The Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), Bergmans Iati, received an Anthology of Pacific poems about human rights and social justice, titled Rising Tide, from the Country Focal Officer of Human Rights and Social Development Division (HRSD) of the SPC’s, Donna Marie Punenarai, this week.

The anthology covers topics such as gender equality, social inclusion and justice, nuclear justice and ending violence against women and girls, amongst others.

It was compiled from a range of submissions from across the Pacific region and is suitable for students in Years 7–13.

The Pacific Region, including Vanuatu has some high rates of domestic violence recorded which is a violence of human rights, women and girls are most vulnerable and they constantly experience these inequalities in every level of life including participation in decision-making and limited access to economics rights.

The main purpose of this anthology is to bring together Pacific poets and artists to express their voice on these issues and it is unique in several ways.

It not only introduces readers to poetry, the types of poetry and poetic devices, but enhances understanding on concepts of human rights, social justice and violence against women and girls, in their respective sections.

The poems are complemented by artwork that expresses the key themes and messages of the poems. Reading, however, is not enough and so there are some questions for reflection at the end of each poem allowing readers to think about the powerful lessons found within.

Teachers will especially welcome this anthology, as it provides creative learning opportunities for students to critique both poetry and visual art.

It also provides a selection of older and newer poems by seasoned and emerging writers bringing together a cross-generational narrative of Pacific stories of struggle and survival.

For many students, it will be an introduction to the safe space that creative expression provides for otherwise difficult or sensitive conversations.

For others, it reinforces the critical cultural role that the arts play in knowledge and learning. The creative works and activities in this collection present multiple opportunities for students and teachers alike to reflect on their own values and beliefs and to connect with the broader theme of unity and humanity.

The MoET said the handing over of the anthology of Pacific poems is a milestone through the Social Citizenship program funded by the European Union through the Social Citizenship Education Programme (SCE), led by SPC’s Human Rights and Social Development (HRSD) division under the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls Programme (Pacific Partnership).

SCE programme aims to enhance Pacific youth’s formal in-school and informal education on gender equality and on the prevention of violence against women and girls.

The Pacific Partnership has three outcome areas jointly coordinated by HRSD, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (Forum Secretariat) and UN Women’s Fiji Multi-Country Office.