Sustainable Development Goals

The Project

The Kiribati Catholic Education Office has requested an English Teacher/Mentor to share their skills teaching English at St Leo’s College, their new school on Butaritari, Makin Island chain.   St Leo’s College has 140 male and female students, mostly from Makin and Butaritari but also takes students from other outer islands.  Currently St Leo’s has students sitting Form 5 Kiribati National Certificate and hopes to have a qualified English and/or Geography teacher to take in Form 6 enrolments.

The Location

Makin, is part of a chain of islands, or linear reef, 12.3 km long north-south, with five islets.  The three larger islets (Makin, Kiebu and Onne) are inhabited.  This string of islands is the northernmost feature of the Gilbert Islands, and the third most northerly in the Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati.

Makin has a population (in 2015) of 1,990.  It is blessed with lush vegetation due to the high rainfall.  Banana growth is prolific.

Neighbouring Butaritari was called Makin Atoll by the US Military, it used to be called Makin Meang (Northern Makin) or Little Makin to distinguish it from the larger atoll. Butaritari is now the preferred name for the larger atoll.

Travelling to Butaritari by boat takes one day, by air it takes an hour.  There are two flights per week to Butaritari from Tarawa.

The Challenge

Remote areas of Kiribati suffer from a critical shortage of teachers, especially in English. Many teachers who are proficient in English relocate to better resourced schools or find better paying jobs in government and the private sector on the main islands.   The language of instruction in secondary schools is English, retention rates for the Northern Gilbert Islands as of 2019 are at 48%   There are notable differences between male and female in lower and upper secondary school attendance and rural/urban disparity observed. Females are 18% more likely to be attending upper secondary school than males.

Kiribati generally is affected by climate change.  The higher sea levels and unusually high tides are resulting in saltwater contamination to various food crops such as the Bwabwai  [giant swamp taro] a staple food crop.  The construction of causeways has also resulted in reduced flushing of the lagoon causing a lack of oxygen for fish stocks.  The erosion and accretion that are occurring along the shoreline is identified as being linked to aggregate mining and land reclamation.

About You

The successful candidate for this position will have:

  • Bachelor or Diploma of Education
  • Experience in teaching students with English as a second language [desirable]
  • Experience mentoring teachers or other adults will be beneficial
  • Enthusiasm for working in a different culture and with limited resources
  • Flexibility, patience and sense of humour
  • Willingness to learn local language

How You Will Help

First you must be willing to learn from the local community.

Over the first six months you are asked not to change anything or suggest a change to operations.  During that six months you will take the time to learn language and cultural mores from a local counterpart willing to mentor you.  You will also start a register of the strengths of the current personnel and the assets in the community/country that might be used to achieve the goals of the assignment.

You need to commit to clarifying why things are done the way they are rather than presuming from your own cultural lens to outline what is missing. So, you need to ask questions to enable you to learn from your hosts, rather than in ignorance make suggestions about how things can improve. Palms training will prepare you for this approach.

In the second six months you will be ready and better know which of your skills and what of your knowledge applies to:

  • Supporting and providing informal mentoring of staff at St Leo’s College in effective lesson preparation and presentation; student engagement/motivation and classroom management
  • Teaching English to senior students

Through working alongside I-Kiribati teachers and students of St Leo’s, the Palms participant will contribute to improved educational access and opportunity in a rural, remote island of Kiribati.


Note: The monthly living allowance enables you to live a modest local lifestyle. Based on the cost of living in a particular country, it covers food, your daily commute, communication and other local costs. It is not set to enable you to meet financial commitments at home, such as a mortgage or a personal loan.  It will not cover the costs of eating out and other entertainment. Read more about what is covered in our FAQ.


Think you have what it takes? Register your interest

    * Successful applicants must be available to attend an orientation course in Sydney. Palms Australia will not fund international flights and will not sponsor visas to attend this course. Read our FAQ for more.