462 government sponsored students are expected to complete their studies in institutions in Fiji, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea this year.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education says the government is planning to bring the students home in the first week of December.
“I will not disclose the date yet today but we have progressed the work that we have been asked to do and by the end of next week we should have a paper ready to bring to cabinet to seek approval”, Dr. Franco Rodie says.
He says for the Philippines students the date remains 27th October, and preparations are still in place to ensure that the students are cleared before they board the plane home.
“We may need three flights but we understand that Air Niugini has resumed flights between Manila and Port Moresby, and there has also been announcement that it may resume flights to Honiara upon advice from the government here so there is a possibility that some of them may come on board the Air Niugini flight”, Rodie says.
He assured the parents that the students are well taken care of by the government. He says the government is doing all that it can to help the students.
So far, the government has approved 12 repatriation flights. The last repatriation flight was on 27th September where 96 Solomon Islands students from the Philippines were brought back to the country.
The number of arrivals since the first repatriation flight in May is 1128. This excludes those who have been exempted on cargo flights, military flights, and others. Additionally, Solomon Islands nationals working in the fisheries sector are also being repatriated through fishing vessels and private charter flights.
The Government will continue its plans to repatriate Solomon Island nationals, and other foreign nationals exempted to support humanitarian response and other key Government priorities.