Solomon Islands : Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project

Sovereign Project | 55050-002

The report also describes the proposed administration of a grant to be provided by the Ireland Trust Fund for Building Climate Change and Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States for the Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project, and if the Board approves the proposed loan, I, acting under the authority delegated to me by the Board, approve the administration of the grant.

Project Details

  • Project Officer
    Bryson, Cindy M.D.
    Sectors Group
    Request for information
  • Approval Date
    1 December 2023
  • Country/Economy
    Solomon Islands
  • Sector
    • Education
Project Name Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project
Project Number 55050-002
Country / Economy Solomon Islands
Project Status Approved
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Grant
Source of Funding / Amount
Grant 0919-SOL: Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project
Asian Development Fund US$ 35.00 million
Grant 0920-SOL: Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project
Ireland Trust Fund for Building Climate Change and Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States US$ 700,000.00
Loan 4403-SOL: Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project
Concessional ordinary capital resources lending US$ 10.00 million
Operational Priorities OP1: Addressing remaining poverty and reducing inequalities
OP2: Accelerating progress in gender equality
OP3: Tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability
OP6: Strengthening governance and institutional capacity
Sector / Subsector

Education / Secondary

Public sector management / Public administration

Gender Gender equity theme

The report also describes the proposed administration of a grant to be provided by the Ireland Trust Fund for Building Climate Change and Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States for the Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project, and if the Board approves the proposed loan, I, acting under the authority delegated to me by the Board, approve the administration of the grant.

The interconnection of climate change and poverty in Solomon Islands underscores the critical need to invest in adaptive and resilient human capital. Such investments reduce vulnerability and pave the way for a just and inclusive transition to a climate-resilient economy. The Government of Solomon Islands has requested assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to strengthen senior secondary education and build climate and disaster resilience. The project will help achieve this by reforming the curriculum for years 1012 to make it more practical and by equipping students with the necessary foundational skills for continuous learning and future employment, focusing on skills and jobs that foster resilience. It will update or construct facilities to climate-resilient standards at 10 schools and strengthen management. It will also address barriers and challenges that girls face by piloting innovative gender-transformative activities and implementing a leadership and management program for aspiring female educators.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

High climate and disaster risk. Solomon Islands is highly vulnerable to disasters and climate change, ranking second highest globally for disaster risk in 2021. Positioned along the Pacific cyclone belt and Ring of Fire, the country is susceptible to various extreme weather and climate hazards (cyclones, riverine and flash floods, storm surges, king tides, and droughts), and geophysical hazards (volcanic activity, landslides, earthquakes, and tsunamis). The country's islands comprise towering volcanic mountains and tiny low-lying atolls. About 60% of the population resides within 1 kilometer from the coast, and is exposed to sea level rise. Between 1970 and 2021, the country experienced 29 major disasters, mainly extreme weather and climate-related hazards. The rural inhabitants, particularly women, bear a disproportionate burden of disaster impacts because of their heavy reliance on subsistence agriculture. Recurrent disasters have caused the loss of housing, disrupted livelihoods, and worsened living conditions, pushing vulnerable communities into poverty and eroding their social resilience. Informal settlements are growing because of rapid urbanization, straining local resources, and services. Climate change is expected to accelerate migration and displacement, possibly leading to increased conflict.

Uneven development and weak social indicators. In 2019, the country had a population of about 721,000 (51.2% male and 48.8% female) spread across 147 islands, and roughly 20% were 1524 years old. Projections indicate that the population will reach 1.4 million by 2050. In 2021, gross national income per capita was the lowest in the region at $2,680. The country ranked low on the Human Development Index in 2021, with a value of 0.564, making it 155th out of 189 economies. Widespread poverty in rural areas manifests as limited access to essential services and jobs rather than extreme hunger. Basic needs like water and sanitation often go unmet. The national labor force participation is 61% for women and 74% for men, with 85% engaged in the informal economy. Formal employment rates are highest among men and women with tertiary qualificationsabout 3%5% of the population. ADB recognizes Solomon Islands as a small island developing state in a fragile and conflict-affected situation. The country has experienced episodes of civil unrest and conflicts, and although it achieved significant progress in restoring stability, it faces enormous challenges. Apart from climate change, growth is still not inclusive and development remains uneven. The population has inadequate workforce skills to support vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and infrastructure because of limited education. Quality and relevance must be improved across the education system. In senior secondary education, the curriculum needs revision to integrate climate change content (such as ecosystem-based adaptation, social vulnerability, climate economics, disaster preparedness, and resilient agriscience concepts) and build foundational skills (such as scientific literacy, critical thinking, problem-solving, and data literacy). This can support workforce diversification into more climate-resilient and adaptive areas of employment, such as regenerative farming and agroecology, ecotourism, renewable energy, and green construction.

Gender inequality, social exclusion, and the role of education. Gender inequality also poses a significant issue, limiting women's employment and income generation. Women's decision-making is constrained and varies based on age, education, and employment status; for example, women with post-secondary education are more likely to have a say in decision-making than those with less education. While women and ethnic minorities have full political rights by law, discrimination hampers their political opportunities. Social taboos exist around discussing domestic violence, rape, and child abuse. Gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual exploitation are prevalent issues. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of women aged 1549 years who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. About 77% of women and 57% of men believe that a husband is justified in hitting or beating a wife under certain circumstances. However, the acceptance of such violence decreases with higher levels of education among both women and men. About 21% of girls are married by age 18 (compared with 4% of boys). Cultural expectations dictate that girls fulfill household responsibilities in addition to their schoolwork, so girls spend 75% more time on household chores than boys. About 16% of men and 17% of women live with some form of disability, often with reduced opportunities for education and employment.

Low participation in education and high unemployment. The education system comprises early childhood centers, primary and secondary schools, and tertiary education institutions. The completion of secondary school (3 years of junior secondary and 3 years of senior secondary education) is a challenge for most young people. In 2019, only 12% of girls and 14% of boys who started primary school (6 years) finished year 12. Most students end their schooling at year 9, and only 32% of students enroll in senior secondary years. Students face various barriers such as limited school spaces, poor conditions, and fees. Completion rates are not improving, and more girls drop out than boys. Harmful gender norms, bullying, and GBV are contributing factors. Roughly 44% of the girls who leave school do so because they are pregnant, and their decision is influenced by school regulations, societal norms, and social stigma. Students often have limited understanding of sexual and reproductive health and inadequate access to contraceptives. In some families, boys' education is prioritized based on the perception that, in the future, they will provide care for elderly parents. At the same time, girls are expected to marry and care for their husband's family. These challenges contribute to the low completion rates in secondary education and low participation rates in tertiary education. Students with disabilities face social stigma and negative attitudes, making them less likely to attend school. Consequently, youth unemployment is at 35%. Secondary education completion rates are further affected by disasterse.g., drought, floods, tropical cyclones, and earthquakesthat have led to school closures and learning disruptions caused by damage, water shortages, and the repurposing of schools as community evacuation centers.

Poor quality of senior secondary education. Senior secondary education faces three critical challenges: poor teaching quality, limited safe access and inadequate learning environments, and often poor management. The curriculum taught in years 1012 has not been updated for more than 30 years. It focuses on academic subjects required for university and neglects practical applications for students that are not pursuing higher education. The content does not adequately address negative gender stereotypes, and education on gender equality is limited. Poor teaching quality leads to weak learning outcomes. The National Adaptation Programmes of Action emphasize the need to develop new curricula and train teachers to integrate climate change and disaster risk reduction.

Shortage of quality school infrastructure. Insufficient school places in years 1012 make it difficult to build a skilled workforce. Because of inadequate infrastructure in all nine provinces and the capital, Honiara, only 52 out of 269 public secondary schools offer education up to year 12. Many secondary schools lack running water and sanitation facilities. The absence of working bathrooms and showers often forces girls and boys to travel long distances or use a river or beach. During menstruation, girls sometimes miss classes, causing them to fall behind in their studies. Where schools have basic infrastructure, many classrooms and dormitories are overcrowded. Students with disabilities face barriers in attending school because of inaccessible facilities and transport issues (only 54% of people with disabilities complete primary school, and only 2% complete secondary school). School infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to climate events and disasters. Investing in resilient assets (such as enhanced drainage, storm protection, ventilation, and cooling) and strengthening school design standards is critical for enhancing the quality of school infrastructure and reducing class disruption because of natural hazard events such as droughts and storms.

Weak secondary school leadership. Implementing the secondary education reform to achieve a future climate-resilient economy requires teacher management and school leadership improvements. Many principals have outdated leadership and management styles, insufficient understanding of future climate change impacts, and inadequate capacity to create long-term school development and maintenance plans. Weak school-based rules do not prevent bullying and harassment of teachers and students (girls and boys), including sexual harassment. Although teachers may be aware of these incidents, they often lack the skills to manage such behavior. Such misconduct can undermine academic performance, contributing to dropout rates of girls and boys. Gender disparities prevail among teaching and management staff, and twice as many men than women are teaching years 1012. Teachers require support in adopting new teaching methods and implementing the curriculum effectively. Many leaders lack the knowledge and skills to promote gender-inclusive learning outcomes.

Strategic context. The National Development Strategy 20162035 recognizes the importance of sustainable and inclusive economic growth in managing risks from climate change and disasters, high poverty rates, gender inequality, and ethnic tensions. A resilient economy hinges on having a skilled workforce, yet employers report difficulty finding individuals with the right soft and technical skills to fill job vacancies. In 2020, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) developed a framework for senior secondary education aiming to make learning more practical and better prepare students for future employment and further education. The framework emphasizes the need for collaboration between private sector employers, secondary schools, and tertiary education providers. This collaboration is vital for promoting climate-resilient jobs in targeted sectors. MEHRD also requested support to update and implement the Gender Equality in Education Policy, which emphasizes the need to (i) integrate gender equality in the curriculum; (ii) develop responses to ensure that pregnant girls and adolescent mothers can continue their education; and (iii) develop a curriculum linked to family life and safety, gender equality, and living in a nonviolent society. The project's enhancements of senior secondary education will help create an environment that supports the transition to a more gender-inclusive, climate-resilient economic base. The project is aligned with ADB's Pacific Approach 20212025 to support a resilient Pacific, and will contribute to ADB's Strategy 2030 and its operational priorities.


All Solomon Islanders will develop as individuals and possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to earn a living and to live in harmony with others and their environment

Project Outcome
Description of Outcome

Quality, relevance, and gender-responsiveness of senior secondary education for a climate resilient economy improved

Progress Toward Outcome
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

Quality of learning in senior secondary education improved

Quality and climate and disaster resilience of secondary school facilities, furniture, and learning equipment enhanced

Secondary school management strengthened

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Geographical Location Nation-wide
Safeguard Categories
Environment B
Involuntary Resettlement C
Indigenous Peoples C
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design
During Project Implementation
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services The consulting services planned for the project have an estimated value of $26.74 million and will follow the quality and cost-based selection method with technical: financial proportions of 80:20 and consultant qualifications selection where the assignment is not complex and the reason for not evaluating multiple proposals are justified.
Procurement The project procurement risk is assessed as moderate. The strategic procurement planning report identified a lack of capacity and experience in MEHRD to undertake procurement in accordance with ADB's Procurement Policy (2017, as amended from time to time). The inherent risks related to the procurement capacity of MEHRD are seen as substantial, but the nature of procurement is non-complex, the multiple packages are distributed across the project duration, and MEHRD has experience in donor-funded procurement. The project design addresses risks by engaging procurement capacity and providing direct ADB support to early-stage consultant recruitment activities.
Responsible ADB Officer Bryson, Cindy M.D.
Responsible ADB Department Sectors Group
Responsible ADB Division Human and Social Development Sector Office (SG-HSD)
Executing Agencies
Ministry of Finance and Treasury
Concept Clearance 23 May 2022
Fact Finding 10 Jul 2023 to 14 Jul 2023
Approval 01 Dec 2023
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 01 Dec 2023

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Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards
Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.

Title Document Type Document Date
Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project: Initial Environmental Examination Initial Environmental Examination Jul 2023

Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation

None currently available.

Related Publications

None currently available.

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Tender Title Type Status Posting Date Deadline
Project Management Services for the PMU Firm - Consulting Active
55050-002-SOL: Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project Advance Notice Active

Contracts Awarded

No contracts awarded for this project were found

Procurement Plan

Title Document Type Document Date
Senior Secondary Education Improvement Project: Procurement Plan Procurement Plans Sep 2023