Children under six years of age are not the responsibility of the Government as far as their schooling is concerned. However, there are about twenty preschool centres which cater for children four and five years of age. Six of these centres are in South Tarawa and the remainder are located in the outer islands.

The initiative in starting these preschools came from the parents. The organisation and selection of teachers are entirely in the hands of the parents. Usually they select Primary school teachers who are willing to do extra work after their government school duties are done. If no such teachers are available, the parents choose someone from the village, particularly young women who may be interested.

In nearly all of these centres, construction of classrooms involves a great burden for the parents. One solution to the problem is to make use of what they have, that is, a village maneaba or one of the buildings at the local mission station. If the preschool teacher is from a Primary school, classes will normally be held in the afternoon for two to two-and-a-half hours. If the teacher is not on the staff of a Primary school, the classes will be scheduled in the morning hours.

As mentioned, the classroom may be in one of the buildings at the mission station. If the people in a certain village are predominantly Catholic, then the classes will meet in the local Catholic maneaba of that church. Should the village have an almost equal number of members in the two churches and if it is a big village, there may be two preschool centres, one Catholic and one Protestant. If the village is not so large, the people usually agree to use the village maneaba for their children's instruction.

Supplies and other financial requirements are the direct responsibility of the parents. If the community is very large, a committee may be formed to handle everything for the school's operation. If there are only about ten to twenty parents, there is no need for a committee and things will be handled in the village maneaba where normally all affairs of the community are discussed.

In general, preschool education contributes a lot to development of the child's mental, social and emotional qualities. Parents are beginning to realise this need nowadays and consequently have acted to establish preschool centres even without assistance from the Government.

Copyright 2000-2011 by Jane Resture-Gray ( -- Rev. 11th January 2011)