Vanuatu Literacy Education Programme (VANLEP)

Country Profile: Vanuatu


125,446 (2008 estimate)

Official Languages

English, Bislama, French

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

56% (2005)

Primary School Net Enrolment/Attendance


Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)

Total: 74 %


Programme Overview

Programme TitleVanuatu Literacy Education Project (VANLEP, also known as the Book Flood Project). VANLEP has a constituent (sub-)project, the Family Literacy Programme (FLP), which targets parents as educators
Implementing OrganizationPolytechnic of New Zealand Company (PINZ) in partnership with the Ministry of Education; Vanuatu in partnership with the Institute of Education, University of the South Pacific (USP)
Language of InstructionEnglish for teachers and trainers; Bislama for trainees/participants (parents, care givers and youth)
FundingNew Zealand International Aid Development Programme (NZAid) under its Education Assistance Programme for Vanuatu (NZEAP)
Annual Programme Costsapprox. US $30,000
Date of Inception2005-2010 (ongoing)

Introduction: Contextual Issues

Vanuatu is an island state in the South Pacific. Its developing economy is primarily based on agriculture and tourism. Investment in education is low, particularly in the remote rural areas where the majority of the nation's population resides. This explains the poor literacy rates among the rural population. A base-line national survey commissioned by the Ministry of Education (in 2003) with funding and technical assistance from New Zealand International Development Aid (NZAid) estimated that literacy levels in rural schools/areas totalled just 30%. According to the survey, this was due to low governmental investment in education and limited family support and participation in the education system. The results of the survey underscored the need for all national stakeholders, particularly the Government, to prioritise educational investment as well as to use education as a principal strategy for promoting national development. Adult literacy programmes were seen as vital for the empowerment of adults and the national workforce. It is in this context that the Vanuatu Literacy Education Project (VANLEP) was developed and continues to be implemented.

The Vanuatu Literacy Education Project (VANLEP)


In light of the education sector challenges identified by the survey, an education turn-around strategy was initiated. This strategy is the Vanuatu Literacy Education Project (VANLEP - also commonly known as the Book Flood Project). VANLEP is a book-based campaign against illiteracy that is being implemented by PINZ in partnership with the Institute of Education (USP). The programme is part of New Zealand's NZEAP to Vanuatu which endeavours to promote and enhance current efforts in upgrading education in the country and, particularly, in increasing literacy levels among children living in rural areas. To achieve this, the project mainly targets primary school children in the lower grades (classes 3 and 4) who are, on average, aged between 8 and 9 years. The aim of to combat illiteracy among young children at an age when they are still self-motivated to learn and more receptive to internalising new ideas. To enhance its effectiveness and sustainability, the programme also works in close partnership with parents. Such links are seen as vital to the development and promotion of parental education and learning at home (i.e. parents as "first teachers"). Thus, VANLEP both promotes the 'traditional' parental roles of nurturing and socialising children through the provision of basic livelihood needs (such as food and housing) and fosters parental involvement in the cognitive development of children by allowing parents to participate formally in the educational process. As a result, the project encourages parents to spend more time with their children and help them to learn by offering reading and writing assistance and through story telling. In order for parents to be able to offer their children this assistance, it is crucial for adult literacy programmes to be implemented that ensure that parents are equipped with the necessary skills.

Aims and Objectives

The project aims to:

Approaches and Methodologies


To implement the project, a number of strategies and methodologies have been adopted. These include:

The Family Literacy Programme (FLP)

The FLP (also known as the The Family Literacy and Intergenerational Learning Programme) was initiated in 2006 as part of VANLEP's ongoing efforts to combat illiteracy in rural areas (i.e. to improve literacy) by promoting the role of parents and parenting in children’s educational development.

Objectives and Justification

The FLP’s principal objectives are to:


Programme Components

The FLP has three main components:

These three components emphasise and promote the following:


Programme Impact

VANLEP has helped Vanuatu fight illiteracy in rural areas and promote the development of education in general. The following are key indicators of its success:


Source: UNESCO: Effective Literacy Practices,

Challenges for Development

Despite its success in promoting literacy and the development of education in rural areas, the programme faces a number of challenges and constraints, including:


Rural literacy development is not dependent on class; it is a right which must be accorded to every citizen for the greater good of the nation and its future. Current programmes in Vanuatu have already demonstrated that literacy campaigns are more successful and sustainable when they involve the active participation of members of the community. [edit] Sources


Ms Sereima Lumelume (Project Consultant)
Institute of Education
The University of the South Pacific
P.O. Box 1168
Laucala Campus
Tel. Number: 67 323 2704
E-mail address: sere1mar (at)