The recent Forum Education Ministers Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand has significantly helped Solomon Islands to set the goals and objectives of its National Education Action Plan in perspective at the regional level.Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Barnabas Anga, who represented Solomon Islands, said the meeting this year focuses on early child hood education and the youths of the Pacific.
He said discussions at the ministerial level indicate to the members the priorities and areas for better coordination and implementation by the Council of Regional Organizations in the Pacific (CROP) Agencies, particularly the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
During the meeting, the Solomon Islands delegation had the opportunity to share their experience on two subjects - namely the Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the Sector Wide Approach (SWA) initiatives.
"This meeting amongst others attempts to set priorities in the education sector to effectively recognize and implement the conclusions of our Pacific Leaders in previous forum meetings," Mr Anga said.
He said some documents used as reference in the meeting included the Pacific Plan, UN Decade for Education in Sustainable Development, Forum Basic Education Action Plan and other outcomes of CROP Agencies.
These documents reflect the education issues at the Global front.
"Hence when we participate in such meetings, the discussions really enlightened us on the issues, priorities and options or resources that are available to us for effective implementation of our regional or national plans," he said.
At the meeting, delegates learnt about the progress of education in the region, particularly with individual countries and the options that are available for forum countries, small island states and non-members of the Forum for better implementation and coordination of Education Plans.
Since education is a cross cutting sector, the meeting also discusses other areas where education can support, such as climate change, infrastructure, sports and so forth.
Many of these issues can be perceived as follow on from other regional meetings such as the USP Council and South Pacific Board for Education Assessment (SPBEA) AGM and other Meetings.
"Our participation in these meetings assists us to better understand the issues for better follow up and development at national level," Mr Anga said.
At the close of the meeting, Ministers recalled their support in 2006 of the work of UNESCO, PRIDE, the Commonwealth of Learning and other partners, in furthering development of work in ICT in education policy and planning and in strengthening the implementation of the Regional Digital Strategy.
Head of the Distance Learning Centers Project in Solomon Islands, David Leeming outlined the use of technology in enhancing learning opportunities particularly in remote communities.
While Ministers appreciated the opportunity to further develop ICT in schools with the use of the one laptop per child (OLPC) initiative, they noted that the use of computers must be complemented by appropriate educational input and trained personnel to make computers valuable.
Ministers highlighted the importance of protecting students against the negative impacts of internet access particularly to pornography.