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Earmarks $531,000 for private technical institutions

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 6, 2010) - Tertiary education has been given a boost this year with the Tonga government approving a grant of 1 million pa’anga [US$531,000] for eight non-government technical institutions for the 2010 school year.

The government grant works out at 1,200 pa’anga per student per annum, the Prime Minister, Dr. Feleti Sevele said in announcing the grant yesterday, after he and the Minister of Education Dr. Tevita Palefau, and the Director of Education, Dr. Viliami Fukofuka met representatives from the eight non-government institutions.

The recipients of the first grant from government include three institutions of the Free Wesleyan Church, the Tupou Technical Institute, Tongatapu; Hango Agricultural College, 'Eua; and the Pouono Tertiary Institute, Vava'u.

Other recipients are the three institutions of the Catholic Church, the St Joseph's Business College, Monfort Technical College, and the 'Ahopailolo Technical College in Nuku'alofa; and the Lavengamalie Christian University of the Tokaikolo Christian Church, and the privately owned 'Atenisi Institute in Nuku'alofa.

Dr. Feleti Sevele told a press conference that the grant to technical institutes is different from the government grant to private schools, which today is 200 pa’anga per head.

'Alifeleti 'Atiola, from the Free Wesleyan Church Technical institutes thanked the Prime Minister and the government for their generous support in an effort to turn into reality the objective of government for Tongan students to remain at school until 18, "and when they leave schools, they can either find jobs, or be able to make a living."

At the press conference, Fr. 'Ekuasi Manu, the Principal of St John's College, Levuka, Fili, presented the Prime Minister with a FJ$1,000 [US$524.00] cheque from the students of the college, as their contribution to the Ashika Fund.

Fr. 'Ekuasi said that the Prime Minister was an ex-student of St John's College and the students were very proud of him. Dr. Feleti Sevele made an impression on them when he attended the 50th anniversary of the college in June. Fr. 'Ekuasi said that the contribution from the 400 boarders, boys and girls of the college was a big sacrifice, but it showed how sincere they were with their contribution.

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