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6.2.17 Coefficient of Efficiency to Grade 5

Year

 

1994

   

1998

 
Province

%

MF

%

M

%

F

%

MF

%

M

%

F

Torba

71.3

67.2

76.9

82.1

63.7

107.7

Sanma

56.4

57.4

55.1

66.2

62.9

70.3

Penama

52.4

57.4

50.1

54.8

87.5

88.1

Malampa

102.1

85.2

124.6

57.7

51.3

65.0

Shefa

40.3

56.0

24.8

148.5

138.4

159.5

Tafea

43.8

46.4

40.9

55.5

55.2

55.8

Total

49.9

49.1

50.7

61.1

57.1

65.6

Urban

60.3

58.2

62.1

142.7

157.7

124.7

Rural

47.7

47.2

48.2

75.2

69.4

82.0

Source: Indicator 13 and 14

The coefficient of efficiency to Grade 5 in 1994 is 49.9% compared to 61.1% in 1998. From the Government point of view, this is a big improvement considering its policy of keeping all children complete a full cycle of primary education. Except for Malampa Province, the other provinces recorded high coefficient of efficient between 1994 and 1998. Shefa Province increased from 40.3% in 1994 to 148.5% in 1998 in terms of coefficient of efficiency. The urban area recorded high coefficient of efficiency from 60.3% in 1994 to 142.7% in 1998. The rural area has done considerably well recording 47.7% in 1994 to 75.2% in 1998. Torba Province recorded a high coefficient of efficiency with 76.9% in 1994 to 107.7% in 1998. Malampa Province dropped drastically from 124.6% in 1994 to 65.0% in 1998 for the females. The coefficient of efficiency of girls is higher than boys in all the provinces in 1998. In 1994 the coefficient is higher for the province of Torba, Penama and Malampa.

6.3 Learning Achievement

6.3.1 Percentage of Pupils Having Reached at Least Grade 4 of Primary Schooling who Master a Set of Nationally Defined Basic Learning Competencies

Subject

Reading /

Writing

 

Maths

   

Life

Skills/

Others

Province

%

MF

%

M

%

F

%

MF

%

M

%

F

%

MF

%

M

%

F

Torba

12.1

10.8

13.5

5.6

8.3

2.7

     
Sanma

13.2

12.7

13.8

12.0

8.6

15.9

     
Penama

10.2

8.4

12.2

13.1

10.3

16.3

     
Malampa

13.9

11.5

16.5

8.4

6.7

10.3

     
Shefa

14.0

9.3

19.0

19.9

18.1

21.9

Data

Not

Available

Tafea

53.0

45.2

62.0

70.8

57.9

85.6

     
Total

15.5

16.6

14.2

23.0

19.2

27.2

     
Urban

16.0

12.0

22.1

23.9

19.0

13.3

     

Rural

14.1

15.8

12.1

20.9

5.3

25.0

     

Source: Indicator 13 and 14

From a PILL test which was sat by 5,038 Grade 4 students in 1998, the results revealed that 15.5% of the students being tested for Reading and Writing pass the test, 16.6% were male and 14.2% female passed the basic learning competencies.

For Mathematics, 23.0% of the students passed. The female did slightly better with 27.2% passing as compared to 19.2% male.

Tafea province outperformed all the provinces in both Reading/Writing and mathematics with 53.0% and 70.8% while Penama performing poorly in reading/writing with 10.2% and Torsa province with 5.6% for Mathematics.

The urban area outperformed the rural area slightly with 16.0% as compared to 14.1% for reading/writing. For Mathematics, the urban area outperformed the rural area slightly with 23.0% as compared to 20.9%.

The overall scenario tends to indicate that the grade 4 children have not done considerable well in the PILL test, which tends to assume that they have not mastered basic competencies quite well.

6.3.2 Percentage of Pupils Succeeded in National Examinations by Province and by Gender

Year

 

1994

   

1998

 
Province

%

MF

%

M

%

F

%

MF

%

M

%

F

Torba      

8.2

10.8

5.4

Sanma      

24.0

22.3

26.1

Penama      

27.1

26.0

28.2

Malampa      

19.3

18.2

20.5

Shefa      

36.0

34.3

37.8

Tafea      

22.1

19.1

25.5

Total      

26.8

25.7

28.0

Urban      

23.8

21.0

28.1

Rural

     

25.1

24.0

35.0

Source: Indicator 13 & 14

From the Year 6 national examination, results revealed that out of 4,952 students who sat the test, 26.8% passed the exam. 21.0% were male and 28.1% female passed the exam, which tends to indicate that they master the basic learning competencies. Shefa province outperformed other provinces with 36.0%. Torba has the least percentage of 8.2 succeeding in the exam.

It is worth noting that in all provinces and in the urban and rural areas, females outperformed the males except the Torba province.

6.3.3 Year 6 Primary Examination 1990-1996

Year

Total No of Candidates

No admitted to year 7

Total % Admitted

Total No. Leaving

Total Percentage leaving

1990

4354

1028

23.8

3416

82

1991

4302

1029

25.08

3223

74.9

1992

4696

1011

21.52

3685

78.5

1993

4786

1041

21.8

3745

78

1994

4520

1182

25

3338

74

1995

4532

1582

35

2950

65

1996

4778

1613

34

3165

66

1997

4885

2060

42

2825

58

1998

4952

2306

47

2646

53

Source: Examination Office, 1998

From a total of 4354 students who sat the Year 6 primary examination in 1990, only 23.8% were admitted to the next grade. In 1994, of a total of 4520 student sitting the exams, 25% were admitted to Year 7, which is the next grade. In 1997, of a total of 4,885 students sitting the exam, 42% were admitted to Year 7. The trend shows that the number of students giving access to further studies at the Junior Secondary level increases every year. This indicates that the student had mastered well basic learning competencies.

    1. Adult Literacy

There are no recent data or latest statistical indicators to show literacy and illiteracy rate in Vanuatu. However an Asian Development Bank report on Vanuatu’s Economic Performance, policy and Reform issues (pp224) reported that:

"Vanuatu’s adult literacy rate in 1989 has been reported to be 68 percent for males and 60 percent for females (Tait, 1994). A joint Vanuatu Government/UN report quotes a 30 percent rate for both males and females for 1991. The latter figure seems rather low given improvements in overall enrolment rates since 1979. The difference in figures quoted may be due to the definition of literacy used. Nevertheless, both reports indicate that a significant number of adults are illiterate. A range of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) groups currently mount adult functional literacy programmes in an attempt to current the situation. In a society where youth do not play a prominent role in decision-making, it is important that key adults can at least read and write order to be more conversant with the ways of the modern world."

NGOs are the main key players in promoting Adult literacy Education in Vanuatu particularly the World Vision. One recent literacy programme managed by World Vision with assistance from the Australian Government aimed mainly at woman in the rural villages for it was believed that it is mainly they who have lacked opportunities for formal schooling. It is also recognised that everyone has the right to become literate. The programme was conducted in isolated areas on eight islands in Vanuatu namely Malekula, Epi, Ambrym, Tanna, Santo, Maewo, Torres and Pentecost.

Results and achievements of the programme are:

  1. Health – literacy has resulted in improvements in waste disposal, access to safe water, improved food storage and handling, and increased knowledge in child health care.
  2. Women’s confidence – literacy has given women the confidence to express their views and to speak in public. Women have also taken leadership roles and have been actively taking part in decision making. It was believed that to learn to read and to write is the key to new knowledge. The women who know how to read and write discovered for themselves a new way of life.
  3. The number of trainees changes each year, as the woman gained what they wanted. Some took up leadership roles in their communities, some could speak Bislama and migrated to the town of Port Vila and Santo for work. Some have gone into small business.
  4. Literacy had also led to improvement in community organisations by enhancing leaders ‘skills and encouraging them to be more open to active participation among villagers.

One of the lady participants has this to say based on her observation in some of the villages where there are literacy classes operating:

Before the men let their wives to do all the work in the house but today they share responsibilities

Before the men used to beat their wives but today, they have family worships together in the family

Before only young boys played sport. Today everyone, old and young men and women play sport together

6.5 Expansion in Essential Basic Education and Training skills required by Youth and adults

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is provided by various agencies, which operate largely independently. The agency with most involvement is the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports which has five main responsibilities in TVET: (i) The National Institute of Technology of Vanuatu (INTV) in Port Vila is the country’s main provider of post-secondary, formal, pre-employment training for jobs in the modern sector of the economy. Most courses are offered in French and English and are at the craftsman level in the areas of industrial studies, commercial studies, and hospitality and tourism. (ii) The Vanuatu Teachers College (VTC) in Port Vila provides pre-employment training for Francophone and Anglophone primary school teachers and Francophone lower-secondary schoolteachers. No provision is made at VTC for training of technical teachers. (iii) The Training and Scholarships Coordination Unit (TSCU) in Port Vila administers Vanuatu’s national program of sponsored scholarships for overseas training. Training is made available in regional and other tertiary institutions at non-degree, undergraduate and post-graduate levels for school leavers and persons employed in the public and private sectors. (iv) At lower-secondary level the Ministry of Education assists two private Technical/Vocational Secondary Schools (TVSSs) that provide a combined program of general studies and technical education. (v) The lower-secondary schools the curriculum provides for the teaching of vocational subjects (industrial arts for boys and home economics for girls) and they are offered in about half of the schools. The Ministry of Education’s Division of Vocational and Further Education (DV&FE) administers the operation of INTV, VTC, the two TVSSs, and vocational aspects of general secondary education, while TSCU is administered by the Ministry of Education separately from DV&FE. It may be noted that DV&FE’s main function and focus is on administering the operation of the secondary-school system.

Government ministries and agencies other than the Ministry of Education provide training for specific purpose in 11 separate training centers:

(i) The Government Training Center (GTC) in Port Vila provides courses in management, administration and office skills. They are in-service courses to upgrade skills of public servants.

(ii) The Finance Sector Training Unit (FSTU) in Port Vila provides a course in financial accounting, designed as an in-service program for Ministry of Finance staff but offered to public servants and the public. FSTU will be transferred to INTV in 1998.

(iii) The Department of Cooperatives and Business Development, based in Port Vila, provides training, including regional training, in cooperatives and small business management with special programs offered for women. Trainees are cooperatives staff and private business people.

(iv) The Fisheries Training Center (FTC), Luganville, provides courses in fisheries technology for fishermen, crew of fishing boats and extension staff of the Department of Fisheries.

(v) The Marine Training School (MTS), Port Vila, provides deck and engineering courses for certification of seafarers for Vanuatu’s domestic fleet. It is proposed to combine the resources of FTC and MTS to establish a Vanuatu Maritime College (VMC) in Luganville. Among other things, VMC would offer seafarers’ certification courses to standards required by the International Maritime Organization.

(vi) The Tagabe Agricultural College previously offered courses for agricultural extension officers but is not operational in 1998.

(vii) The Police Training College (PTC) in Port Vila offers pre-service and in-service training for police officers although its program has been curtailed in recent years. Agreement has been reached for PTC to become the Forces Training Wing under GTC.

(viii) The Nurses Training School under the Ministry of Health runs a three-year training program to qualify registered nurses for employment in the Ministry of Health. As demand arises, further training is provided to registered nurses to qualify them as midwives or assistant doctors.

(ix) The Nurses Training School in Port Vila provides pre-service training for nurses and more advanced training for midwives and assistant doctors.

(x) The Mechanical Training Center under the Department of Public Works provides occasional specialized training programs using imported expertise and equipment funded by bilateral aid donors.

(xi) The Trade Testing and Certification Unit (TTCU) in the Department of Labor provides short term training to informally trained tradesmen to assist them to reach certification standards. TTCU’s training programs have been curtailed in recent years.

In addition to the above, Government sponsored training comes from two other sources:

(a) Many Government departments provide in-house, in-service training for their staff.

(b) Foreign-funded aid projects provide training to staff of recipient government departments.

Non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and religious organizations also contribute to TVET, mostly in rural areas, in Vanuatu. (i) There are about 44 small, privately operated Rural Training Centers (RTCs) which were established by communities, church groups and private interests. They offer vocational and technical training programs to young people who leave the school system after completing basic education, with the objective of imparting skills that will be employable in the rural environment. The Vanuatu Rural Development Training Centers Association (VRDTCA) guides development and improvement of the RTC system. (ii) There are 8 independent TVSSs, mostly operated by religious organizations, which provide a combined program of general studies and technical education in Grades 7 to 9. (iii) There are about 70 registered NGOs in Vanuatu and their programs mostly include informal, community-based training with an emphasis on community, rural and women’s development.

Other agencies offer formal and informal TVET in Vanuatu. (i) The University of the South Pacific Extension Center (ESPEC) in Port Vila and a Sub-Center in Luganville offer three types of programs: foundations studies, equivalent to school Grades 12 and 13; tertiary level extension studies in units of vocational and degree programs; and short continuing education programs in specific skills. (ii) The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry devotes half its budget to training designed to promote business development. Course for specific interest groups are offered in Port Vila and regional centers. (iii) Two private training companies in Port Vila provide commerce- related programs with an emphasis on business, management and office skills. (iv) Most private sector enterprises provide in-house training programs, ranging from informal apprenticeship-type training in small enterprises to structured staff development programs in larger enterprises. Larger private sector enterprises arrange for training of selected staff in overseas tertiary programs.

Determination of the scope of TVET in Vanuatu is complicated by a lack of data on enrolments from training agencies and differences in available data and courses offered. A very approximate estimate is as follows. The Ministry of Education, 11 other Government agencies and other non-Government agencies provide TVET through about 70 institutions or training centers countrywide. They cater to about 1,400 students enrolled in post-secondary, pre-employment programs from which about 440 students graduate each year. Post-primary, pre-employment programs cater to about 2,650 students resulting in about 1,010 graduates each year. Continuing education programs, mostly short, post-employment, upgrading courses are provided to about 1,170 students each year.

Distance education programs currently offered in Vanuatu and those potentially on offer, are all at a level equivalent to those of upper-secondary schools, or offer degree or diploma university courses. Education in English currently exists, and education in French is planned. Education in French will be offered through the Association of Universities entirely or partially teaching in French (AUPELF) and the Grouping of Universities expressing themselves in French (UREF). AUPELF-UREF is an international organization of Universities teaching in French. It established its regional office in Port Vila in 1998. It plans to offer within the foreseeable future degree courses by satellite to students throughout the Pacific. Financial assistance will be available to students taking these courses. The utility of its offerings to Vanuatu circumstances will require testing.

The major provider of Distance Education for Vanuatu is the University of the South Pacific (USP). Prior to the introduction of the New Zealand Bursary Program in 1995, its offerings provided the only route to pre-university qualification available within Vanuatu. These courses are still available. They consist of two parts: (i) a Preliminary Program lasting one year, and (ii) a Foundation Program lasting two years. In addition, certain degree courses are available.

So far, the Government has been unable to organize directly programs to provide education for the disabled. The causes of this situation are not a lack of will, but a lack of the necessary financial resources. In the years since independence in 1980, the Government has on several occasions expressed a sympathetic interest in the disabled, but has found itself unable to take any concrete action to give it effect. The role that the Government has had to abdicate has been assumed by private and public benevolence funded both locally and from abroad. The principal sources of funds are UNICEF and a German charity, Christoffelblinden.

Within Vanuatu the major vehicle for the education of the disabled has been the Vanuatu Society for Disabled People (VSDP). This Society has a central unit in Port Vila and a field worker in each of the six provinces. The role of the field workers is to identify the disabled in all categories, physical and intellectual, to design and implement programs for each disabled person, and to secure locally the co-operation and particular resources which will make possible the development and education of the individual in question. Local co-operation has often been freely given, and has resulted in positive and important results through the efforts and class and head teachers. This has been achieved both because of the understanding of particular individuals and, no doubt also, as a consequence of programs of education and sensitization that VSDP has offered to Teachers College students for many years.

7.0 EFFECTIVENESS OF THE EFA STRATEGY, PLAN AND PROGRAMMES

Vanuatu has established a strong base for basic education through its policy of providing universal primary education which motivates parents to send their children to school. Having almost attained the target of Universal Primary Education, he urgent need recently has been to address and improve the overall quality of primary education and to further strengthen the secondary and post-secondary education in order to enhance access to and quality of the provision for students moving up from the primary level. The policy objectives and strategies which are more or less EFA strategies, constituted as a part of the Five Year National Development plans and other supplement General Policy Directives, has been effective in a number of ways in moving the education system forward into the prioritised areas. Some recent policy guidelines, coordinated projects for execution with external assistance and interventions by the Ministry’s management and professional units, are indicators of a positive thrust forward in education for all.

Pre-school education is presently managed by the communities. Kindergartens are more often attached to a primary school, so as to benefit from some common facilities. The average class size is about 34 children, and each teacher takes care of an average number of 19 children; 31% of the teachers are untrained. Generally, teachers are trained during a one-week course, with the aid of UNICEF and bilateral donors (Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and France).

8.0 MAIN PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED AND ANTICIPATED

9. PUBLIC AWARENESS, POLITICAL WILL AND NATIONAL CAPACITIES

Government from its part has always from the 1980s and 1990s regarded education as its highest sectoral priority. This is reflected in terms of its annual budgetary allocation of 20 to 23% of the total government budget to Education. This message is always referred to in all the budget speeches read out to the whole population of Vanuatu.

In 1997, the Government of Vanuatu underwent a process of Comprehensive Reform Programme (CRP) which involves a lot of consultation and awareness from the National, Provincial and Village levels. As part of the governments political will one of the Comprehensive Reform Programme priorities stated clearly that the CRP envisages a redirection of resources to the delivery of social services .. especially education, which is the key to personal, social, and economic development. Education is seen as playing a critical role in the whole reform process, contributing directly to economic growth by providing a more literate and better skilled labour force and being the most important tool for building an equitable society.

10. GENERAL ASSESSSMENT OF THE PROGRESS

Preschool

For preschool education, there has been some progress made through a seven year Early Childhood Education project funded jointly by organisations such as UNICEF, Save the Children Fund, CUSO and others. Through this project nearly 1,000 teachers were given basic training plus imported and locally - made play materials were provided to schools. An adhoc curriculum for preschool education was also developed. Preschool Provincial coordinators were recruited and funded by the project.

However, a lot still needs to be done to preschool education. As Vanuatu is moving towards the new millenium the following activities are required to improve this area:

  1. A comprehensive preschool policy needs to be in place immediately
  2. A proper unified preschool curriculum needs to be put in place
  3. A proper preschool teacher education program needs to be put in place at Vanuatu teachers college
  4. An proper in -service training program for preschool untrained and trained teachers needs to be put in place
  5. A proper management structure to govern the operation of preschool education from the national level to school level needs to be developed
  6. A school-mapping survey exercise for preschools needs to be carried out immediately
  7. Government should provide some financial assistance to preschool education

It may be likely that there will be greater pressure on Government to become more involved in early childhood education in the near future due to the Education Master plan. The Government’s proposed vernacular and bilingual policy itself is likely to draw the attention of the education authorities to the impact of the early experiences of children on their subsequent life and performance at the primary school.

Primary and Junior secondary

Considerable effort and progress is made at the primary level. Almost every child in Vanuatu attends six years of primary education. Access to junior secondary education has improved considerably from the usual 20 and 23% to 40 % of year 6 leavers. Other in-country institutions provide technical and vocational training opportunities for many school leavers.

Access to education for girls have much improved. At primary and junior secondary level the gap between male and female enrollment has virtually been closed.

Quality of Education

Work on developing a common primary curriculum has started many years ago. A lot has been achieved through the Primary and Secondary Education Project funded by the World Bank. In this project, some 200,000 books were produced plus about 100,000 textbooks purchased commercially and distributed to all primary and junior secondary schools throughout the country. The New Zealand Education Assistance Program for many years has been the major key player in curriculum development in both primary and junior secondary education.

At the junior secondary level, progress is still continuing on trying to finish the uncompleted subjects and updating the completed subjects. Quality of syllabi and examinations has improved, as has the availability of text - books and other instructional materials.

The teaching force has been quite significantly upgraded. After some years of government instability, the department has tried to ensure that most primary teachers in established posts have followed the two-year course offered at the Vanuatu Teachers College or have adequate teaching qualifications from overseas institutions. The level of competence in the secondary teaching force has risen. A network of trained Provincial Education Officers and Primary inspectors has been re-established but many positions are yet to be filled. Many primary teachers have and are attending in-service training courses run by the primary advisers on topics such as multi-grade teaching and teaching skills.

The development of the complete unified curricula for years 1-10 has been slower than expected. The curricula will not be in place for some time yet. Similar to primary there are still under - qualified junior teachers in the system. However, policy decisions have been taken run junior secondary teacher training in Vanuatu.

A UNESCO study on "Pacific Islands Literacy Levels" in the early 1990’s indicated that primary students in Vanuatu have literacy and numeracy levels comparable to, or higher, than other Pacific Islands States.

In the absence of relevant studies, it is quite difficult to establish whether the quality of education has improved or declined over the last few years. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that the quality of education in Vanuatu has benefited from continued attention by the Department and various donor agencies. Overall whilst the quality of education is still considered lower than in developed countries, much effort has been put into improvement in recent years with assistance from World Bank, Australia, France, New Zealand and the Government than the past years.

However, maintenance of physical assets have often been neglected due chiefly to funding constraints. Schools have not been allocated enough resources. Improvements to the physical facilities of about 52 primary schools have been done through assistance from the European Union recently. The government and other major donor countries like Australia and France have continuously provided financial to expand and renovate existing schools.

Steps have been taken recently as part of the reform process to upgrade the capacity of the Ministry of Education to plan, implement and evaluate developments in the sector. The financial control system has yet to be improved and enhanced. The important positions in the Division of Administration are yet to be filled in.

GAPS

However, there are gaps which still needs addressing in the education system and are raise recently in a Discussion Paper ER/12 during the current reform process. They are amended for the purpose of this report and are as follows:

  1. Access
  1. Primary school access is reasonable but requires continual rapid growth to keep up with school age population growth of about 4.5% per year.
  2. Secondary school accesses. Only about 40% of grade 6 leavers go on to grade 7. Only a small proportion in grade 10 go on to grade 11+.
  3. Gender balance. There is almost good and reasonable balance in primary but girls are an increasingly smaller percentage higher up the education system.
  4. Adult literacy. Very low by international standards. Little effort to improve. Non-formal education has a role to play.

2. Financing of education

  1. Costs of provision are high in Vanuatu compared to other Pacific Island countries. Providing education facilities in small isolated communities is bound to be expensive. There are many very small schools spread over more that 60 islands, each of which must be staffed and equipped adequately. It is however exacerbated by the need to establish separate schools for religious or language reasons.
  2. There is need for more resources to be injected into the education system to increase the number of primary school places, expand secondary level provisions and improve the quality of schooling. The reduction of the education sectoral budget by more that 20% during 1985 – 92 period, and the reduction in school fees in 1993 placed these schools in a very precarious financial position.
  1. Quality
  1. In 1998 only 46.5% of primary school teachers were trained.
  2. Trained teachers are not equitably distributed around the country.
  3. There is insufficient school textbooks, equipment and facilities so some schools have to do without.
  1. Relevance of education and training
  1. Approximately 3,500 school leavers enter the labour market each year.Most leavers (from primary and junior secondary) go into the rural sector without sufficient skills for employment of self-employment. The modern school system distances them from their parents way of life and one could argue that most would not have the skills to survive in the traditional village situation.
  2. Rural Training Centres provide some life skills training but have only a small impact because of their limited number.
  3. Only about 500 paid jobs are available in the labour market each year. However, employers find it difficult to find recruits with the right skills. There is therefore a shortage of ni-Vanuatu with high level and right qualifications plus middle level skills ("blue collar level").
  4. None of the existing post school training institutions are sufficiently large or well resourced to provide the necessary training for all but a tiny percentage of school leavers.

On the relevancy of the education and training, the following questions came up during the review of the Youth and Sports Policy, which are important when one is assessing the education system.

• Will the experiences of formal academic education (which include the frequent risk of having to leave school earlier than desired) help the nation’s young citizens to cope more effectively with the realities of life after school?

• Are young people becoming marginalised from mainstream activities of their communities? Are they become disadvantaged from getting into the employment market?

• Do family members see their children as failures when they come out of school and do not get a place at a secondary or a vocational training center somewhere in the country due to shortages of places and or the inability to raise school fees so that the youths can continue attending school?

• Are young people physically old enough to join in the gardening activities of their parents in the island communities and villages?

• Do parents have and spend time to speak to the youths and ask them what things they would like to be involved in, now that they experience school leaving?

4. Management

  1. There is a lack of proper adequate planning and management capacity of the education sector.

Literacy

Literacy can be defined as the ability to read and write in the mother tongue or in a national language where cultural and political realities may so demand. Numerically which is the ability to deal with numbers at a primary level is typically considered part of literacy. Literacy is often seen by many people as an essential ingredient for development.

Rene (1968) warned about the danger of illiteracy and its effect on people when he said:

"to try to understand, in order to try to choose and to determine what one wants, one must be able to read. In times when men are more and more dependent on the intermediacy of signs, to be unable to read means isolation in the world and this is true despite the proliferation and propaganda of images."

Vanuatu , despite having ecological features of population dispersion and different local languages, much of its population speaks Bislama, which is a version of pidgin, a Melanesian lingua franca. The official languages are English, French and Bislama. At the time of independence (1980) literacy in Vanuatu was estimated at 13 per cent for the over 15 population. However, the 1989 national census revealed an estimated literacy rate of at least 40 per cent.

The problem of solving or tackling the illiteracy issue at a national level has been neglected for many years. The Government has been directing much of its education financial resources towards the formal sector of education particularly the primary, secondary and post secondary including technical education. The Governments expectation is that any child who completes a full primary cycle should be literate, that is, be able to read, write and count. The Government is ignorant of the fact that many children who completed a full primary cycle might be low literate children who might still not be able to read, write and count.

Narsey (1993) reported the following in the Vanuatu post secondary education study:

"An indication of the massive skill deficits in the Vanuatu economy is given by the fact that 88 per cent of the economically active have either only a primary education or no education at all, 6.7 per cent have had some form of secondary education, 1 percent have attended senior secondary schools and only 1.5 per cent have completed some form of post-secondary training" (Vanuatu Post-Secondary Report, pix).

Special Education

The Department of Education had not provided for developmentally or physically disabled people. The ESCAP report on the review and development of Youth and Sports Policy (pp14) indicates that there were 120 people with disability needing education; another 95 were receiving some form of education. Normally, teachers have not been trained in the special needs of disabled, and many teachers felt, given the shortage of teachers and classrooms generally, that their normal teaching load was too burdensome to learn those skills. The report also revealed that the Ministry’s Sports Division advised that they have some resources, which could be prioritised for use by people with disability’s physical education.

Vanuatu is poised for significant improvements in the quality of basic education in the next few years. Its strategy for improvement is comprehensive and covers key dimensions of education such as upgrading the physical facilities and resources in schools, teacher education, curriculum, assessment, and advisory services to teachers, enhancing community support for education, vocational/technical and Distance education, literacy plus others. Currently there is close cooperation between the Government and non-government organisations but there needs to be more. For the last few years external assistance to Vanuatu is strong and consistent and this boosts its capacity to meet many of its educational needs substantially.

Challenges and aspirations

For challenges to the government, the following excepts from the reform Discussion Paper ER/12 (pp4) also apply to this report.

"Education is always recognised as a key factor to survival in the modern sector. Over 70 percent of children leave the education system at the end of primary school each year and this is a serous concern. These young people have neither employable nor other skills for survival in the modern sector. It is important therefore that the education system must seek to reduce the "gap-of-hope" within our communities which has also seen that the modern school system has distanced them from the way of life of their parents, and that they have not had the opportunity of acquire the values and skills for survival in the traditional village situation from their parents.

The gender preference of children going to and continuing at schools must also be redressed. The many existing traditional and developmental authorities must work together to address this issue".



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