The Red Cross operated Special Development Centre (SDC) at Rifle Range in West Honiara has take delivery of a new 30-seater school bus yesterday.
This came after Japanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands Kenichi Kimiya and the SDC Principal Jiope Ralulu Iputu signed a cheque worth SBD$461,566.75 for the purchase of the new bus in October last year.
This was made possible through the Japanese Government under the Japanese Grassroot and Human Security Project grant.
Speaking at the official handing over yesterday, Mr Iputu said the event marked another achievement by Solomon Islands Red Cross Society (SIRCS).
He said to be rewarded with such a great support at the time when the need is high in SDC’s agenda is really a great honour for them.
Mr Iputu said the project is a result of more than a year of hard work and consultation with many different stakeholders.
“Transportation is a vital part of SDC’s daily programmes,” he said.
“Many children who attended this centre (SDC) have different special needs and given the transportation system we have in Honiara, it is vital that transportation is provided for them to access education,” Mr Iputu added.
He said the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) three strategic pillars of ACESS, QUALITY & MANAGEMENT have been very much part of the project.
“Accessibility to education is a challenge to many of our children with special needs in Solomon Islands.
“Many children were not able to attend schools because of accessibility.
“The schools are inaccessible to them or they have no transport or other means to properly access their schools,” he empathised.
He added that the high cost of transportation and the stigma attached to the people with disability (Special needs) were just some of the many challenges faced by children with special needs.
Meanwhile, Mr Iputu said, the project has just come at the right time since the current bus they (SDC) used is old and is causing a lot of inconvenience to the children which affected their programmes.
He said with the new school bus, their children will be able to;
- Have better accessibility to education;
- Have more comfort transportation system to and from their home and school;
- Ease the pain of meeting high cost of bus fare;
- Improve our school programmes;
- Improve participation of children with special needs in other activities such as sporting, field visits and
- Enhance children academic learning as children’s attendance will improve.
Mr Iputu also used the opportunity to assure the Japanese Ambassador Kenichi Kimiya that the project will be treasured for quite a long time.
“We are very happy that we are a few of the beneficiaries of this kind of project.
“We will continue to look after and sustain this project so that many children will benefit from it now and in the future,” Mr Iputu said.
Japanese Ambassador Mr Kimiya while congratulating the centre said the government and people of Japan are very pleased to contribute to the development for the people of Solomon Islands.
“One of the priority areas of our assistance under the Grassroots and Human Security Scheme in Solomon Islands is supporting education and training through the provision of school facilities and vehicles.
“This project is a symbol of the relationship between Japan and Solomon Islands. We believe that this project can promote quality education for the people with disabilities (Special needs).”
The new school bus was purchased from Ela Motor in Honiara at $460,000.
Attending the ceremony yesterday are Mr Kimiya, JICA rep, Red Cross SI rep and staff of the SDC Centre.
By STEPHEN DIISANGO