Rebecca Sanda is a teacher at Matu Kindarten on Santa Cruz Island in Temotu Province. Kindy or early childhood education is a new concept in Matu Village. Children in the village only started going to kindy, in 2007 after it was set up by parents.
The first kindy class used a church building with parents chipping in to resource the class with wooden-carved learning materials like boats, paddles and trucks.
In 2009, World Vision introduced an education project for communities on Santa Cruz, which includes Matu village. Through the project, World Vision provided fuel and building tools for the construction of proper classrooms. The project also resourced the class with papers, crayons, buckets, books, toys, towels, exercise books, charts.
World Vision also helped Rebecca to secure a place at the Solomon Islands National University, where she graduated with a certificate in Early Childhood Education teaching in 2015. Since then Rebecca, returned to her village to be the communities early childhood education teacher.
Because she is not on the government payroll, the parents pay Rebecca in other ways, like helping her with garden work. Sometimes, they contribute money. To date, the class has about 27 students from age two to six, an increase from its 2015 intake.
Rebecca says the class is having an impact on the Matu children and the community are all proud of it. “We have good feedback from the primary school teachers who tell us that children who come through our kindy are now doing well in primary school,” Rebecca says. In the classroom, the children learn to recognize and write letters, numbers and how to sound words.
They also draw, colour, sing and at times Rebecca leads the children out to the beach or to the bush for observation. Children learn to name what they see.
“We feel proud when people in our village and nearby village and primary teachers tell us about the positive changes they observed in their children,” says Rebecca. “It’s a rewarding feeling to know you make a difference to the lives of these children.”
She says the children’s interest in learning is growing positively and she hopes to see more investment directed at early childhood education in the future.
The Early Childhood Education for Santa Cruz is supported by the Australian Government.