The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports Homepage of the World Education Forum  
   Solomon Islands
  Contents of country report Homepage of country reports Country reports listed alphabetically Country reports by region  


Previous Page Next Page


PART 2 ANALYTICAL SECTION

6. Progress Towards Goals and Targets from 1990 – 1999

Through the commitments the Government has made to international conventions and declarations, in particular those outlined below, the Government has also recognized the following national goals in relation to education.

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Solomon Islands ratified the CRC on 10 April 1995, thereby making a commitment to the child’s right to education. Article 28 of CRC establishes that right. Education is recognised to be essential for all children. The article stresses the right must be achieved on the basis of equal opportunity". This in summary includes:

Making primary education compulsory and available free to all;

Promoting the different forms of secondary education and vocational education;

Making higher education accessible to all;

Making educational and vocational information readily available; and

Taking measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and reducing dropout rates.

International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)

Solomon Islands endorsed the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in September 1994. As such, the Government pledged:

To achieve universal access to quality education, with particular priority being given to primary and technical education and job training, to combat illiteracy and to eliminate gender disparities in access to, retention in, and support for, education;

To promote non-formal education for young people, guaranteeing equal access for women and men to literacy centres; and

To introduce and improve the content of the curriculum so as to promote greater responsibility and awareness on the interrelationships between population and sustainable development; health issues, including reproductive health; and gender equity.

Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development

Solomon Islands was a signatory to 1995 Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and thereby, pledged their commitment to the rights and goals relating to education that are contained in this declaration. In summary these are:

The right of all children to education;

That school discipline will be administered in a manner consistent with the child’s dignity;

To encourage the international cooperation in education especially to eliminate ignorance and illiteracy;

That the education of the child should be directed to developing the personality of the child, their talents and mental and physical abilities: developing respect for the child’s parents, cultural identity, language and values; preparing the child for responsible life in a free society and developing respect for the natural environment;

6.1 Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education (ECE) was first introduced in the education system during the late nineteen eighties. The concept of early childhood education was based on "good sound beginnings." There was a lot of concern about how pupils who attended grade one performed in class. It was significant that pupils entering primary school at grade one could not cope or are not good enough to start at that level. The government then made the decision to add another year to the primary school course to a total of seven years with extra year at the beginning. The first year of schooling before attending grade one is called preparatory class.

In early 1990 a decision was made to develop a curriculum for early childhood education with focus on the preparatory class. No one knew exactly what it would be based on and no one knew what to do with the group. The focus was to develop curriculum through play while another concept was to develop the curriculum by extending it down from grade one.

Later a preparatory curriculum was developed and a team of provincial trainers in early childhood education was engaged. The curriculum for preparatory class was too rigid and did not allow for play so the whole idea of just one year as preparatory to enter grade one was further extended down towards a full Early Childhood Education programme catering for children of 3 years old to 5/6 years old.

It is worth noting that the national government supported only preparatory classes but not kindergartens and other forms of Early Childhood Education working from 1990. The National Coalition Partnership (NCP) government in 1993 encouraged organisations and communities which ran kindergartens to develop them to full primary schools.

It was the national government’s target in 1993 that Early Childhood Education be seriously considered. The government then through the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development strengthened the co-ordination support mechanism from both national and provincial levels to provide effective assistance to early childhood education programmes

Many new kindergartens were established and as can be seen from table 7 below, in all provinces, between the years of 1995 and 1998 there has been an increase in the number of kindergartens.

Table 7 to show Kindergartens in the Country According to Provinces

Province

1995

1996

1997/1998

Honiara

10

14

15

Guadalcanal

8

8

12

Isabel

73

85

100

Western

80

100

130

Makira/Ulawa

5

20

65

Malaita

6

6

30

Temotu

1

1

21

Choiseul

3

3

11

Central

1

1

6

Rennell/Bellona

0

0

5

Source: Education Master Plan 1998

This was done by restructuring and expanding the current preparatory programme to include both formal and non-formal Early Childhood Education

programmes and activities. The government was to establish Provincial Early Childhood Education Co-ordinator’s post immediately to activate newly developed programmes and initiatives. Preparatory trainers were utilised to continue with their in-service training scheme and on-going broadening of their role to provide support to both preparatory classes and community based kindies.

The primary and Early Childhood Education division of Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development was further strengthened with financial and technical support from UNICEF to implement early childhood education initiatives during the early 1990s.

As the preparatory programme was implemented during this period (1990-1995) through Solomon Islands, a number of early childhood education (ECH) activities were taking place both in urban centres and in rural areas. The Mothers Union and Honiara Pre-school Association (HOPA) were two key agencies which assisted to established community-based and privately-run kindies.

Several innovative and child-oriented programmes were in existence but classes were formal in structure and programmes were believed to be less appropriate to meet learning and development needs of children. Furthermore, although some provinces had started to establish them in large numbers, communities could not get them to continue properly. They were definitely lacking quality and the following issues seem to be contributing factors:

Lack of government funding and other support.

Teachers were only trained for primary school teaching and not early childhood education programmes, which is quite special in content.

Some teachers view kindergartens as an extension of a preparatory class. Some saw them as preparation of children for church, reading, prayers, singing hymns, etc

Insufficient education opportunities to meet the growing of Early Childhood Education (ECE) training.

Provision for early childhood education (ECE) was not well co-ordinated and did not meet demands.

Teachers were not paid.

Despite the above problems and difficulties, research was conducted to find solutions and evidence, which would convince support for the future development of early childhood education in general. The findings of that research convinced the government and communities to rally more support in favour of early childhood education development.

Consequently planning designing and implementing quality early childhood education (ECE) programmes continue to be a priority of the Solomon Islands government through the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD).

The establishment of the Field Based Training (FBT) programme and development of a Certificate in Teaching in Early Childhood Education occurred between 1996 and 1998.

Early childhood Education (ECE) at Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE) saw two major developments which the New Zealand Overseas Development assistance (NZODA) project funded through the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD) in 1996.

Firstly, a national co-ordinator was appointed, followed by appointment of provincial co-ordinators. Modules for teaching in the area of early childhood education were designed and trialled in kindies and in preparatory classes.

The "Look and Learn Tour" under the project was of great assistance to national and provincial co-ordinators in their work.

As can be seen, between 1990 to the present day the Solomon Islands have made great strides forward towards achieving targets set in the area of Early Childhood Education and indeed Early Childhood Education remains a priority within the education framework.

6.2 Primary/Basic Education

Universal access to some from of basic education is an aspiration of every nation and the Solomon Islands is no exception. Every parent in the Solomon Islands expects her/his child to attend and complete primary education and if possible continue to secondary education. However, whether this genuine intention is fulfilled is a matter of great debate.

Universal primary education for all children in Solomon Islands reaching the age of 6-9 years has been emphasised in government policy statements of 1984, 1989, 1993 and 1997.

In line with targets set for EFA, in 1993 the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development established its sectoral plan where one of the prime goals was for every child in the Solomon Islands to have access to primary education.

Thus a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was established to facilitate partnership for the purpose of providing education in Solomon Islands. The partnership in education would involve various authorities improving education technically and financially.

The government has encouraged various authorities to establish private schools besides those provided by national government, local governments and other statutory authorities. It is expected that the issue of access will be addressed along with this context.

The 1993 Education sectoral plan emphasised the concept of amalgamation of schools. This would enable effective administration of primary schools, which was expected to increase school roles. In Solomon Islands the minimum age of entry to Primary school is 6 years and the maximum is 9 years. This has caused difficulties both to educational statisticians and education planners. No one actually knows how many pupils of each age group have entered school or are likely to enter school in any particular year. Actual enrolments therefore cannot be compared to any particular age group to produce a meaningful enrolment rate or ratio.

Table 8 to Show Actual Enrolments1993 – 19997 by Sex

Year

Males

Females

Total

% Increase

% Females

1993

38,641

31,462

70,103

 

44.9

1994

40,081

33,039

73,120

4.3

45.2

1995

42,306

35,126

77,432

5.9

45.4

1996

43,316

36,354

79,670

2.9

45.6

1997

43,742

36,970

80,712

1.3

45.8

Total Increase

5,101

5,508

10,609

15.1

51.9

% Increase

13.2

17.5

15.1

2.88

0.9

Source: Statistics Division, Ministry of Finance 1999

Table 8 above shows no significant difference in the percentage of girls enrolled in school as opposed to the number of boys. There is however an overall increase of the enrolled populace.

Table 9 of enrolment data for 1993 to 1997 by grade can be seen below.

Table 9 to show SI Schools Enrolment Trends 1993 – 1997

Year

Prep

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6

Total

1993

12,839

12,843

10,725

9,503

8,120

8,036

8,037

70,103

1994

12,728

12,933

11,699

10,372

9,181

8,010

8,741

73,664

1995

13,638

13,473

11,748

10,832

9,655

8,879

9,207

77,432

1996

14,137

13,475

11,918

11,368

9,943

9,226

9.594

79,661

1997

13,863

13,666

11,800

11,301

10,679

9,602

9,792

80,703

Source: Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development – School Returns (1998)

Graph 1 below illustrates the fact that although intake into prep classes and Grade 1 have continued to show a slight increase by the time the higher grades are reached the numbers have significantly declined. For example the Prep class in 1993 of 12,839 in 1997 would be Grade 4 in 1997 and the numbers have declined to 10,679 which is a significant decrease of 17%. This appears to be the case when looking at the trend throughout the table. The graph is able to demonstrate this visually.

Graph 1 to Show Enrolment Trends per Year Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enrolment figures however do show that more children are enrolling for each grade each year. The pattern appears to be similar throughout the year groups.

The government has encouraged communities which operated kindergartens and preparatory classes to open new primary school for their communities.

Standardised criteria were established for the opening of new schools. It is noted that specific budgets were set aside to cater for administrative costs involving the amalgamation of schools process.

Prior to 1990 the national government had acquired a loan from the World Bank (1983/1984) which was utilised on the Primary Schools Improvement Project. The project covered establishment of infrastructure, training of teachers, and production and purchase of school materials. Thus the issue of access had been addressed during the 1980s and early 1990s.

However, the Solomon Islands has a high birth rate ranging from 3.2% to 3.5% in different provinces. Training of teachers was slow because of lack of room at the only teachers training college, which is now part of the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education. This resulted in deploying untrained teachers in the teaching service force. However, the government has now increased the number of available places for teacher training and phasing out of untrained teachers has gone on well lately.

It can be seen from the projected population statistics that more places will be needed in primary schools if all children are to have access to school and consequently more pupils will mean that more qualified teachers will be needed.

Table 10 below drawn up in the Solomon Islands Master Plan illustrates this point statistically by looking at projected totals.

Table 10 to Show Projected Primary Enrolments and Additional Teacher Demands

1997-2010 Based on 3% Increase Per Annum on Enrolments

Year Total Enrolments New Students New Teacher Demand(a) Cumulative Totals 5% (d) Attrition Total Demand for new Teachers
1997

80,712 (b)

-

2,690

2,690

-

-

1998

83,.133

2,421

81

2,771

135

216

1999

85,627

2,494

83

2,854

139

222

2000

88,196

2,569

86

2,940

143

229

2001

90,842

2,646

88

3,028

147

235

2002

93,567

2,725

91

3,119

151

242

2003

96,567

2,807

94

3,213

156

250

2004

99,265

2,891

96

3,309

161

257

2005

102,243

2,978

99

3,408

165

264

2006

104,310

3,067

102

3,510

170

272

2007

108,469

3,159

105

3,615

176

281

2008

111,723

3,254

108

3,723

181

289

2009

115,075

3,352

112

3,835

186

298

2010

118,528

3,452

115

3,950

192

307

Totals

1,295,124

37,815

3,950

45,960

2,102

3,362

Source: Draft National Education Master Plan – 1999-2010 – Honiara Dec 1998

Calculation based on Teacher/Pupil ratio of 1:30

These are actual enrolments

Actual teachers in school were about 3500 of who about 650 were secondary teachers. Primary teachers therefore would be 2850 indicating an over supply of 400. (5oo are said to be untrained teachers).

The actual attrition rate of teachers is not known, the 5% is therefore only an estimate.

While 3% increase in enrolments is assumed to be constant in the projections, it is expected that this should in fact decrease. However, these projections will be revised when the new census data becomes available in 2000.

From the Master Plan it appears that the Government’s target is to provide an additional 37,820 places by the year 2010. This is quite consistent with the increase of 22,990 places achieved between 1990 and 1997.

It has actually proved difficult to obtain reliable data when looking at trained and untrained teachers. The Ministry of Education did provide figures to the researchers of the Education Master Plan writers but there is no official statistical data available.

Table 11 below shows the figures which were collected for the years 1990 to 1998.

Table 11 to show Trained and Untrained Teacher Percentages 1990-1998

Year Total Trained Untrained Percentage Untrained
1990 2457 1623 834 33.9
1991 2388 1759 629 26.3
1992 2490 NA NA NA
1993 NA NA NA NA
1994 2510 1983 527 21
1995 - - - -
1996 - - - -
1997 3500 2800 700 20
1998 - - - -
         

Other projects under British and United Nations agency assistance have been implemented to provide materials and curriculum writing which have added greatly to the quality within in primary schools. The new primary materials are still being produced and it expected that new literacy materials will be available for every primary grade by 2002.

It is worth noting that geographical and settlement patterns in Solomon Islands greatly affect the question of access. The islands are rugged and divided by huge stretches of sea and people live in small settlements.

Usually many pupils have to walk or paddle long distances to attend school. Transport systems too are not very good especially in rural areas. The weather too is intolerable at times. These are unavoidable factors, which hinder access to primary education in Solomon Islands. However, the government and other authorities are doing all they can to minimise factors, which have caused negative impact on access to primary education.

6.3 Improvement in Learning Achievement

Internal school assessments are done twice a year in all grades. Records of assessment are kept in schools for official reference purposes. Such assessments are graded by letters A to E with A grade as excellent and E as fail. Repeating of class/grade is not encouraged in the Solomon Islands so every child who enters a class/grade must move on every year until she/he reaches grade 6 at the end of primary school system.

By looking at past records it seems that a number of pupils score A’s and B’s while a larger number score C’s which is an average grade. A few would score E’s. These results appear to depend on teachers’ skills as well as the quality of materials used.

A very important area to address in learning achievement is literacy and numeracy. Generally speaking, provision for effective learning varies considerably in the Solomon Islands. Urban communities tend to perform better than rural and remote areas.

Besides internal continuous assessment conducted by individual schools to check on learning achievement and outcomes two examinations are significant in the Solomon Islands. The first is the Pacific Islands Literacy Levels I (PILL) Test conducted with grade 4 (9 -11 years old) and grade 6 (13 -15 years old) and the other is the grade 6 Solomon Islands Secondary Entrance (SISE) examination.

Since the1990s the Solomon Islands government has put a lot of emphasis on improvement of the Examination and Standards division within the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

Under the Coalition Partnership government (NCP) programme of action (1993) the examination and selection programmes have been computerised, enabling the whole process to become more effective and efficient. Officers were appointed to the examination unit who were additional to the established officers.

A pool of "Test-banks " were established and a teacher’s diagnostic handbook was completed. In-service Teacher Training programmes were formulated to assist teachers developed test instruments.

The South Pacific Board of Educational Assessment (SPBEA) was involved in conducting workshops both at national and regional levels.

Officers of the |National Examination and Standards unit (NESU) of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development went on short courses overseas to broaden their knowledge in the area of assessment techniques. The activities all assisted in activities improving means of assessing learning achievement. This new information could then be utilised in devising strategies in improving learning achievements of the pupils.

6.4 Adult Literacy

The Solomon Islands was once identified as one of Pacific States with a high illiteracy rate. This is not surprising because introduction and expansion of the formal school system was slow at turn of the century. In the 1970s the illiteracy rate was around 78% which is high.

There are about 518 primary schools as recorded in 1995. With this number of schools distributed throughout the country all children in Solomon Islands reaching the school entry age of 6 could, in theory, attend one. With this information the illiteracy rate in Solomon Islands was addressed.

It was with the government’s programme of action (1989-1992) that a national literacy and language survey was conducted for the first time.

The attempt was to obtain comprehensive literacy data for the whole of Solomon Islands and was conducted from March 1991 to March 1992. Funds for the project were provided by the Australian High Commission and UNESCO through the Melanesian Literacy Council.

The survey results indicated very interesting findings such as:

There is an illiteracy rate of 38%

There is literacy rate of 22%

40% of people over 15 years old are semi-literate and so forth.

The National Literacy and Language Survey (1991/1992) conducted was steered by a National Literacy Committee.

The other development in literacy education was conducted in 1994 under the Basic Education and Life Skills (BELS) programme; it was a pilot project aiming at improving literacy in schools and communities supporting the school. Indeed its name was ultimately changed to Basic Education and Literacy Skills programme.

Initially five primary schools in Honiara were chosen as pilot schools to establish the project. Four different controlling authorities operated the schools. Approximately two thousands students and more than one hundred teachers participated in the programme which went on for nine months. Four education officers were also involved in the literacy project beside the pupils and teachers.

Despite problems encountered there was progress and achievement made during the pilot period and the work of the BELS programme is still operational to date, now progressing through phase three

The University of the South Pacific (USP) at Solomon Islands Centre is offering a course on adult literacy. The course offers training for trainers to teach adults in the area of literacy. The adult literacy-training course extends over a period of twelve weeks and is monitored and validated by the University of the South Pacific. It is a professional course leading to a Certificate in Adult Literacy. The first intake for the course was made last in 1998 with fifteen trainees who went through the course successfully. These trained teachers in adult literacy are now serving in various provinces.

According to reports of their activities one teacher has established a literacy class for thirty adults in Makira/Ulawa province and another in Honiara for fifteen adult students. Reports state that thirteen other new graduate teachers of adult literacy are expected in the near future.

Beside formal programmes aimed at reducing illiteracy rate, hence promoting literacy rate, religious groups have also conducted studies to assist youth and adults to read. Bible studies are the most common literature study. It is significant that many youth and adults could read the Bible although many had not attended school or if they had they had left school early.

Reduction of illiteracy rate is on going and with programmes established within the formal education system, some are administered by NGOs some by religious groups all this adds to the lowering of the illiteracy rate.



Previous Page Next Page