As this school year comes to a close, the Class of 1999 from throughout our high schools in the Northern Marianas would have marched in and out of graduation exercises to receive their diplomas and awards beaming with guarded pride and joy.
It’s the end of 12 years of school and the beginning of another chapter in “Life After High School”. Some would matriculate to colleges and universities between here and the US mainland. Others would postpone heading off to college campuses in search of real life experiences in the form of jobs in the islands.
After all the congratulatory handshakes, there are two major issues that the Class of 1999 would face without choice: 1). The lack of funds for scholarships as “we know it”. 2.) The difficulty of landing your first fulltime job in the local job market that has downsized significantly. Do not despair for both phenomenon were forced upon the NMI by the devastating effects of the Asian Crisis. The business sector isn’t hiring while the public sector struggles to meet the current payroll. This is the new though discouraging reality of life in the islands since two years ago.
To mitigate these two issues from becoming our source of frustration, we strongly recommend for the establishment of an entrepreneurship program for high school students beginning at the freshmen level. This program should fall under an education master plan that maps out the future of our children in the Information Age.
There’s an obvious reason for it: paradigms have changed, thus the need to reinvent career opportunities with greater focus on entrepreneurship development in light of the fact that our bloated local government can’t possibly be our perpetual holy grail for jobs.
A step in this direction would allow the NMI to engage directly in wealth and jobs creation in the next millennium. It would rebuild and strengthen our confidence in work ethics as to enable our young people to understand and appreciate the rewards of hardwork. It would gradually build a more vocal citizenry in how our government disposes of our tax contributions. We would also adopt a more proactrive approach in the resolution of near and long term problems affecting the Northern Marianas Community.
Again, we say do not despair for we too care about your future and we’re confident that in due time the current crisis would have bottomed out where we could positively see brighter tomorrows for both you the Class of 1999 and others treading right behind you. As difficult and uncertain the future may be in these hard times, march on with heads up high for we must collectively chart the future of these islands together. Congratulations!