In response to the need in the local community, in early 2010 a basic numeracy and literacy training program called ‘Esi Skul’ began
The school was to help children who had either never attended a school, or who had fallen out of the for-mal school system, gain and regain basic skills in literacy, numeracy and social sciences. The hope was that many of these children, having completed a year at the Esi Skul would be able to transition into the formal school system.
The students are broken into grades, and the school does deliver training at the various grade levels.
Using phonics and simple training techniques, the children quickly pick up reading and comprehension skills. Mathematics is taught using traditional methods of scales and sums. The children are very bright, but just lacking opportunity, and they learn very quickly.
To date many of the Esi Skul children have made the transition back into the formal school system with pleasing results.
At the beginning of 2013 the Peter O’Connor Foundation agreed to directly assist the School by ensuring the basic wages of the teaching and training staff is met each fortnight. Previously the staff had only re-ceived an allowance from private donations and church fundraising.
Now known as “O’Connor Community School” the school has some 320 children currently enrolled. Many of these children are from the settlement and lower income areas around Gerehu, and the children and their families highly value the opportunity the school provides. PICTURE (above): Students at the O’Connor Community School. Below: the eight classes at the O’Connor Community School.