Vanuatu Universal Primary Education system, South West Bay School classroom, or 'skul.' This school was British before Independence. The U.K had less money than its French counterpart to spend on education so boarders here lived much as they had in their villages, washing in the river and doing much of the cooking. French schools were more lavish and students studied the official French curriculum that aimed to make them good citizens of France. The latter system had no impact on the northern half of South West Bay because it fell under British jurisdiction. Education and Christianity were often seen to be one and the same. Shells, weavings and feathers decorate the classroom making it a lively environment in which to study.
'Skul' (education) classroom interior. Initially the missionaries introduced the Bible as the main reading book first in the local language and then in English and French. And, the missionaries decided there was also a need to write what one read in one's own language so writing was taught. The beginning of English education was set up by the Presbyterian Mission.
Kirk Huffman (Honorary Curator Vanuatu Cultural Centre) has written that from the 1840's, western styles of education were introduced and run by Christian missionaries. However, it wasn't until 1959-60 that the colonial government of the New Hebrides began to develop secular education initiatives for local inhabitants.
"Modern education must be balanced with custom knowledge or a child will grow without wisdom, respect or an identity."
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- Summer 1981
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- Skinner-Jones, Ann
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