Australian Scholarships to Kiribati

Uploaded by AusAIDvideo on 14.02.2011

NARRATOR: The Australian Government has been running scholarship programs
in some form for the Pacific
since the 1950s.
MAN: In 2009, I think we implemented around 2,000 scholarships.
We anticipate by 2014, 2015
that scholarships program will double to over 3,700 awards each year.
That is an exciting opportunity for us and for our partners.
The population of Kiribati
is about the same size as Wollongong in Australia,
but we are scattered over an area
that's about the size of the United States.
NARRATOR: So, let's take the population of Wollongong
and scatter them over this large area.
On top of that, we will only provide them with education
up to a year 12 level.
And from this, we must expect that this tiny state of Wollongong
will provide all the skills and capacity
to successfully run a modern state in the 21st century.
TEEKOA IUTA: So if we need people to be more qualified
in order to become doctors, to become knowledgeable people
who can lead the country in future,
we would need to send them abroad to study
in universities and technical institutions.
The people who are lucky enough to get a prestigious award
come to Australia, undertake their studies,
but then they can go home and contribute to development.
And we see that as a really critical pathway
for supporting countries to drive their own development.
NARRATOR: Alice Tikau has been managing
the Kiribati end of the scholarships program
since the early '90s.
ALICE TIKAU: Over 20 awardees, or awards,
get to be offered every year.
And the budget is approximately $2 million every year.
It's been a pleasure to see that there... know, that there have been, um...
..a lot of graduates have returned and are now in senior positions.
We work very closely with our partner governments
to align the scholarships with the areas of most need.
So, for example, in a country like Kiribati,
we work very closely with our partners
to identify what the priority areas are,
and we align our scholarships to address those.
At the start, ministries and government companies and corporations
submit to us the skill gaps, the training needs
for the three-year period.
Once they submit to us those skill gaps or training needs,
PSO compile the national human resource development plan.
NARRATOR: Former awardee Akka Rimon is the deputy secretary
for the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development.
Akka received an Australian Leadership Award
and completed a master's degree in public administration.
You know, we have a lot of development and aid into Kiribati
from other donor countries,
and the problem is that we...
..we still rely on internationals to come and do the job for us,
because we don't have the qualifications.
How great would it be if you have, you know,
young people and young locals who can do that for themselves, you know?
We increase capacity of our people, teach them,
empower them to do things
that we may not consider having been able to do in the first place.
The school leavers, form 7 students,
they apply through the Ministry of Education.
NARRATOR: One of this year's young hopefuls is Touakai Kambati.
Well, actually, the scholarship, I'm actually relying on it,
you know, just to do my further studies overseas, you know?
I plan on being a doctor
and then come back and help Kiribati here.
And he's one of the best because I think he works hard, really,
and maybe... he's being supported by the family.
TOUAKAI KAMBATI: The benefit of scholarship, you know,
it benefits, you know, the student, the family.
Relieving stress of knowing
that your parents are not, you know, sweating hard,
going out in the sea, fishing, you know, for your fees.
It's kind of a new thing to me, you know?
You know, being a Pacific islander
and going overseas, seeing new things,
seeing modern things, you know, like high buildings.
There's happy things about being in a place that's, you know,
bright and, you know, energetic.
But, you know, it's quite different from my country.
You get really thrilled by the excitement
of going to study in Australia at first,
and it just makes you so overly excited
that, you know, you almost forgot
what it's gonna be like when you get there.
And that's exactly what I went through.
When I got into Sydney, I thought, "OK, yeah, yeah! I'm here, finally.
"I need to go to the Opera House and get a photo and look at it
"and say, 'Yay. I'm finally here.'"
It takes some time, it takes a lot of patience
to really learn about the culture that you're in.
For me, I find most hard the fact
that, in my neighbourhood, nobody will speak to me.
I'll be walking up to the nearest shop
to get milk and papers in the morning,
and there's these people that I meet on the way,
jogging all the time,
and I, being friendly and all -
and this is what we do in Kiribati, we smile and wave to everyone -
and they give me this look like, "Do we know you?"
And I'm like, "OK. So..."
You remain lonely and you have to adapt to whatever the situation is.
NARRATOR: Marii Marae is from
the Kiribati Ministry for the Environment,
and she's studying for a master's degree in environment law.
MARII MARAE: I get to come here and learn more skills
that I think I can contribute to my country
for environment protection.
When I first came here, you know,
I realised that I have, like, limited, you know,
knowledge on, you know, many things.
Like, I learn that I can learn more.
You know, the wealth of sharing knowledge and experiences
from other international students or from lecturers,
or from the paper that you write,
and you have your supervisor tell you
other things that you may not have seen at that time,
it's something that really expands your horizon
to really understand where you come from.
MARII MARAE: We have AusAID liaison officers.
They're the ones who look after us.
We have academic advisers and we can also ask for tutoring.
That's where we get all the support from.
MAN: Australia puts a lot of store in developing leaders in our region,
and I think that the group here represents
the best and the brightest
that we have studying in Australia.
So I think it's a great opportunity
and a great thing that you're here today.
NARRATOR: In November, Marii was one of the 30 who gathered in Canberra
to receive the Prime Minister's Pacific Award.
PETER VERSEGI: Congratulations and welcome,
and to use this opportunity to talk to your colleagues
and, I think, start to build those sort of informal networks
that I hope will endure for many years to come.
And it's amazing - the circle of friends that we built
from among all the scholars that were there
have become, you know, very close families to us
during our time away from home.
Our favourite hangout was the Pancakes on The Rocks,
overlooking the harbour in Sydney.
Yeah, we'd normally go there and have pancakes and talk
and just catch up with everyone,
and, you know, forbid ourselves from talking about school and studies.
So, yes, I miss the friends that I've met in Australia.
But also you get to experience a different kind of life.
Like, very different from Kiribati, you know, the way we live.
And it's a good experience.
Everyone else is going on about climate change and economics, and...
But I thought, you know,
education is at the foremost of all development efforts,
and without education, we cannot do something
about climate change, economics and other development aspects.
NARRATOR: And the good news is that Touakai received
an Australian Development Scholarship.
It also gives an advantage to your country,
'cause if you go overseas, you know, you get better qualifications,
and if you come back, you give better services
and overall, you build up a country with better services
and, you know, a better country.