Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Namaru School – The Village Primary School

The students brush their teeth in the lagoon before school!
As a former dental hygienist, it was a lovely sight to see.
They all have great smiles with white teeth beaming out
of those dark faces. Beautiful!
Since we were the honored guests at Children’s Day, we had a chance to look around at the school and meet the students. There is only one certified teacher here, Mr. Bill, who is also the Headmaster. We were very impressed with the work and teaching materials in his Year 6 classroom. Everything is done by hand since they have no computers.

Even Angry Bird has made it to the outer
islands! Love the little ones~
The teachers handwrite all of the student lessons, tests, reports to community and government, etc. Dennis noticed that their six-year plan for the school was to have a computer and printer to make life easier for the staff.

This is the school. It is quite large. Note the gutters falling
off. Dennis worked with the men to repair this and catch
rain water so there will be safe drinking water for the kids.
Since the computer is in the sixth year of the plan and they are completing the fifth year, we decided to donate a laptop and printer, ink, a case of paper, surge protector cord, USB back up sticks, etc. to the school as an additional gift for use for school purposes only. In fact, we decided not to have a DVD player in it so it would not become an entertainment center! It makes installing software more challenging, but it will eliminate the pressure of others wanting to watch movies. And there is no Internet access here so that helps with this issue.

The biggest challenge with the computer was that no one here has ever used one! I would be teaching Vincent and Mr. Bill how to create documents and save and print them. They will only get the basics since I will only have a few days of training before we leave again.
Headmaster Mr. Bill addressing the boys before the Children's
Day Event began. The students marched around the perimeter
of the football field singing a song that tells parents how
important their education is and send them to school.
We all learned keyboarding in junior high, but they have never used a typewriter so it will be a “hunt and peck” approach. I am concerned about them totally messing up the programs by getting into areas they shouldn’t. Hopefully, other yachties will be able to straight things out if they do.
Once we got back to the island, I learned that the machine Mr. Bill calls a copier is actually a great Brother Laser Printer! That is wonderful since I only purchased an inkjet and the ink will smear in this humid salt air environment. I will return that printer and ink and send them more laser cartridges on Big Sista!
I love this school bell. We heard its nice
ring several times a day at anchor.
Unfortunately, they did not have a printer cable so for now they will move the document to be printed to printer via a USB stick. It will work fine and perhaps keep them from overprinting and using up their paper and cartridge supplies too quickly. Once they have the school generator repaired, they can try to install the printer driver and use the printer cable I gave them. Hopefully, my written instructions will be clear enough for them to do it!
In this culture, there is a separation of the sexes: the women
sit together or on one side of the church and the men sit
together or on the other side. The students were divided, too.
It has been fun watching both of the men work on the computer. Frustration and elation! Not much in between. Mr. Bill is extremely motivated to learn and is quick at catching on. He came onboard with things he wanted to create so it was easier teaching him with his own materials. We have set up a number of Master Documents so he doesn’t have to recreate them each time.
Neat classrooms. Every is hand written or hand drawn.
Vincent is a church leader and wanted to create several types of documents. He did not spend as much time with me due to his involvement with Dennis and the rebuilding projects, so I created a set of Master Documents for his needs.
I have tried to document each step so they will have a tutorial when I leave. Our thought was that if two of them were trained, together they might remember most of it! They seemed a little uncertain and requested one last review before we left.

Passing out our gifts to the school children. Everyone
received several small items: pencils, deck of cards, toys, etc. 
We also purchased a globe and several classroom wall charts for the children. Right now they are short on student text books, so we went to the Education Commission and ordered what they needed.

Written in Bislama. the spelling is not the what we expect.

Purchasing school books in Port Vila.

The school served us lunch and Dr. Elizabeth and
Martin joined us. They all watch us eat and then they eat.

The books will be shipped on Big Sista so they should have text books for the new term. Even with what we purchased, the students will have to share, but it is better than what they had. When Mr. Bill was working on the budget report on the computer, I noted that the government grant for the year was less than $7,000 USD TOTAL. Compared to what we spend per pupil in Michigan, it is amazing that they can even run a school!

Daily computer training onboard S/V Trillium
We both believe strongly in education and feel we are making an investment in the future of this island by donating the things they need. Some of these children will go off to upper level school on other island and hopefully will be the leaders of the future.

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