Poverty, illiteracy and unemployment characterize the reality for the families living near the Ranadi dumps, a suburb east of Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands.
It is often necessary for children to work with their parents to make income for the family to survive, which prevents them from regularly attending school and receiving adequate education. This situation is made worse by the fact that the work is salvaging rubbish from the nearby dumps, meaning these young people are growing up in poor hygienic-sanitary conditions an everyday risk to their health.
The "Don Bosco" Technical Institute of Henderson has therefore launched a project to guarantee education to these children. This literacy programme serves the school-going age group but are too poor to attend even a government school.
The Salesians have come up with a strategy to maximise the chances of enrol the children who need it the most to the Literacy centre:
A survey of the locality to identify the children who do not attend any school at all is the first step. Then, the parents and leaders of the landfill-site are contacted and information about the children is collecting, such as names, age and gender.
To assist in getting the students to the literacy centre, are picked up in the morning using the school bus and then dropped back off again after the school day has been completed.
“Intensive coaching” in Mathematics and English are the only traditional subjects that are taught. The omission of the other subjects is based on the principle that in primary school all that children acquire are the tools for learning in the higher classes – and this is what these children have missed out on.
Therefore, the number one priority is instilling good values, attitudes, hygiene and so on in the children.
Students practice their hygenie skills at the Salesian Literacy Centre
Textbooks are not used, rather, lesson plans are created according to the needs of the individual. The system is “joyful learning”, using games, songs, and varieties of creative activities to communicate lessons.
Children are separated into groups according to their progress and speed of learning. Periodic evaluations are done, and the children may move to a higher level or to a lower one according to their performance.
The programme is for one year only, taking place over the full 12 months. At the end of the year, with the course successfully completed, results and certificates are awarded according to the student’s performance.
The literacy program is now looking at the possibility of creating partnerships with nearby schools, so that the children who graduate the course may continue their studies on completion.