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Teach English in The Solomon Islands: Requirements, Salary, Jobs

The Solomon Islands, an enchanting archipelago in the heart of the Pacific, beckons teachers from around the world with its unique blend of cultural richness, stunning landscapes, and an education system yearning for global perspectives. Teaching English here offers the chance to influence young minds while indulging in the serenity and raw beauty of island life. But how does one navigate the intricacies of embarking on such an adventure? This guide endeavors to illuminate the path for aspiring educators keen on exploring opportunities in this tropical paradise.

Island Classrooms: An Insight into Solomon Islands' Education System

In the shimmering embrace of the Pacific Ocean lies the Solomon Islands, a constellation of islands where verdant rainforests meet azure lagoons. Beyond its breathtaking landscapes, the Solomon Islands boasts a unique educational landscape, one that mirrors its diverse cultural fabric and its aspirations for a brighter future.

History and Structure

The education system in the Solomon Islands has its roots in the missionary schools of the colonial era. Today, it's primarily structured into three main segments: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary education spans seven years, followed by a three-year junior secondary phase and a two-year senior secondary segment.

Language of Instruction

While the Solomon Islands is home to over 70 indigenous languages, English remains the official language of instruction throughout the educational system. However, the early years of primary education often incorporate vernacular teaching, respecting the linguistic diversity of the student population.

Curriculum and Emphasis

The curriculum is an evolving entity in the Solomon Islands. While it traditionally leaned towards rote learning, recent years have witnessed a shift towards more interactive and student-centric approaches. English, mathematics, science, social studies, and vocational subjects form the core of the curriculum. The emphasis is increasingly on developing critical thinking skills, fostering creativity, and instilling values of environmental conservation, given the country's rich biodiversity.

Challenges and Opportunities

The geographical dispersion of the islands poses logistical challenges in delivering education. Some remote islands still lack comprehensive schooling facilities, leading to unequal access. However, this also presents opportunities for foreign teachers. Bringing in global teaching methodologies and tools can greatly benefit students and local teachers alike, bridging educational gaps and elevating the overall standard.

Government Initiatives and International Collaboration

The Solomon Islands' government, with assistance from international organizations, has been making concerted efforts to bolster its education sector. Infrastructure development, teacher training programs, and curriculum revisions are all high on the priority list. Additionally, partnerships with countries like Australia and New Zealand have led to the establishment of scholarship programs and teacher exchange initiatives.

Qualification Quotient: Meeting the Teaching Criteria of the Solomon Islands

For those aspiring to be part of the educational journey in the Solomon Islands, understanding the necessary qualifications and credentials is crucial. While the islands are open to international perspectives, they maintain specific standards to ensure the quality and efficacy of teaching. Here's a comprehensive breakdown of what you need to meet the mark:

Basic Educational Credentials

Typically, to teach English in the Solomon Islands, a Bachelor's degree (in any field) is the minimum requirement. However, schools might show preference to candidates with degrees in Education, English, or Linguistics.

TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification

Given the emphasis on English language instruction, a certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or its equivalent (TESOL/CELTA) is often essential. It's recommended to undergo a course with a minimum of 120 hours, as many institutions regard this as a standard.

Prior Teaching Experience

While not always mandatory, prior teaching experience can significantly enhance your chances, especially in reputed or urban educational establishments. Some schools might require at least one or two years of teaching experience, preferably in English language instruction.

Cultural Sensitivity Training

Given the unique cultural tapestry of the Solomon Islands, some institutions might prefer (or even mandate) candidates to have undergone cultural sensitivity or diversity training. This ensures that educators can foster an inclusive and respectful classroom environment.

Health and Background Checks

To safeguard the well-being of students, teachers might need to undergo a thorough health checkup and submit a clean criminal background report from their home country and any other country where they've lived for an extended period.

Professional References

Potential employers often seek references to attest to an applicant's teaching abilities, character, and professional demeanor. It's advisable to have references from prior teaching roles, academic mentors, or any relevant professional relationship.

Local Teaching License

While your foreign credentials might get you through the door, to officially teach in the Solomon Islands, one might need to obtain a local teaching license or permit. This process typically involves presenting your qualifications, undergoing interviews, and sometimes even attending local orientation sessions.

Understanding the Work Visa Process

Foreign teachers will require a valid work visa. The process involves securing a job offer first, post which the employer often assists in the visa application. However, it's imperative to be proactive, research thoroughly, and ensure all documents are in order before embarking on your journey.

Pay Packet: Decoding the Salary Structure for Teachers

Teaching in the Solomon Islands offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in a diverse cultural setting, but it's also essential to understand the financial aspects of such a commitment. Salaries in the Solomon Islands can vary based on a plethora of factors, such as the type of institution, qualifications, experience, and location. Let's decode the typical salary structure for teachers in the Solomon Islands:

Base Salary

The base salary for teachers in the Solomon Islands tends to be modest compared to Western standards. Newcomers with minimal experience and just the essential qualifications might find the initial salary sufficient for a comfortable local lifestyle, but potentially less if planning to save or send money abroad.

Qualifications and Experience

Holding advanced degrees or specializations often translates to higher pay. Similarly, teachers with several years of experience under their belt can negotiate better salaries. A TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate might not only be a job requirement but could also bump up your pay.

Type of Institution

International schools, universities, or private institutions generally offer higher salaries than local public schools. Additionally, these establishments might provide extra benefits like housing, health insurance, and flight reimbursements.

Contractual Benefits

Many teaching contracts come with added benefits. This could include housing allowances, transportation benefits, annual return airfare to the teacher's home country, health insurance, and end-of-contract bonuses.

Cost of Living

While the salary might seem modest on paper, it's essential to factor in the local cost of living. The Solomon Islands, being a developing nation, has a relatively lower cost of living than many Western countries. However, certain goods, especially imported items, can be pricier. Therefore, it's crucial to budget wisely and prioritize local products and services.

Tax Implications

The Solomon Islands has its tax brackets for income. It's pivotal to acquaint yourself with these structures and understand any bilateral tax treaties between the Solomon Islands and your home country. This will help in planning your finances effectively and avoiding any legal complications.


Remember, the first offer might not be the final one. Depending on the institution's need, your unique skills, and the supply-demand dynamics at the time of your application, there might be room for negotiation. It's always recommended to research average salaries for similar roles in the region and use that as a benchmark during discussions.

Job Horizon: Scouting Teaching Opportunities Across the Islands

The Solomon Islands, an archipelago with over 900 islands, boasts a mosaic of cultures, languages, and traditions. The need for English teachers is pronounced, as English is one of the official languages and serves as a bridge between the diverse linguistic communities. But where exactly are the best opportunities, and how can aspiring teachers tap into them? Here's a comprehensive guide:

Public Schools

Most islands, especially the main ones like Guadalcanal, Malaita, and Choiseul, have a network of public schools. These schools often require English teachers for both primary and secondary levels. However, while the demand is high, positions in public schools might come with modest salaries. On the upside, they offer a genuine experience of the local culture and allow teachers to make a direct impact on communities.

Private and International Schools

Located mainly in Honiara, the capital, and a few other urban centers, these schools cater to both the local elite and the expatriate community. They generally offer competitive salaries, better resources, and more structured curriculums. Teachers here will find a mix of local and international students, providing a different teaching dynamic.

Community and Rural Schools

For those seeking a truly immersive experience, teaching in community or rural schools on the less populated islands can be an option. While resources might be limited, and the settings rustic, the rewards in terms of cultural exchange and personal satisfaction can be immense.

Adult Education and Language Centers

There are centers in urban areas that focus on teaching English to adults, particularly those looking to further their careers or planning to travel or study abroad. These centers often have flexible hours and can be an excellent opportunity for teachers who prefer teaching mature learners.

Volunteer Programs

Several international and local NGOs operate in the Solomon Islands, focusing on education and community development. They often seek volunteer English teachers to assist in various projects. While these positions might not offer substantial financial rewards, they cover basic living costs and provide rich experiences that resonate on a personal and professional level.

Online Teaching

With the increasing digitization of education globally, there's a rising demand for online English tutors. Teachers based in the Solomon Islands can tap into this market, teaching both local students and learners from around the world.

Tertiary Institutions

There are few tertiary institutions, like the Solomon Islands National University in Honiara, that occasionally have openings for English instructors, especially for their preparatory or foundation courses.

Tips for Job Hunting

Networking is crucial. Join local teacher associations or expatriate groups to get leads and recommendations. Regularly check job boards and websites specializing in overseas teaching positions. Consider visiting schools in person if you're already in the Solomon Islands. A direct approach can sometimes be more effective than online applications.

Island Hotspots: The Best Places to Teach and Revel in the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands, a scattered ensemble of islands in the Pacific, is a haven for adventurers, historians, and educators. While each island has its unique allure, some are more suited for teaching due to their infrastructure, community needs, and accessibility. Here's a closer look at some of the prime destinations for teaching, combined with a touch of the island's pleasures:

Honiara (Guadalcanal Island)

Teaching Opportunities: As the capital city, Honiara houses the highest concentration of schools, including private and international institutions, and the renowned Solomon Islands National University. Recreational Activities: Explore the WWII relics, the bustling Central Market, and the Solomon Islands National Museum. For relaxation, head to the beautiful beaches like Bonegi.

Auki (Malaita Island)

Teaching Opportunities: Being the provincial capital, Auki has several schools and occasionally requires English teachers, particularly for its high schools. Recreational Activities: Visit the local markets, enjoy the coastal views, or venture into the inland areas to witness the traditional "kastom" dances and ceremonies.

Gizo (Western Province)

Teaching Opportunities: Gizo is an emerging education hub in the Western Province with several primary and secondary schools. Recreational Activities: The area is renowned for diving spots, surf breaks, and the picturesque Kennedy Island, offering a blend of adventure and relaxation.

Buala (Isabel Province)

Teaching Opportunities: Buala is a quieter destination with a handful of schools, perfect for educators looking for a close-knit community experience. Recreational Activities: Explore the Marovo Lagoon, go fishing, or indulge in bird watching – the island is rich in biodiversity.

Kirakira (Makira-Ulawa Province)

Teaching Opportunities: As the provincial capital, Kirakira has an increasing demand for English educators in its growing number of schools. Recreational Activities: Dive into the crystal-clear waters, explore the bat caves, or engage with locals to learn about their unique customs and traditions.

Lata (Temotu Province)

Teaching Opportunities: Lata's schools, while fewer in number, offer teachers the chance to truly immerse in the local culture and make a noticeable difference. Recreational Activities: The Santa Cruz group of islands nearby provides spectacular diving spots, and the local Ngarando Village offers unique insights into the local way of life.

Tips for Selecting Your Island Destination

Assess your comfort level: Some islands are more urbanized, while others provide a rustic experience. Research the local culture: Each island has distinct traditions and practices. It's essential to be aware and respectful of them. Consider the length of stay: Some remote islands are perfect for short-term teaching stints or volunteering, while urban centers like Honiara might be more suitable for longer contracts.

Cultural Kaleidoscope: Diving Deep into the Traditions of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands, an archipelago nestled in the Pacific's heart, is more than just a cluster of islands with azure seas and white sand beaches. It's a land where ancient traditions merge seamlessly with the modern era, creating a cultural mosaic unlike any other. As a prospective English teacher in the islands, understanding this rich tapestry is key to establishing a meaningful connection with your students and the community at large.

Shell Money and Traditional Currency

Long before the introduction of banknotes and coins, the Solomon Islanders used shell money, especially in the Malaita and Guadalcanal provinces. Made from strings of finely polished shells, this traditional currency is more than just a mode of transaction; it holds cultural and ceremonial significance, often used in marriage dowries and settling disputes.

Panpipe Music and Festive Dances

The enchanting sounds of bamboo panpipes, known locally as 'are'are, are an integral part of the Solomon Islands' musical heritage. Accompanied by energetic dances, these performances are a treat during festivals, ceremonies, or communal gatherings.

Custom Stories

Oral traditions and storytelling play a pivotal role in preserving the islands' history and legends. Known as "kastom stori," these tales impart lessons, convey values, and strengthen community bonds. Listening to an elder narrate these tales under a starlit sky is a memory you'll cherish.

Canoe Building and Carving

The Solomon Islanders are master navigators, and their canoes, intricately carved with symbols and patterns, are a testament to their seafaring prowess. These canoes aren't just modes of transportation; they represent an islander's identity, lineage, and craftsmanship.

Feasts and Communal Meals

Food in the Solomon Islands is not just about sustenance; it's a social event. Traditional dishes like "piai" (fermented pudding) and "lolo" (fish in coconut cream) are staples during community feasts. These gatherings, often held in the communal "haus win" (meeting house), promote unity and camaraderie.

Totem Poles and Spirit Houses

Spiritual beliefs are deeply woven into the fabric of Solomon Islands culture. The totem poles, adorned with figures of ancestors, spirits, and animals, are not just artistic expressions; they are guardians of the island's spirituality. Similarly, spirit houses, especially in the Western province, are sacred spaces where rituals and ceremonies take place.

Language Diversity

While English is one of the official languages, the Solomon Islands is home to over 70 distinct languages, each mirroring the rich cultural diversity of its people. As an English teacher, acknowledging and respecting this linguistic diversity can pave the way for deeper connections.

Tips for Teachers

Engage in Local Activities: Attend festivals, join communal meals, or partake in traditional dance sessions. It’s a perfect way to understand and appreciate the culture while also making friends. Open Conversations: Encourage students to share their traditions, stories, or local practices in class. It aids in cross-cultural understanding and makes the learning process more interactive. Stay Respectful: While you may be eager to learn and participate, always remember to respect local customs, especially when it comes to religious or spiritual practices.

Embarking on the Island Journey: Steps to Kickstart Your Teaching Career in the Solomon Islands

Commencing your teaching career in the Solomon Islands is not just about entering a classroom; it's about embracing an enriching experience both professionally and personally. This archipelago, with its cultural vibrancy and warm community spirit, is a unique teaching destination. But how do you start this journey? Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:

Research and Choose the Right Placement

Start by understanding the Solomon Islands' education system, the regions with the highest demand for English teachers, and the type of institutions - be it public schools, private institutions, or language centers. Each offers a different experience.

Gather Your Documentation

This usually includes a bachelor’s degree, TEFL/TESOL certification, and relevant teaching experience. Ensure you have all necessary documents, and it's a good idea to keep both hard and soft copies.

Apply for a Work Visa

Foreign teachers typically require a work visa to teach in the Solomon Islands. Consult the local Solomon Islands consulate or embassy for up-to-date visa requirements and application procedures.


Connect with current or past teachers in the Solomon Islands through online forums, social media, or teaching organizations. Their insights can be invaluable, offering real-world advice on living and working in the islands.

Prepare Culturally

Acquaint yourself with the local culture, customs, and basic phrases in Solomon Islands Pijin, the lingua franca. While English is an official language, communicating in Pijin can help foster stronger connections with locals.

Secure Accommodation

Some teaching positions might offer housing, but if not, research safe and convenient housing options. Consider proximity to schools and local amenities.

Health and Safety

Check vaccination requirements and consider getting a comprehensive health insurance that covers medical evacuation, given the remoteness of some islands.

Join Local Teacher Associations

This not only provides professional support but also helps in integrating with the local teaching community. It can be a platform for sharing resources, methodologies, and getting acquainted with the local curriculum.

Continuous Professional Development

Seek opportunities for training and workshops locally. The Solomon Islands might offer a different teaching environment, and adapting your methods can lead to more effective teaching.

Stay Open and Adaptive

Every day might bring new challenges – from understanding regional dialects to adapting to island time. Maintain an open mind, be patient, and embrace the unexpected.

Remember that teaching in the Solomon Islands is a reciprocal journey. While you impart knowledge, the experiences, stories, and warmth you receive in return are unparalleled. As you set sail on this educational odyssey, you're not just shaping futures, but also enriching your own life tapestry with every lesson, story, and sunset.