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Graduates gathered at Airahu.
Photo by Bishop Terry Brown
Photo No. : P041122-1
Click for enlarged photo

Diocesan and Airahu training centre leaders.
From left, Fr. Philemon Akao (Principal, Bishop Patteson Theological College), Mr. Josiah Maesua (Principal, Airahu Training Centre), Bishop Terry Brown of Malaita and Fr. Mostyn Anisi (Head of Theology and Chaplain, Airahu TC).
Photo No. : P041122-2
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Line up of students.
Photo by Bishop Terry Brown
Photo No. : P041122-3
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Graduation at Airahu Rural Training Centre
November 22, 2004

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] On a bright sunny morning on Friday, November 21st, about 600 persons from around Malaita and beyond witnessed the graduation of 54 students from Airahu Rural Training Centre, West Kwara’ae, the vocational training centre of the Church of Melanesia Diocese of Malaita.

This was the largest graduating class in the history of the Centre and included the first graduates in the Mechanics Programme. It included 12 women graduates.

The graduates received certificates in Mechanics, Life Skills (home economics), Agriculture, Carpentry, Catechist-training and Village Priest training. Except for the village priest students, all spent three years at the Centre. The Village Priest students spent one year in the programme after having previously studied three years at Airahu.

The guest of honour and keynote speaker was Fr. Philemon Akao, Principal of Bishop Patteson Theological College, Kohimarama. He spoke of the importance of human relationships and a commitment to addressing the problems of rural areas. He urged the graduates to return to their villages as leaders in the human, social and spiritual development of the Solomons Islands.

The Chair of the Airahu Board of Governors, Bishop Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita also spoke of the development of the Centre and its commitment to holistic education, both spiritual and practical. He talked about some of the future plans for the Centre and thanked staff, students, parents and various donors for the support of the Centre.

The Bishop thanked the outgoing Head of Theology and Chaplain, Fr. Mostyn Anisi, who will be going to Pacific Theological College, Fiji, next year for master's degree studies, and announced that he will be replace by Fr. David Nwaeramo, who will be coming from St. John's College, Auckland, after finishing his degree there.

He also thanked Peter Hardie and Kathleen Cooper, CUSO volunteers, who have been part-time staff at the Centre in the Agriculture and Life Skills Departments.

The Principal of the Centre, Mr. Josiah Maesua, also gave a report of the Centre’s activity of the past year, emphasizing that the Centre was now ecumenical, with students from various churches and from different parts of the Solomons, not just Malaita.

Top students were Leslie Malefadola (Carpentry), Marlon Ini (Mechanics), Nestor Tahi (Life Skills), Miriam Doata (Agriculture), Philip Kaukui (Catechists) and Coleridge Maeluma (Village Priests).

The students graduated in gowns made by students in the Life Skills Department.

Following the graduation, there was a large feast. Speakers at the feast included Dr. Henry Kako, Director of Health and Medical Services, Malaita Province, who offered his support and encouragement to non-formal education; and former Bishop of Malaita, Bishop Aumae, Special Lecturer at Airahu, who praised the development of Airahu over the years.

With over 200 students, Airahu is one of the biggest rural training centres in the Solomon Islands. Next year, all courses will be only two-years long, to allow more students to attend and to fit in with standard vocational syllabuses.