BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
DESPITE the country’s school enrolment rates showing increasing gender parity, completion of secondary school and further education remains tilted in favour of male students.
The Solomon Islands Youth Status Report 2018 of the United Nation Development Programme shows 47 percent of 18-year-old males are enrolled in education compared to only 37 percent of 18-year-old females.
Literacy rates for boys aged 15-24 are 91 percent compared to 88 percent for girls of the same age – a gap narrower than found among older generations, although there may be a discrepancy between these rates and functional literacy.
UNDP report shows young people access to education is relatively low in rural areas.
It said while 55 percent of children and youth aged 10- 19 in Honiara attend secondary school, only 36 percent of the same age group across the whole of Guadalcanal are in school, and only 25 percent in Malaita.
Following that the report also highlighted such disparities are also reflected in literacy rates.
It shows 56 percent in Malaita and 66 percent in Guadalcanal—although testing by the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education found only seven percent of people in Malaita and 28 percent in Honiara was judged literate.
In the secondary division, the report shows a concentration of national secondary schools in Honiara has had several effects.
First, it means that the chances of rural people accessing education are lower, due to increased costs and travel needed to go to school.
It also drives migration to Honiara, with education seen as the way to transition from rural to “modern” life.
In areas such as Temotu and Savo, young people have to walk long distances each day (2-4 hours) in order to go to secondary school.
Other students may leave their provinces to go to Honiara and stay with extended family, which puts financial pressure on households and can lead to disillusionment if education is not completed or does not lead to work.
In some areas, such as mountainous parts of Malaita and Weathercoast of Guadalcanal, education is traditionally provided in a village setting to teach children about culture and subsistence agriculture.
In other areas, for example those reliant on illicit trade such as kwaso sales, household poverty and financial pressures may mean education is less of a priority than making a livelihood and earning money.
The lack of resources at provincial secondary schools also puts rural students at a disadvantage in terms of applying for tertiary education, scholarships and other opportunities.