Published on 24th February 2017
Nearly two years after Cyclone Pam swept through Vanuatu, Manua Primary School in North Efate has launched an Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) Resource and Research Centre for the four and five-year-old children of the area. Around 80% of kindergartens and preschools in Vanuatu were destroyed by Cyclone Pam.
The Tauawia Centre is not just a kindergarten but a place for finding out things, developing resources, training early childhood teachers. In Nguna language, Tauawia means the coming together of good people, and the facility will welcome research programmes, perhaps to document the process of early learning in your mother tongue for future bilingual success and lifelong learning interest.
Since the Cyclone, it has been a struggle for early childhood education, and kindergartens are now returning through the generosity of donors and those who know young minds need extra care.
The Centre is the result of a partnership between the Vanuatu Ministry of Education, Victoria University and VSA – especially volunteer Wendy Griffin, who has been working with the Ministry since Cyclone Pam to support the ECCE sector.
Victoria University Assistant Vice Chancellor (Pasifika), Associate Professor Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, said Victoria University fundraised over NZ$28,000 which is equivalent to 2.4 million vatu. At the Centre’s opening on February 14, she thanked the community and all donor partners for helping and supporting this initiative in one way or another.
“This great achievement is the result of this dream that brought together this great partnership milestone. This is our love to the children of Vanuatu” she stated.
Associate Professor Laban specially acknowledged Ni Vanuatu Dr. Pala Molisa lecturer at Victoria University Business School for his dream and initiative to assist Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu in 2015.
Dr. Pala Molisa told the eagerly listening children, “listen carefully, you are the most important people here, you are all unique and full of talents and abilities, your education now will help you become all the things you want to be”. He also added “when women are lifted up, the community is lifted up, when the community is lifted up, the country is lifted up”, something his mother, Grace Molisa, advocated when he was a young child.
During his official remarks, Minister for Education and Training Jean Pierre Nirua acknowledged the work of the partnership. “All the support and effort you put together to ensure this project is completed shows the good working relationship that has been established” stated Nirua.
VSA volunteer Wendy Griffin, who has been involved from the very beginning of the project, said “We were thrilled to have so many at the opening and the delighted to have Associate Professor Laban and Dr. Pala. Their speeches were uplifting, generous and moving. The atmosphere very loving and supportive, the children wide-eyed listening to the speeches.
“May New Zealand continue to contribute to Vanuatu in such a solid grassroots way.”
The Tauawia Centre is a partnership between Victoria University, APTC, VSA, NZAID, DFAT, VESP, MoET Education Services and ECCE, Manua Principal, Area Council, Community, Chiefs, children and their teachers and parents.