|Background information on Vanuatu|
Vanuatu is ranked third worst in the Pacific in terms of the Human Poverty Index. GDP is in decline. The economy is growing at an average of 1%, while population is growing at 3.5% p. a. with hot spots in pre-urban settlements up to 5.4%. 43% of the population is less than 15. Demand for education, health and employment opportunities are likely to grow. 1 in 4 of all Ni-Vanuatu is illiterate. 66% of adults are illiterate. 1 in 4 children under 5 are underweight. 1 in 5 children has stunted growth. 20% of the population do not have access to health services. Only 7% of rural households and 61% of urban households have access to electricity. For the 16 year age group, only 30 per cent of the rural population and 58% of urban counterparts attended school. Vanuatu has one of the highest dependency ratios in the Pacific with 54% of the population between 15-64 deemed economically active. Of the economically active population, only 25% are in paid employment, while 67% are in subsistence farming. Only 500 new jobs are available each year, leaving the 3,500 per year school leavers without hope of a position in the paid employment sector. Of the 6,000 children sitting the gated Year 6 exam, only 1,300 will find secondary school places - the others will be forced out of the formal education system and have no chance for the rest of their lives at further formal education in an education sector that consumes up to 25% of the annual Government of Vanuatu budget. Of the 6,000 Grade 1 students entering the formal education system, 0.59% will go onto undergraduate study, yet the education system focuses and tunnels funding and human resources to this end.
The education system in Vanuatu is caught in the elitist educational tunnel (which most of the world followed until the move away to broader, more inclusive education models in the 1970's) of moving a child forward from Grade 1 to University level standard.
In Vanuatu the attrition rate is savage and with significant social, political, cultural and economic implications. The education system consists of 6 years of primary school education (Years 1-6), 4 years of junior secondary education (years 7-10) and 3 years of senior secondary school (Years 11-13). Progression though the system is determined by national "gated" examinations at Years 6, 10, 12 and 13. Year 6 exams are set and marked in country, the others by the South Pacific Board of Educational Assessment (SPBEA).
In the Year 2000, it is chilling to compare the cohort of 6,600 that entered Grade 1 in the year 2000 with the total of 49 who finished Year 14. In other words, only 2% of the age cohort complete the entire primary and secondary cycle. Only 0.59% can expect to survive this savage attrition rate, receive a scholarship and go on to undergraduate education where there is a further 21% failure to complete rate at undergraduate level.
The exponential inclusion/exclusion process contributes significantly to the rural/urban polarisation and to rural/urban drift. These "push-outs", forced back into rural communities or drifting to town in search of employment may be regarded as Vanuatu's time bomb or volcano. Access to education is a therefore serious issue with significant implications for the type of social and political unrest seen in Papua New Guinea, the Solomons, Bouganville and Fiji.
In 1989, there were 30,380 children in the formal education sector. In 1995, this demand for school places had grown to 39,410 and by 2000, 49,707 children were being educated in schools managed or assisted by the Government of Vanuatu through the Ministry of Education. Access to educational opportunities, facilities and resources is under stress at all levels. The Ministry of Education has limited financial, human and physical resources to deal with the situation.
For this reason, schools and parents are asked to buy most of their own textbooks. 82% of Vanuatu's population live in rural areas and most of these rely on subsistence agriculture. The cost of school fees alone is a crippling burden when total family income in one year might be around $1,500. The purchase of text books and learning resources is problematic, especially if you are not part of the formal cash economy.
Click here to read the letter from the Kiwanis Club of Port Vila requesting assistance.
Click here to find out how your club can help provide a better future for the children of Vanuatu.
Kiwanis NZSP Division One home page / Horse race weekend in Vanuatu / New Zealand - South Pacific District home page