Rays of Light Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
Development in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
The Rays of Light Foundation was established to attend to the educational needs of young people in the sparsely populated and remote regions of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The lack of school places for all who wish to proceed with learning means that many eighth-grade students have no possibility to continue their education. Pupils are in the same situation in rural areas with inadequate financial resources and poor school performance. These circumstances limit the future of young people and lead their education to a premature end at a crucial stage in their intellectual and spiritual development.
The Preparation for Social Action Program (PSA) is divided into three study levels; participants of the first stage are known as “Promoters of Community Welfare”. The qualification corresponds to the first two years of secondary school, which in some systems is even the last phase of the basic education. This program is intended both for those who do not have access to any other form of secondary school and those who are already in higher learning in another context. The main goal and motivation for enrolling in the program should be the desire to become an effective power for change. It is expected that upon completion of this introductory study course, participants will have developed a strong sense of purpose to take responsibility for their own intellectual and spiritual growth and contribute to the improvement of community. The Preparation for Social Action curriculum is academically challenging and, according to many assessments, is comparable to the best programs in the world. The emphasis on both intellectual and material empowerment is what has distinguished PSA from other educational programs. Through a research-action learning approach, participants apply their newly acquired knowledge in related areas from discovering the needs of their community, being actively involved in individual and collective transformation, working for the material and spiritual progress of the community, and becoming true protagonists of development.
The PSA program was developed by a Colombian development organization called “FUNDAEC”. It has more than 30 years of experience in educating young people in village environments. More than 30,000 young people were enabled to complete their schooling. This successful program is already being used not only in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands but also in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Cameroon. It is adapted to the respective cultural and social conditions with great sensitivity.
The central feature of the PSA curriculum is “Community Service”. The “Promoters of Community Welfare” is a section of the PSA program that includes 26 learning units. This program focuses on teaching different skills that integrate relevant elements from the overall knowledge to provide educational material, rather than dividing knowledge into traditional subjects. These skills prepare students to work for the transformation of today’s society. Due to practical reasons, the 26 units are generally divided into five topics, including mathematics, language, science, technology, and service to the community. Each unit takes knowledge into account from other subjects, incorporating relevant concepts, information, and skills; therefore, students achieve abilities and boost their intelligence on the path of service.
The PSA program is a tutoring course conducted in small groups in a local environment with tutor support. They do not lecture or dictate but also are not mere moderators of group discussions. In a learning environment, the tutor is also a learner as well as a trained teacher who knows more than the students and can guide them through the textbooks, raise questions, and help to find answers. Also, the tutor explains the facts, encourages reflection on practical experience, and supervises experiments and social action. Participants benefit from being “true protagonists” of their social development. They learn from reflections, and conversations with others.
Over the last few years, the Rays of Light Foundation has supported hundreds of students in completing the PSA thus providing education for their future.