Pacific / Vanuatu

Vanuatu schools to be moved off volcanic Ambae

13:32 pm on 9 May 2018

Eight secondary schools on Vanuatu's Ambae will be moved to schools on other islands due to the continuing volcanic eruption, the government says.

The principal of St Patrick's College on Ambae said the ash had spilled into every classroom, forcing the school to close last Friday. Photo: Supplied / St Patrick's College

Heavy ashfall from fresh volcanic activity covered parts of the island last month, collapsing buildings, contaminating water supplies and destroying crops.

Another eruption from the Manaro Voui crater last year caused a temporary mass evacuation of Amabae's population of about 11,000 people.

They were relocated to safer parts of the island last month as the government declared a state of emergency and hinted a permanent evacuation might be necessary.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reported the Ministry of Education and Training in conjunction with the National Disaster Management Office would relocate all secondary school students and teachers from Ambae.

Director of education Roy Obed said the relocation would be permanent.

"As the education of children is critical, the Ministry of Education is acting on the government's advice to permanently move all schools to safer areas," he said.

Under the plan, one school would move to Aore, four to Santo, two to Maewo and one to Pentecost.

French and English schools would be relocated to schools that taught in the same languages, Mr Obed said.

Vanuatu has three official languages; English, French and Bislama.

The ash from the volcano on Ambae has forced the closure of St Patrick's college, which has been covered in ash. Photo: Supplied / St Patrick's College

Meanwhile, the paramount chief of Ambae has warned the government not politicise the plight of his people.

John Tarilama said the people of Ambae wanted the government to talk to them and ask them if they wanted to move.

Ambaeans had not spoken for themselves but remained some of the best qualified professionals contributing to the economic development of the country, Chief Tarilama said.

They should not be distributed like cattle to any island that politicians wanted, he said.