The Government of Vanuatu's vision is that all children will have access to quality early childhood care and education and they will achieve their full potential, will be healthy, well-nourished and safe and be prepared for achieving success in school and life. (Vanuatu Early Childhood Care and Education Policy, August 2010)
However, the reality is still far from that vision. In 2010, The Vanuatu Early Grade Reading Assessment (VANEGRA) was completed in selected schools across the country. Results showed that over 30% of children starting school had no functional knowledge of the alphabet. By the end of Grade 3, only 25% of students were able to understand most of the text they read.
Since that time, despite acknowledgement that literacy and numeracy rates are falling and despite extensive investment by aid donors, there is little evidence of positive change. Currently only 1% of Vanuatu's education budget is spent on ECCE. The 2011 data from VEMIS (Vanuatu Education Management Information System) reveals that the net enrolment rate in ECCE programs was only 41% for pre-primary education.
Parents are keeping their children at home until they are older than the ideal age. Community consultations reveal that many parents simply do not value early education and do not feel connected to ECCE centres in the community (National Early Childhood Care and Education Framework)
However international findings show an individual's earliest learning forms a critical phase in his or her life. Given the recognised importance of early learning we believe that access to quality ECCE should be a right to which all children are entitled. Sadly in Vanuatu the opposite is true.
We are working to bring that right to the children of Vanuatu.