Vanuatu: Celebrating education

Education is widely acknowledged as a passport to a better future. But for many families in the remote island communities of Vanuatu, education is too expensive. Many young people leave school without a complete education or useful skills. So it was with singing and dancing that the Lorakau community on the southern island of Tanna recently celebrated the official opening of a new classroom at their local rural training centre.

Young people learn new skills

The Lorakau centre is one of 42 centres across the 69 inhabited islands of Vanuatu. The centres are supported by Oxfam’s partner Vanuatu Rural Development and Training Association and provide local ‘pushed out’ youth with vocational training in agriculture, carpentry, mechanics and home skills. Building the classroom was a perfect learning exercise for the students.

“The main aim is for students to ‘learn by doing’ so that later in life they will be able to use the skills they develop here,” explains Lija Tom, manager of the Lorakau centre. “There would be a lot more problems around here without the centre. Young people would just be hanging around creating problems, without jobs or any hope for the future. The centre has helped many youths to be self-reliant and to get paid jobs.”

  • “I helped make walls, plastered them, helped put up the roof, made the blackboard, did some painting,” says Kevin Tiraua, age 20. “When I finish my course, I will find a company to work for as a builder so I can get more experience. Maybe I can go on from there to do something on my own.”

Most classrooms at the rural training centres are constructed using bush materials and are frequently flattened by cyclones. But these new classrooms, built with funding provided by NZAID and donations from Oxfam supporters, will not only provide an improved learning environment, but also emergency centres for if there is a major cyclone or dangerous volcanic activity.