Mercy School, Solomon Islands

The Mercy School was independently created in 2004 by a local Solomon Islander, Bev Komasi, to service the needs of largely Malaitan people who had moved to the Burns Creek settlement of Honiara – an underdeveloped settlement with limited access to basic services. She was saddened to see children unable to access education due to the financial constraints of their families and the absence of a school in the area. She was moved to single-handedly start educating these forgotten children.

Over the years, through charitable support and hard work, the school is now functioning and aims to provide a quality education to all students within the Burns Creek area, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Due to overwhelming demand, the school is struggling to house the number of enrolled students. At the beginning of 2014, there were six classrooms and a student population of approximately 680 children. To accommodate this situation, and ensure that no children were turned away from attending the school, each classroom housed about 100 students. These classrooms have no walls and the flooring is gravel. This meant that one teacher would teach from either end of the classroom with the two classes sitting back to back on makeshift chairs or on the floor.

Makeshift classrooms have been used to accommodate the rapidly growing student population.

Makeshift classrooms have been used to accommodate the rapidly growing student population.

A trial was held to begin a split timetable for the school, meaning that Years 4 and 5 begin the school day at 12:30pm, when the younger students has left and classrooms were vacated. To try and address the room shortage, a makeshift classroom has been constructed; however, this has been built on the only free ground the children can play on. It is also located between the other classrooms and, seeing that classrooms have no walls, it provides further distraction and only increases the noise level.

MAMA’s response

In March 2014, MAMA was approached by a representative of the School Board at Mercy to assist with improving infrastructure at the school to accommodate the growing student population.

MAMA will work with the school to build two new classroom buildings. The buildings will be designed by local architects and all materials and labour will be sourced locally to assist with generating income and employment opportunities in the Burns Creek settlement. Each classroom will accommodate 40 students and enhance the ability of students to attend classes and engage with their teachers. It will reduce noise from the currently over-crowded existing classrooms, providing a more positive and reliable environment for children to pursue their academic development.

The project will provide a learning environment which will allow all students to receive a quality education and empower them to achieve their full potential.

L to R: Paul Singer, Leigh Pirie and Mark Fraser

L to R: Paul Singer, Leigh Pirie and Mark Fraser

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