13 Dec 2004

Solomon Islands says it wants to raise standards by making primary education free

4:47 pm on 13 December 2004

The Solomon Islands government says it's introducing major changes to the education system next year in a bid to improve the overall education of the population.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Snyder Rini, says the government will abolish primary school fees to allow all children to have access to primary education.

It will also abolish the the standard six secondary education examination which determines whether primary school pupils can go on to secondary school.

Mr Rini says the government's education policy makes it clear that education is a right, not a privilege.

"The idea behind this is that we are trying to provide a basic education to all the children in Solomon Islands and at the moment the fee is the hindrance, so that's why we said okay, on basic education, we abolish school fees from standard one to six."

He says the new initiatives should lead to increased annual intakes in both primary and secondary schools

He says the government has committed around 26 million US dollars, or a third of its 2005 budget, to education.

New Zealand and the European Union are providing much of the funding.