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New Aid focus on Basic Education

3.10.01 Media Statement

New Aid focus on Basic Education

"The Government will phase out its Aotearoa Scholarships Scheme for tertiary Pacific Island students," Minister in charge of aid, Matt Robson announed today.

This decision follows the announement last month that a new semi-autonomous aid agency would be established. The new agency will focus more directly on poverty elimination and on basic education.

"As promised, the new aid agency will re-direct its focus onto basic education rather than on tertiary scholarships," says Minister in charge of aid, Matt Robson.

The final intake of students will go ahead in 2002 and the last Aotearoa scholars will complete their courses in 2005.

"It is a fact that some NZODA-funded tertiary scholars do not return to their country of birth," says Matt Robson.

"The benefits to that country are therefore questionable, especially when basic education (early childhood, primary and junior secondary) in many Pacific Island communities remains limited.

"And yet to date 40% of New Zealand's aid budget goes on education: 90% of that on tertiary scholarships. Under the new mandate that will change.

High achieving Pacific students will still be able to come to this country under a range of other programmes.

"A review of all our education programmes is underway and the new shape of New Zealand's future assistance in this area will be decided once that review is concluded," says Matt Robson.

The Aotearoa Scholarships have been in existence since 1994 and provide partial funding for Pacific students (690 in 2001) to study in New Zealand. Government spending on the programme in the current financial year is $14.6 million.

ENDS

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