COVID-19 has disrupted children’s learning around the world this year. That’s why Australia is supporting Save the Children’s preparedness and response activities in the education sector in Solomon Islands with an additional SBD$5.7 million grant.

This new funding will help 50 communities across Solomon Islands improve hand washing hygiene in schools and maintain children’s learning in 2020 and 2021.

Australian High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan announced the grant while visiting Papagu Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre in Guadalcanal this week.

Papagu ECD Centre is supported by the Australian Government and Save the Children through the Play to be School Ready project.

Dr Strahan said it was so important to ensure that that all children, no matter where they live, have a chance to realise their full potential. He was pleased to announce additional Australian support for the education sector during these difficult times.

“We are so fortunate that coronavirus has not reached Solomon Islands. Nevertheless, sadly its effects are being felt here, including by school children whose learning has been disrupted,” Dr Strahan said.

“Save the Children is a trusted partner who will use this funding to help 50 communities maintain children’s learning over the course of this year and into 2021.”

In addressing a gathering at the Papagu ECD Centre, he acknowledged the crucial roles played by teachers and parents in supporting the children of the village to learn, acquire skills and build a better future.

Vanessa Zulueta, Save the Children’s Country Director in Solomon Islands, said she welcomed the investment.

“I’m really pleased that Save the Children is able to support students in Solomon Islands and assist the Solomon Islands Government with its COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan,” Ms Zulueta said.

“While there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, we all must stay vigilant and ensure our hygiene practices are as good as can be.

“Hand washing is an incredibly important tool to protect children and the broader community from COVID-19 and a range of other communicable diseases.

“At the moment, many schools in the Solomon Islands have inadequate water supply, so I’m really pleased we’re able to help in this way.”

The new grant complements Australia’s existing support to the education sector, which is implemented in partnership with New Zealand and the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD).

Alongside New Zealand, Australia provides up to SBD$44 million to MEHRD every year to support basic education.

Australia also funds UNICEF’s education activities in Solomon Islands, the Australia Pacific Technical College and the University of the South Pacific. Australia also offers the Australia Awards tertiary scholarships and Pacific Secondary School Scholarships.

Source: AHC Media Release