My name is Katrina and I’m 17 years of age. I am the fourth child out of six children in my family. I go to school in West Honiara and I am in year 10.
I have a friend, we went to school together since primary up to year 10 but she is currently not attending school now due to peer pressure and other family issues. She is a smart girl and I think she would become a great designer as she has a passion for designing clothes. I believe that if she could complete her study she will one day accomplish her dream.
I think I am privileged and happy to be educated and I do enjoy my study because one of my aims is to be well educated and get a good paid job thereafter. However, I feel sorry for the girls who did not have the chance to go to school.
I think, one of the issues that prevents girls like me from attending school in the Solomon Islands is school fees. Likewise for boys as well. However, majority are always the girls. Families that cannot afford to send all their kids to school and they often prioritise boys to go to school whilst the girls are left at home to do house chores and rearing children.
The issue of school fees can be addressed if the government review the free education policy. Although the free education policy has been passed, all the schools in the country still charge all sorts of fees like registration fee, development fee and etc. Parents are starting to wonder what does the free education policy actually mean.
I think the government should review the free education policy to ensure that no additional fees are charged by schools in the country, so that many of the young people, especially the girls, can attend school, both primary up to Junior Secondary (year seven – nine) and Senior Secondary (Year 10 – 12). In this case, the girls will have the chance to successfully complete Junior and Senior Secondary Education level.
I think this is something the government and Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) should seriously look at because the socio-economic development of this nation entirely depends on its human resources.
However, this country can only achieve that if the free education policy really reflected its purpose practically by making sure that there is no fee education for every young person in the Solomon Islands. In doing so, we will have a country with educated people resulting in a healthy prosperous country.
Katrina and her fellow Plan International Solomon Islands Youth Champions are calling on their government to break the barriers to girls' education by ending school fees. You can help keep girls in school and ensure they have a brighter future by signing their open letter to the Ministry of Education HERE.