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Homework hub a community asset

Tuesday February 28, 2017 Written by Published in Education
Maureen Goodwin was one of the teachers who focused on the primary students at the hub last year. 17022326 Maureen Goodwin was one of the teachers who focused on the primary students at the hub last year. 17022326

The Vaimaanga Community Centre recently started its weekly “homework hub” in Vaimaanga.  

 

The hub operates once a week out of the Vaimaanga Community Centre and was set up in 2016 to help children with their homework.

The centre is manned by qualified teachers and the kids receive support with their homework, reading, writing, spelling, mathematics. Computer tablets are provided for the youngsters to use.  

Support is also provided to college students and they are given help in the planning of their term work and assessments to be completed for college or NCEA.

The hub was initiated by a group of parents and grandparents in the community and is driven by church elders.

Community spokesperson Nadine Newnham said a few years ago a spate of burglaries and tagging was carried out by Vaimaanga youth.

At a community discussion parents and community leaders talked about how to deal with the issue and realised that youth education was the key.

“If they could read and write to a good level they could complete college and then get decent jobs and would hopefully keep them from entering into a life of crime,” Newnham said.

In order to achieve that they had to ensure that from an early age children were being supported in their education.

And so the idea of creating a homework hub was born

Newnham said another factor in maintaining the hub was that parents today are often busy with two jobs and trying to make ends meet. Homework is sometimes left to the last minute or to grandparents who sometimes are unable to help.

The hub provides a safe haven for children to receive help from qualified teachers.

Newnham said the parents who use the service appreciate and enjoy it.

“The feedback we got last year from both parents and teachers at the local schools was that it was making a positive difference.”

This year the hub has a qualified primary school teacher taking the junior session and a college teacher conducting the senior session.

Both have at least three parent helpers at each session. 

Last year they had one teacher, Maureen Goodwin and the hub was more focused on the primary students.

“This year we are excited to be able to use the skills of Nikki Griffin to extend the hub to college students and hope to see more in that age group take advantage of the service.”

She said organisers of the Vaimaanga hub would love to see parents on the island set up homework hubs in their communities. 

It was a very simple system that requires committed parents and teachers to make it successful, she added.

Information about the Vaimaanga hub has been passed on to a group in Nikao who will hopefully set one up soon.

Newnham said MP Selena Napa was instrumental in helping get the hub started and was also looking at another one in Titikaveka so that the whole village had access to a homework service.

Napa liaised with the Education ministry and Bluesky and sourced funding to help get the programme started.

Other vital support came from The Cook Foundation which provided funding to help pay the teachers and the New Zealand High Commission funded fun readers, learning year activity books, dictionaries and 10 computer tablets to assist the programme.  

The community provides the hall complete with tables and chairs and covers the cost of the maintenance and electricity, also providing volunteers to help run the programme.

The biggest hurdle is finding the funds to pay for the service which costs around $100 a week and so far generous donations from people in the community have enabled it to proceed.   

The late president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela once said, “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” 

Newnham said the hub was started to change the world of the children in Vaimaanga, giving them opportunities to do great things not just for themselves, but for the community.  

“We really hope that the feeling will spread and that soon there will be hubs all over the island.”

The Vaimaanga Homework Hub runs only during the school term and caters for students from year 1 to year 13.

It is held every Thursday from 3.30pm- 6.00pm. Teacher help for primary school students is available from 3.30- 4.30pm and for college students from 5pm – 6pm.