In March 2012, following discussions with the Education Minister in Kiribati, Ms Maere Tekanene, MAMA looked at opportunities for improving access to education for the primary-aged children in Kiribati.
There is a lack of educational facilities for young children in Kiribati. Young children and their mothers spend their days in and around their huts where they are at risk of domestic violence from unemployed men; they have no safe area to which they may withdraw for part of the day. Many children do not attend pre-school or primary school because their families:
- lack tuition fees for pre-schoolers;
- pre-schools in Kiribati are not provided by government and are attended on a fee-for-service basis; and/or
- lack funds for transport to school and food to take with them.
After liaising with the Australian High Commission in Kiribati, MAMA partnered with the Kiribati National Women’s Federation – AMAK (Aia Maea Ainen Kiribati) to build MAMA’s third Resource Centre.
This project will improve educational opportunities, in a violence free environment, for pre-school and early primary children in an under-developed community, stimulate interest in books and introduce children to English language. It targets impoverished children in Bikenibeu village on South Tarawa, Kiribati.
A library was built at the National Women’s Federation in Bikenibeu to provide young children with reading opportunities with their mothers in the safety of the Federation’s compound. The library comprises a small room to permanently house the books and educational resources, and a large ‘maneaba’ building on the compound. The library provides a safe, fun and nurturing environment for the 1500 children in the local area.
In many poor families the eldest girl is denied an education and held at home to look after younger siblings. The project would also facilitate gender equity by providing access to reading material for girls not attending school. Further, children with a disability are often seen as not worth providing with education; they would be able to access books through this project.