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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 19) - Tonga’s Ministry of Education has received US$560,770 for the development of two programs for the disabled, special needs and pre-school children, yesterday from the PRIDE project.

The Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of basic Education (PRIDE) is being implemented by the Institute of Education at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, and is jointly funded by the European Union (EU) through the European Development Fund (EDF) and the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID).

Honorable Dr. Tevita Palefau the Minister of Education received the check from Vika Lutui the Acting Director of the USP Tonga campus, on behalf of the Institute of Education. A representative of the PRIDE project

Leonaitasi Taukafa was also present.

Hon. Palefau said that the fund will finance the development of two important programs in Tonga. Firstly, TOP255,500 [US$125,195] would be used for inclusive education, or the development of a qualified formal education for the disabled and special needs children. Secondly, TOP305,270 [US$149,582] will be used to develop a policy for Pre-School education in Tonga, "so that it in the future it can be included into our formal education system," he said.

At present the disabled and special needs students are being taught at a special school called the ‘Ofa Tui mo e ‘Amanaki centre or OTA but they are not included in Tonga’s formal education system.

Tonga’s formal education system starts at the class one level at the Government Primary School, which are children aged six and above, so currently does not include the pre-schools.

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