In 2014 we started helping Samoan children significantly behind in their literacy when we partnered with the Samoan Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. A pilot programme in two high schools and two primary schools was implemented, with our role being to train teachers in the use of the Steps literacy programme and provide the schools with computers. The Steps literacy programme, developed by The Learning Staircase in Christchurch, is used in over 800 New Zealand schools and is kindly provided by The Learning Staircase free to Tongan and Samoan schools. This multi-sensory programme is carefully research based and combines computer activities and complementary workbooks.
Our Samoan pilot programme was successful and we continue to support a primary school there; however, our main focus is now in Tonga. We began work there in 2016 partnering with an NGO in the northern island of Vava’u, again acting in a training and hardware provision role. Success there led to the current partnership with Tonga’s Ministry of Education and Training, headquartered in Neiafu on the main island of Tongatapu. Our role is to train teachers to use Steps, build the capacity of Ministry staff to be trainers in the use of Steps and provide laptops to primary schools.
For more detailed information in previous reports see the posts below, including “Older posts”.
During August 2015, Paul Henriques, along with Gary and Brenda Bendall, visited the pilot schools in Apia, Samoa to assess the pilot dyslexia aid project. During this self-funded trip they visited the 4 pilot schools, and had the opportunity to also visit rural schools meeting with school principals and librarians. The visit to Samoa concluded with a meeting with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, where there was an enthusiastic response to continuing the project in 2016, and to work on a Samoan version of the Steps programme.
A member of our church’s congregation, Dr Paul Henriques, laid the foundation for this project in January 2014. A dyslexic person himself, Paul has focussed his considerable knowledge and ability to start a pilot project in Samoa, aimed at helping Samoan primary and secondary school age children, using a computer software and workbook based programme called “Steps”.
In 2014, with the support of the Peace and Social Justice Group, Paul met with the Samoan Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) to initiate the pilot project where 4 schools were chosen. Teachers and Ministry staff were trained in the Steps programme by Paul, who then monitored progress over the following year. The church, through the PSJ Fund, donated 16 computers to the 4 schools for use in teaching dyslexic students.