VANUATU PROVINCE TACKLES ENGLISH LITERACY

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College students often struggle with written, spoken English

By Len Garae PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Sept 12, 2011) - Malampa has made history by becoming the first Province to take literacy to the parents to promote literacy beginning at kindergarten up.

US Peace Corps Volunteer Neill Lamon Minish with the full support of the Provincial Education Office at Lakatoro, took the task of beginning literacy training to the traditional managers of the homes who are the parents, especially mothers.

South East Ambrym veteran teacher and headmaster Willie Abiut said it is common knowledge that year 13 secondary school leavers or even University of the South Pacific students do not know how to write proper English.

"Basically it is not the students’ fault that they can neither speak nor write good English which is why we teachers in South East Ambrym and Malamap Province have taken the lead to correct the tragedy by helping parents to play a leading role in spending quality time with their children from kindy level up, to mould their learning process at the beginning of their education," Abiut said.

In the case of parents who themselves do not know how to read and write, they are trained how to use relevant items and custom stories in their natural environment to help their children.

So far they have completed 13 workshops in ten villages in Paama, Ambrym and Malekula involving over 350 participants. In South East Ambrym alone, US Peace Corps Volunteer Minish said 100 parents attended the workshop at Senai. It opened their eyes to a new world of responsibility they did not expect, existed in the first place because they believed that reading and writing was the work of their children’s teachers.

Abiut has appealed to all parents both in Malampa as well as other Provinces to make a special effort to spend regular quality time with their children. "It also means that dad or both mum and dad need to sacrifice their daily kava dose to instead listen to their children read and check their writings for at least half an hour every evening," Abiut said.

Meanwhile Abiut, who is better known as a "miracle maker" in schools in Shefa Province where he taught, left behind a living testimony of his commitment to each school in the form of water tanks, classrooms, furniture and even fishing projects.

Any community in Malampa or any other Province that wishes the Peace Corps Volunteer to run the same workshop for them is asked to contact him on mobile number 569-0389 at Norsup on Malekula.

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