Kiwanis International - NZSP Division One (Auckland and Vanuatu)

Text by Margaret Macfarlane - Kiwanis Club of Port Vila, Vanuatu

Jacqueline was an eleven year old living in Eton Village in Vanuatu. She was bright, intelligent, hard working and determined. Jacqueline had a dream - a simple one for you and I - and that dream was to go onto secondary school. She had few textbooks in her class. One book was shared by 7 students. They had few reading books and none were allowed to leave the school to be taken home for reading practice.
In November along with approximately 6,000 other Year 6 students, Jacqueline sat her Year 6 examination. This national examination tests knowledge in English, Maths and General Studies. On the basis of this test, only 1,300 students chosen each year go on to take up the scarce places available at the secondary schools run by the Vanuatu Government, private groups and Churches. There are no other junior secondary level educational opportunities other than 18 Rural Training Colleges built, staffed and resourced by their surrounding communities. Only 7% of the children "forced out" of the education system by lack of places find alternative places in the Rural Training Centres.
Jacqueline did not pass.
In Jacqueline's class of 18, only 5 gained one of those coveted secondary places. To the whole extended family, who for years had contributed their meagre cash income to pay school fees, this failure was a devastating blow. Education in Vanuatu is neither free nor compulsory. Families pay around 15,000 vatu ($200) for each of the three terms in the school year. Some families just cannot afford to send their children, especially when after this investment, the chances of success are so slim.
For Jacqueline, whose father had work and a small cash income, there was another chance to repeat the year and sit the examination again. The majority of other children do not have this chance. Most Ni-Vanuatu (82%) live in rural areas where subsistence agriculture is the main activity. The standard wage in rural areas for those lucky enough to have paid work is 500 vatu per day - about NZ$7.
So at the age of 11, they may never again have the chance to obtain a good education and perhaps paid work. Instead, they will work the land and hope one day their children may have the opportunities for a good education that they missed.
How can you help?
Eton Primary School, which Jacqueline attended, had planned a year of school revitalisation. Targetting the Year 6 class first, this program aimed to put in place basic schemes to try to improve the students' chances of academic success. The children would grow plants to sell in the Saturday market in Vila (the capital city). If the class could buy a treadle sewing machine, they could sew school uniforms to sell and raise money. Money raised would finance the number one priority - trying to ensure each student in the class of 28 had a full set of textbooks and had access to general learning and reading materials.
The Acceleration Program asked for donations of reading books, reference books, puzzles, educational toys, measuring devices, games, posters, maps .... anything you can think of that would help a Year 6 student improve their education. In these days of CD Roms, you might have a World Book Encyclopaedia set sitting on shelves gathering dust. Old clothes could be sold by the children to raise money to buy texts and reference materials. Once the Year 6 program and textbook acquisition was completed, the program would turn its attention to the other lower grades at Eton School.
Local aid donors and Service Clubs expressed an interest in helping. The Eton Village Community Hall (a solid concrete block building next to the school) needed repainting, guttering, louvres needed replacing and security screen put in the Community Hall Library before donors would assist with a photocopier and a computer. This "library" had shelves but no books. In time, it is hoped to have adult reading books fill the shelves. But the first priority was the school and there, for now, the priority was to assist the Year 6 class raise money for texts.
Can you help children like Jacqueline and her friends to help themselves?"
Click here to find out how to help provide a better future for the children of Vanuatu.
Click here to read why the need in Vanuatu is so great.

Kiwanis NZSP Division One home page / Horse race weekend in Vanuatu / New Zealand - South Pacific District home page

Page last updated by (David Fentress) on 8 February, 2015.
Your comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.