Education

Photo: Jane Ussher

Every child needs it; every child deserves it. Yet for 72 million children living in poverty it’s just a dream.

"You only learn how much school means to children when you talk to those who are unable to attend – they desperately want the chance to learn"
– Ali Tuhanuku, Oxfam Pacific Programme Manager

An education can be a ticket out of extreme poverty, early marriage, even HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Yet too often it’s the girls who miss out. When parents can’t send all their children to school they’ll often make the hard choice of keeping the girls at home.

Oxfam is currently working on improving access to and the quality of primary education for children through the Education Sector Monitoring Project.

Working with the Solomon Islands Christian Association Commission (SICA Commission), we are monitoring whether donor funds aimed at improving children’s access to and the quality of primary education are being used efficiently and achieving the greatest impact.

The study aims to benefit students, teachers, school committees, the Ministry of Education and the community as a whole.

We are working with 11 schools in the province of Malaita, where years of civil unrest drained the economy and made poverty endemic. Primary schools have been severely under resourced with poor infrastructure, limited teaching materials, low literacy and attendance rates and a lack of teacher management.

“The schools don’t have enough room for all of us,” says Joyce Sango – one of the lucky girls who has made it to year six.

“So many parents end up sending the boys in the family. Even then, I have to share my desk with three others in my classroom. Sometimes it’s really hard to do good work when it’s so overcrowded.”

Development indicators in the Solomon Islands are on a par with sub-Saharan Africa. But as the peace process takes hold, new opportunities are opening up to help more children access schools.