KWAJALEIN ATOLL EDUCATION SUMMIT
KWAJALEIN ATOLL, Marshall Islands—A first of its kind, the Kwajalein Atoll Education Summit took place on April 26 and 27 on Ebeye Island, Kwajalein Atoll, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. 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 the Compact of Free Association, with grant assistance provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, 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 toward post-secondary and vocational education.
In her remarks, 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 postsecondary 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 breakout 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 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 chair 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. (PR)