HE Frans Baan, Head of the European Delegation,
“Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of basic Education”
(9th EDF RIP)
Signature of the Financing Agreement and Contribution Agreement
26 November 2003
Mr Noel Levi, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Regional
Prof Rajesh Chandra, Acting Vice-Chancellor of USP,
Your Excellency Mr Charles Mochan, British High Commissioner
Your Excellency Mr Jean-Pierre Vidon, Ambassador of France
Your Excellency Mr Adrian Simcock, New Zealand High Commissioner
Ms Hilda Lini, PCRC
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very proud to be here today for the signing of the Financing Agreement and
Contribution Agreement for PRIDE, the “Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of
PRIDE is the first programme of the 9th EDF Regional Indicative Programme to be
signed and we expect the others to follow soon. (PRIDE is also the first 9th EDF
programme to be signed in any of the ACP regions, and that’s another reason why we
should be proud today).
PRIDE is also “a first” in another field: although not initially designed as such, it
developed into a co-funding initiative between the European Union and New Zealand.
Something we are very happy about and which we would like to see repeated in the
region, whenever the priorities of both agencies coincide. It happened because the
CROP HRD Working Group invited other donors with an interest in Education to join
them, so transparency has already started to pay its dividends in this case.
The programme, for which the European Union is contributing € 8 million, will assist the
Pacific Island countries to:
(1) develop and strengthen comprehensive strategies for the Education Sector, which
include formal and non-formal education and
(2) implement some priorities of those strategies.
It consolidates the strategic basis on which country-led development operates and this in
a sector that is crucial for the future development of the region: Education.
The institution implementing the project is the University of the South Pacific, a partner
with which the EDF has increasingly become involved over the last years. Another
expected result of the programme is that it will contribute to strengthen USP’s capacity to
assist Pacific countries in strategic planning and the implementation of basic education.
New Zealand has already provided funding for the start-up activities and that allowed
USP to select the technical assistance team, which seems to be of excellent quality. We
expect recruitment and full implementation to follow in the coming days.
I would like to remind all here present today of the need to make this an inclusive and
consultative process, from the outset. Education in the region is seen by some as
divorced from local cultures, values and traditions, and in many cases communities and
even parents view the school as an unfamiliar institution, with which they are not
These attitudes are not exclusive to the region, nor to developing countries. Education is
one of the “difficult” sectors in most European countries, one which siphons huge
budgets and seems always ready to breed new challenges.
Such is the nature of working with children and the youth, the true motors of change in
any society. Such are the difficulties of finding a balance between the values, traditions
and culture we want to preserve and the fast, ever faster, changes in the world and in the
aspirations of our youngsters.
It turns out that our children are not happy in the kind of school environment we grew up
in, they are not interested by the same subjects, or by the methods how these subjects are
presented. And it seems that they tend to be less docile than we were when school reality
did not meet our aspirations.
No durable balance has ever been found for this challenge; the only certainty is that what
seems right today will be out-of-date in ten years time, or sooner. It is a challenge not cut
for the faint at hart and it is one that can have most destructive consequences if a
reasonably appropriate solution is not found. Cases of “lost generations” abound in
Unfortunately there is no “one size fits all” in this line of business, but the challenges
often have common issues and we can all benefit from joining our efforts and
The partnership being sealed here today involving two donors and two regional
organizations of the Pacific should be the model for the future direction of the
programme: partnership as a key-concept. The Cotonou Agreement officially introduces
the non-state actors as full partners in development. Few other sectors would be as
appropriate for this approach as Education. Although it may be difficult at times, and
definitely more time consuming, it is imperative that communities are involved in
national decisions affecting the future of Education in their country. At the end of the
day we are talking about the future of their children
It is our role, as members of this partnership, to ensure that we are successful in this
endeavour. We simply owe that to the present generation of Pacific Islanders.
Before I finish, please allow me to join Mr Levi in paying homage to the memory of Mr
Savenaca Siwatibau. It would not be possible to present PRIDE without remembering
Siwa who, as head of the CROP Working Group, so decisively contributed to the final
design of the programme. And I will remind you that he used to refer to the growing
numbers of young people leaving school without minimum skills to secure a job as a
“time bomb”. This expression gives a true perspective of the challenge the Pacific island
countries have before them. We hope that PRIDE will assist them to address that
challenge successfully. As I said, we owe that to the present generation of Pacific
Islanders, and we also owe it to Siwa’s memory.
26 November 2003