7000 protesters demand funding for Catholic schools in New Caledonia

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An estimated 7000 people marched to New Caledonia's Territorial Congress
An estimated 7000 people marched to New Caledonia's Territorial Congress last Friday to protest. Image: Enseignement catholique de Nouvelle-Calédonie/RNZ Pacific

Thousands of people have marched in Noumea protesting in support of New Caledonia’s Catholic schools, which are struggling to keep operating.

An estimated 7000 people went to the seat of government and to the Congress building last Friday after the school management warned that budget allocations for this year were US$12 million short of what was needed to cover costs.

About 20 percent of New Caledonia’s children — 13,000 — attend Catholic schools, including all children in Belep and in the Isle of Pines where there are no alternatives.

To highlight their plight, the territory’s 62 Catholic schools, which employ about 1500 staff, did not accept any students in their boarding accommodation for a week, and offered no meals.

While the government says it will discuss the funding problems in early June, the administration of the Southern Province has announced the release of US$1.2 million.

It said the funds are to help stave off lay-off procedures.

Private education is the responsibility of New Caledonia as powers have been devolved from France.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

New Caledonia teachers protest.
About 20 percent of New Caledonia’s children attend Catholic schools. Image: Enseignement catholique de Nouvelle-Calédonie/RNZ Pacific
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