Minister of Education and Training the Hon. Seoule Simon and Australia’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu H.E Sarah deZoeten signed an exchange of letters for over half a billion vatu, alongside H.E Jonathan Schwass, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Vanuatu. The additional assistance from Australia and New Zealand will help the Ministry of Education and Training respond to the dual impacts of COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold.
At the signing ceremony, the Hon. Seoule Simon thanked Australia and New Zealand for their long-term support for education and efforts to pool funding to improve coordination. “I thank both countries for their generous support to education. Even though they are facing economic challenges, as is the rest of the world, they are showing care for their island country neighbour. Vanuatu needs its partners more than ever to overcome these new challenges of COVID-19 and destruction from TC Harold, but also ash fall in Tanna and the Ambae evacuation”.
The additional assistance for response and early recovery to TC Harold will support repairs to schools in affected areas and help children return to safer and stronger classrooms. It will also enable the reprinting of books and other damaged resources.
“Australia is committed to our ongoing partnership with Vanuatu to help children access quality education. We are pleased to stand with the people of Vanuatu in responding to the challenges they are facing from TC Harold and COVID-19. Today’s signing is also a symbol of the trust and partnership between our countries” said High Commissioner deZoeten.
Part of Australia’s contribution will also help to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19. “I am proud the strong school grant system is recognised as a useful mechanism for economic stimulus for communities across Vanuatu. This system has been used since 2010 and has proven to be equitable and will be a great complement to the Government of Vanuatu’s existing stimulus” said the Hon. Seoule Simon, Minister of Education and Training.
“New Zealand is proud to be working with Australia and the Ministry of Education and Training to address the damage to school infrastructure caused by Tropical Cyclone Harold and the impact of COVID 19 on schools in Vanuatu. The leadership shown by the Ministry of Education and Training in the face of these two challenges is helping to ensure that kids in areas impacted by Cyclone Harold can get back into regular schooling as soon as possible, and that the health and well-being of students is protected” said H.E Jonathan Schwass.