Australian support for school programs in Solomon Islands is helping ensure more young people have access to quality education and skills training.Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, said on Tuesday that the Australian Government was strengthening its commitment by providing an additional SBD$48 million over 18 months to support teacher training, improve early grade literacy and numeracy and teaching resources for schools.
"Providing access to quality education and training for the growing number of young people in Solomon Islands is essential for ensuring economic growth and stability and reducing poverty rates. Additional resources are needed to ensure that young people are ready for employment opportunities," Mr Marles said.
Mr Marles announced the funding following his meeting on Tuesday with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Danny Philip and Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney.
"This additional funding brings Australia's support for basic education in Solomon Islands to SBD$98 million since 2010," Mr Marles said.
"This includes more than SBD$48 million towards the Solomon Islands Government's fee-free school education policy which is helping more than 140,000 children get an education.
"Australia's support ensures that children in grades one to nine are not denied access to education, and that poorer students who would have otherwise missed out will be able to attend school," Mr Marles said.
In addition, Australia has provided SBD$8 million to refurbish dormitories and improve water and sanitation facilities at seven secondary schools in Guadalcanal, Western, Malaita and Temotu Provinces.
On Wednesday, Mr Marles visited one of the schools, Kukudu Adventist High School in Western Province, where he had the opportunity to talk to both students and staff.
"In Solomon Islands, adequate dormitory facilities have been identified as a factor in ensuring more girls can complete secondary school," Mr Marles said.
Australia looks forward to continuing and increasing its engagement with the Solomon Islands Government to help improve the education sector over coming years.