Frances Hermann is on her third assignment with VSA, returning to Kiribati after two years to work with the Kiribati Ministry of Education (MOE).
Frances and husband John, who has undertaken two assignments as a Land Survey Trainer with the Ministry of Environment Land and Agriculture Development, were excited to return to Tarawa after two years away. “It has been special,” she says, “as we were welcomed by past friends and new workers. We feel very blessed to have settled in quickly - there were even two bikes waiting at the house for our use!”
As an Early Childhood and Care Education (ECCE) Adviser, Frances travels the country with an MOE team to meet with ECCE providers. An ECCE Act has just been passed in Kiribati, with the intention of regulating all centres and creating the teacher registration system.
The benefits of the relationship Frances began building in her first assignments are making themselves clear, she says: “The teachers ask to hear my ideas and are really welcoming, as they know me more from last year’s training.”
Investment in good ECCE is one of the most significant things a Resettling in Kiribati country can do for its people, setting its children on a positive, resilient path and providing a centre for a community. At St Marian Catholic preschool in Buota, Frances says she “chatted with a lovely Sister, and we could sense that her investment into the preschool made it the hub of that remote community.” She adds that she recently spent a morning with the Seventh Day Adventist preschool. “There were groups of children two to five years old, all joining classes for one to two hours. The roll is well over 100, with children attending two to three days a week. Many parents join in the younger classes to listen to songs, or they wait in the shade of a mwaneaba (open sided hall).”
“We feel very blessed to have settled in quickly - there were even two bikes waiting at the house for our use!”
Frances finished this assignment in June, and is confident that the MOE team is in a good place: “These are motivated, educated, supportive women who give me the feeling that I’m in Kiribati at the right time!”