Vanuatu inherited from Britain and France two incompatible systems and languages of education for its tiny, scattered population as well as political parties, which defined themselves as anglophone or francophone - a recipe for a divided society. Since independence much effort has been devoted to ensuring that children follow the same curriculum whether in English or French. The bilingual legacy is dauntingly expensive.
Overshadowing all is the fact that secondary education is still quite inadequate, with a disappointing number of those who complete primary school able to go on to a junior secondary school, and only a few of these finding places at a senior level. Vanuatu still needs a great deal of of international aid if it is to develop an educational system to meet the country's needs. Since it was first founded in 1986, the British Friends of Vanuatu has concentrated most of its efforts in the field of Education.
BFOV Original Aims and Objectives
The aims and objectives of the association have changed considerably since the policy was first formalised. In September, 1999, as a first step in obtaining registered charity status the Annual General Meeting of the British Friends of Vanuatu endorsed the view that Education in Vanuatu should be the main focus of the association's efforts and available resources. Our main educational priorities were set out as being:
- the payment school fees in selected hardship cases
- the donation of books for libraries in Vanuatu schools (our involvement is rare since the Bank Line shipping Company - former corporate member - ceased trading);
- the donation of classroom materials and equipment in Vanuatu Schools in appropiate cases where need is pressing;
- assistance and hospitality for visiting Vanuatu students (the reduction in British development aid the Pacific means that it is rare for Vanuatu Students to study in the UK);
- Working with other groups and organisations to achieve the aims outlined above.
In December 2005 the British Friends of Vanuatu established a Charity in the name of The British Friends of Vanuatu Charitable Trust. The BFOV-CT is now the charitable arm of the association and deals with all our activities relating to education and the reduction of poverty in Vanuatu. Following discussions with the UK taxation authorities, Gift Aid status was awarded to BFoV-CT in 2011.
Each year the British Friends of Vanuatu fund scholarships to allow selected students to continue secondary school education in cases where family hardship would otherwise result in the students having to withdraw from secondary education. These scholarships take the form of funding paid directly to the school or college, in whole or in part, of school fees, boarding fees, examination fees and coursework materials, depending on the level of need in each particular case. Support is conditional upon recommendation and support from the school, an acknowledgement of support from the student and a commitment from the school to provide feed-back by way of end of term school performance reports.
The Richard Dorman Award
The Richard Dorman Award was first established in 2002. The award is intended to give some permanent recognition to the outstanding service and commitment shown by Richard Dorman CBE to the needs of education in the Republic of Vanuatu, both in his official capacity as the British High Commissioner to Vanuatu in the years from 1982-1985, but also as the leading member of the British Friends of Vanuatu from 1986 until his retirement from active service in the association in 2002.