HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS (24 August 2017) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Solomon Islands, and the University of the South Pacific (USP) participated in a ground-breaking ceremony today to officially mark the first step toward upgrading the USP’s Honiara Campus, which will boost students’ access to higher education.
ADB President Takehiko Nakao, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare, and USP Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council Winston Thompson and Vice-Chancellor and President Rajesh Chandra participated in the event held to signal the beginning of the construction phase of the ADB-supported Higher Education in the Pacific Investment Program.
“The project will provide Solomon Islands’ growing youth population with better access to quality education and training,” said Mr. Nakao at the ground-breaking ceremony. “More investments in education and skills development are critical to the future growth of the Solomon Islands and the Pacific, and we are delighted to partner with USP in this initiative.”
A $15.4 million ADB concessional loan, together with an ADB-administered grant of $1.5 million from the Clean Energy Fund, will finance the new campus on the King George VI School grounds, about 4 kilometers east from the existing Honiara Campus.
“This is yet another milestone of USP and ADB’s long-term partnership in the Pacific,” said Mr. Chandra.
USP’s Honiara Campus will provide additional classrooms, an ICT studio, science laboratories, as well as faculty and administrative facilities with a solar-powered system that will provide 75% of the campus’ energy needs. This will enhance ICT-based education, improve student services, and help strengthen USP governance and management. An anchor student program in public health is being planned, as well as a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The new campus will also offer technical and vocational education and training.
Enrolment in higher education in the Pacific region remains low, with rates ranging from 10% in Fiji to less than 5% in most other Pacific Island countries. Demand for enrolments is high and expanding.
At the USP Solomon Islands campus, the enrolment in 2015 was 4,282 students. The expansion of the university’s Honiara Campus will accommodate a further 1,200 students. Solomon Islanders represent the largest population of national students at the USP Laucala Campus in Fiji, where about 1,000 of them are enrolled. A new USP campus in Honiara will enable students to study in Solomon Islands, reducing the costs and improving access.
Currently, the USP Honiara Campus has three main faculties: Arts, Law and Education; Business and Economics; and Science, Technology, and the Environment. Each faculty comprises a number of schools which offer a wide range of academic programs and courses.
USP is a premier provider of tertiary education in the Pacific region and an international center of excellence for teaching, research consulting, and training on all aspects of Pacific culture, environment, and human resource development needs. It is supported by 12 Pacific Island Countries — Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
Mr. Nakao was on the third day of a 4-day visit to Solomon Islands during which he also met with various high-level government officials including Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to discuss ways ADB can further enhance its support to help the country meet its development goals.
In his official address to Solomon Islands Cabinet Ministers today, Mr. Nakao highlighted the potential opportunities for Solomon Islands and the rest of the Pacific from greater economic integration with fast growing Asian countries. He also emphasized the importance of a coordinated, regional approach to climate change. In 2019, Fiji will be the first ADB Pacific developing member country to host an ADB annual meeting. This event will further highlight the unique development context of the Pacific, including the need for concerted efforts to address climate change challenges.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—including 14 Pacific developing member countries. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.