Australia Day 2016 saw Andrew and Anke MacLean arrive in Solomon Islands, ready to begin their 18-month-long volunteer assignments at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Henderson. Anke works with the Communications Department, whilst Andrew is mentoring a range of teachers and supporting the principal.
Don Bosco Technical Institute enrols young adults from across Solomon Islands to study and practice skills courses in Automotive Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Machine Fitting & Maintenance, Carpentry & Construction, and Life Skills (hospitality & textiles). The school also runs shorter courses in Fabrication & Welding and Information Technology maintenance. All courses include an on-the-job training period of work experience. The school in Henderson has a reputation for growing knowledgeable and reliable citizens who are valued throughout the islands.
“Having a volunteer to support our Communications Skills curriculum is very important,” said school rector, Father Dominic Kachira. “Speaking, reading and writing good English in the workplace are skills that will open doors to our students. It will give them access to new information and research and they will be able to communicate well with workers and visitors to Solomon Islands. Practicing workplace communication lets them prepare for the process of finding work, too.”
School principal, Father Srimal Priyanga, said, “The staff here benefit from learning teaching strategies and skills from their mentor. Good teachers are learning all the time and having a professional learning program grounded in practical teaching strategies that they can apply to their classrooms means that teachers and students all benefit.”
Anke says that the personal and professional relationships with students and staff are a highlight of her time so far. “The teachers work so hard to get the best from their students,” she said. “And the students themselves work hard too! English is often a third or fourth language for these young people, but that doesn’t stop them jumping into classroom work with energy and enthusiasm. They are so committed to making the most out of their education and to the future this education can give them.”
Andrew says he has enjoyed developing the professional learning program, observing teachers at work and tailoring his program to their learning needs. “The teachers here really care about their students’ welfare and their learning,” he observed.
Andrew and Anke considered international volunteering for several years before applying to work in Solomon Islands. “The time was just right,” Andrew said. “Circumstances aligned perfectly and the opportunity arose at the end of 2015.” Anke added, “The real draw to volunteering in Solomon Islands is the opportunity to support the workforce in a growing country in a lasting way.”
Andrew and Anke’s assignments are funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Volunteers for International Development program (AVID), managed in Solomon Islands by AVI. Each year 45 new volunteers arrive in Solomon Islands as part of the AVID program. Their contribution will be highlighted on December 5, International Volunteers Day.
Press Release: Australian High Commission Office