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NAME: Sofia Sortino SCHOOL: United NetworkCOMMITEE: SOCHUM TOPIC: Economic Development through the Education of Young GirlsCOUNTRY: Solomon Islands IntroductionFor children in difficult situations, education is lifesaving. When children get education, despite circumstances, the whole societies benefit: education can boost economic growth, reduce poverty and inequality. Education also contributes to restoring peace and stability. Despite the huge  benefits to children, education is often the first service suspended and the last service restored in crisis-affected communities. Especially girls in conflict-affected settings are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys.HistorySolomon Islands became member of the United Nations in 1978. They immediately started to consider the big problem of children’s education and their rights, but also women’s rights to prevent violence and to create new opportunities for them.

Since Solomon Islands entered in the UN, they have received lots of recommendations about different themes, many of them are still not solved. For example, in Solomon Islands there are not laws to protect children from violence and to state the right of education. In addition, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) stated that a relatively large number of children, especially girls, do not go to school at all because there are  too few schools.

Later, also UNICEF stated that in Solomon Islands the girls attending secondary education are less than boys.The country was a ratified and signedor was a signatory to a lot ofthe following human rights instruments, including but not limited to, The Convention on The Rights of the Child (1995) and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2009). Regarding the latter, it is important to mention that in Solomon Islands conflicts are very frequent (for example, there was a very cruel civil war from 1998 to 2003) and therefore the possibility of education becomes a bigger issue. Solomon Islands’ Government has recognized that access to education is a human right only recently.

It recognizes the huge challenge to provide quality education accessible and affordable, especially to reduce the big gap in the secondary education that is less accessible for girls than for boys. Since 2005, the government implemented the Community High School initiative. These Communities are being built closer to or inside villages and communities, purposely to address the issue of gender balance, thus allowing girls to reach safely schools.

At the beginning of 2009 the government has implemented the Free-Fee Basic Education (FFBE) policy, purposely to solve the difficulty which parents faced in paying school fees: this was an excuse often used for not sending children to schools by some parents, especially in the rural areas. In 2010 the government adopted a National Children Policy with National Plan of Action, that is based on six strategic points: a) protection; b) development; c) survival; d) participation; e) planning; and f) education.Current Status”The years of conflict during the early 2000s severely damaged and depleted the education system. In many parts of the country there was little or no access to educational facilities, so  some schools were forced to close.” In Solomon Islands, education is not equally accessible to all, as female enrollment rates remain lower than the male ones in all levels of education.

The widest gaps are in secondary and post-secondary education for the economic, socio-cultural, institutional and health-related factors that influence negatively the female education. There is also an infrastructural weakness, including inadequate sanitation facilities and water supplies, that prevent girls from attending school during menstruation. Another important factor is that in Solomon Islands high rates of teenage pregnancy also hinder girls’ ability to continue their education: in fact, when girls become pregnant, they are expelled from schools.In Solomon Islands the cultural stereotypes identify women as being less important than men, so there is a lack of investment in female education.

A deplorable manifestation of gender inequality is the increased violence against women: since there is a lack of safe school transportation, girls living in rural areas are kept at home to avoid being targeted for sexual assaults during their commute. Fortunately, there is a recent increase in female enrollment and governmental effort reflecting changes in the educational chances for girls in this country. From 2007 to 2013, female enrollment in junior secondary and senior secondary education system increased, respectively,  from 29 to 37 percent and from 15 to 26 percent. In 2014, the government’s efforts to increase gender parity and sensitivity in education indicate that Solomon Islands take seriously the addressing possibilities and overcoming limitations of female participation in education.Proposed actions and solutionsAlthough some actions have been already undertaken, the big problem of female education in Solomon Islands still needs to be solved. To avoid this situation the government, with the support of UNICEF, should increase the Community High School Initiative and the Free-Fee Basic Education project mentioned above. The gender gap must be filled, even to enhance the economy system that is affected by the absence of the female part of the population: without education otherwise women cannot have access to employment.

Another activity that should be developed is a Tutoring Project: eldest girls that had received a high school education could help the younger ones through sharing their knowledge, as well books and suggestions.ConclusionThe women must have the same possibilities than men. The gender gap is too high in Solomon Islands but not only in this country. The change starts with the education that must be a right for everyone and it must be accessible, in fact, it is an assignment that the government must complete. It is important that even other countries give some assistance to Solomon Islands: Australia and New Zealand should increase the aids to end the conflicts and they should propose new projects with the UNICEF.

New Zealand should even continue to send teaching materials to rehabilitate and reform the Solomon Islands education. Bibliography universal-periodic-review

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