Speech by Hon. Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu
Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu
On the Occasion of the Opening of the 9th Forum Education Ministers Meeting
Le Lagon, Port Vila
Sunday, May 13th 2012
The Deputy Secretary General of the South Pacific Forum, Feleti Teo
The Honourable Chief Justice of Vanuatu, Hon. Vincent Lunabek
The Associate Minister of Education, Associate Minister for Maori Affairs,
Associate Minister of Corrections of New Zealand, Hon. Dr. Sharples
Honourable Government Ministers from the Vanuatu Government
Excellencies, Dean and Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Minister for Education for the Solomon Islands, Hon. Dick Ha’amori
Minister for Education for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Hon. Dr. Hilda Heine
Minister for Education for the Kingdom of Tonga, Honourable Taufe’ulungkali
Minister for Education for the Republic of Nauru, Hon. Valdon Dowiyogo
Representative of the Republic of Palau Ministry of Education, Ms EmeryWenty
Minister for Education for the Republic of Kiribati, Hon. Maere Tekanene
Minister for Education for the Republic of Tuvalu, Hon. Dr. Fa’alesu Pitoi
Minister for Education of the Cook Islands, Hon Teina Bishop
Minister for Education of Samoa, Hon. Magele Mauili Magele
Minister for Education of Niue, Hon. Pokotoa Sipeli
Minister for Education for Papua New Guinea, (Represented by Honorary Consul]
Minister for Education for the Federated States of Micronesia, [In absence]
The First Assistant Director-General of AusAID, Mr Robert Tranter
Vice Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific, Professor Rajesh Chandra
Development Partners in Education
School Children / Students
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured and humbled to be here this afternoon for the opening this 9th Forum Education Ministers Meeting. May I also join the Hon. Marcellino Pipite on behalf of the people of Vanuatu in extending to all a very warm welcome to our beautiful shores. I know that your stay will be short, but I believe it will be worthwhile.
This is the first time for our country to host the Forum Education Minister’s Meeting, and we are delighted indeed to do so. I know that the University of the South Pacific Council Meeting will be convened straight after this meeting and some of you will also take part in that meeting. So I thank you for the deep commitment that you and the Governments you represent have placed on these two meetings.
On this occasion, you are gathered here in Port Vila to discuss important education issues that affect our region. Under the guidance of the theme ‘Sustainable Quality Education – 2012 and Beyond’ I believe there is a lot to talk about and we must as members of the Pacific Islands community. I believe we can all acknowledge that education is the single most important sector in any development. In Vanuatu, the Government provides significant resources to this sector, and development partnership support has also been notable, but we still have challenges. I know that for every participating country, this is also the case. Therefore we have a common agenda to discuss.
I know that that last Forum Education Ministers Meeting a number issues were decisions taken on a number of actions. The four key objectives of the meeting outline intended outcomes the Meeting intends to achieve. The outcomes on the implementation of the Pacific Education Development Framework, discussions on current trends in education development, new directions in donor assistance and clear monitoring of education activities all intertwine with the theme.
Education and more so quality education is unequivocally the fastest way to achieve sustainable development. Our societies face many challenges to their livelihood and to embrace new education systems is a reflection that we understand the issues and can find the best intervention. Education is the fastest way to fighting the hardships faced by many of our citizens. Education can provide the opportunity for citizens to achieve economic productivity for themselves, their community and countries. Improvements can be experienced to improved health, hygiene and quality of child. Education offers the best chance for individuals to improve self confidence, claiming one’s right and broadening the choices for self development.
I am pleased to note that one of the key issues in the official circulars for the meeting noted discussion of current trends and issues in education development at the global level and their probable impact impacts for Pacific island nations.
At the Forum Leaders meeting in Auckland last year, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to raising educational standards, improving participation rates and expanding market-relevant vocational and technical training. It is encouraging to note that discussions this week will also pick up on the Leaders commitment.
The Deputy Secretary General’s remarks in 8th Forum Education Ministers Meeting highlighted amongst many points; the following, “The Children must be the ultimate beneficiary of these regional efforts to deliver quality education and training services. For they are the leaders of tomorrow and invest in the quality leadership of tomorrow” I cannot agree more with the remarks of the Deputy Secretary’s General’s remark. May I add that, the theme of this year’s meeting, Sustainable Quality Education, is in my opinion the best and essential down payment for the future of our children.
Speaking of down payments, let me share with you our experience in trying to providing this public service to every children in Vanuatu. With the assistance of our development partners, the Vanuatu Government spends roughly one-third of its recurrent budget on education, which is by far the largest share of our budget to any one single sector of the economy. The explanations are obviously related to the fact that we provide educational services to 83 inhabited islands across the widely spread archipelago. Coupled with the constitutional requirement to provide educational services in two languages, (i.e., French and English), the costs end up much more higher.
I am making reference to our own peculiar case as I understand you will be having a Retreat towards the end of your meeting and perhaps you can use the opportunity to discuss some of those issues.
The region has been well served through this Forum for the last eight years. This year is yet another time for us to demonstrate our commitment to addressing critical issues affecting our region and to find the best direction for future educational development.
I acknowledge the presence of development partners for recognising the legitimate needs in education sectors and for providing support. A segment of the meeting is committed to discussing new directions in donor assistance.
I wish to conclude by encouraging an open and frank discussion during the next two days. Discussions during the two days will pave the way for the future development of education for our region and regional Heads of Governments will stand guided by your recommendations.
May I take this time to thank the Forum Secretariat and the Vanuatu Organising Committee for their part in organising the meetings. I would also like to acknowledge the presentations by the children—our ultimate beneficiary for these efforts. It is always my hope that at some stages in their lives, they too, come to realize the importance of what we are trying to do for them at the regional level.
With these remarks, I now have much pleasure in declaring the 9th Forum Education Ministers Meeting officially open.
Merci beaucoup mo thank yu tumas!