The challenge with the habit of throwing plastic hinges on early education for children, says Pierre Gambetta, a senior Education official, speaking at the launching of the Erakor Bridge community’s trash bin.
“It’s everywhere, the habit of throwing plastic. Education can help with changing habits, one of which is throwing plastic and other trash everywhere,” he said.
Education Department is one of the stakeholders in the Erakor Bridge community’s efforts to improve their environment through proper disposal of trash.
“A child must be in school early because that is when his or her brain is most open to learning and the child can learn very fast and most of all store the information in the brain for a long time,” Mr. Gambetta added.
“The chief of Erakor Bridge community (he pointed to Chief Marik Koftau, and referring to his work with his drama group, Natongtong of spreading important life messages) is one of those people who give a lot of their time and effort to inform people about proper disposal of plastic and other rubbish.
“They use messages in songs through string band and talks throughout Port Vila.
“But still the message has not quite registered in people’s minds many times, because they still throw plastic and other rubbish everywhere.”
Mr. Gambetta, himself a chief of his community of Ambae, said the Government through the Ministry of Education has a campaign going with a slogan “Six Year, Class One”.
Its focus is to get parents to put their children to school early and make sure that by six years old the children are in class one.
He provided some statistics showing why this campaign is crucial.
In 2000, out of all the thousands of children in class one that year, only 30% were six years old.
The rest were older of seven or eight years old or over, meaning that out of every 100 students in class one only 30 are six years old.
In 2015, there was a big drop in this number, may be due to TC Pam, he added.
The highest number of six-year-old children in class 1 are found in Shefa Province and Port Vila, which recorded 47%. But still this is under half the number of children, which for Port Vila, the capital, is not good. It shows that we in Port Vila still have some children who are not in school, he continued.
“We are here to help people put children six years old children to school in class one.
“It is now a problem for many to fulfill this, but if we do, it will help with solving our environment problems,” he told his listeners at Erakor Bridge.