By Allan Cann

The poor state of the primary school facilities in Vanuatu, particularly in the more remote parts of the country, became apparent to Woodend Rotarians Allan and Shirley Cann whilst they were working there and in other Pacific Island nations as business training volunteers.

During the Canns’ subsequent discussions with the Vanuatu Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), the need for a new and better-appointed school building was identified at Mwast, a remote village on the island of Espiritu Santo. The existing school was severely over-crowded and in disrepair.

An agreement with the MoET and the Mwast community was finalised, under which Rotary undertook to purchase all the materials required, the MoET undertook to supply the drawings of the proposed double classroom and office building, and the Mwast community undertook to provide all the labour.

The Rotary Club of Woodend readily backed the project and gained great financial support from the Rotary Clubs of Wendouree, Swan Hill Sunrise (District 9780), Werribee, Yarra Bend, Kardinia (District 9800) and Santo (District 9910), as well as from Districts 9800 and 9780 District International Grants.

Work on construction of the new school was commenced in October 2019 and was about 50% complete when COVID-19 restrictions closed borders and schools. Then, Cyclone Harold hit early this year, devastating almost the whole of Mwast. It was so fortunate however, that the work done on the new school was not damaged.

The new building will comfortably accommodate 80 students and two teachers and be cyclone resistant.

In addition to the completion of the school building, a facility to supply a steady flow of water to the school precinct to service wash stations, flushing toilets and teaching aids will be provided. Once completed the school children and teachers will enjoy a much-improved environment.

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