First Education Summit on Ebeye Aims to Empower Marshallese Communities in Focus on Children’s Education

Last edited 11/30/2020
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Tanya Harris Joshua 202-208-6008

Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands (May 12, 2017) - A first of its kind, the Kwajalein Atoll Education Summit took place April 26 and 27 on Ebeye Island, Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).  The Summit was themed “Charting our Course: Our Child, Our Hope” and provided a venue for meaningful presentations, workshops and dialogue to take place around improving education for the children of Kwajalein Atoll. 

Keynoted by RMI President Hilda Heine and funded through Compact of Free Association, as Amended, grant assistance provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), the Summit’s aim was to empower local communities, enabling them to begin their children’s education at home and continuing in the classroom, leading towards post-secondary and vocational education.  In her remarks, President Heine reminded participants of the RMI Government’s commitment to the education and development of Marshallese children, commended Kwajalein leadership, and hoped to see similar discussions and engagement replicated across the Marshall Islands. 

The event was coordinated through public and private partnerships and brought together primary, secondary and post-secondary level educators, the RMI Ministries of Education, Foreign and Internal Affairs, NGOs, other government agencies including many from Ebeye, Kwajalein Atoll, Majuro, Hawaii and California. 

Among the topics covered in break-out sessions during the two-day summit were curriculum, accreditation, vocational skills training, and scholarship opportunities for both students and teachers with the College of the Marshall Islands and model schools.  Discussions were also held on the importance of parental and community involvement in their children’s education as well as teen health and teen pregnancy. 

 “Reactions from parents attending this summit brought tears to my eyes, and I hope this great initiative has triggered awareness not only in Ebeye but across other Kwajalein Atoll communities,” said Mr. Jelton Anjain, Kwajalein Atoll Associate Commissioner. “I know our collective efforts and hard work paid off when parents, impressed by what they have learned, approached me with their commitment to work more closely with the PTA in improving education for their children.”

"I applaud the Ebeye community for their focus on improving student performance and educational outcomes,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas and Joint Economic Management and Financial Accountability Committee Chairman (JEMFAC) Nikolao Pula.  "RMI Ministry of Education officials have made excellent presentations to the JEMFAC on the RMI Education Strategic Plan, and I am pleased to see these discussions are spreading to the community level."

Stakeholder participants in the meeting hope to retain momentum, while initiating a five-year strategic plan for the Kwajalein School System that includes private, parochial and public schools.  The success of the Summit reflected a truly collaborative effort and commitment to educational improvement in Ebeye.  Leadership in the RMI plans to make the Summit an annual event. 

The Ebeye School System, which includes students in K-12 from across the Kwajalein Atoll, including Gugeegue, Ebadon, Mejatto, Ennibur and Carlos islands, has 3,112 students, and next to the Majuro Atoll School System, is the second largest in the Marshall Islands.

The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. The Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) executes these responsibilities.  OIA’s mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.



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