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People march to the New Caledonian Congress building on Friday in support of Catholic schools (Enseignement catholique de Nouvelle-Caledonie)

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

An estimated 7000 people went to the seat of government and to the Congress building last Friday after the school management warned the budget allocations for this year were $18 million ($US12 million) short of what was needed to cover costs.

Thirteen thousand children, or about 20 per cent of New Caledonia’s children, attend Catholic schools, including all in the islands of Belep and 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 $1.8 million ($US1.2 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.


7,000 New Caledonians take to the streets demanding funding for Catholic schools (Radio New Zealand)