Rays of Light: Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands EDUCATION FOR THE PROGRESS AND WELL-BEING OF THE COMMUNITY

A program supports development in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

The Rays of Light Foundation was established to address the educational needs of young people in the sparsely populated, remote regions of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. The lack of school places for all who want to attend secondary school means that many eighth grade students have no choice but to continue their education. The lack of secondary schools, inadequate financial resources and poor school performance can prevent pupils in rural areas from continuing their education. These circumstances limit the future of young people in rural areas and lead to a premature end to their education at such a crucial stage in their intellectual and spiritual development.

The Preparation for Social Action Program (PSA) is divided into three study levels. Those who have gone through the first stage are called “Promoters of Community Welfare”. This qualification corresponds to the first two years of secondary school, which in some systems is even the last phase of the
basic training. The programme is intended both for those who do not have access to any other form of secondary education and for those who are already in higher education in another context. The main motivation for enrolling in the programme should be the desire to become an effective force 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 to contribute to positive change in society. The Preparation for Social Action curriculum is academically challenging and, according to many assessments, comparable to the best programs in the world. What the PSA learned from the
distinguishing most other educational programs, is the emphasis on both intellectual and moral empowerment. Through a research-action learning approach, participants apply their newly acquired knowledge in the areas of ministry that relate to the needs of their community and are actively involved in individual and collective transformation, working for the material and spiritual progress of the community, and becoming true protagonists of their own development.

Community Service

is a central feature of the PSA curriculum and the section of the PSA programme “Promoters of Community Welfare” contains 26 learning units. Rather than dividing knowledge into traditional subject areas, the program focuses on teaching different skills that integrate relevant elements from the overall knowledge to provide educational material that prepares students to work for the transformation of today’s society. For practical reasons, the 26 units are generally divided into five areas – including mathematics, language, science, technology and service to the community – but each unit takes into account knowledge from other subjects, incorporating relevant concepts, information and skills in order to draw on skills in the students that they have learned on a

path of service

As a tutoring course, the PSA programme is conducted in small groups in a local setting with the help of a tutor. The tutor is a trained teacher who knows more than the students. However, the teacher is also a learner. Tutors guide through the textbooks, raise questions and help to find answers, explain facts, encourage reflection on practical experience and supervise experiments and social action. They do not lecture or dictate, but are not mere moderators of group discussions. Participants benefit from being “true protagonists” of their own development and learn from their own reflection and conversation with others. Over the next few years, the Rays of Light Foundation will support hundreds of students in completing the PSA program and thus providing them with education for the future. The PSA program was developed by FUNDAEC, a Colombian development organization.
FUNDAEC has more than 30 years of experience in training young people in village environments. More than 30000 young people were thus enabled to complete their schooling. The PSA programme developed by FUNDAEC is already being used successfully 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.

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