The Ministry of Education Master Plan states all people in the Cook Islands will have equal access to quality learning opportunities across a full spectrum of human endeavour.
Now, the Public Services Commission has endorsed a proposal for a Cook Islands Tertiary Student Loans Scheme – a scheme that would help realise the dream of equal access, its champions say.
University of the South Pacific’s Cook Islands campus director Dr Debi Futter-Puati has drafted the proposal. Her main objective was to provide choice and equity to people who want to do their tertiary study and stay at home within their existing support structures.
“As with other countries, tertiary education is often only accessible to those with enough money, unless there is a scheme such as this available to support equity,” Futter-Puati said.
The proposal has received strong verbal endorsement by both Public Services Commissioner Russell Thomas and commission chief executive Myra Patai.
Patai said they had observed the difficulties the public service experienced recruiting qualified people.
Any programme such as the Cook Islands Tertiary Education Student Loans Scheme would help the commission’s efforts to develop a current and future workforce to meet labour market and human resource demand.
“Travelling overseas to undertake studies means you leave your support network behind and hopefully this scheme will help retain our own people in country,” Patai said.
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Education secretary Danielle Cochrane said as a member country of the University of the South Pacific, Cook Islands makes a financial contribution to the university as set by the University Grants Committee.
“USP plays a significant role in providing tertiary education opportunities throughout the region and this is certainly something to celebrate,” she said yesterday.
“The Ministry is extremely fortunate to have the Cook Islands Campus, not only for those who wish to study in country, but also for our Pa Enua who study through a range of different modalities with the Cook Islands Campus.
“There is a close working relationship with the Ministry and the Cook Islands Campus, which is highly valued. Collaboration and mutual support exists with initiatives that enhance the campus. With Debi’s background in education and previous experience with the Ministry of Education, this makes for fantastic collaboration and development in the future.”