$303m to get more kids in school

By Amelia Romanos, Audrey Young

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with her partner Tim Mathieson at the powhiri welcome for the Pacific Islands Forum at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Photo / Getty Images
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with her partner Tim Mathieson at the powhiri welcome for the Pacific Islands Forum at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Photo / Getty Images

John Key and Julia Gillard will this morning announce a big boost in spending by the New Zealand and Australian Governments on basic education in Pacific countries.

Over the next four years New Zealand will fund an extra $145 million and Australia $158 million to address the large numbers of kids that do not go to school.

The target is to enrol half of the one million school-aged children not going to school for at least six years of schooling. They have also set a literacy goal for 2021 - of getting 75 per cent of all children in the region to be able to read by the age of 10.

As well as the rise in basic education funding, New Zealand will also spend $122 million in scholarships and training over the same period.

The two Prime Ministers are due to meet early this morning before the opening of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Ms Gillard arrived in New Zealand last night followed by an Australian news pack focused on questions over her leadership of Labor and another poor poll result.

She told reporters she had no plans to raise the issue of boat people with other Pacific leaders.

Her deal with Malaysia to swap boat people landing in Australia with a larger number of refugees from Malaysia has been ruled unlawful by the courts in Australia and prompted renewed criticism of her leadership.

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