AUSTRALIA FUNDS SOLOMONS SCHOOL IMPROVEMENTS

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2,900 secondary students to benefit from aid

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 8, 2010) – In the Solomon Islands, over 2,900 students at secondary schools in Guadalcanal, Western Province, Malaita and Temotu will soon have refurbished facilities thanks to new funding from the Australian Government Aid Program.

The Australian Government signed an arrangement in December 2009 with the Solomon Islands Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) to provide over SB$6 million [US$722,400] to support infrastructure improvements in seven schools:

"These schools need urgent repairs to provide a better learning environment for students," said Permanent Secretary for Education and Human Resource Development, Mylyn Kuve.

"The impact of the Fee Free Basic Education Policy is evidenced in the increased enrolment in schools. Support from Australia will certainly improve students’ dormitories, classrooms and sanitation in the national secondary schools for both basic education and senior secondary. Ministry of Education very much welcomes this extra support from the Australian Government."

Frank Ingruber, Australian High Commissioner said, "Australia is delighted to support the refurbishment of secondary school facilities".

"In addition to helping improve educational outcomes for these students, the work will provide local employment opportunities for up to 200 people affected by the economic downturn and boost businesses by buying local materials."

He noted that the Australian assistance has been developed in close coordination with MEHRD, the Australian Government Aid Program and key education sector donor, NZAID, to ensure that it is closely aligned with Solomon Island Government priorities.

The MEHRD Infrastructure and Coordination Unit will manage the project. Work will start in early 2010 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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