When the opportunity came up to travel to Malaita Island with my friend, Priscilla, I jumped at the chance. Priscilla is the National Coordinator of the Literacy Association of the Solomon Islands (LASI) and she was going with some colleagues to visit Sinasuu Village, where LASI has had a successful literacy program.
In addition to the visitors from LASI and COESI (Coalition for Education Solomon Islands), the village was preparing for the arrival of the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners (within the British Commonwealth, this is the equivalent to the position of Ambassador) the next day.
The successful Sinasuu Village Literacy Program was originally designed to meet the needs of illiterate adults, but kids started coming to classes as well. The nearest school is 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) away, so it was too far for young children to walk. By the time they were old enough to walk to school, they had already missed the foundational years of kindergarten and first grade, so many never went to school at all.
LASI helped the community start a preschool program. The community built a classroom from local materials and the kids were able to attend class. But the building is small and there are a lot of kids in the village.
Australia and New Zealand agreed to help fund a permanent school building and that is why they were coming to visit the village.
LASI and COESI agreed to help provide a curriculum for the kids that was appropriate for their age, in their own Kwaio language, that would be culturally appropriate. They were able to find funding to cover the costs of curriculum development, teaching materials and teacher training.
As you can imagine, the village is excited to be getting a school building and program which will help educate their kids right in their own village and in their own language.
We are pleased that LASI and COESI have asked SITAG (Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group) to write the curriculum and Tim and I are excited to take this on. Martha having seen the local situation will certainly make writing the job easier.
We feel excited and honored to serve the people of Sinasuu and help develop a curriculum that we hope will be helpful to other communities around the country.