For a typical Solomon Island family with five or more school-age children, between the ages of 6 to 15, the pronouncement that Solomon Islands government funded schools will provide free basic education up to Form 3, as of next year, comes as a great relieve.

Such a statement wouldn't have come at a better time, when the cost of basic goods and services have increased drastically, due to the economic recession experienced throughout the world today. As a parent and guardian of school-aged children, I appreciate this initiative by the government of the day.

But, is our country really prepared to take on this challenge in 2009? Is this free basic education package enough to satisfy our children's learning needs and the aspirations we have for our children's future? How can the MEHRD ensure that the huge amount of money allocated for free basic education in our country is money well spent? How can we ensure that the least fortunate children in our rural communities receive the quality of education they need through this free basic education initiative? What are the contributions and expectations of parents and communities towards their children's education under this new system?

I believe these are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves as we venture into this new development in our education system.

Let us not be so excited about this 'free' gift from the government as yet, because there is no such thing as a 'free lunch' nowadays. I suggest we keep an open mind about the benefits of this new undertaking in our education system as we progress along. So, they say, "you won't know what its like unless you are in it".

Needless to say, it is a good start for a good cause!