The New Zealand Government will this week make a second payment of SBD$8.5 million to support the Solomon Islands Government commitment to Fee Free Basic Education.

This was jointly announced by Hon. Mathew Wale, Minister for Education and Human Resources Development and the New Zealand High Commissioner, H.E Deborah Pankhurst in Honiara yesterday.

This week's payment is New Zealand's second payment towards Fee Free Basic education this year, bringing the New Zealand Governments contribution to SBD$15 million. It is in addition to New Zealand's existing commitment of SBD$40 million per annum to basic education in the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands Government has paid a total SBD$33,165,813 towards the fee free education through grants in the first and second quarters of 2009. At the same time, the Ministry, with additional support from New Zealand, is continuing its programmes in teacher training, curriculum development and infrastructure which are all essential for ensuring all children can access quality education.

"Implementing the Fee Free Basic Education Policy is a challenge in terms of resources and capacity to monitor the impacts of the Policy," said Minister Wale.

"In a recent sample survey of the schools in and around Honiara, we have seen the impact of the fee free education policy. There is an increase of 6% in primary school level enrolment and a 4.8% in secondary schools. This is good for the policy because the objective is to increase access to basic education," the Minister stressed.

"However, there are other impacts. As a result of the increased enrolment there are demands for more classrooms, more teachers and more teaching and learning materials. My Ministry is determined to follow up and address the impacts of this policy with the support of our stakeholders and our development partners."

Ms Pankhurst said "Removing the school fees will ensure more children can gain an education and as a result improve their opportunities for employment. It also means that families will have more money available for other important priorities. New Zealand is committed to supporting Solomon Islands people to improve their everyday lives and meet basic needs. Fee Free Basic Education is an important contribution to that goal."