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School fees paid for students struggling financially due to COVID-19

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 23/06/2020

The Prime Minister has urged high school students to stay in school to be able to succeed in their future endeavors. This was part of his address during the launching of the SET’s new program aimed at assisting secondary school students of families who are faced with financial constraints.

In his remarks, Dr. Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa says, the concern is because of the high percentage of school drop-outs in Tonga and the hope that these students will be able to have better employment opportunities in the future to help support their families also the nation as a whole.

More than 2000 students from 1162 households in Tonga were provided conditional cash transfers as part of an effort to address the financial constraints many households face in keeping their children in secondary school.

A $6.5 million USD is managed by the Social Protection Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for this program.

Through this program, eligible households with up to three students will receive direct deposits of $250 school per term into their bank accounts for the next four years.

An additional one-off payment of TOP200 is also provided to assist vulnerable Tongan families deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) Pandemic.

Included in the program are TVET students where Deputy Education Director – Manu ‘Akau’ola says, will contribute to addressing the issue of youth unemployment in Tonga.

Additionally, it was also announced that 125 students in post-secondary technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions will have their course fees paid by the project, including 39 students from the outer islands who will also receive a monthly allowance of $300 pa’anga.

The SET project works through Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Training to directly address Tonga’s high secondary school drop-out rates – which have reached around 20 percent of students annually – as well as ensuring those that have dropped out of secondary school have alternative vocational and learning pathways.

The program will end in 2023 funded by the World Bank in partnership with the Tongan government.

© Radio and Television Tonga News