The government is set to roll out free tuition fee for Early Childhood Care and Education(ECCE) and year 7 of junior secondary cycle beginning with the third term of this year (2017).

The governments of Australia and New Zealand are providing Vt37 million to finance the government’s free tuition policy this year, the Minister of Education and Training (MOET), Jean Pierre Nirua, announced yesterday.

An amount of Vt14,375,000 has been allocated towards free early childhood education.

It will benefit 5,750 children of ages 4 to 5 in 252 kindergartens that are attached to government and government assisted primary schools.

Each child will receive Vt2,500 covering 10 weeks of term III.

The total fund allocated for year 7 is almostVt23 million. It will benefit 4,399 children in 85 secondary schools and 47 centre schools.

Each student will receive Vt5,143 as part of tuition fee.

Minister Nirua said extending free tuition to early childhood education and junior secondary level will ease the financial burden of parents.

This free tuition fee policy excluded private schools.

The government, under its free primary education model introduced in 2010, gives a subsidy of each learner a year. Parents will have to meet fees for uniforms, boarding fees, administrative and sundry fees.

Parents, teachers and education stakeholders welcomed the announcement last year and again this year on Children’s Day by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai that the government will make education free for early childhood and year 7 to 10 starting next year (2018).

Minister Nirua’s declaration yesterday has shown the government is not just making announcements but is implementing the declaration.

The roll out plan this year prepares the government for the implementation of the complete roll out plan next year, said Mr Nirua.

Minister Nirua applauded the governments of Australia and New Zealand for their continued support to financing education in Vanuatu.

This year marks the end of the Free Primary Education Policy of Vanuatu being financed by the governments of Australia and New Zealand.

The government is now financing primary education on its own.

When announcing the year 7 and early education roll out yesterday, Nirua said: “Vanuatu will show to the world that it is committed to protect the rights of all children when it ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1997”.

The MOET will inform schools on how to utilize the grants and will be closely monitoring to ensure schools do not overcharged parents, the minister added.