Exams in doubt after Solomon Islands Government cuts entire funding allocation

Photo: Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, Solomon Islands

All examination classes face the possibility of not sitting their exams as the Solomon Islands Government has cut the entire budget allocation of more than $70 million (US$8.41 million) for this year’s national examinations as part of its cost cutting measures.

This shocking decision by the Government of National Unity and Transformation (GNUT) has stunned the ministry last week as at no time any governments in the past had touched or removed the budget line for examinations, top insiders told SBMOnline.

Sources to SBMOnline also confirmed that the decision was even been taken without any consultations with the ministry.

“If we don’t get the budget back then surely there will be no examinations this year,” one source, said.

“This is a very serious action and it is an insult to the children of this country,” the source further stated.

It costs the government around $74m (US$8.89 million) to run the exams for forms one, three, five and six.

“You’re looking at the prospect of no exams for all these forms as the funds allocated for their exams have been removed. Now there is a zero balance under the allocation,” one source confirmed.

However, the Permanent Secretary of Education and Human Resources Development Dr Franco Roddie told SBMOnline that an understanding had been reached with his ministry and the ministry of finance on the issue.

Usually, the fund is used by the ministry amongst other things to prepare the exams, mobilise resources right throughout the country as well as the printing and delivery of the exams nationwide.

SBMOnline understands that senior officials within the ministry have already written to the Permanent Secretary of Education and Human Resource to demand answers from the Ministry of Finance on the removal of the allocation.

They even demanded the immediate reinstalment of the allocation otherwise they will issue an advice that there will be no examinations this year. This will affect the thousands of school children due to sit the national and regional examinations later this year.

The officials also demand that the ministry of finance explain why it has removed an already appropriated budget passed by parliament to be spent this year.

SBMOnline understands the cost cutting is part of the ministry of finances new measures to reduce government expenses.

SBMOnline further understands that the ministry of finance even demanded that the MEHRD justify why the removed allocation (for examinations) should be reinstated.

It is understood that the officials responsible were unwilling to give any justifications as this had never happened in the past.

When contacted, Dr Roddie explained that: “The financial reservation policy of GNUT applies to recurrent other charges budgets of all government ministries, which is a cost cutting measure. However, an understanding has been reached by my Ministry and Ministry of Finance and Treasury to waiver the decision so that non-discretionary recurrent other charge budgets of the MEHRD can be expended as planned. Examination and scholarship budgets are non-discretionay budgets.” Regardless of that, one senior official from MEHRD said notwithstanding of that, the examinations budget should never be touched or removed.