The Global Partnership for Education has approved $20.5 million in new grants for the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to improve basic education in Pacific islands states.
The grants build on GPE’s increased engagement in the Pacific region and are additional to a total of $6 million in COVID-19 response grants allocated to the eight countries in 2020.
“Small island states face unique challenges due to their size and remoteness,” said Alice Albright, GPE Chief Executive Officer. “These grants will help improve education quality equitably across the Pacific and benefit millions of children in the region.”
Despite significant progress in access to primary and lower secondary school in the region, challenges remain. These include student retention at the secondary level, and access to school for children from low-income families, those with disabilities or who live on remote outer islands. Pacific islands are also vulnerable to the effects of climate change, exposing education systems to the risk of extreme weather and natural disasters.
The $15 million GPE regional grant consolidates $2.5 million each to Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu and is designed to support the regional education framework (PacREF). The grant enhances regional cooperation and integration. The funding will benefit all 15 PacREF countries by improving education relevance and quality; providing seamless access to a broad range of educational programs; boosting student achievement and advancing teacher professionalism. The grant agent for this regional grant is the Asian Development Bank.
The Federated States of Micronesia will also receive a $2.5 million grant to establish one-year compulsory early childhood education for 5-year-olds. The grant will focus on refurbishing early childhood education classrooms, developing a school feeding strategy, providing in-service teacher training, supplying teaching and learning materials, and fostering parental and community engagement. UNICEF is the GPE grant agent for the Federated States of Micronesia.
The $3 million grant for Vanuatu focuses on teacher development and inclusive education, particularly for children living with disabilities. The allocation includes $1 million from the GPE multiplier, an innovative mechanism that leverages for every dollar invested nearly four times the funds in external financing from development partners including regional and multilateral development banks, bilateral donors and philanthropic foundations. Save the Children Australia is the GPE grant agent for Vanuatu.