ADB, University of South Pacific sign loan for New Solomon Islands campus

News Hour:

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) today signed loan and grant agreements to fund construction of a new USP Honiara Campus, which will boost access to quality higher education.

The Solomon Islands Government is providing the guarantee for the $15.4 million loan.

Solomon Islands Minister of Education and Human Resources Development, John Moffat Fugui, USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, and the Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office Department Robert Jauncey participated in the ceremony.

“The Higher Education in the Pacific Investment Program will provide Solomon Islands’ growing youth population with better access to quality education and training,” said Mr. Jauncey. “We are delighted to partner with USP in this initiative to help Solomon Islands address future employment challenges it may face.”

The $15.4 million, along with the ADB-administered grant of $1.5 million from the Clean Energy Fund, will fund the new campus on the King George VI School grounds, about 4 kilometers east from the existing Honiara campus.

The campus will provide additional classrooms, an ICT studio, science laboratories, faculty and administrative facilities with a solar-powered system that will provide 75% of 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.

The loan is the second and final tranche under a $19 million loan to help USP improve its facilities and teaching. The first tranche of the loan, amounting to $3.6 million, financed a new ICT-equipped campus in Kiribati which was formally opened in November 2015 by former President Anote Tong. That loan was guaranteed by the Kiribati Government.

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. At the USP Solomon Islands campus, the enrolment in 2015 was 4,282 students. Solomon Islanders represent the largest population of national students at the USP Laucala campus (Fiji). The demand for tertiary spaces in Solomon Islands is great, with USP enrolments having increased by an average of 10% annually during 2011-2015.

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 in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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