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Shortage of high schools not an easy fix, Vanuatu’s Education Ministry

Friday 4 February 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Vanuatu

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Shortage of high schools not an easy fix, Vanuatu’s Education Ministry

Vanuatu's Education Ministry says there is no quick fix to address a shortage of high schools in the country.

This is after reports that there are not enough schools to accommodate Year 11 students for the 2022 academic year which starts next Monday.

Director of Education Services Samuel Katipa told RNZ Pacific there are 2000 primary schools but only 90 secondary schools on the island.

Mr Katipa said they have found it challenging to deal with this issue for the past decade.

But he confirms that temporary measures have been put in place for over one thousand Year 11 students to begin classes next week.

"The alternate option that we have had was to place them with the research providers and that is the rural training centres. So I think we have already placed those students in the rural training centers.

A 'School' sign in Port Vila.
A 'School' sign in Port Vila. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

He said his Ministry is currently focused on completing a national infrastructure development plan for primary schools.

"And once we have completed that within 2023 then we move forward to the secondary education rationalisation.

And that is where we'll have to organise visits to schools, and thanks to New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to organise secondary education sector program so that is where we are looking at how to expand secondary education especially within the facilities that we have," he said.

The Vanuatu Government allocates 25 percent of its national budget to the education sector.

Central School in Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila.
Central School in Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Teachers Union is planning to go on a strike on Monday.

According to the Daily Post, teachers who participate in the strike could face disciplinary action by the Teaching Service Commission.

Mr Katipa said they are hoping the strike does not go ahead.

"The case has been brought up with the labour department here in Vanuatu. The teaching service commission has put forward a note to them but they haven't come back for a dialogue.

We are still waiting for the labour department to come back so we can dialogue together with the union and the Teaching Service Commission," he said.