Port Vila, Vanuatu, 13th May 2012 - There has been a call for sustainability and coordination of development resources in the education sector in the Pacific region as the 9th Forum Education Ministers' Meeting (FEdMM) gets underway in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Hon. Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, MP opened the Meeting today in a ceremony featuring performances by school children of Port Vila and a speech to the Ministers by a 14-year old school boy.

In his statement at the opening ceremony, Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr Feleti Teo said, "the Forum Education Ministers meeting is now a permanent feature of the schedule of Forum ministerial meetings we convene, and does provide a regular opportunity for Education Ministers of the region to come together and share their experience; share their common concerns; share their respective difficulties and development challenges in the exercise of their responsibilities as Education Ministers."

"As a result of the work of Forum Education Ministers, the region now has a regional development strategy for the education sector in the form of the Pacific Education Development Framework, a framework that was adopted by Education Ministers at their meeting in Tonga in 2009," said Forum Deputy Secretary General, Mr Teo.

The Framework's underpinning philosophy is to nurture, develop and prepare all children in the region so that they are able to live life to the full; to be able to participate effectively in national developments; and to be able to maintain their traditional and cultural identities and to sustain them in the face of globalization.

Speaking on the theme of the 9th FEdMM, "Sustainable quality education - 2012 and beyond", the Forum Secretariat Deputy Secretary General Mr Teo said this is a notion or principle that runs through the regional Education Development Framework.

"The theme for the meeting brings to the fore the strong notion and aspiration for sustainable development in the education sector. Though countries may aspire for and achieve the delivery of quality education services to their population, the greatest challenge is sustaining the standard and quality of those services," said Mr Teo.

"And it is through sustainable quality education, that the region will fulfill the vision of Pacific Leaders under the Pacific Plan for a region of peace, harmony, security and economic prosperity, so that all of its people can lead free and worthwhile lives."
Forum Deputy Secretary General Mr Teo also highlighted the need for resources to implement the regional development frameworks Education Ministers have constructed to guide their work.

"Substantial resources of course will be required. And therefore the issue of resources constraint presents itself. And it is here where we seek to fully utilize all available development resources, whether they exist internally through national resources or externally through development assistance from development partners and donors.

"The key is coordination. There must be effective coordination of the development resources of national governments and those provided by development partners to minimize the risk of duplication of efforts and wastage of resources. This must be at the forefront of the implementation of the education development framework," said Mr Teo

He explained that the work the Forum Secretariat has undertaken under the auspices of the Forum Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination have provided useful support to member countries in enhancing the coordination of their development resources. Work continues in this area, and the focus of the work of the Forum Compact is expected to be narrowed on sectoral areas like the Education sector.

Mr Teo added: "At regional gatherings of this kind, we must always not lose sight of the reality. Whatever regional framework or regional initiative in the education sector, the test of their successes can only be gauged if those regional initiatives can be translated into practical and tangible benefits at the national level. And that is the challenge ahead for the Education Ministers in their deliberations over the next two days."

"In the education sector, children must be the ultimate and primary beneficiary of regional and national efforts to deliver quality education services. For they are the leaders of tomorrow; and investing in education is investing in the quality of the leadership of tomorrow," Mr Teo said.

During the two-day meeting, the Education Ministers will among other agenda items, receive an update on the implementation of the Pacific Education Development Framework and discuss the priorities for the education sector in the Pacific Plan beyond 2013.