Kids stranded academically

Kids Stranded Academically

Vanuatu’s population is very young with the majority (45%) under 15 years of age.

A 2006 youth project survey estimated that 6000 school children were expected to end their education last year while only 500 were expected to continue into secondary schooling.

On the isolated, northern islands of the archipelago of Vanuatu,daily life continues in the custom village lifestyle hundreds of years old. Last January the arrival of Cyclone Funa changed everything – homes were damaged, schools shattered, food crops destroyed. Until now hunger was unheard of in these traditional communities. The simple village tasks occupied the day, along with the ‘dare to dream’ of schooling and becoming a carpenter, a school teacher, a nurse, or a pilot.

Education is not free in Vanuatu. These traditional communities do not earn the hard cash to pay for basic services. So the school fees are paid in the “custom tradition” – with goods such as hand woven “money mats”, firewood, pig tusks and shells. Yet when primary schooling is complete and kids must move from the village far across the ocean for secondary schooling, monetary fee payments are required. There is no money. There are no dreams for many of the kids. The students are academically stranded. Stranded too in their village lifestyle.

YouMe Support Foundation,charity is partnering with, is giving away a South Pacific island resort in a world first. Later this year some lucky people will have a comfortable tax free income and be the proud owner of Seachange Lodge, in the capital Port Vila. Funds will set up for cashless education grants in the remote area.

“You won’t find a better investment out there,” Rick, the current owner of Seachange Lodge, said. Since 2004 guests of Seachange Lodge have helped the proprietors, Rick and Wendy Tendys, to send desperately needed school supplies, and other goods, to these far flung island communities.

“The government does little to assist these people,” the Prime Minister Mr Lini admitted when he visited the area recently. “Sometimes all that is needed is only $US500 to bring a classroom into use”. That was before Cyclone Funa.

The Prime Minister was speaking of an area where one exercise book is shared between several pupils, and pencils broken into three pieces, to give the kids something to write with.

Qualified teachers are in very high demand and recently graduated students from primary school assist the younger kids. Many of the parents cannot read or write, but they too dare to dream for the future of their kids as the leaders of Vanuatu in the 21st century. How would you feel if your kids were not able to get a high school education?

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