During the recent Covid outbreak when so much was shut down, three educators attended an online course entitled, “Arts in Literacy and Education Material Development”.
The course was offered by Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In total, fifty people from fifteen countries around the world took the three-week course.
Margaret Saumore, a principal education officer for Multilingual Education at the Ministry of Education and Human Resources (MEHRD) was one of the local participants, along with Corina Leve, a lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Solomon Islands National University.
The local group was facilitated by Martha Matzke, a literacy and education specialist serving with Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group (SITAG).
The purpose of the training was to train teachers in how to develop learning materials based on the local language and culture in which they work. Each participant made a ‘cultural calendar’ to show things like; the seasons, winds, agricultural and fishing activities, festivals and celebrations for their home culture. The teachers then used the calendar to plan weekly themes for each week of the school year.
The training was based on a model of ‘Discovery, Decide and Develop’. The idea was to discover and study local art forms in a culture including things like; crafts, music, poetry, stories, agricultural traditions, etc.
The teacher then chooses one idea or theme to develop learning materials for the students, based on that idea. At the same time, teachers are encouraged to think about the students and develop materials that are appropriate for their level of learning.
During the workshop, each person created materials based on one theme. When Margaret Saumore was asked how the course helped her, she said, “The training helped me to understand how to better develop culturally appropriate materials using the existing local art forms.” said Margaret Saumore.
Margaret Saumore chose ‘Ogu’ (the Arosi word for seaworm) for her theme. She created a big book, small reading book, ‘busy picture’, listening story, sequence pictures, song and poem, in Arosi. These materials were created for grade 3 students to help them learn more about seaworms and the place they play in the Arosi culture.
“The training helped me to understand how to better develop culturally appropriate materials using the existing local art forms as well as developing new ones.” said Margaret Saumore.
Corina Leve chose ‘ruku’ (rain, in Roviana) as her theme. She looked carefully at a traditional Roviana song to discover the patterns and style of the song. Then she wrote a new song about ‘ruku’, following the same pattern. The result is a lovely new song to teach Roviana children about the sounds and feeling of rain in their own language.
When asked how this training course might help students studying ECE at SINU, Corina Leve said,“It will help them to discover and decide on relevant exisiting art forms to produce for their community ECE programs; also to create new and develop own materials to use in enhancing foundational learning’’.
The course also focused on looking at various theories of education and how to apply those theories to the development of materials in order to help students to develop and grow in higher levels of thinking.
Martha Matzke, said of the course, “It is exciting to think about how this type of training might be used here in the Solomons to help teachers learn how to make learning materials that are based on the local language and culture of the children.
“There are ways to create materials in the local language and culture that can be in line with the national curriculum. We hope there will be an opportunity to provide this important training in the Solomon Islands,” She said.