School Drop-Outs A ‘Time Bomb’ For Solomon Islands

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Commentary

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 27, 2014) – It has been the talk of the day after the ministry of education and human resources (MEHR) particularly NESU released the results of Forms 1, 4, 6 and 7 official placement.

The public at large frequently asked where the drop outs will go.

Interestingly, MEHR has confirmed that this year’s drop out exceeds the previous year’s drop outs and it should ring a bell to parents, relevant authorities and national government to do something about sooner than later.

It is undeniable truth that the increasing number of dropouts is a catalyst for the increasing of unemployment and unlawful activities in the country.

If those drop outs are unable to engage in any formal employment and contribute to the economic activities it will lead to increase urban drift with youths looking for employment.

And if there’s no opportunity to work, they can get involved in criminal activities.

We have witnessed in the April riot 2006, when China town was lotted. Similar incidents happened in front of our eyes during the recent show of Julian Marley at Panatina.

Current government and future governments must come to realise that increasing rate of unemployment in the country and needs serious consideration, otherwise we will put a cart before the horse.

Observers in the country and overseas believe employment for young people should be made available in places all around the country and not just in Honiara.

This is the most effective way to reducing or preventing urban drift.

Fundamentally, right thinking national government could also have a job creation vision. Certainly, some natural resources can be used, for wealth creation at a sustainable level, as they are also held in trust for future generations.

Locals persist that any development or economic activities taking place in the rural areas should recruit only locals and not foreigners. It’s not good to see Asians working in rural areas on jobs that can be easily filled by locals.

The government should put strict control on foreign workers and develop the local labour force. Foreign companies should not be allowed to bring workers in.

Government should inject more resources into vocational training centres where young people can learn marketable skills (carpentry, fishing, agriculture, mechanics, etc).

This nation is so blessed with natural, and sea resources, but it needs some new agriculture products that could be developed.

Unemployment is a major issue affecting Solomon Islands today and many of them are youths with age ranging from 15- 24.

These youths looking for employment but cannot able to find job because lack of education.

Politicians receiving fund overseas, from the Republic of China (Taiwan) for rural development purposes, yet did not utilize that money to curb poverty in their respective constituencies.

It’s important that constituencies should create and support any forms of developmental activity that will engage those youths to be involved and get paid for their efforts and energy wasted while improving the standard of living in rural areas.

It is indeed heartening to know that Solomon Islands is amongst the poorest in the world and the Pacific Islands with very low job opportunities as aid money or funding from Aid donors or donor partners over the recent past sky-rocketed.

With all these, it is high time that leaders of this nation especially from our National Government must consider the issue of unemployment and its impact to young people especially youths of this nation.

It is imperative that our national government and future governments must be genuine and be honest with their plans of establishing economic growth centers in the provinces. This will give rise to job creation for young people to involve in economic activities.

Also there is a great need for more vocational training institutions are established all around the provinces to enable young people develop useful skills for employment or enterprise development. In this way Solomon Islands can become a happier place for all Solomon Islanders.

As a matter of fact, lest we forget, unemployment is among the emerging threats to the national socio-economic stability and may have dramatic impact on services, infrastructure and the nature of politics in this nation.

MEHR is working on a framework, the Solomon Islands Qualification Framework (SIQF).

This standard will improve and reform all forms of human resources development. This framework will help address unemployment in the country, a statement from the ministry said.

Developing a national qualification framework is one national instrument to address the unemployment.

According to the SIQF most youths in the country are unemployed because the domestic labour market is limited and short of specific skills demanded by industry.

As such, there was lack of recognition to some qualifications people acquired.

Thus the SIQF will set a foundation for an improved and skilled work force marketable domestically and internationally.

All Solomon Islands learners will have the opportunity to develop as individuals and possess knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to earn a living.

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