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Vocational training urged for Tongan girls

Press Release – Government of Tonga

Most high school students in Tonga – including young women – will not have the opportunity to enter university, and will thus need to pursue non-academic career paths in order to make a living. Vocational training urged for Tongan girls at International Women’s Day celebrations

Most high school students in Tonga – including young women – will not have the opportunity to enter university, and will thus need to pursue non-academic career paths in order to make a living.

This was highlighted at the International Womens Day Centenary celebrations held on Tuesday 8th March at the Queen Salote College Hall on the global theme: “Access to Education, Training, Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women”.

The Guest of Honour at the event Hon. Fatafehi-„o-Lapaha Tuita delivered the keynote address, emphasising that cooperation between stakeholders was key in achieving pathways to decent work for women:

“[In] reiterating the words of the Hon. Minister of Education, Womens Affairs and Culture, the Hon. Dr. Ana Maui Taufeulungaki, to achieve Excellence, Equity, Access, Relevance and Sustainability, we need to work together.”

In the welcoming speech, Deputy Secretary (Womens Affairs) at MEWAC Polotu Fakafanua-Paunga called for unconditional parental support and encouragement for high school leavers during this critical stage of development.

She cited a recent study conducted on education expenditure in Tonga, which showed that only 10 percent of primary school children will complete the secondary school level and continue towards a university degree.

The remaining 90 percent of the approximately 1000 students enrolled each year, will end up without any advanced formal qualification.

“This is crucial, and school leavers, especially girls and women, will need all the encouragement that can be mustered from parents, supporting whatever field they choose, whether it is technology, science, marine, engineering, agriculture, [or] economics,” she stated.

Polotu noted that the Government of Tonga had taken steps to address this challenge, including the establishment of the Ministry of Training, Employment, Youth and Sports (MOTEYS) in 2006, and the implementation of a four-year national Technical and

Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme through MOTEYS, funded through aid from the governments of Australia and New Zealand.

Hundreds of guests attended the event, including students, womens group representatives, members of various community organisations, as well as members of the general public. Guests viewed public exhibitions by training providers, essay readings from high school students, debate contests, and traditional dance performances by the schools.

The local celebration of International Womens Day was organised by the Ministry of Education, Womens Affairs and Culture (MEWAC), womens group Langafonua „a Fafine Tonga, the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions, also assisted by youth initiative Talitha Project, Gio Recycling, ANZ Bank, Westpac Bank of Tonga, members of the local media and other community representatives.

ENDS

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