Four Solomon Islanders have been awarded the prestigious Australian Leadership Awards (ALA) scholarship to undertake postgraduate study in Australia next year.

The ALA Scholarships are long-term development awards aimed at addressing priority development areas by enhancing leadership and building partnerships and linkages within developing countries.

The ALA scholarships cover travel, living allowances, tuition fees and university costs, as well as a unique leadership training program. The AusAID funded scholarships for 2012 are awarded to:

Luke Forau - currently the Chief Manager, Economics, Research & Statistics, Central Bank of Solomon Islands, will complete a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Management at University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Willie Quan - currently the Principal Dental Officer, Ministry of Health & Medical Services, National Referral Hospital, will complete a Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Melbourne. (*Waiting confirmation of university offer).

Joseph Foukona - currently a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific, Vanuatu, will complete a Doctor of Philosophy in Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University, Canberra.

Kristina Fidali - currently the Youth Environment Programme Coordinator at the United Nations Development Program, will complete a Masters of Climate Change at the Australian National University, Canberra.
In congratulating the four scholars, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Matt Anderson said the latest group take the total number of Solomon Island ALA scholarship holders to 32 since the scholarship program began in 2007.

"The ALA scholarships are highly competitive, based on leadership qualities and outstanding academic achievement. I would like to congratulate the new scholars on their success and I am sure they will bring great credit to both themselves and Solomon Islands," Mr Anderson said.

"Through these scholarships, the four new scholars join 28 former and current ALA scholars, who now have the chance to extend their education and participate in a unique development program to enhance their leadership skills, build networks and increase their understanding of regional development challenges."

"They then bring these skills and knowledge home, which help all Solomon Islanders. Many previous ALA scholars now hold important roles in government and industry."

Mr Anderson said Australia's investment in the scholarship program and education more generally, is helping the Solomon Islands Government to meet the future training, and human resource development needs of the country.

The annual ALA scholarships are an important part of Australia's support to the Solomon Islands Government's commitment to boosting education opportunities in Solomon Islands. As well as the ALA scholarships, 24 Solomon Islanders undertake undergraduate studies at Australian universities through the Australian Development Scholarships, with a further 24 Solomon Islanders completing undergraduate courses at Pacific regional universities every year.

Source: Press Release, AusAID Media and Communications