As COVID-19 cases were entering the Pacific region earlier this year, the Vanuatu government responded by setting up a technical working group to develop a contingency plan for the Ministry of Education & Training.
Dick Hopkins, an Australia Awards alumni, was at the forefront of coordinating children’s home school learning packages initiated by the Ministry.
“After setting up the plans and strategies on how we would respond to children’s education and learning, a key concept was to coordinate home school packages for all children in all levels of schooling to ensure continuity of learning, while being kept safe at home.”
“We provided guidelines to teachers on how to develop these packages and are monitoring them through the school-based management unit and provincial education offices throughout the six provinces of the country.”
During the country’s State of Emergency, an education cluster has also been set up and Mr. Hopkins assists the Director of Education Services, who is the chairman of that group.
“The cluster provides the necessary information regarding plans and budgets to our development partners- such as the Australian Government- who can then assist us with the necessary funding in response to the impacts of COVID-19.”
Mr. Hopkins recently graduated from the University of Wollongong in 2019 with a Master of Education with a specific focus on Educational Leadership.
“I am grateful for the studies I have gained through Australia Awards as they have improved my skills in being more proactive in situations like this. Leadership and management skills learned during my Award have been invaluable in determining approaches that I am taking to lead the team, implement the strategies that have been set up and coordinate meetings.”
Dick Hopkins was the Principal Education Officer at the Ministry of Education & Training, and he has also been appointed as the Secretary General of the Teaching Service Commission on 16 June 2020. He is now responsible for providing directions to the Commission to carry out its functions, achieve its objectives and advise the Minister and Director General on the Teaching Services Act, the Teacher Management Policies and any issues affecting teacher management.
“COVID-19 brought a lot of unforeseen scenarios, but I’m grateful that I am able to apply the concepts and strategies I gained during my studies and from my own experiences within the education sector. I am especially grateful for everyone’s collaboration to help our children’s education at this challenging time.”
Fortunately to date, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Vanuatu. This is a testament to the approach taken by the Vanuatu Government.