Rising Prices Threatens Food Supply of Isolated Tropical Islands

These are communities that have a ‘no-cash economy’. They provide produce in exchange for services, and occasionally sell a few items to the infrequent tourists that come through.

Pentecost Island recently saw the closure of a secondary school with the students sent home, due to a lack of food. The school can no longer able feed the students from the school fees. The cost of rice – the staple food – has become prohibitive and the school gardens cannot keep up with demand.

Little is done to help the advancement of the youth of these remote islands when their stomachs are empty and the schools are closed. To gain the knowledge and skills required for the 21st century is a struggle for these disadvantaged children.

Their primary education in the villages is undertaken squatting o



n their haunches at solid wooden benches at the end of the village. They share pages from an exercise book to have something to write on. Pencils are broken into three to be able to write. Items such as blackboards and chalk and writing paper are treated as if they are pure gold.

At the end of primary schooling the students sit an entrance exam that allows them to go on to high school. That is if their parents can raise the school fees. Many of the students, in this no-cash economy, actually get to see the inside of a high school classroom.

Education in Vanuatu is not free. The dreadful consequences of this are:

o only 55.8% of Vanuatu kids will get to grade 6;
o of those only 18.2% will go to high school ;
o 26% will never go to school at all.

The Vanuatu government admitted in late 2007 that it did not have the resources or the fin