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Governments agree on NZ’s aid to Solomons

Governments agree on NZ’s aid to Solomons

New Zealand’s aid to the Solomon Islands will focus on getting teachers into every primary school classroom, and on re-building law and justice systems.

Foreign Phil Goff made the announcement today from Honiara after the Solomon Islands and New Zealand governments officially agreed on the allocation of New Zealand’s aid.

Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced earlier this month that NZAID, the agency in charge of New Zealand's overseas development assistance, would increase this year's funding to the Solomons from $8 million to $14 million.

“It’s important that we help the Solomons Islands government address underlying social issues hampering economic development, such as the breakdown of law and order, and a lack of basic education," Mr Goff said.

“New Zealand has already committed a significant number of police to help restore the rule of law. However effective policing is of little value if the justice system can't deal with offenders, or detain those sentenced to imprisonment.

"New Zealand proved in East Timor that we are skilled at rebuilding criminal justice systems. We will make a similar contribution in the Solomons, including funding to complete the construction of Rove prison in Honiara.

“We will also focus on the next generation of Solomon Islanders. A lack of basic education is a root cause of poverty, and today less than 40 percent of children complete primary school in the Solomons.

"NZAID funding will ensure that, despite the current economic crisis, qualified primary school teachers are paid, and that classrooms have the necessary basics such as desks, books and chalk."

Mr Goff said NZAID would also fund one-off initiatives as needs arose, such as the training of magistrates to support the justice sector.

NZAID funding will be allocated in the following way:

Education Total: $10,500,000 $9 million will go towards paying the salaries of qualified primary school teachers, most of who have been paid irregularly or not at all because of the economic crisis. The cost of basic primary school equipment such as chalk, desks, books and teaching materials will also be covered.

The remaining $1,500,000 will go towards tertiary education and strategic planning for education generally.

Law and Justice/good governance Total: $2,700,000 $1 million will help complete Rove prison in Honiara, which at present is unable to cope with growing numbers of inmates. $1.7 million will go towards multi-donor initiatives to re-establish sound economic governance systems, develop leadership skills and support good governance programmes such as the Constitutional Reform Project, led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Business Initiatives/Rural Development Total: $300,000 NZAID will continue to fund the Small Business Enterprise Centre, which offers courses on how to run a business. The scheme currently also trains ex-militants in business skills, and the UNDP has requested that NZAID continue to do this as more militants hand in their weapons.

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