One of he objectives of the Government is to train and produce people with the particular technical and professional qualities to meet the manpower needs of the nation. This is one reason for selecting only the best students for further education at the time they do the Common Entrance Examination in Primary schools.


Every year there are about 200 places available in the Secondary schools in Kiribati for entering students. Out of 2,000 candidates, only 200 will be fortunate enough to go on for more education in one of the four Junior Secondary schools. These are Rongorongo High School (Protestant), Tabwiroa Junior College (Catholic), Kauma High School (Seventh-Day Adventist) and KGV/EBS (Government).

At the Secondary level, children follow a course of study which will qualify them to sit the Kiribati Junior Certificate Examination at the end of Form 3 (fifteen-year olds). Those who obtain high marks in this test are then eligible to continue on to Forms 4 and 5. At the end of Form 5, children sit the New Zealand School Certificate Examination. For those who get high marks in that test, entry to Form 6 is possible. At the end of one year in Form 6, children may sit the Kiribati Form Six Examination. If their performance is of high standard, they may then be considered for scholarships to the University of Papua New Guinea or even universities in New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

An Arts student going to university for further studies has to gain four "passes" in the following subjects - English, Mathematics, Geography and History. For a Science student, "passes" in English, Mathematics, Science and one optional subject are necessary for entry to a university. Apart from having four "passes", whether an Arts or a Science student, there are other tests that scholarship applicants have to sit. These are the Pacific Numerical Test, the Pacific Word Formation Test and the Pacific Verbal Test. All three of these tests are conducted by the Kiribati Ministry of Education, and are required before any student is considered for a scholarship. These tests are now becoming outdated and will soon be abandoned. The final selection of students is done by the Ministry's Scholarship Committee.

In the past, much financial aid, about 90 percent of the total scholarship awards, was given by the British government. The rest was shared by Australia, New Zealand, Canada and others. However, nowadays the United Kingdom is gradually reducing its financial assistance in this area. The result is that the number of students going overseas for university study is also declining. It used to be that about twenty students were selected every year. From the private sector, the sponsorship is almost nil. This may be explained by the fact that in Kiribati there are no commercial enterprises of significant wealth and importance to assist in this area. Statutory companies, such as Air Tungaru, which are subsidised by the Government are not expected to sponsor scholarships separately from the Government.

Not all students have an opportunity to go on to the university level as we have seen. On the way, during the many years of schooling, there have been many dropouts. Some of these unsuccessful students, if they wish and if they are accepted, may enroll in one of the tertiary institutions in South Tarawa - Tarawa Technical Institute, Tarawa Teachers College, Marine Training School and the School of Nursing. The last-named is operated and controlled by the Ministry of Health and Family Planning.

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At present, there are four Secondary Schools managed and supervised by the missions. Two of these are Catholic - Tabwiroa Junior College in Abaiang and Taborio Senior College (Immaculate Heart College) in North Tarawa. Of the other two, one is Protestant - Hiram Bingham High School at Rongorongo in Beru, and the other is Seventh-Day Adventist - Kauma High School in Abemama. Three of these schools prepare children for the Kiribati Junior Certificate Examination, and Taborio Senior College (IHC) caters for children to sit the New Zealand School Certificate Examination. At present, children from any of the mission schools who obtain high marks on the Kiribati Junior Certificate Examination may continue on to Forms 4 and 5 at KGV/EBS. At the Protestant school in Beru, plans are underway to add Forms 4 and 5 so that children in the future will be able to transfer to KGV/EBS at Form 6 level, which is now already possible from Taborio Senior College (Immaculate Heart College).

Each mission is responsible for the staffing of its own school. The Government may help to the extent of assigning New Zealand and Australian volunteers from service organisations in those countries to join a mission teaching staff for at least two years. (British volunteers are assigned to staff positions within the Ministry of Education in Bikenibeu.)

Besides the above-mentioned institutions, there are also schools run by the missions which have less exacting entry requirements and serve as post-Primary schools. They take in children from the Primary schools who have not succeeded in going to Secondary schools. These are Moroni High School (LDS or Mormon) and St. Louis High School (Catholic), both in South Tarawa, and Morikao Community School (Protestant) in Abaiang. These schools operate more or less on a vocational training or community development basis. Successful graduates from these schools may apply to one of the tertiary institutions in South Tarawa for further training. Again, the responsibility for staffing these schools lies with the church body concerned.


Copyright 2000-2011 by Jane Resture-Gray ( -- Rev. 11th January 2011)