26 Jan 2015

Tongan NGO says remittance culture hurting education

6:26 am on 26 January 2015

A Tongan social worker says remittances have contributed to a culture of dependency which is affecting how people value education.

no caption

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Vanessa Heleta runs the Talitha Project, a development and empowerment organisation focussed on young women.

Ms Heleta says one of the biggest challenges is the lack of drive to succeed among many.

She says the project recently had to stop a full scholarship programme because of a lack of participants.

Ms Heleta says culturally Tongans are family-orientated which spreads beyond nuclear relatives.

She says this has fuelled dependency and over-reliance on remittances.

"There's a notion of belief that we all have to help each other so we have these problems that if I can't feed myself today it's okay because I can always ask my aunty or my cousin overseas to send me some money."

Vanessa Heleta of the Talitha Project in Tonga

Last week, the European Union granted another NGO funds to help reverse the secondary school drop-out rate, which averages almost 1,000 a year since 2008.