18 May 2020
Secondary education should be more accessible to children from poorer backgrounds.
Solomon Island’s Fee Free Basic Education policy, as I understand it, does not cover senior secondary levels and I guess it is at this level of school tuition parents are most often having difficulty in paying the school fees, but all the more now many parents have been laid off, become redundant and even lost their jobs because of the government’s measures, however necessary, that have been introduced to prevent coronavirus getting a foothold in the country.
The rate of ‘drop out’ by students in secondary education is high because many parents are simply unable to keep up with the school fees and the problem is more complicated when it comes to girls secondary education as some 44% of girls reportedly drop out due to early marriage and pregnancy.
Making secondary schooling more accessible to all children, especially the poorer population should be the aim of the government if it is to promote economic growth in the country by developing an educated and skilled population labour force.
When the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, last visited Honiara he spoke of his government’s plan to ‘step up Australia’s influence in the Pacific and pledged A$250 million from within the then aid budget for infrastructure projects across the Solomon Islands.
According to a subsequent news broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the funds would be redirected from health to education projects.
Prime Minister Morrison later said Australia would continue to be “very heavily committed to health and education” within the Solomon Islands and across the broader Pacific region.”
Did it occur that Australia actually committed funds to education when the Island’s Aid Investment Plan was reviewed, and I am assuming it has been?
In line with the Australian Government’s ‘step up ‘ plan (and the SIG’s biggest donor) will one see more of a focus in aid spending, from whatever donor source, towards education which would allow for free education in secondary schools making it possible for students from poorer backgrounds to access and acquire the education they surely deserve?
The educational disadvantage that exists as a result of poverty is a denial of a child’s human rights to education.