Two Vanuatu hearing impaired students to study in Fiji

Two students from Pikinini Playtime School, Michael Aru and Jim Firiam will be studying at the Fiji Gospel School for the Deaf.

Vanuatu currently has no schools that can teach deaf children the sign language and the Gospel School for the Deaf is the only school of its kind in the Pacific region.

Pikinini Playtime Principal, Carol Batten, said there is only one more step in a long-term plan to provide education in sign language in Vanuatu.

“We sent Michael and his teacher Miss Edikiel to the GSD for six months in 2019. They both did so well that the school asked the two of them to return this year and they also offered to accept more students”.

In 2021 Pikinini Playtime plans to have sign language lessons in the classes that include hearing impaired students.

“Two of these boys are only 7 years old and they will be away from their families for the whole year,” Batten said.

“That is an extraordinary commitment from both the children and their families and we plan to send another teacher in June for six months training and then we will have the staff we need to begin to teach in sign language here.”

“This will be a first for Vanuatu and it will mean that deaf children will no longer need to leave their families to get an education. Already we have staff and students learning sign language so that they will be able to communicate with our boys when they return.”

This initiative has only been made possible through the generosity of sponsors both here and abroad.

“We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to those who have contributed to this achievement.”

“Island Magic Resort, South Pacific Meats, Trade Tools and the Hokulani Dance group have made this possible through their wonderful generosity,” Batten added.