His Excellency Jonathan Schwass, New Zealand High Commissioner giving his address.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus held a successful Open Day with approximately more than 600 students from 10 high schools attending on 2 August, 2019.
His Excellency Jonathan Schwass, New Zealand High Commissioner to Vanuatu was Chief Guest. Also present were Hon Ralph Regenvanu, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Jean Pierre Nirua, Minister for Education and Training and His Excellency Zhou Haicheng, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China. Among the guests were Mrs Anne Rose Tjiobang, Director of Tertiary Education and members of USP’s Emalus campus Advisory Committee.
Mr Ruben Markward, Emalus Group Manager welcomed everyone and thanked the staff and students for organising the event. He said USP is open to everyone who is considering university education, adding that student’s choice of university will eventually shape their lives.
Secondary school students in Vanuatu at the Emalus Campus Open Day.
Mr Markward expressed the University’s appreciation for the attendance by dignitaries saying that USP is well supported by its development partners.
“In particular we recognise His Excellency Jonathan Schwass, NZ High Commissioner to Vanuatu. We are delighted to hear from you,” he said.
In his address H.E Schwass, cited this famous quote: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”.
He said this “seems to be quite a good starting point for where I want to go today. Even a generation ago, the divide between education and ignorance was less clear cut. A pair of hands and a willing attitude could provide you with a good life.”
H.E Schwass continued that now though, “those attributes are seldom enough and that regardless of where you live in the world, education is the key to opportunity”.
Having alluded to some progress in the Vanuatu education sector with the support of development partners, the High Commissioner noted that between 2016 and 2020 New Zealand has provided some NZ$ 20 million toward the development of USP.
This, he said, “is core funding provided with the intention of increasing both access to, and the quality of, tertiary education across the Pacific”.
He noted that NZ has invested heavily in scholarships to institutions in New Zealand and the wider Pacific.
At present, 102 Vanuatu students are being supported through New Zealand Scholarships, studying both in New Zealand and the region. For Vanuatu, 42 scholarships are offered annually. During the 2018 financial year, New Zealand provided some VUV 380 million (FJD 6.5 million) in scholarships across the region.
He concluded that, “Achieving wide access to high-quality education will be both a driver and a marker of Vanuatu’s development progress”.
The participation of ten secondary schools in this year’s Open Day event was encouraging.
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