The Tina River Hydropower Development Project has partnered with the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) to enroll 15 students from the Tina River communities to upskill and train locals under the Community Benefit Sharing Program (CBSP). Starting next week and continuing into 2022/23, the students will be trained in certificate and diploma courses in fields such as Electrical, Plumbing, Business, Survey, Carpentry and Joinery, Environmental, Automotive Engineering and Secretarial studies.
In a first-of-its-kind extension program, the students were identified and selected after attending the CBSP's Pre-Employment Training which was made available to eligible members of the Tina communities. PET training and University courses are designed to upskill, equip and prepare people to be job-ready for employment opportunities during the construction and operational periods of the Project.
Speaking at the official ceremony of awards last week, Deputy Project Manager for Tina Fred Conning, described the program at SINU as an outcome of the communities' request during the consultation phase 11 years ago. "During the consultation phase of the Project, catchment communities had requested we assist the younger generation to grow with the Project. We took that very seriously and that is why when we designed the Project agreements, we included things like benefit shares and training," he explained.
He also congratulated the students saying they are fortunate to be selected as the first recipients to be a part of the CBSP pilot program and enrolled at SINU in various courses under the Technical and Vocational Education and Training component. Mr. Conning also encouraged all young people to participate actively in the Project and to take advantage of what is ahead.
One of the new students is Hubert Siapu and he thanked the Project for allowing him to further his education. "I am very grateful to the Community Benefit Sharing Program for giving me another chance to further my studies. After completing the course in two years, I look forward to working on the Project."
CBSP Coordinator Francis Kapini also added all the training at SINU for the participants is fully funded under component 3 of the Community Benefit Sharing Project. "The students were selected after fulfilling SINU criteria and requirements and were identified from the previous Pre- Employment Training," he said.
SINU's Principal of Student Services Officer James Lengi said the University is privileged to partner with the Tina River Hydropower Project and sponsor the students. "SINU has intended to reach out to institutions like the Tina Hydro Project to sponsor students at the University especially during this difficult time with COVID 19, when finance is becoming a major issue for students who are required to pay fees before enrolling to attend classes."
He added with this program now in place, SINU looks forward to working with the Project office on this very important initiative to invest in future leaders and generations for the country. "This is a very wise decision made by the Tina Hydro Project Office through the CBSP platform with the support of its other stakeholders," he emphasized.
Among the recipients is 20-year-old Ileen Erisha of Malatoha in the Malango Region. She is currently enrolled to commence a Certificate in Plumbing Services. "I decided to study plumbing because my father is a carpenter and has encouraged me to learn a trade," she said. Ms. Erisha will graduate with a Certificate in Plumbing in 2023, looks forward to completing her studies and assisting the Project in the future.
The CBSP component 3 is for capacity building of community members through selected training and employment opportunities during the construction of the Project and will continue to positively impact the people of Tina into the future.