen is mightier than the sword," he said.

"My father told me that since I was not very good in the plantation, I had to use my brains to progress in the world, which I believe I have done.

"Now that I have opened the centre, I am relying on honesty and transparency from all students.

"The reason, mainly, is to to ensure that all the students who enrol in the course receive the highest standard of education and professionalism from the tutors."

Mr Taito said unlike other tutorial classes being conducted around the country by other tutors, the Kip McGrath education centres in Nadi and Suva emphasise the need for individual programs for each student.

He said the program focused on personal interaction with students.

It had strict guidelines which will make sure that all students receive the best that each tutor can provide.

"Personal attention is very important in the Kip McGrath program because we realise that each student has different needs," he said.

Mr Taito said even though it was a lot of hard work trying to establish such a prestigious institution, the satisfaction of witnessing the students' achievements during the course of the program would be an unbeatable feeling.

He said the centre's theme was "Tomorrow's Success Begins Today" pushing a high standard of service and maximum level of assistance to students.

Mr Taito said there were plans in the pipeline to set up a pre-school tutorial service to prepare young children for entry into primary education level.

He said he opened the centre not to disrupt or undermine the school system, as some people might think.

Rather, it was to compliment, supplement and help the hard work done by teachers in the country.