ESSP hands over new facilities to Siro and Siota schools in Ngella

BY NED GAGAHE

The Australia and New Zealand Government funded Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP) project continues to touch the lives of rural communities as two schools in Central Islands Province, Siro Community High School (CHS) and Siota Provincial Secondary School (PSS) received their two- storey dormitories plus ablution blocks on March 19 and 20 respectively.

His Excellency Rod Hilton, the Australia High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, New Zealand High Commission Political and Economic Advisor Nelson Kere, Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) Deputy Secretary Corporate Services Coldrine Kolae and Provincial Premier Polycap Galaigu were there to witness the completion and official handover of the project.

These newly constructed infrastructures will be able to accommodate up to 60 female students and 118 male students, addressing the crucial need for safe, secure, clean environment and also the need for adequate housing and sanitation facilities.

The infrastructures are equipped with modern facilities aimed at providing comfort and well-being of students, nurturing a conducive atmosphere for learning and personal growth.

Funded by the Australian and New Zealand governments in partnership with the Solomon Islands Government – MEHRD. The ESSP programme underlines the commitment to bolstering educational infrastructure and fostering an environment conducive to learning and development.

Speaking at the handing over at Siro CHS and Siota PSS, Deputy Secretary Coldrine Kolae said the completion of the school infrastructures is a manifestation of the strong partnership between the three governments towards improving access and quality of education.

He said providing a proper learning environment and developing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities for schools is one of the criteria for a school to be registered as a training institution.

“In our new Education Act, WASH facilities must develop and be accessible to all. That is in order for a school to be registered as required in our Education law,” he said.

Kolae acknowledges donor partners, especially the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP) for their continuous support to the education sector.

In his remarks at Siro and Siota Australia High Commissioner Rod Hilton said “the partnership between the Australia, New Zealand and Solomon Islands governments in education, reflects our shared values and commitment to making a meaningful difference in the lives of people here in Solomon Islands.

“We are so proud to have been part of the provision of these essential facilities. By investing together in education, we are investing in the future of this these wonderful young people and the future of the whole nation.

“So, let us remember that the impact of this project extends far beyond the walls of the school. By providing friendly and safe accommodation for female students, we are not only investing in their academic pursuits, but also helping to empower them to reach their full potential.” High Commissioner Rod Hilton said.

Zealand High Commission Political and Economic Advisor Nelson Kere said New Zealand is proud alongside Australia to witness the official handover of the facilities which will improve access to education.

He said the completion of the projects is the result of the hard work and commitment of all stakeholders involved.

Caretaker Premier Polycap Galaigu said Siro CHS and Siota PSS are amongst the very few boarding schools in the province and having such appropriate and standard boarding facilities is essentially a need that cannot be over-emphasized.

“I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Solomon Islands Education Sector Support Programme (ESSP) and in particular the two key donors of ESSP, the Government of Australia and New Zealand which also had the support of SIG through MEHRD.

“I am informed that this is an investment of more than $5 million dollars (Siro project nearly $3 million and Siota $2 million). I appeal to the students, staff and school management to take good care of this facilities to use it with respect and with overall intention of ensuring that it continues to serve students now and into the future.” Mr Galaigu said.

School Principal of Siro CHS Maxley Ausanau thanked Australia and New Zealand governments.

The support coming from your governments with the involvement of MEHRD, Central Islands Provincial Government (CIPG), CIP Education Authority and contractor is a testament of the shared commitment to Solomon Islands education in improving access to quality basic education for all the children of Solomon Islands.

“The construction of our girls dormitory made possible through you generous funding, stands as a symbol of the strong partnership between our nations. Your investment is not only in bricks and mortar but in the future of these young minds echoes the spirit of cooperation and global solidarity.

“We recognize the far-reaching impact this dormitory will have on the lives of the girls who will can it home. It transcends borders, fostering an environment where education become a bridge to opportunity and empowerment.” He said.

Meanwhile, School Principal of Siota PSS John Gomi also echoed similar sentiments.

Mr Gomi said the unwavering support aligns with the school’s shared belief in the transformative power of education.

He adds that completion and handover of the infrastructure at Siota is a tangible result of the collaboration – will be a haven for learning, growth and realization of dreams.

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