A workshop was recently held at the Vanuatu Cultural Center (VKS) to introduce the revised editions of a series of books for teachers entitled Teaching Indigenous Knowledge and Resources Management in the Primary School.
The books form part of a Vanuatu Cultural Center project, initiated by the Hon Minister Ralph Regenvanu when he was Director of the Cultural Center, which aimed to strengthen the role of the traditional economy in Vanuatu following the launch of the Year of the Traditional Economy in 2007.
Attending the workshop were the School Improvement Officer Coordinators from each province, primary science lecturers from VITE, representatives from the Santo language project based at the Anglican Diocese in Luganville and a representative of the VKS Lands Desk.
Facilitating the workshop were Sue Baereleo, who has coordinated the project and wrote the teacher guides and Dolores Nwolgen, who is Provincial Education Trainer for Torba and has had successful experience in incorporating the teaching of indigenous knowledge in school.
During the two days of the workshop, which was opened with an inspiring address by Mr John Nirua of the Department of Education, participants discussed the importance of primary school children being given the opportunity to learn the traditional knowledge of their communities, as well as the knowledge which comes from overseas and forms the basis of the education curriculum. They then looked at the design of the books. These provide activities about traditional environmental knowledge to supplement the Primary Science Teacher Guides produced by the Curriculum Development Unit for schools.
These follow the topics and outcomes of the national science syllabus. Finally they discussed how teachers could work closely with the chief and members of the school’s community to strengthen the link between the community and the school, with all learning taking place through the medium of the children’s own language, and how the workshop participants could help teachers to use the books with their classes.
The workshop was activity based. One of the highlights was the participation of a class of children from Central School, who learnt from the participants some cultural activities which could be used to support the environmental topics in the books. Another highlight was the production of dramatic scenes by the participants highlighting some of the challenges involved in enabling schools and communities to work together.
The revised editions of the books are now in Years One, Two and Three of all primary schools and those for Years Four, Five and Six will be distributed when the new national curriculum materials for those levels have been developed.