The Melanie Jewson Foundation is keen to continue supporting the schools of Vanuatu in a tangible way that makes a difference to the quality of teaching and the effectiveness of learning in the classroom. Australian schools enjoy the benefit of solid government funding that provides well trained and well resourced teachers into classrooms that are not overcrowded, so that the learning experience of students can be maximised. Students in Australia are surrounded by opportunities for learning and have access to resources that many in the world, can’t even imagine.
Mea is 7 years old and attends a school of 700 students, from Prep through to Year 8 in Port Vila. Her parents are not educated and earn their income, meagre by Australian standards, working in the tourism industry as cleaning or security staff. Mea’s education costs them 8 weeks of their wages each year. They work long hours but extended family support in Vanuatu is strong and their children are looked after by grandparents, uncles and aunts, older siblings and cousins, who may, or may not have been fortunate enough to find paid work. Despite the poverty, the family is happy, connected and loving. Mea’s classroom is equipped with desks and chairs. The floor has grass matting over the concrete and the walls have colourful displays of children’s work. Mea is fortunate enough to have her own exercise books and pencils and uses the school’s small library to assist her in her learning. There are 47 other students in her classroom with one teacher. Mea dreams of being a doctor.
Mea’s teacher was trained at the university in Port Vila and was excited to learn modern approaches to the teaching of reading and maths, identical to the techniques taught to Australian teachers, but with the number of students, the lack of resources, and the fact that some of her colleagues do not have a teaching degree, she has by necessity, relied on a traditional approaches that cater for large group sizes and require little resourcing.
The Melanie Jewson Foundation is providing Reading Benchmarking Kits, reading books, teacher mentoring and other resources so that children like Mea can receive the best possible start to her educational journey. Donations to the MJF go directly to the students in the school under the guidance, support and advice of local school leaders. We look forward to continuing Mea’s learning journey with you.