Professional training in the art of caring for the citizens of the future who are still in early childhood is an investment in a country's future. The Australia-Pacific Technical College is helping the government of Vanuatu achieve its goal of training more early-childhood educators for the country's growing number of children.
Most early-childhood educators work in kindergartens, pre-school centres, play schools and the like. In countries where the populations are growing, and where in some cases mothers are taking on work outside the home, facilities for caring for young children are expanding in number and dedicated and trained professionals are needed to staff them.
An excellent example of the kind of committed person the profession of early-childhood education attracts is Meriam Lini of Vanuatu. Meriam studied Children's Services at the Australia-Pacific Technical College's training centre at Vila North Primary School, graduating at Certificate III level. She found, she said, that the quality and quantity of both her own performance and that of the school where she was working greatly improved as a result.
But Meriam was not going to rest on her laurels. In 2011 she travelled to Fiji for further study, enrolling in the Diploma course in Children's Services at the APTC's Namaka campus. Here, one of the advantages she enjoyed was exchanging views and experiences with other Children's Services students from around the Pacific.
Meriam's presence in the Diploma course was in part the result of a drive to increase the number of Children's Services students from the outer islands and provinces of Vanuatu. Because of a growing population and particularly strong need for early-childhood educators in community and school settings, the government of Vanuatu, with the active cooperation of the APTC, is anxious to provide as much opportunity as possible for people to study in this area.
Meriam was recruited for further education because with her earlier APTC training she was already a leader in early childhood education in her home province. Now, having completed the Diploma of Children's Services, she has the additional knowledge and understanding to be a mentor to her professional colleagues in the province. By addressing issues of staff training needs, lesson preparation and better hygiene practices, Children's' Services graduates like Meriam are achieving more in their field and enrolments in early-childhood facilities have increased as a result.
Meriam plans to assist other kindergartens in her province to improve their standards as well. Providing the best for a country's young children - it is hard to imagine a more valuable contribution to the future of Vanuatu.