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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 27) - The European Union Micro Project can be a funding source that schools can tap for their much needed infrastructure development plans.

During a recent education monitoring tour of schools on Guadalcanal, Makira, Malaita, Central and Isabel provinces, Ronald Ivapitu, of the European Union Micro Project Office, revealed that his office could offer assistance to schools.

Throughout the two-week tour of over 40 schools in the five provinces, Ivapitu had observed that most of these schools do not have access to water supply and sanitation.

In most schools visited the education monitoring team had discovered that unfortunately water and sanitation had never been a priority as school planners seemed to have been pre-occupied with the building of classrooms and staff houses.

The easy access to the beaches and rivers has seemingly obscured most school planners from realizing the necessity of installing water supply and proper sanitation in their respective schools for children and teachers.

According to Ivapitu, this issue of water supply and sanitation could be an area that the European Union Micro Project could help to fund.

Ivapitu explained that schools could utilize the funds under the social infrastructure component of the European Union Micro Project Fund to built water and sanitation.

"European Union Micro Project is here to compliment other donor agencies that have already provided assistance to schools such as New Zealand AID, Japanese Grassroots and the Country Strategy and Program," Ivapitu added.

"Our criteria that applicants have to follow in order to be considered for assistance are similar to those of other donor agencies", Ivapitu stressed, adding that: "for any one project, the European Union Micro Project can provide assistance to the limit of SBD$500,000 [US$72,000]"

[PIR editor’s note: Earlier this year, Papua New Guinea received an approval from the European Union for US$53 million to support education and training.]

However, as Ivapitu emphatically outlined the key ingredient to successfully accessing funds under European Union Micro Project is for schools to produce a good School Development Plan that must also have the support of their respective communities.

According to Ivapitu the European Union Micro Project places emphasis on community partnership in which the composition of assistance is such that 75 percent comes from European Union Micro Project and the community injects the remaining 25 per cent.

"The 75 percent contribution from European Union Micro Project is the actual grant whereas the other 25 percent from the community is valued in the form of labor, timber, sand and gravel and other manual tasks," Ivapitu explained.

He told Government Communications Unit that in order for schools to successfully secure funding from them they must have strong community support.

Meanwhile, being remotely located most schools have not had the opportunity to access information as to where and how they could tap funding for the development of their schools.

However, the ongoing monitoring exercise undertaken by the Ministry of Education to schools in the rural areas has given opportunity particularly for the schoolteachers and their committees to access information during the discussions and awareness meetings.

June 28, 2006

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