Talks underway on teaching Vanuatu custom in schools

Discussion is underway at the Chiefs’ Nakamal in Port Vila this week, on how custom education can be included in the Vanuatu school curriculum.

Ann-Rose Tjiobang from the Ministry of Education and Training says a conference at the Chiefs’ Nakamal this week is bringing together views on how to keep Vanuatu’s custom knowledge alive.

Ms Tjibang says educating the people of Vanuatu about their custom, culture and identity is very important as “people have to know their heritage, who they are and where they come from”.

She says this week’s conference is one of many discussions that have taken place on Vanuatu keeping its custom and culture.

“The discussions are focusing on having cultural heritage and traditional knowledge studies and courses inserted into Vanuatu’s education system,” she said.

The Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Richard Shing, says he is encouraged by the role some schools in Vanuatu are playing in teaching custom and culture.

“It is good to see that the Lycee Louis Antoine de Bouganville is taking the lead in educating its students on the custom and culture of Vanuatu,” Mr Shing said.

“All schools in Vanuatu should follow the Lycee school’s example so school children can know more about their custom and culture.”

Mr Shing says he is aware of the work of another school on Pentecost Island that has begun teaching the custom and culture of Pentecost.

Mr Shing believes preserving Vanuatu customs and culture promotes respect in the society but he says many Ni Vanuatu are now adopting overseas lifestyles and are losing their custom practices.

Chief Viraleo Boborenvanua from Pentecost is another strong believer in the importance of custom and he says it is not too late to teach school children the custom and culture of Vanuatu.

“There has been many discussions focused on concerns that we have lost many of our custom and cultural practices but I think they are still here,” Chief Boborenvanua said.

“We are still keeping alive our custom writing through sand drawings but it is up to [each of] us to learn these practices. This is how a child fully understands their custom and culture.”

The conference on custom education was organised by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training, the Vanuatu Qualification Authority and the National University of Vanuatu.

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