VANUATU PM CONCERNED ABOUT LOW NUMBER OF FRENCH SPEAKERS IN PUBLIC SERVICE

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 27, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Donald Kalpokas has raised concern about the widening gap between the number of French and English-speaking ni-Vanuatu being employed in the public service.

Kalpokas raised the concern at a meeting with the outgoing French Ambassador to Vanuatu, Jean-Claude Moreau, in the capital, Port Vila.

Kalpokas said he was concerned that the number of qualified francophones leaving secondary schools and continuing their education was less than anglophones.

"If we want to solve the problem, we must make sure all secondary school leavers are able to achieve university entrance," he said.

The Prime Minister said he realized the issue of employment in the public service was about academic merit.

"We should have a baccalaureate equivalent for ni-Vanuatu that would enable them to study in francophone countries -- France, Belgium or New Caledonia.

Ambassador Moreau said further cooperation between France and Vanuatu could see new programs for improving the quality of service delivery of francophones in the public service.

Moreau also paid tribute to Vanuatu's cultural pluralism.

He saw this pluralism as emerging not only from Vanuatu's indigenous past, but also from the cultures of former colonial powers.

He said Vanuatu’s cultural diversity could also encourage further links with New Caledonia, a neighboring French territory in the Melanesian area of the Pacific.

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