Philippe Germain, President of the Government of New Caledonia,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Government of New Caledonia

Jean-Pierre Nirua, Minister of Education, Training and Francophonie in Vanuatu,

Mr. Director of the French Development Agency (AFD),

Ladies and Gentlemen, the representatives of the services of the Government,

Ladies and Gentlemen, the representatives of the partner institutions,

Dear friends,

It is with great pleasure that I speak at this signing ceremony of the retrocession agreement of the FICOL project, an eminently important document for the construction project of the Vanuatu National University, which follows the Framework Cooperation Agreement signed between our two Governments on March 3, 2017.

As you know, Vanuatu has embarked on the ambitious but necessary path to create a national university with bilingual - or even multilingual - streamsto promote access for our young people, whether they be francophones or anglophones, local or foreign, to higher education without the need to go abroad.

Currently, enrollments in early 2018 are 247 students; what represents an increase of 42% compared to 2017 (174 students) and 137% compared to 2016 (104 students). And we envisage for the autumn of 2019 the opening of a new pathway of license in the field of the environment, the opening of continuing education through the launch of the AES license and the development of doctoral training as an extension of the Masters. This fundamental step to train our own bilingual executives and thus create a dynamic conducive to social promotion will act on all sectors with the enrichment of skill levels.

And in this movement of meaning and future, we are fortunate to be accompanied by our closest Melanesian neighbor, New Caledonia, who, through his contribution to the construction of the buildings of our future national university, shows us once again that we can count on his unwavering support. I also thank France, its representatives here in New Caledonia and AFD particularly, without which this construction project could not see the day.

AFD's return to Vanuatu, in this sector in particular, underlines the renewed commitment to education and I am convinced of this, brings hope for the continuation of the construction of new classrooms from the university indicated in Phase 2 of the FICOL project.

I would also like to take the opportunity of this ceremony to discuss the other projects relating to higher education to which the Government of New Caledonia contributes through the regional cooperation convention; I will mention the development of new sectors and especially the new bilingual tourism-hotel license that was launched in September 2018 with a first class of 39 students, the construction of an e-learning room that should begin in the coming weeks and that the development of the structuring of research that should be backed by our future university. In order to support this scientific dynamic, we are taking any initiative for the development of research backed by our future university. Thus, I have just validated the proposal for the development of a health research platform by the Institut Pasteur, whose dual interest is to support teaching, supervise student internships and provide support to the Ministry. of health in its public health mission.

As you can see, we are moving forward on all fronts at the same time. The support of New Caledonia which went through this same period of reflection in action during the construction of its university 25 years ago is therefore precious and it is in this sense that I express the wish that higher education remains the focal point of the next Joint Committee of the Regional Cooperation Convention.

Given the proximity of our countries, the cultures, the francophone space and the small populations that we share, it goes without saying that the complementarity of our actions is better directed than if these actions aim at the emancipation and the blossoming of our youths do not the future we must feed and prepare together. In this same spirit of sharing, it also goes without saying - customarily speaking - that what belongs to us belongs to you too, and vice versa. In any case, the spirit of the development of the bilingual university is the subject of the convention we are signing today.

It is in such an action, a real pleasure, and an honor, to see, the commitment of all the actors that I just mentioned to the up to the stakes that are ours, which are those of our country, but also of your country; because our ministers responsible for education have clearly mentioned the opportunities for student exchanges in a common French and bilingual space. So let us dream our youth and give them the opportunity to compete intellectually with their cousins Melanesian, Polynesian, Micronesian, or even Australian and New Zealand.

Thank you for your attention.

 

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