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Kiribati reforms; Free education, corruption probe, pay rise

THE new government of Kiribati last month announced sweeping changes in the country’s education, health and social welfare policies that will see free education up to year 12 in the whole of the country. The major policy change will also see the possible introduction of a poverty alleviation cash scheme for toddlers and those with special needs to match the current welfare scheme for the elderly.

Establishing a parliamentary investigative committee to probe alleged corruption and abuse of office, a AU$1 million grant to the country’s two major Christian churches and a AU$2 increase in the price of copra (roasted coconut flesh) were also key features of the national policy statement that President Taneti Maamau unveiled in the island’s parliamentary session late last month.

“Our motto is to serve and to deliver and though there are many challenges that we will need to overcome, we will endeavour to do all that we can and we will do so underpinned with the values of good governance, transparency and accountability,” said President Maamau. “I share with you all today this government’s Motinnano (national policy) with the confidence that we will all join efforts to achieve what is best for our people.” Free education to year 12 should open up senior secondary education to a “significant portion of our population,” the President said.

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