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SI’s tertiary enrolment amongst lowest in the world but scholarships eat most of education budget

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SINU is the country's national and local university. The report says shifting the tertiary scholarship program towards local institutions has the potential to make the program more cost-effective
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Solomon Islands’ tertiary enrolment rate of only 1.8 percent is among the lowest in the world—but spending tertiary education exceeds expenditures at other levels, mainly driven by the country’s scholarship program.

A World Bank Report, Solomon Islands Public Expenditure Review: Fiscal Reform and the Path to Debt Sustainability launched yesterday reveals those datas and recommended the shifting of scholarships to local institutions to reduce cost.

The report said shifting the tertiary scholarship program towards local institutions has the potential to make the program more cost-effective.

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“In Solomon Islands, 70 percent of children begin primary school at their expected entrance age. Due to an erosion of students from the formal education stream, however, the tertiary enrolment rate is only 1.8 percent, which is among the lowest in the world,” the report states.

It says in contrast, spending on tertiary education far exceeds expenditures at other levels, mainly driven by the country’s scholarship program.

For instance, in 2019, educating a university student was more than 100 times the cost of a primary student.

The report says in recent years, SIG spending on the scholarship program decreased, from 3.5 percent of GDP in 2017 to an estimated 1.7 percent in 2021, and moved to local scholarships.

“A further shift towards local scholarships would contribute to fiscal consolidation and free up resources to build institutional capacity in the tertiary sector, while at the same time retaining talented students in-country,” the report suggested.

It says an increased focus on local scholarships must go hand-in-hand with strengthening the evidence-base regarding value-for-money investments in education, such as tracer studies or progression reports.

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