Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Dictionary Project Targets Australia

Words:  Past Rotary International President Bill Boyd, Trustee of the Bill and Lorna Boyd Charitable Trust
At the South Pacific Presidents Elect Training Seminar, a friendly Australian asked me why the Dictionary project was so successful in New Zealand, yet does not exist in Australia. In New Zealand, with a population smaller than that of Sydney, since 2008 we have through Rotary given 120,000 dictionaries, mostly to year 4 children in schools in lower socio-economic areas, but also to prisons and every child that goes through the Refugee Resettlement Centre, and these become the personal property of the recipient. This is important, as teachers tell us that some of these children live in homes without one book. An added benefit for Rotary is that when the children write their name, it is on a page that shows the donor Rotary club and a simple Four-Way Test so that every dictionary spreads an awareness of Rotary.
While technology in schools is increasing, you cannot expect a home without a book to have a computer and interestingly we are finding that schools equipping children with tablets through various schemes still ask their Rotary club to continue our dictionary project. Not all, for some are 100% focussed on technology, but many teachers still see the value of the written word.
Our dictionary is not a dull and boring book. It has 10,000 entries and 25,000 definitions and most importantly over 1000 illustrations and colour on every page. The retail price is over $NZ30 and you can calculate the value of Rotary’s gift to our communities.
The project is made possible by the Bill and Lorna Boyd Charitable Trust, funded by Rotarians after Bill’s year as President of Rotary International. The Trust gives us the financial ability to import dictionaries in shipments of 20,000 copies and to pay the publisher as soon as the shipment arrives directly from the printer in Dubai. Rotary clubs then buy the dictionaries from the Trust at $NZ9.50 each which rebuilds the Trust’s funds. You can appreciate that supplying a class of 25 children is within the financial resources of even small clubs and in some areas clubs have the support of local Trusts.
Last year clubs ordered 17% more copies than the year before, so we are far from having saturated the market!
The need if Australians want their own dictionary project is to find a funding source that can provide the seed funds for each shipment. Once this is available it is not difficult to gain the support of Rotarians to run the project and it becomes a magic Rotary moment to be at a school and to have a child put their name in what becomes their own book.