In the early 80s, a group of eight Solomon Island women graduated with a Diploma of Secondary Education at the University of Papua New Guinea Goroka Teachers’ College. In the decades since, the women have worked at all levels and sectors of education including formal and information education, vocational training and distance education. They have contributed significantly to national curricula, educational policies, the establishment of new schools for marginalized students, and to human resource development.
Through their work, the ‘Class of 83’ has taken on the issue of family violence by developing gender-based projects, offering integrated life skills training to enhance sustainable livelihoods in rural communities; and developed programs to empower women and youth.
All of the eight women hail from Solomon Island matriarchal communities, which see women as keepers and distributors of knowledge and powerful in their own right. In keeping with this tradition, the Class of 83 continues to work to ensure that education can reach as many as possible, to enhance individual lives and socio-economic opportunities.
Salome Karibule, a phonics literacy expert, assisted in establishing two schools that help improve literacy rates in Solomon Islands and continues educating high school students, illiterate women and children.
Hilmah Mollomb is Coordinator of Learning Materials at the Distance and Flexible Learning Centre at Solomon Islands National University where she also coordinates the Diploma of Youth and Development Studies.
Both Patricia Rodie and Susanne Maezama have attained PhDs. Susanne’s expertise includes expanding opportunities for women leaders. She is Acting Dean of Humanities at Solomon Islands National University, while Patricia is currently Campus Director at University of South Pacific’s Solomon Island Campus.
Naolah Pitia has been focused on developing human resources in a number of male-dominated areas in higher education facilities in Solomon Islands and Fiji, sometimes as the only woman and a role model for female students.
L’Amour Gina-Whewell undertook early research on women’s roles in fishing and was the first Solomon Island woman to hold a Fellow position at the University of the South Pacific. After working with remote students including indigenous outback youth, she is now Head Teacher in Vocational Education and Training at Southern Cross School of Distance Education in New South Wales, Australia.
Miri Taqu Tuke provides research and services to improve rural women’s economic empowerment through her own consultancy business while Tagolyn Kabekabe, a former school counsellor with a Masters in Peace Building, is currently the Pacific Regional Facilitator of the Anglican Alliance.
Their journey speaks to the transformative power of education and the powerful ‘ripple effect’ of educating girls and women.
The 70 Inspiring Pacific Women campaign has been produced by the Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with Australian Aid and Pacific Women. The campaign marks the 70th anniversary of SPC, and leads up to the 13th Triennial Conference of Pacific Women and 6th Meeting of Ministers for Women in Suva (Fiji) from 2nd to 5th October 2017.