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1.2 Universal Primary Education

The basic education sector is what the Vanuatu Government has been devoted to and has drawn up plans of action to meet the learning needs, which it has defined as "basic". In Vanuatu, basic education is that which is provided in formal primary school (Year 1 - 6). For the last decade 1985 - 1995 the Vanuatu Government has the following educational goals and aims in regards to universal primary education:

The following government strategies were adopted to implement the above objectives:

Third National Development Plan - 1992 - 1996

Objectives: Primary Education


Universal Junior Secondary Education

The Third National Development plan (1992 - 1996) has the following educational aims for the junior and senior secondary education.



Universal Technical Education

The Third National Development plan (1992 - 1996) has the following educational aims for the junior and senior secondary education.


A dual - lingual Institute National de Technology de Vanuatu responsive to the labour market and with reduced unit costs.


Towards the end of the third National Development Plan period in September 1996, the Council of Ministers approved and set out the following General Policy Directives of the Government for the development of education in the Republic of Vanuatu.The Policy Directives were to guide the operation and management of the education system until the fourth National Development Plan or an education master plan is drawn up.

1.3Learning Achievements

The Third National Development plan (1992 - 1996) has the following educational aims for learning achievements.

Objective: Improve quality of education at all levels of education


Teacher training:

Curricula and examinations:

Instructional materials:

1.4 Literacy

Literacy is an issue about which the Vanuatu Government still lacks awareness, in resulting on vague aims, objectives and strategies to address the problem. The only educational aim which has some relevancy to literacy is:

" a continuing commitment to all citizens to improve access to education" (National Development Plan 3 P 142).

On the 18 May 1990, a document, ‘Agreed Principles of Co-operation in Literacy Activities among Independent States in Melanesia,' was signed in Port Moresby by the then Ministers of Education. Since then to early 1997 no follow up action has been taken. This led to the signing of another revised ‘Agreed Principles of Co-operation in Literacy Activities among Independent States in Melanesia(Annex ), which was signed in Port Vila on the 5 May 1997 by the then Ministers of Education of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

The Preamble reads:

Believing that education is a basic human right; and

Understanding that more than half the population of our three sovereign Nations are not able to effectively read and write in any language; and

Endorsing the principle that Education for All means everyone, not just those enrolled in the formal education system; and;

Believing that a spirit of brotherhood as Melanesian states is essential,

We commit our respective countries to work toward the goal of eradication of illiteracy among our people.

1.5 Education for skills

Government’s policies for youth development

Government’s involvement in youth programs has evolved through three development plans into a draft for a fourth development plan, to an after-thought within the 1997-98 CRP processes.

The Third National Development Plan, 1992-1996.

The policy for youth in DP3 was to:

  1. ensure that young people are assisted, supported and encouraged in the development of their skills, knowledge and resources;
  2. To enable them to contribute more fully to the on-going social, political, economic, cultural and spiritual development of their families, communities and country. The objectives for implementing this policy were:

a) Establish a National Youth Council, review the education system considering the high drop-out rate, review the rural training centres, continue providing skill-oriented training as well as leadership and management training, amending the Decentralisation Act to allow for voting rights in council meetings, and ensure that development programmes are designed to stimulate active community and individual awareness of their rights and responsibility as participants in local and national development.

b) Integrate youth and gender in main stream development planning; increased employment opportunities in the private sector; investigation of the possibility of establishment of a small business centre to coordinate resources, establishment of social collateral and introducing business studies in the school curriculum.

c) Increase financial support to the Department, intensify efforts for greater cross-sectoral coordination of development programmes, and set up a coordinating and monitoring mechanism for programme planning and implementation.

Draft DP4

Beginning in late 1996, work began on drafting a new Development Plan to succeed ‘DP3’ which was ending. In recognition of the weaknesses of the ‘comprehensive’ plans produced earlier, this draft development plan was designed as a ‘medium-term strategic plan’ with proposals which were more action-oriented and tied to measurable indicators.

This will involve staff development, perhaps with overseas volunteers or other technical assistance, as well as in-service and on-the-job training. However, in order to develop the NYC's staff, the organisation itself needs to be strengthened. This can be accomplished through a re-structuring that separates the roles of the Council and its staff, along the lines of other NGO associations: The Council should be a forum for coordination and policy development, and for dialogue with government and other sectors. Council staff should be the Secretariat, providing technical assistance to the members and to Council sessions. Strengthening the National Youth Council’s abilities to design monitor and evaluate programs, assist members in program implementation, and provide a forum for program coordination.

This will involve changing the National Youth Coordinator’s focus from being primarily on sports to being on overall youth development, whether sports, youth council, NGOs, or whatever. Strengthening the government's ability to support and encourage youth development activities will be indicated by increasing numbers of youth (15-24) involved in training, sports, scouts, youth organisations, etc., as well as by a lack of increase in youth crime (relative to population growth).

This will involve the development and implementation of several types of programs. These programs should all be developed as performance-based grant contracts between resource providers (especially government and aid donors) and youth service providers (NGOs, YOs, sports organisations, VRDTCA, etc.). Government resources for youth should go to programs, projects and activities according to the following priorities: Skills training for improved livelihood (e.g., vocational, subsistence, self-employment skills), leadership development (e.g., through scouts and other youth organisations), sports and physical fitness activities which permit youths to develop leadership and management abilities, and then for counseling and rehabilitation of youths in need. Supporting activities which develop youth's abilities in leadership, employment, self-employment, subsistence and cultural arts skills will be indicated by increases in the number of youths 15-24 who are employed, increase in the incomes of youths trained, increased youth involvement in youth organisations, and increases in the production of youth organisations.

This will involve both youth and the leaders of traditional or community organisations. Encouragement must come from traditional and community leaders; government can and should support this. Encouragement must also come from youth leaders; government should encourage youth leaders’ efforts to improve youth’s participation in development. This can be accomplished through the selection of qualified and capable youth for additional training (overseas, especially), as well as through specific commendations (such as trophies for winners in sports, and medals for achievements in youth development by/for youths between 15 and 24). Encouraging youths to participate in traditional and modern activities will be indicated by an increasing number of youth belonging to youth organisations involved in community-service activities, by the increasing number of youth attending and contributing to community-level PRAs, by steady or increasing numbers of youth involved in cultural (arts, dancing, handicrafts, carving, etc.) and traditional activities (kava ceremonies, fêtes).

1.6. Education for Better LivingEducation for Better Living

The Third National Development plan (1992 - 1996) has the following aims for education for better living.

Objective: Inform and entertain Vanuatu’s population, and promote the nation’s social, economic and spiritual development.


Provide educational programming that will be broadcast at set times during the day so that school classes and community groups can listen and then discuss the program amongst themselves or with teachers, agricultural extension workers, health extension workers or other resource people;

Conduct audience research and tailor programming accordingly, including differentiating medium – wave and short- wave programming for urban and rural audiences;

Improve the bislama skills of broadcasting staff so that they can be more readily understood by the rural audience;

Expand informative services such as shipping messages, news and weather;

Reverse the prevailing flow of information from urban centers to the islands by providing more programming from the rural areas.

Other objectives relating to education for better living are:

Provide broadcast television throughout Vanuatu;

Inform and entertain Vanuatu’s population through broadcast television


There were no special EFA strategies or plans of action that was drawn up. What was followed were mainly the Five-Year Development plans.

There were no EFA policy meetings, public information campaigns, education reform measures, literacy campaigns and initiatives and so forth. However, there are some related programmes and initiatives, which occurred.

For early childhood care and development activities, an approved expanded Pre-school Policy by the then Minister of Education in 1992 enabled a Vanuatu Early Childhood Care and Education programme which established clear goals, objectives and strategies and programme components to be addressed.

In 1994, the government approved the policy of providing 10 years of basic education. A strategic policy action plan was developed to implement the policy but that never occurred because of a change of government.

For literacy after the signing of the Agreed Principles of Co-operation in Literacy Activities among Independent States in Melanesia in 1997, no concrete strategies and plans of action were developed to address the issue of illiteracy in Vanuatu.

With regards to International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Vanuatu’s Parliament ratified the CRC in 1992. A committee known as Community Action for Health is responsible for CRC coordination. A National Plan of Action was developed by this committee and approved by Government in 1995.The policies as stated in National Plan of Action on Children (1994) cover all the major concerns for development of children, and provide for rights of all children to educational services, including children with disabilities.

For CEDAW, Vanuatu’s Parliament unanimously, and without reservation, ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women in 1995. Progress to date in implementing the Convention has been very slow. Nonetheless, efforts have been initiated by the nation’s NGOs led by the Vanuatu National Council of Women to achieve this by the end of the year 2000.

Concerning the Barbados Plan of Action, and related Conventions, the Barbados Plan of Action called for a number of actions to protect, reclaim, and to sustainably use the environments of the small island states. All of these plans encourage youth involvement both as trainees and as facilitators of specific actions, such as cleaning up a beach or monitoring environmental changes.


There was no special EFA mechanism for decision making and management.

The sharing of responsibilities and roles in the decision making and monitoring process of the EFA related programmes and activities is as follows:

  1. The Pre-school Movement for the expansion of Early childhood care and development activities in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.
  2. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for Primary and Junior Secondary education.
  3. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in collaboration with the Vanuatu Rural Development and Training Centres Association for Technical/Vocational education and training in essential skills and for better living.
  4. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in collaboration with the Vanuatu National Youth Council for Youth affairs.
  5. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in collaboration with the Vanuatu Amateur Sports Associations and National Olympic Committee for Sports Affairs.
  6. Other NGOs including Churches are heavily involved in the decision-making and management of other non- –formal education programmes and activities.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports also co-ordinates the non-formal education in the outer Islands. For the plan period 1992 - 1996, the Department of youth and sports has the general policy of ensuring that young women and men are assisted, supported and encouraged in the development of their skills, knowledge and resources to enable them to contribute fully to the national development of the country.

The Department of Education, Youth and Sports and other non-Governmental organisations covering the age group-6 - 60 years old currently directly and indirectly handle the enhancement of literacy. The combine efforts of all these organisations are aiming at providing an educated workforce as well as an educated literate society.


The responsibility for providing education is shared among the Government, Churches, the private sector, and the communities. Overall, in 1997 English was used as a medium of instruction in about 61% of primary, and 59% of secondary schools. At provincial level, English ranged from 47% to 76% of all primary schools, and from 40% to 100% of all secondary schools (100% being the only secondary school in the province of TORBA). Out of the 376 existing primary schools, 72% were Government schools, 21% Church assisted, and 7% private. At secondary level, out of the 39 existing schools, 59% were Government schools, 26% Church assisted, and 15% private. These figures indicate that the Government bears the main burden for both levels, though Churches and the private sector contribute in a substantial way at the secondary level. It has to be noted that the Government funds the teachers’ salaries of, and provides a grant on a per capita basis to, all Government assisted schools. The communities assume full charge of pre-school education: they build the necessary physical facilities, and pay the teachers. In 1997 there were 677 kindergartens, with almost 22,700 children enrolled. Vanuatu does not have its own higher education institutions; the University of the South Pacific has a campus in Port Vila offering courses for students coming from all over the Pacific Region.

The Commonwealth Youth Program. The Commonwealth Youth Programme has, since 1991, trained to Diploma level three to five youth leaders and workers from Vanuatu. Future delivery of this training will involve distance education methods and partnerships with training institutions in member countries. The Programme also supports a youth credit initiative to provide youth with no funds access through commercial channels to with credit, a savings scheme, training and support for the development of small–scale self–employment opportunities.

Institute For International Sport. The mission of the Institute for International Sport is to promote and improve relations among nations, particularly in nations experiencing internal conflict; to encourage individual growth and the development of human potential in young scholars throughout the world; to develop global awareness in future world leaders; to promote ethical behavior and good sportsmanship on an international basis.

The Pacific Community (formerly the South Pacific Commission) provides support to all Pacific Island countries for youth education. The programme began in 1965 with a focus on rural skills training through a community development approach. Recent Pacific Community activities have included training for community workers youth skills training. Although the Pacific Community has overseen youth credit schemes in several Pacific Island countries, its principal focus is on skills training.

The University of the South Pacific (USP). USP, in addition to its extension courses, provides training for youth development officers through CYP-certified diploma and certificate courses. It is also working to support the development of non-formal education programs.

ESCAP. ESCAP, through its Asia and Pacific Human Resource Development for Youth program, the Asia-Pacific Proclamation on Full and Equal Participation of Persons with Disabilities, and its Government-NGO Cooperation for Poverty Elimination, provides opportunities for member countries to share experiences and to develop new approaches to youth development.

UNDP.. In 1997 and early 1998, UNDP supported Vanuatu’s work for designing a program that would address the needs of its urban youth. UNDP is starting a program to support the development of non-formal education systems and methods in selected Pacific countries, including Vanuatu. UNDP is also developing a program for the development of non-formal education that should benefit several countries’ youth development programs.

UNESCO. At the Fourth Pacific Youth Conference in Papeete in 1998, the UNESCO regional office announced that it was initiating an information database for youth development. UNESCO has also held a Regional Forum for youths in Australia, and has supported follow-on National Forums in Pacific Island Countries.

UNICEF’s role in supporting the development of children includes children in the first years of the ‘youth decade’. Their recent programming has focused mostly on health related issues, including sexual and reproductive health.

AusAID’s recent involvement in youth programming in Vanuatu has been in the areas of general youth activities (their Young People’s project based at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre) and employment creation (they have expressed an interest in supporting the government’s Youth Employment Centre initiative). They are also investigating ways to support youth’s learning of life skills that would slow Vanuatu’s increasing incidence of life-style, non-communicable, diseases.

NZODA. New Zealand has expressed interest to a number of agencies in support of youth programming with a health focus. It is likely that a project will start up during 1999 with one of Vanuatu’s NGOs supporting.

French Agencies. While French agencies (Agence du l’Francophonie, Agence Francais du Developpement, etc.) occasionally support initiatives that serve youths, the review noted no special program for such activities.

UK (DFID) British educational aid for the last seven years and currently is directed towards supporting projects in the informal sector, notably the Vanuatu Rural Development Training Centre Association (VRDTCA) and the influential and effective community theatre group Wan Small Bag.

5. INVESTMENT IN EFA since 1990

The Budget allocation to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports was Vt. 1,694.0 million, of which Vt. 1,654.4 million was for Education, Vt. 39.6 million for Youth and Sports. The Ministry’s Budget represented 23.6% of Government Revenue. Education’s share of Development funding was Vt. 434.3 million, comprising Vt. 277.3 million from donors and Vt. 157 million from Concessional Foreign Loans. The distinction between Recurrent and Development, however, is not entirely clear-cut, since some items of a development nature are also included within the Recurrent Budget.

For the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, the total level of financing available amounted to:

Recurrent: 1,694.0 million Vatu

Development : 434.3 million Vatu

2,128.3 million Vatu

to which the budget document adds Aid-in-Kind, in order to give the total resources available for the Ministry as:

Aid-in-Kind : 467.0 million Vatu

Total Resources 2,595.3 million Vatu

As was the case above, however, government officials indicated that this figure for Aid-in-Kind, funded by foreign donors, should be regarded as an approximation and was almost certainly incomplete. All the Development funding and Aid-in-Kind are shown in the Budget as relating to Education, and not to Youth and Sports. The relatively small recurrent expenditure on Youth and Sports falls outside a conventional definition of education but is obviously closely related. Additionally, some expenditure relating to education may be included in the budgets of other ministries, e.g. by the Ministry of Public Works for expenditures on renovations of school buildings, but such amounts are small in relative terms.

Budgets are prepared on a rolling three-year basis and thus the 1998 budget document included forecast recurrent budget figures (in millions of Vatu) for Total Government and for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for the Years 1999 and 2000, as follows:

Total Government (G)




Ministry of Education (E)*




E/G (%)




(* includes relatively small budget for Youth and Sports)

It would be much more difficult if not impossible to give such advance forecasts in respect of Development expenditure, since the greater proportion of this is funded by external donors and would therefore depend on donors’ policies and priorities at that time.

Previous reports (Narsey, 1993, Runner, 1995) commented on the worrying decline over time in the share of the central Government recurrent budget allocated to education: this exceeded 25% in each year from 1980 to 1984 and then declined steadily, to dip below 20% by 1990.

Table 2, and Graph 1, show that education’s percentage share recovered from 1990 to 1994, only to fall again to 1997. The years since 1997 have seen a marked, and much to be welcomed, recovery in relative terms, with the increased percentage for 1998 being particularly significant, and with further relative increases forecast for 1999 and 2000.

Table 2: Recurrent Expenditure, Government and Ministry of Education


Government Recurrent Expenditure (G) (Vt.m.)

Ministry of Education Recurrent Expenditure (E)* (Vt.m.)

E/G (%)


4528.6 886.6  


4975.9 928.9  


5111.6 1082.8  


5372.7 1128.4 .0


5451.3 1232.5  


6419.8 1330.1  


7026.1 1466.1  


7027.3 1396.1  


7655.3 1694.0 22.1


7486.9 1859.4  


7871.7 2042.6  

Source: Ministry of Finance data.

Note: 1990-97: actual; 1998: budget; 1999-2000: forecast.

* includes relatively small expenditure relating to Youth and Sports.


Table 3 and Graph 2 show the percentage increases in each of total Government Recurrent Expenditure and Education Recurrent Expenditure for each year since 1990: prior to 1998, the percentage increase in education expenditure was significantly higher than the percentage increase in total expenditure in only one year, 1992, and was slightly higher in 1996. The nadir was reached in 1997 when education expenditure actually declined from the figure for the previous year.

Table 3: Annual Percentage Changes in Recurrent Expenditure,

Total Government and Ministry of Education


Government Recurrent Expenditure, % increase

Ministry of Education Recurrent Expenditure, % increase

1991 9.9 4.7
1992 2.7 16.6
1993 5.1 4.2
1994 1.5 9.2
1995 17.8 7.9
1996 9.4 10.2
1997 0.0 -4.8
1998 8.9 21.3*
1999 -2.2 9.8
2000 5.1 9.8

Source: Ministry of Finance data

Note: 1991-97: actual; 1998: budget; 1999-2000: forecast

* The Ministry of Finance advises that the % increase for 1998, as given in their records and reproduced here, is misleading, due to changes in accounting practice, with certain salary allowances being allocated to departments instead of being provided centrally; on a basis comparable with 1997, the increase is around 10%, as given previously. The percentage increases for 1999 and 2000 also show small differences from those given above, for similar definitional reasons.

The Prime Minister, The Hon. Donald Kalpokas, commented that the education budget for 1998 showed an increase of 10% from the previous year, while that for Health was increased by only 3% and those for some other major Ministries and Departments were either held constant (Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Fisheries) or were reduced by 15% (Public Service, Public Works), to reflect the "Rightsizing" exercise. The official "Supplement to the Budget" confirms this 10% increase in nominal terms for education over 1997 (which after allowing for inflation of 2.8% would still give a real terms increase of 7.2%) and comments that this is "to cater for school enrolment growth" and that

"long-term growth also requires raising the level of education and training of the labor force in order to provide the skills that investors, both local and foreign, need for expansion."

The clearly increased priority now being attributed to education, is indicated by the significant increase in the education budget for 1998 and the forecast relative increases of around 10% for 1999 (education expenditure up even though total government recurrent expenditure is budgeted to decline) and 2000. If these forecasts could be adhered to, the outcome would be that by the Year 2000 the share of education in the central government’s budget would have again attained or even exceeded the level of 25% that was being achieved in the early 1980s. This percentage would compare well with those achieved in other Pacific island countries (ADB, 1997, p.239), but may be seen as necessary in Vanuatu in view of the inherently high costs of providing education in the country.

Breakdown of Education Budget. Within the 1998 education budget, the main headings and financing allocated are as shown in Table 4:

The Development total of Vt. 434.3 million given in the Budget has here been divided between the Vt. 277.3 million shown under Donors and the PASEP (Primary and Secondary Education Project) figure of Vt. 157 million which is shown under public funds. The figure for Aid-in-Kind corresponds to that shown in the Budget and the same caveat applies as above, namely that this is almost certainly an underestimate.

The percentage share of primary education in the total education recurrent budget has been declining significantly in recent years, as shown in Table 5 and Graph 3.

Table 5: Percentage Share of Primary Education in Education Budget

Year %

1990: 59.8%

1991: 56.3%

1992: 59.4%

1993: 59.9

1994: 57.5

1995: 58.7

1996: 52.3

1997: 50.7

1998: 49.7

This trend should not be seen as surprising, indeed is only to be expected, in view of the gradual development of secondary and post-secondary education.

Evidence from other countries shows that the quality and effectiveness of schooling at each of the primary and secondary levels are significantly increased if the teacher has available in the classroom an adequate supply of good quality teaching materials. In Vanuatu, expenditure from the national budget on the provision of teaching materials has been and is at very low levels, with responsibility for the provision of such teaching material largely being left to schools, who have to raise the necessary funds from parents and communities. Such active parental and community participation is much to be welcomed: there is some evidence that overall financial contributions to education from communities have declined in recent years and we recommend that such contributions should be actively encouraged.

The public authorities should be prepared, however, to provide for the provision of at least a minimum of teaching materials, at least in those instances where the families and communities are unable to provide these to a sufficient level. It would be worthwhile recommending that, as the total education budget increases, a higher proportion of the available funds should be devoted to expenditure on teaching materials.

Example of Actual Expenditures under the 1997 Education Budget. Actual expenditures under the 1997 Budget for Education are given in Table 6:


This table indicates underspending on the education recurrent budget of some Vt. 28.8 million, or just over 2% of the allocated budget. Vt. 28.8 million is a not inconsiderable sum in the case of an education system, which is widely admitted to be seriously short of funds. The shortfall was relatively large in the case of Secondary and Further Education.

This sum was available for education spending, was not utilised within the financial year, and has been lost to the education sector. Whilst no financial system can ever exactly hit its target, it should be recommended that for future years the Ministry of Education should monitor education expenditure carefully throughout the year, and particularly during the latter months of the year, and should prepare contingency plans so that unused budget balances can be put to good use, even at relatively short notice.

Consideration should also be given to changing the established procedures for that expenditure, which pass through the budgets handled by the provincial education offices. Provincial education officers commented that the established procedures worked slowly, often with long delays caused by the necessity for having to refer each payment to the Ministry in Port Vila for implementation. If responsibility for such payments could be further decentralised, with provincial officers being able to spend directly funds held in local bank accounts, the sums available could be used much more expeditiously.

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