By Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Mar. 1) – The rise of unemployment among the school dropouts in Port Vila and Luganville is alarming and very soon the youngsters will turn to criminal activities to sustain their living standards.

And according to Daily Post observations if the government continues to fail to allocate adequate resources to address the plight of the unfortunate young people, the government must be prepared to face the consequences in the very near future.

In his nationwide policy statement address last December, Prime Minister Ham Lini said an estimated 6,000 school children were expected to end their education last year while only 500 were expected to continue their schooling.

"The other 5,500 will just roam the villages and the towns searching for work that they will never find," the prime minister said.

The prime minister said the government hoped that the Agriculture College and INTV would accommodate some of the school dropouts.

There was no specific policy to address the unemployment of youths.

Daily Post has discovered that the type of living lifestyles promoted by mass media and to some extent, by the primary and secondary schools, makes it difficult for school leavers in Port Vila and Luganville to be attracted to an Agriculture College.

It was suggested that if the government were serious about the Agriculture sector absorbing the high number of school dropouts in future, it was important to reflect that in the school subjects, instead of just two hours a week on Agriculture like it is today in most secondary schools.

Agriculture, it was also suggested, should be made a core subject like English, math and general knowledge in primary schools.

Meanwhile according to a government paper, about 3,500 school leavers are entering the job market each year.

"If the formal sector were to absorb these new entrants, employment would have to grow at more than 10 percent a year," the report said. But that is not the case.

Now that the future prospects for the tourism looks promising, INTV alone can not equip school children with the know-how that is required in the tourism industry.

The government needs to come up with other plans to target school leavers to support its tourism potentials.

The demand for work in Port Vila and Luganville has resulted in some construction companies putting up signs like "I no gat wok" because of the number of people who turn up each day searching for work.

The majority of Vanuatu’s population is very young with 43 percent under 15 years of age.

Already a few of the unemployed youths are venturing into illegal activities to sustain the life styles promoted by the society they live in but it would seem that the government does not believe there is a correlation between crime and unemployment.

Otherwise the government would have already announced a constructive policy to address the plight of 5,500 school leavers.

March 2, 2005

Ricky Binihi is a reporter for the Vanuatu Daily Post.

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