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NZ promotes literacy programme in Vanuatu

Hon Phil Goff - NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

28 January 2005

NZ promotes literacy programme in Vanuatu

A major new initiative to build child literacy is being jointly launched in Vanuatu today by Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Vanuatu Education Minister Joe Natuman.

"Forty Vanuatu primary schools will receive around 100 new books for each Year Three and Year Four class under a pilot programme to which our development and aid agency, NZAID, has contributed $275,000," Mr Goff said.

"The initiative is designed to increase literacy among seven to eight-year-olds by giving them access to illustrated story books designed to capture their interest and that are relevant to their culture and life experience.

"Similar projects elsewhere in the Pacific have had dramatic results increasing the level of children's literacy by two to three times the normal rate.

"The project works not simply by giving children access to books that interest them. It also involved training teachers in techniques such as group reading, acting out stories and retelling them, and drawing and writing captions to increase children's interest in, and benefit from, reading.

"It's great that New Zealand can provide its expertise in this area to assist Vanuatu to develop its most important resource for the future, its children.

"Education is a key area in which New Zealand contributes development assistance to Vanuatu. Currently only around one quarter of children there complete eight years of basic education.

"That is why New Zealand's overall contribution of $3.3 million per year for improving the quality and reach of basic education is so important," Mr Goff said.

During talks today, Mr Goff and Mr Natuman discussed Vanuatu's strategic plan for education and ways in which New Zealand could continue to assist in this area.

ENDS

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