St Joseph’s College is a boarding school on the island of Abaiang in Kiribati. The College enables students on the remote island to receive an education within their local community, rather than relocate to the main island and live away from home. St Joseph’s fulfils a critical need for secondary education in remote Kiribati and has requested an English teacher to support professional skill development for their staff.
St Joseph’s College (Tabwiroa) is located on Abaiang island, a remote coral atoll off the main island of South Tarawa, with a population of approximately 5,502 people. Abaiang is the fourth most populated island after South and North Tarawa and Kiritimati and is the home to 5.3% of Kiribati’s population. Abaiang faces the effects of climate change and a shortage of resources but enjoys a stunningly undisturbed landscape of white coral sand beaches and a lagoon that supports a striking diversity of coral and fish species, providing plentiful seafood to the local population. The school has computer and science labs, and sports facilities including a football field and basketball court. The island relies on transportation by boat and Abaiang Atoll Airport with three weekly flights to South Tarawa.
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. As the language of instruction in secondary schools is in English, this shortage significantly impacts the quality of education across the country.
Abaiang has a literacy rate of 92%. Of the adult population (those over 15), 19% have not attended school at all; this is a high proportion in comparison with other outer islands and particularly with South Tarawa where only 7% of the population have not attended school.
To address teacher quality and retention, St Joseph’s has approached Palms for an English teacher to up-skill their staff and instil a sense of enthusiasm for teaching young people on the remote island. As both staff and students have learned English as a second language, the level of language ability is varied and teachers struggle to identify the level of comprehension among their students.
St Joseph’s College has requested a qualified teacher. Experience in teaching students with English as a second language is desired. Experience mentoring teachers or other adults will be beneficial. An enthusiasm for working in a different culture and with limited resources is essential.
The volunteer must also demonstrate a willingness to engage their Australian community in promoting the work of the host organisation and their role.
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:
- Informal mentoring of staff in effective lesson preparation and presentation,
- Helping staff to identify the level of English language understanding among students,
- Improving staff confidence in presenting lessons in English,
- Informal mentoring staff in effective student engagement and classroom management,
- Contributing to improved student and staff motivation.
Through working alongside I-Kiribati teachers and students of St Joseph’s College’s, you 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.