Provincial School In Solomons Reportedly In Disrepair

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Some students at Temotu school lack permanent classrooms

By Assumpta Buchanan

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 6, 2014) – There’s currently only one permanent building that served as a classroom at Luesalemba Provincial Secondary School in Temotu Province, Solomon Islands.

And that was the one funded under the Provincial Government Strengthening Programme (PGSP).

PSGP stepped in and assisted the school, which has been destroyed by the earthquake last year, with a classroom building, two staff houses and a boy’s dormitory.

The total cost of the project was about SBD$1.5 million [US$203,700].

Only form five and six students use the new PGSP sponsored building while the rest of the school used tents that were provided by World Vision.

The natural disaster that hit the province early last year destroyed the school’s very old buildings, including all the classrooms.

About 260 students are currently enrolled at the school, which is Temotu Province’s premier secondary school.

When the media team arrived at the school to interview beneficiaries of the project, the school was deserted as it was during the school holiday last month.

Only some staff remain at the school.

The media team however, were fortunate to have caught up with two form sixth students who resided with staff at the school.

Esau Tipunga and Lency Maru were both doing their form six last year.

Tipunga said if it had not been for PGSP, he was not sure the school would be able to operate its form sixth level.

He thought that PGSP really helped the school since its form one to four are using tents as classrooms.

"I feel sorry for the other students who are using the tents because during wet weather they would cancel classes," Tipunga said.

"Even during the hot season, inside the tents are very hot."

But he said the form five and six students are comfortable in the permanent classrooms.

Maru said the atmosphere in the classrooms is good and he enjoyed his classes.

"We continued with our classes despite the rainy or hot weather because we are secured in this building," Maru added.

The two students said Luesalemba needs more classrooms for those lower forms that are currently using tents.

They added that having no proper classrooms affects the students’ learning and the teachers as well in terms of giving the quality knowledge to the students.

"We want to thank PGSP for the form five and six classroom.

"We believe that studying in this permanent secured building has motivated our studies during our time here at Luesalemba," they said.

[PIR editor's note: Meanwhile, the Solomon Star also reports that provincial teachers have called for officers in Temotu's education office to be removed, citing incompetence. Untrained teachers are reportedly being used in schools, despite low levels of education, and this is feared to be affecting student learning. Education officials in Temotu, however, have said such allegations are unsubstantiated and paint a bad image for those serving in the office.]

Deputy principal John Ottie Daiwo, who only took up the post last year, said PGSP has done a lot of development at the School.

He said construction works on the staff house, boys dormitory and the classroom started in 2009 and completed in 2011.

"This project was timely as the classrooms were very old.

"The roof leaks and the woods were rotten.

"All the staff houses were made of bush materials and so when the natural disaster strikes early last year, the houses were slightly damaged.

"It was a blessing that PGSP came and assisted to build the permanent staff houses," Daiwo said.

He said it would be better if all the staff houses are permanent.

"The teachers felt secure and comfortable in their new building.

"They can now attend all classes compared to when they lived in the old staff houses that has leaking roofs.

Daiwo said when it rains; the teacher misses class and is busy patching up his roof.

The deputy principal said with the new buildings, it can attract qualified teachers to the School.

"There are two girls’ dormitories that are very old and four boys’ dormitories, one of which was funded by the PGSP."

He said the PGSP funded dormitory accommodated more than 60 students.

"It was only meant to accommodate form sixth students but due to the deteriorating conditions of the other dorms, the school decided to move all the forms into the new building.

"The conditions of the classrooms are very old as well.

He said the new boys’ dorm was secure and safe as it withstand the earthquake.

"The students are happy that their properties inside the dormitory were safe for they can lock the door when they go to classes.

He said old dorms do not have locks.

"The students do not have fear of the wild men when residing in the new dormitory.

"The old classrooms were damaged when the disaster strike last year."

Daiwo said it was World Vision that donated tents that was used as classrooms for form one to four.

He said PGSP has provided a good learning environment and also promoted the morale of learning for the students and teachers.

"This project is a free gift from the donors and we must all make sure to take care of it.

"Take extra caution when using these facilities."

PGSP is an institutional strengthening programme aiming to develop the capacity of the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) and the nine provincial governments to fulfil their mandates in either delivering, or coordinating with line departments for the effective delivery of services.

The programme is financed by the Australian Government through RAMSI, the European Union (EU), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with a counterpart fund from the Solomon Island Government (SIG).

The Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) is executing the programme with UNDP as the Administrative Agent.

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