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Solomon Islands

BASIC DATA
Official Country Name: Solomon Islands
Region: Oceania
Population: 466,194
Language(s): Melanesian pidgin, English
Literacy Rate: NA

Situated in the Southwest Pacific, about 1,200 miles northeast of Australia, the former British colony became an independent parliamentary state and a member of the Commonwealth in 1978.

Prior to 1974, education was provided mostly by subsidized Christian mission schools, then the local authorities assumed responsibility. The Provincial Government Act of 1981 created nine provincial governments with further responsibilities delegated to Area Councils. At this level, traditional chiefs and leaders can participate in decision-making.

While education is not compulsory, 97 percent of the children attend primary school, and 17 percent attend secondary school. In 1994 there were 65,493 primary pupils and 7,811 secondary pupils. The Solomon Islands have a College of Higher Education and, in 1971, a branch of the University of the South Pacific in Honiara, the capital, was opened. Programs for teacher training, and trade and vocational education are provided at the College of Higher Education. Other rural training centers run by churches are also involved in vocational training.

As of 1995 the adult literacy rate was 64 percent. The language of the great majority of the people is Melanesian pidgin, which is a simplified English-based speech used to facilitate communications between different groups of people, including Melanesian, Polynesian, European, and Chinese. There are 120 indigenous languages. Only 1 to 2 percent of the population speaks English.

Since the bulk of the population is engaged in farming and fishing, the people live in small, widely dispersed settlements. Therefore, there is a need for distant learning.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Turner, Barry, ed. "Solomon Islands." The Statesman's Yearbook: 1371-1376. St. Martin's Press, 2001.

U.S. Department of State. "Solomon Islands." Background Notes On Countries of the World. Washington, DC, 1999.


—Bill T. Manikas

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