From 15 to 19 June 2020, an online workshop facilitated by two American based linguists developed skills of six participants based in Vanuatu. The participants gained practical experience in the re-versioning process in languages and were trained to share their skills acquired with others.
The initiative is a very first for the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET). Not only the whole workshop was facilitated online to overcome the COVID-19 travel restrictions but also it is the first time that the Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) of the MoET and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) join their efforts. Both institutions have been working in promoting literacy and vernacular languages in Vanuatu. Participants included officers from SIL and the MoET as well as a primary school principal from Tanna and a provincial trainer from Tafea.
Mrs. Felicity Nilwo, CDU Acting Principal Education Officer, said “This week was a milestone as it initiated a partnership between two long-lasting institutions in Vanuatu. This collaboration can only be fruitful, increase literacy in Vanuatu and develop translation skills. Over the five days, we planted a seed and we all have to make sure we look after it. You are now able to train others to the re-versioning process. Let’s make sure we share this knowledge”.
Mrs Marie Vira, Principal of Laukotai primary school in Tanna, commented “Having materials in vernacular languages attracts the interest of children in reading and learning in general. In only five days, we have developed over 30 books in vernacular. It was intense and very interesting. I can’t wait to use those materials in the school.”
The initiative was led by the MoET, with the support of the Vanuatu Education Support Program, funded by the Australian Government. The knowledge developed locally will be shared in other provinces to develop more and more materials in vernacular languages.