Finally, a second to catch up a little. We have been very busy teaching classes, visiting post secondary schooling options, meeting with various government officials, contacting businesses about employment opportunities, visiting public and private elementary schools, etc. The church is making some huge changes in the operations of the church - especially concerning self reliance. The old concept of church employment specialists and centers will be gone. Everything will fall under the principle of self reliance. This also includes education. PEF will be an arm of self reliance. The new specialists and the new centers will be called the Self Reliance Centers!
This is a wonderful concept. We can clearly see so many advantages to this plan. For one thing, it will cover everyone from about age fifteen to whatever. PEF was restricted to eighteen to thirty year olds. All of Heavenly Fathers children need to be self reliant. All need an education. All need employment that will sustain family units. This program will assist all people to be self reliant, to be appropriately educated, and to be adequately employed. This will strengthen individuals and families, and the church and countries around the world!
This is the Eratap Public Kindergarten and Primary School. It is six full kilometers up a badly graded dirt road after going five kilometers down the main road and coming off of the Etas mountain. It is the only school in the entire region that is the Etas Branch of the church. The area covers about thirty seven square kilometers. It is the only school available, but it is full. There is no more room for any other children. Hundreds of children have no school to attend.
This next school is the Erakor School. It covers from first grade to eighth grade. It is a much larger school than Eratap. It has classes that are taught in French and those that are taught in English. There is no room available in the English part. This school is thirteen kilometers from the road to Etas. Of course, once you get to the road to Etas then it is another two or so kilometers up a much worse dirt road. A few of the Etas children do attend here. However, transportation is the responsibility of the parents. No one in Etas village has cars. So - it is a matter of walking the children down the road, waiting for a bus to come by, paying about $1.75 for the ride to the round about, and waiting for another bus (and fare) to go down into Erakor. After school the process is reversed, except many of the kids walk all the way home.
All the buses in Vanuatu are privately owned minivans. You never know when they will come by. You never know who will be driving them. Most of the mothers will not let the kids go on the bus alone, so they have to pay also. Even with only one school age child, the cost is prohibitive for almost all families. The schooling may be free but..... There are not even close to enough schools, the teachers are very underqualified, the classrooms are crowded (40-50 kids in a class), and there are very few supplies.
The kid were outside when we arrived, so I took pictures of the kids playing.