PASIFIKA SCHOLARSHIP FUND
The initiative explained
The WFWP “Pasifika Scholarship Fund”, is a not for profit development program launched in March 2017 that aims to provide young adults from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu with opportunities to access empowering education programs in their own country. The program supports young people who are passionate about getting an education and who align their heart with one of the values and goals of WFWP: “Living for the sake of others”.
Local market, Port-Vila Vanuatu.
Why the Pacific Islands?
WFWP Australia focuses its Service Projects in the Island Nations of the Oceania region (Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Samoa). These regions are some of the poorest countries in the world.
The 2014 World Bank ranking of 181 nations according to GDP for the Pacific Islands is: Solomon Island (ranked 131), Micronesia (123), PNG (127), Vanuatu (119) Marshall Islands (113), Samoa (103), and Fiji (95). In these countries there is no social security; and education is not free, even in public schools.
For these reasons, and especially being these regions our immediate neighbours, we feel responsible for their wellbeing and development.
WFWP Australia is working hard to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, and promote lifelong learning. We firmly believe that people’s life and sustainable development can be improved tremendously by obtaining good quality education.
Today, 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women; WFWP Australia is committed to solving this social problem by providing these children and youths with education opportunities.
Where the problem lies:
Because education is not free in the Pacific Islands, families can't afford sending their children to school only until a certain school grade. As a consequence, youth and young adults do not fully complete their education and the workplaces are therefore taken by foreigners.
This creates a tremendous social problem: Islanders become second-class citizens in their own country. With the Pacific Islands Scholarship Fund, we allow young women to receive an education and feel empowered, thereby contributing to the resolution of this social problem.
Children walking to school, Tanna Island Vanuatu
Changing lives through education - Janet (2018)
A new Scholarship Candidate has successfully enrolled and is currently studying at SINU to become an early childhood education teacher.
With a warm heart that cares for young children and the quality of the education they receive, Janet aims at being successful and becoming a professional early childhood teacher. She enrolled at the Solomon Islands National University in March 2018, and is currently finishing her first semester.
“My favourite school subject was Social Science” she explains “I really enjoyed it because I learnt more about the wellbeing of human beings which has helped me to develop and has contributed to my current studies.”
Janet is a mother of two and happily married. She comes from quite a large family, having ten siblings (four brothers and six sisters). Her parents worked hard to send everyone to school.
Janet on her first day at SINU, Solomon Islands
Janet explains: “In the Solomon Islands many young people find it difficult to complete their education due to their family’s or own financial restrictions. School fees are very expensive, especially if the family lives in rural areas, which is my situation.” In fact, many students come all the way from rural areas which makes it even harder for their family or themselves to afford school fees.
In most cases, parents can only afford to send the first siblings of their children to school, resulting in limited opportunities for younger ones. Moreover, when no more finances are available lots of young adults end up dropping out and not completing their education, and with no qualifications, they have no access to higher paying jobs. In Janet’s family, only a few of her siblings managed to complete high school. Luckily though, a three of them were able to attend university: her brother graduated with a Bachelor of Theology and is now working as a senior priest in the local Anglican Church; her sister graduated with a Diploma in Nursing; and another one of her brothers is studying as a mechanic.
We asked Janet what her aspirations are for the future: “I want to support my siblings and those who go through the same struggles as we did growing up. I want to improve our standard of living and build a better life for my family.” She continues: “Through these studies at SINU, I want to become someone that people will respect and look up to for guidance. I want to become a good and responsible leader for my community.”
To conclude the interview, we asked Janet what would she be doing if she was not going to university: “I am not sure” she replies “I feel there would be limited hopes to achieve my goals. I would probably be involved in a small business that could support my family day to day.” She concludes: “As a young passionate university student, I am very proud that I received a scholarship from WFWP Australia. It is such a great blessing indeed to me personally and to my family as a whole. Our future is much brighter now. Thank you!”
Jenny on her first day at SINU, Solomon Islands
A first step: Jenny (2017)
Jenny is 32 and currently attending Early Childhood Education Training at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU). She enrolled in February 2017 and received the scholarship in March.
She was very excited to learn new skills that will help her become a good teacher. Ever since she was a child, she dreamt of becoming the best professional teacher in Early Childhood Care Education in Solomon Islands. She smiles, as she tells us: “I want to teach the children of Solomon Islands to become good students, good citizens and ambassadors for peace.”
With four siblings in her family, Jenny tells us how much her parents have struggled to send all their children to school: “The school fees were very expensive. My family had little money which needed to be used for the survival of the family.”
She continues: “In Solomon Islands, only few young people can complete their education through government scholarship programs; Aid donors; or if their parents are working in town. Most young people find it difficult to complete their education due to lack of financial support from their parents, which are often not working a proper job. So they only earn very little money which is used for the family survival. In the end this really negatively affects young people’s mentality and most of them give up on wanting to complete their education.”
Nevertheless, Jenny’s family has been blessed in the past. Her older brother was sponsored from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid) to study sound engineering at the JMC Academy in Sydney. He now works privately, recording music for artists in Solomon Islands. He recently visited Russia. Her younger sister studied accounting at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, sponsored by the Solomon Island Government. She has now returned home and she works as a bank officer in the capital.
Jenny in front of the SINU Hall
Staff and students of the kindergarten
Presentation at the kindergarten
Jenny has now completed the first semester of her course. WFWP Australia wishes her all the best for her studies. We will be hearing from her next time as she graduates at the end of the next semester.
WFWP Australia is now selecting new candidates for next year and is planning to expand this initiative to Vanuatu, focusing on high school students.
With your support, WFWP Australia will be able to effectively support many other young passionate adults into the development of their education and career.
Help us make the difference in the Pacific Islands! Support the Pacific Islands Scholarship Fund!
We asked her how she feels about her future now that she goes to university: “Now I feel that my future is bright. I feel blessed, and I am confident that I can accomplish my goals and dreams.” She shares. “I was very fortunate to get this Scholarship and be able to study Early Childhood Education at the Solomon Islands National University. I am forever grateful to all those who supported me through WFWP Australia”.
To conclude, we asked her what is she the proudest of now. She replied: “I am very proud of myself. I feel empowered. With this degree and my job, I know my future is filled with opportunities. And because of that I know I will be able to fully support the education of my future children.” She concludes: “I believe other passionate young people deserve to have their dreams come true. With the right support, I believe there is hope for us and a way out of this social problem. Education is the key to a better future. Not only for this generation, but also for the next generations to come.”
As a newly graduated teacher, Jenny will be employed in a local Kindergarten in Honiara, the New Hope Academy (NHA) Kindergarten. WFWP Australia has been supporting this kindergarten for years. In 2016, with 2’500 AUD$, WFWP Australia donated solar panels to provide electricity to the building. As the school is now expanding into a primary school, new teachers will be needed. Jenny has visited the Kindergarten during her assignment period.