SEATTLE — The Solomon Islands is located in the South Pacific and is made up of six primary islands. Over the last several years, the country has been working to strengthen the quality of education that it offers its youth.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) implemented the Education Strategic Framework (ESF) 2007-2015 and saw several achievements in boosting education in the Solomon Islands. Most notably, the Solomon Islands saw a training improvement of 56 percent in primary teachers and 62 percent in secondary teachers. The number of teachers increased as well. There was also a 24 percent primary school enrollment increase and a junior secondary enrollment increase of 70 percent. The transition rate also improved by 10 percent.
Furthermore, the Solomon Islands added 35 new libraries. In addition, it saw an improvement in the literacy levels of fourth graders from 2012 to 2015.
However, there are still many aspects of education in the Solomon Islands that need attention. In 2015, more than 60 percent of fourth-grade students were very behind in their writing skills, and only 40 percent of these students had sufficient reading levels.
In 2016, students in grades nine and 11 both had dropout rates of more than 20 percent, while year 12 students had a dropout rate of 76 percent. These three grade levels also had the lowest promotion rates between all 12 years.
Another noticeable issue is the number of primary school-age children not in school. In 2014, approximately 18 percent of school-age males and 21 percent of school-age females were not enrolled in primary school. A gender gap is notable here as well as in literacy rates. Females aged 15 to 24 are 10 percent less literate than their male counterparts. When taking the population of adults 15 and older into consideration, 84 percent of men and only 69 percent of women in the Solomon Islands were literate as of 2014.
MEHRD has recognized the shortcomings of its implementation of the ESF and is using the lessons learned from this to improve the structure of its new plan. The MEHRD has introduced a new plan to improve education in the Solomon Islands called the National Education Action Plan 2016-2020. The goals for this plan are primarily to expand services and programs to catch up to the growing population, to strengthen literacy skills and to provide teachers with necessary training and tools while strengthening its system of school management. This plan includes goals for equal education for male and female students in order to reduce the gender gap in literacy and enrollment.
Although the Solomon Islands has major improvements to make in its education system, it is laying a solid path toward success by recognizing past mistakes and setting goals to meet the needs of its population.
– Emma Tennyson
Photo: Wikimedia Commons