The Butterfly Trust has decided to go ahead with facilitating the establishment of a new library in the Maskelynes. The main impetus for this project is to help improve the literacy standards of the community. Poor literacy standards are clearly a concern across all age groups. Mr Benson Tangou, the head teacher of Sangalai Centre School cited an urgent need for more literacy training for his teaching staff as well as an improved library with a trained librarian where students can have access to a quiet reading space and to carry out research activities. He stressed the need for reading programmes as a way of teaching students the value of reading for pleasure.
In Vanuatu, standardised tests of achievement in literacy and numeracy are carried out nationally every 2 years at the end of Years 4 and 6. Figures from the 2010 Annual Development Report indicate that only 17% of Year 4 (9 year old) boys and 33% of girls could read and write satisfactorily. The figures for Year 6 girls was 46% and 29% in English and French schools respectively.
Although the planned site of the new library building will be on school land, the school committee board, paramount Chief Kalmet Dick and the Butterfly Trust have jointly agreed that the proposed new library will also function as a resource centre for the entire Maskelynes community.
Apart from having to find a source of funding, the proposed project will require careful consideration of the different aspects of human resources skills necessary to ensure the facility, once built, will serve its desired purpose in the long term. This entailed visits to school libraries in urban Port Vila and the Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education for guidance from ni-Vanuatu staff.
The estimated total cost of this project is approximately VT1.7 million (NZ$24,500). The Butterfly Trust has submitted an application to New Zealand Aid for the bulk of this funding with some labour and materials to be donated by the Maskelynes community as their ‘in-kind’ contribution. Construction will be carried out by a team of experienced builders from the Maskelynes and overseen by William Ennis, a tutor at the Uliveo Rural Training Centre.
Also required are the services of an experienced librarian both for the initial set up and also to provide training to a designated library administrator. Butterfly Trust will also facilitate any follow-up support as required from time to time.