Learning With the People of Vanuatu: Education Students in Vanuatu
Education students, chosen from Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary courses at ACU's Strathfield campus, work for two weeks in Vanuatu in a program sponsored by ACU, Rotary and the Government of Vanuatu. They worked at a school in Arep, an outlying district. "The island we were on was quite small and remote, and didn't have running water or electricity," says Jess, one of the students.
They encountered a different culture, unfamiliar languages and living conditions, and classrooms without Smartboards, internet or textbooks. Half the school is taught in English and half is taught in French — both second languages for the children, who all speak the local creole language, Bislama. Teacher education is different too: "Teachers build up their hours of experience in a school and then, when they can afford to, they go to a teachers' college," Jess explains.
The ACU students worked within the existing school curriculum, supporting the local teachers, and teaching outside their subject areas if necessary, and participated in extra-curricular sport programs, community activities and celebrations. They made close links with the school and community in the short time that they were there. "Working with the students … was very rewarding," says Jess. "I found they valued the classroom experience much more because not everyone gets the opportunity to go to school."
ACU hopes to continue engagement in the Pacific Island community, along with Rotary Australia World Community Service.