BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
PREMIER for Makira province is urging the Solomon Islands Government to increase its budget allocation for Early Childhood Development and Primary Health Care in Solomon Islands.
Premier Stanley Siapu made the call to SIG during the National Early Childhood Development forum held in Honiara recently.
He said SIG should increase its budget allocation for Early Childhood Development and primary health care should be higher than for tertiary level.
Mr Siapu said the government’s current budget for ECE is not enough to sustain children’s learning capacity due to poor classrooms, not enough teachers and other relevant resources.
He said investing in the sector will help prepare children at an early stage for their social and intellectual development.
“I think I would rather see that from now on budget for early childhood development should be bigger than other areas and more investment should on early childhood trend rather than we spent more on Tertiary education.
“The highest budget of Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development should go towards its early childhood programme then followed by primary, secondary and tertiary, and that should also apply to primary health care.
“I believe that investment in areas of early childhood will lays the foundation for later education in life to prepare children for employment or to run a business as they move on.”
Undersecretary for Ministry of Finance and Treasury Mr Norman Hiropuhi said SIG’s biggest budget allocation now is on the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education.
However, there is no impact seen in rural communities across the country, he adds.
He said if the government through such forum might understand better ways of investing in children to come up with policies to put resources or coordinate resources might address the trend.
At the same time increase share of budgets towards early childhood education in relation to other things like tertiary education, he said.
Mr Hiropuhi said currently MEHRD is a sector who has biggest budget allocation which has way well more than other Ministries but most go towards tertiary sector.
But it will be government’s decision whether they want to change the policy, he adds.
“Through this kind of forum and awareness, I believe there will be eventually some change in policy with regards to allocations towards early childhood development.”
According to MEHRD’s report 2017, there is an imbalance in expenditure between education sectors.
Expenditure for tertiary sector is $425 million for 2,756 students while ECE + Primary + Secondary $ 224 million budgeted for 216,137 students.
For ECE alone, the budget allocation is $ 1,955,050, Primary $52,831,680 and Secondary $71,716,376.