Vanuatu to improve access to pre-school education
The Vanuatu government is to stage a pilot scheme to improve the reach and quality of pre-school education.
The Vanuatu government has launched a strategy to improve access to early childhood education.
The strategy called 'Strengthening Early Childhood Care and Education' is viewed as an important first step to increase school readiness and access.
The national pre-school co-ordinator, Jenny James, told Hilaire Bule about the problem.
JENNY JAMES: In all, there will be 60 kindergartens that will be piloted. 36 in Torba, 14 in Malampa, and 10 here in Shefa. With the pilot, we hope to be able to, by the end of the third year, find out whether it's having an effect on the learning of the children and if it does seem to be having an affect on childrens' learning, especially on literacy and numeracy, then we would like to roll it out to the other provinces.
HILARE BULE: Why this programme?
JJ: Well the main reason being that in the past, literacy level in Vanuatu has been very low, and we've decided we need to focus on the foundation, the foundation, the early years where, as research indicates to us that 80 percent of the childrens' learning takes place before the children enter into primary school. So we have decided that we will try out this programme to make sure there is connection between parents, and kindergartens and the community. Because kindergartens in Vanuatu are community-based not government run, it's all community based so we need to get communities on board, parents on board to give the support.
HB: Do you think that the programme will help to improve the level of education in the country?
JJ: Yes, I believe that it will work. Because we will be putting a lot of training, the teachers will be attending a lot of training to improve their knowledge on early learning, on childrens' development, and we will be supplying a lot of materials for the schools. Because in the kindergartens, especially in the rural areas there's hardly any papers, you know, crayons and things for teachers to use and for children to use. And also at the same time, making sure parents are aware of the development taking place in their children.
HB: Who's financing the programme? Is it the government of Vanuatu or the international organisations or other countries?
JJ: Australia, New Zealand are putting a lot of money into Ministry of Education, and from there the Ministry of Education is delegating the amount of money we need into sectors. And for this programme we have an implementing partner, an NGO, that's World Vision. And they've come on board to help us implement this programme.
HB: What is the current situation of education for children in Vanuatu?
JJ: A lot of children go to school, and a lot of children don't. One reason we've found is those parents who cannot afford to pay their children's school fees, especially in the urban where the school kindy fees are quite high, the parents cannot afford to pay kindy fees so children don't go to school. And in the rural it's the same, it's either the distance or the money to pay for children's education. So it's making a lot of children not attend kindy, and parents do not see the value because there's really nothing in the kindergartens to enhance their learning. So with this programme we are hoping that the parents will be drawn into the programme. They will participate in the programme working with the teacher to ensure that their children are getting the best before they enter into year one.
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