4 Jun 2009

New Zealand to pay school fees for the poor in Samoa

3:38 pm on 4 June 2009

The New Zealand government says it will provide up to 650,000 US dollars to help disadvantaged families in Samoa pay school fees.

The announcement was made by the foreign minister, Murray McCully, who says Australia is contributing a further 1.6 million US dollars towards the initiative.

Mr McCully says the global economic crisis, inflation, and increasing unemployment have led to hardship for some families in Samoa.

He says there is evidence that school attendance is falling, and that many parents are unable to afford to pay school fees for their children.

Mr McCully says it's important that current financial climate does not undermine the good progress Samoa has made in enrolling and keeping young people in the education system.

The announcement comes a week after the New Zealand government presented its budget and coincides with a visit to Polynesia by the Australian foreign minister, Stephen Smith.