Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

McCully wants more bang for Pacific education aid bucks

Murray McCully. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Murray McCully. Photo / Steven McNicholl

New Zealand is calling for a rethink on development aid in the Pacific, particularly in the education sector.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully gave a hard-hitting speech yesterday to a conference in Auckland and said not enough was being done.

"Education underpins all economic and social development," he told the Lowy Institute Pacific conference.

"Increasingly it is education that separates the relatively rich from the relatively poor."

He said Prime Minister John Key and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard would be making a great commitment to co-operation in the education sector later in the week.

It was not a matter of lifting the funding but of getting a significant lift in results from the current funding.

"We have to get out of the 'business as usual' mode and get serious about tackling the issues that have attracted a good deal of talk at regional meetings in the past but too little action."

Mr McCully cited three "drivers" of economic development in the region that should be pursued further - tourism, fisheries and agriculture.

And he identified three "enablers" that would help economic development - improvements in energy, infrastructure and education.

He also highlighted some startling education statistics: a million school children around the Pacific do not go to school at all; about 40 per cent of schoolchildren in Pacific Island countries do not complete a basic primary education; only 20 per cent graduate from secondary school.

BARRIERS

Energy costs: Many Pacific countries are still close to 100 per cent dependent on costly fossil fuel for power generation.
Infrastructure: Lack of investment in wharves, airports, roads and internet capability.
Education: A million school-age children around the Pacific do not go to school at all and around 40 per cent of children in Pacific Island countries don't finish primary school.

- NZ Herald

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