Literacy Education Facilitator

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

Peace Corps has been operating in The Republic of Vanuatu since 1989 with over 900 volunteers who have served throughout the islands. Home to the indigenous Ni-Vanuatu and over 100 native languages, Vanuatu is an archipelago consisting of 83 islands with 6 provinces. On average, around 60 to 80 Volunteers actively serve in Vanuatu at any one time. Vanuatu is often referred to as the happiest place on earth and has a rich diversity of culture across the islands. The simplicity of life, island style and pace, and strong expression of collectivist cultural values is a beautiful strength of the country. Tourism is a main source of income and many tourists visit the main island Efate, and some key outer island destinations, from neighboring Australia and New Zealand. Occupied by both the British and the French until independence 40 years ago, Vanuatu has lasting influences from both cultures. From Black-birding connections with Australia, to Christian missionary presence in the 1800s, to US military presence during WW2, Ni-Van culture and tradition is uniquely expressed with these influences, while custom culture is strong and maintained through oral traditions.

Vanuatu has embarked on a 15-year National Sustainable Development Plan. The Plan, which is titled “Vanuatu 2030, the People’s Plan,” provides a more in-depth look at the previous national plan, which sought to deliver a just, educated, healthy and wealthy Vanuatu. The current National Sustainability Development Plan follows three main pillars: social, environmental, and economic. Therefore, the Vanuatu Ministry of Education has identified Literacy as a national priority.

Literacy Education Facilitators involved in this assignment will focus on building the capacity of students, teachers, and community members. Working alongside primary school teachers will be central to Volunteers’ service through collaborative planning including co-teaching in the classroom, designing innovative lesson plans, and co-facilitating teacher workshops. During Pre-Service training (PST), Volunteers learn how to incorporate alternative teaching methodologies, classroom management techniques, and introduce or strengthen computer skills into the Vanuatu education system in order to build the capacity of local counterparts. After identifying groups of underachieving students, Volunteers will establish systems and co-develop resources to directly improve literacy skills. They may also provide further Information Communications Technology (ICT) support to teachers, students, and school administrators. Volunteers also help to develop school resources including, but not limited to, digital and printed materials, libraries, and computer labs to provide a more well-rounded learning experience for students. Volunteers will be assigned to one school but may work with community groups and several institutions.

Peace Corps responds to requests for assistance from the most remote corners of Vanuatu. While most Volunteers live on outer islands, Volunteers can expect to live in communities with limited resources, ranging from sparsely populated rural areas to densely populated provincial centers. All Volunteers are expected to reach out beyond the school grounds and engage the broader community. Volunteers are typically clustered (placed within a reasonable proximity of one another) for safety and security considerations and due to the remote nature of living in an archipelago. Literacy Education Facilitators may be placed in an area that complements the service of a nearby WASH and Nutrition Facilitator. Both Peace Corps assignments encourage cross-sector engagement, however Volunteers are not typically placed in the same community. Volunteers may take on secondary projects in areas such as Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), climate change, gender equality, youth development, or volunteerism.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have:

• A Bachelor’s degree in any discipline and a strong desire to improve literacy

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

• Bachelor’s degree in Education
• Elementary Education state certificate
• TESOL/TEFL certificate or equivalent
• Classroom teaching experience at any level with primary level teaching experience preferable. Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable
• Language or literacy tutoring experience with children and/or adults
• Experience teaching large multi-level classes
• Classroom management experience
• Experience working within challenged educational systems, as well as with untrained or undertrained teachers and/or administrators
• Experience working with students with special needs
• Experience in teacher training and workshop facilitation

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

The national languages of Vanuatu are French, English, and Bislama, though Bislama is most commonly used in formal or business scenarios. In addition to the national languages, there are over 100 vernacular languages in Vanuatu, used almost exclusively at home or in social situations between Ni-Vanuatu people. Bislama is a pidgin language, meaning it is derived from several languages, mostly English and French.

Trainees will receive Bislama language training during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and must achieve an Intermediate-mid level of proficiency in order to swear in. Volunteers may enlist office support for ongoing language learning throughout service.

A basic knowledge of French can be useful as there are many Francophone communities and schools in Vanuatu, however Literacy Education Facilitators are not typically placed at French schools. Bislama has been accepted in many schools as a language of instruction. While the Ministry of Education’s national language strategy disseminated in 2015 supports and encourages the teaching of vernacular from kindergarten to class 3 schools, Bislama continues to be used mostly in urban and semi-urban schools.

Living Conditions

Volunteers serve on a variety of different islands where communities range from isolated rural areas to urban provincial centers, though Peace Corps tends to place Volunteers in rural communities. All Volunteers should be prepared to live and work in an often undeveloped rural, tropical island environment. Volunteer communities on the same island are arranged in clusters, but may be separated by several hours of walking, a boat ride, or a truck ride. Air travel by small plane is required to reach a majority of Volunteer communities. Because travel between islands is expensive, Volunteers seldom come to the capital city, Port Vila, more than once every few months. Volunteers are brought into the capital at no cost to them for the required trainings and learning events. Volunteers should be able to swim and feel comfortable traveling in boats, canoes, or small planes. Severe weather and natural disasters may limit, delay or interrupt transportation.

Most Volunteers will live in or near the compound of a host family and many Literacy Education Facilitators are placed on school grounds. All Volunteers will have their own house but should be prepared to interact with their host family in a way that facilitates community integration. Volunteers often share meals with their family and participate in culturally relevant activities like weaving mats, fans, or baskets. In addition, Volunteers will likely find themselves working in the garden, fishing/spearfishing, and preparing meals with family members. Other activities vital to integration may include extended conversations with family and/or community members, attending church services, as well as drinking kava at community nakamals (village meeting place).

Electricity might be available via a school generator or health center solar grid, however most Volunteers don't have running water or electricity in their house. Village stores have limited goods, while services such as formal banks, mail, or internet are not available in most villages. Provincial centers have more access to goods, and will have an ATM and post office. Transportation from villages to a Provincial center may be unreliable and Volunteers often rely on relationships built with key community members to manage accessing transportation. Cell Service such as 3G or 4G is increasingly common across the outer islands of Vanuatu.

Volunteers with non-medical dietary restrictions may have to be creative to ensure that a well-balanced diet is sustained. Locally available produce may not be regularly consistent and access is determined by the planting and harvesting seasons and Volunteer proximity to a market. Some Volunteers elect to plant a garden or help with their host family’s garden to diversify their produce. Trainees will receive guidance and practice during PST for sustaining healthy diets in Vanuatu and cooking island food (aelan kakae) with traditional stoves and on open fire.

Longstanding traditions and customs are still strong outside of the major urban areas. Christianity has been accepted in Ni-Vanuatu culture since missionaries first arrived in the middle of the nineteenth century. Village church attendance will likely be encouraged within communities and will aid in integration. Most communities have multiple denominations of Christianity and there is a large predominance of Seventh-day Adventists; some volunteers may attend church with their families on Saturdays. While Volunteers will not be pressured to join in religious traditions, participation can aid in integration and understanding cultural values. Volunteers are encouraged to seek understanding of and respect for the role of Christianity in the lives of the people they serve. Some Literacy Education Facilitators may be placed in religiously affiliated government schools and will be given adequate guidance to engage effectively and appropriately.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Vanuatu: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Vanuatu prefers couples to work in different sectors. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) and Nutrition Facilitator position.

Couples may not live together during the 10 week Pre-Service Training, but will live together once assigned a community for their 24 months of service.

Couples that are not married may be assumed to be married or expected to be married because of the commitment to live together. Marriage commonly happens after a couple cohabitates and has children in Vanuatu because the cost of paying a bride price is expensive and it takes time to save up. Many Ni-Vans living together may not be married but are working toward it; a US American couple that is not married will be asked questions about their plans to get married as it is a goal for Ni-Vans and being single or divorced is frowned upon.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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