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New Zealand aid to help Pacific children learn

4 July 2003 Media Statement

New Zealand aid to help Pacific children learn

Getting every child in the Pacific in front of a qualified primary school teacher would give the region a chance of developing to its full potential, Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton, in Suva for a Pacific Forum trade ministers meeting, today signed an agreement with the University of the South Pacific and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. The agreement guarantees New Zealand’s support through the government’s aid agency, NZAID, for a major new initiative in basic education in the Pacific called PRIDE. NZAID funding of $5 million dollars will be distributed over three years.

Pacific Regional Initiatives For Delivery of Basic Education aims to put key education initiatives in the region under one plan. It has been endorsed by all Pacific Island countries and donors like New Zealand, and supports the Pacific Ministers of Education Action Plan for Basic Education.

The goal is to meet the basic learning needs of every child, youth and adult in the Pacific within a generation. Nearly fifty per cent of NZAID’s funding in the Pacific already goes to education and training.

Although some Pacific Countries already have universal primary education (for example: the Cook Islands, Tokelau, Niue, Nauru and Samoa), some lag behind. Forty per cent of children in PNG and about sixty per cent in the Solomon Islands do not complete primary education, leading to high rates of illiteracy.

New Zealand is one of the 189 United Nations Member States who have pledged to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015, one of which is to get all boys and girls in developing countries into primary school by 2015.

NZAID is currently consulting widely on an education policy. Although education priorities vary from country to country, NZAID has already re-focused its efforts towards basic education, seeing primary education as a key priority.

“Education is key to the Pacific’s future success. These countries are our neighbours. Their success will contribute to our success,” Mr Sutton said.

ENDS

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