Our Volunteers: Kernah Foster volunteering in Kiribati

Sacred Heart High School, Kiribati

Former Palms volunteer Shelley Price with students in Kiribati
The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean. The country’s 33 atolls are scattered over 3,500,000 square kilometres.

The urban centres of the Republic of Kiribati are found in south Tarawa from Betio to Bonriki. Tarawa, like all the other islands, is a coral atoll and the majority of agriculture is made up of coconut trees, pandanus and breadfruit.

A recent study into Education in Kiribati, commissioned by Palms Australia and carried out by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission, identified a lack of confidence in English amongst teachers and students as a major reason for poor results and low numbers of tertiary entrants in Kiribati.

The Catholic Education Office of Kiribati has made requests to Palms Australia to provide experienced teachers to help in mentoring and assisting local teachers in their schools.

Kernah Foster

Kernah Foster, from Albion Park NSW, will teach Mathematics and Science to Form 6 and 7 students of Sacred Heart High School. She will work closely with local teachers to develop their teaching skills.

Kernah has significant experience as a science teacher in Australia and has been described, in letters of recommendation, as a professional, passionate teacher presenting classes which students look forward to with anticipation. She has worked closely with numerous other teachers, sharing ideas and expertise and participating fully in school life.

Palms Australia and the Kiribati Catholic Education Office believe Kernah can significantly contribute to the education of students and professional development of teachers at Sacred Heart High School.

You can help support Kernah’s placement by using the Donate button on the right of the screen.

News in brief

November 15, 2012

Fran, a Physical Education teacher from Hobart, leading kids at Holy Family in some star jumps.
Fran Hewitt, Ofcolaco, South Africa

I’m still busy doing teaching training with Lilly and Gregory, and they are both doing well. One evening after Gregory taught, I was giving him some feedback and he said he is learning a lot from our collaboration. When I asked him what he meant he said that in his experience teachers just stand in front of the class and give information, but he is learning this new way of teaching where we explain things, interact with the children, and help them discover ideas and concepts for themselves. That was a significant moment for me. I felt it was tangible evidence that the idea of passing on skills can make a difference.

John Gartner, Kiunga, PNG

I am organizing the construction of 2 double classrooms and 2 teachers’ houses at Aiambak. It is an all-day dinghy voyage from Kiunga, requiring a minimum of 200 litres of fuel.

Elementary schools in PNG are poorly resourced. Teachers are paid by the government, but the community is expected to supply the school, usually very rudimentary buildings of bush materials.

I met the locals in the Men’s House and we agreed on the important things, like how to manage the donated tools and the need to obtain sand from the river bed, as there were no funds to import gravel for the foundation from Port Moresby or Kiunga.

At the jetty, a crew arrived by helicopter to do the advanced work for a storage shed for Ok Tedi Mining Ltd and a passenger terminal for the new FLY Hope ferry. The Australian with them came over and we swapped stories about our projects. They shot some levels and took off after a half hour. I walked back to Aiambak, about 3 kilometres away. The contrast in project budgets and resources was stark.

Kernah Foster, Tarawa, Kiribati

Ienimoa Kiatoa with his science class.
In Kiribati, you encounter the most amazing stories. I met a teacher named Ienimoa Kiatoa. He walks with an obvious difficulty. When I enquired about his health, he told me he was lost at sea for three months. He and his friends were studying ocean nutrient levels when their boat ran out of fuel and drifted out into the open ocean. He was so dehydrated and was falling into a deep sleep. His friends thought that he was dead and were about to throw him into the ocean when they saw there were sharks circling them at the time. They were worried that throwing the body into the ocean may cause the sharks to attack them. So they kept him in the boat until they were rescued by a Taiwanese fishing boat near PNG. His health was badly affected and he was no longer able to continue his study. When he returned to Tarawa, he was snatched up by Immaculate Heart to teach science.

The value of a visit

November 25, 2011

Palms undertakes to visit each volunteer at least once during their placement. After each visit, the visiting representative writes a report for members, however this year we let the volunteers themselves report on the value of a Field Visit.

Click here to read the full article

Preparing to work in another culture

March 4, 2011

It is unfair to expect either volunteer or host to work effectively together without preparation. Palms’ Orientation Course reflects its philosophical view that cross-cultural relationship building is at the core of sustainable development outcomes.

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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Kernah Foster's placement has completed, but you can still help us provide volunteers to many other communities by using the form below.

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As Kernah Foster's volunteer placement has ended, your donation will be placed towards the costs of sending and supporting other Palms volunteers to exchange skills with our partner communities. For more information contact Palms Australia.

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Population: 105,088

Area: 811 sq. km.

Median Age: 20.6

Literacy: 94 %

Languages: I-Kiribati, English

The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation located in the central Pacific Ocean. The country’s 33 atolls are scattered over 3,500,000 square kilometres. The isolation of Kiribati has led to a unique culture, rich in singing and dancing. Family and community are central to this traditional fishing society, but life does not always match […]

More on Kiribati

As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. - Pope Francis (Joy of the Gospel 202)