TIME FOR EDUCATION CHANGE IN MARSHALL ISLANDS: DEBRUM

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (November 14, 1997 - Marshall Islands Journal)--- "It's time that we changed the entire direction of education," said Education Minister Justin deBrum in an interview with the Marshall Islands Journal. "We need to ask where are we heading? And what do we want from the local and national governments, and from parents and teachers?"

DeBrum, who took over at Education in March, said that all facets of Education activities, including staffing levels, the Asian Development Bank loan, and the community-based governance system, are under review.

He is hopeful that a long dormant Education Advisory Board will be established and functioning by early 1998 to provide advice and recommendations for major reforms in the Ministry.

The Education Advisory Board is an important part of improving education in the Marshall Islands, he said. It will involve key educators and representatives of businesses and the community. "We need to sit down and come up with realistic recommendations to the government for the whole education system," he said.

DeBrum wants to see a result-oriented development strategy implemented to guide the Ministry. "It's time that we looked at the education delivery system. We need to make changes."

He wants to have a new education development strategy prepared for the government's next fiscal year so that the Ministry " by reorganizing" can fully benefit from the President's stated priority on education and health, he said.

The Education Minister appealed to foreign donors to continue to assist the Ministry as it attempts to implement broad changes in the Marshall Islands. "We're trying our best to deal with priority needs of education," he said. "We're very serious about changing the education system and reorganizing."

He pointed out that although the Ministry is opening the Northern Islands High School on Wotje in January, "we are still looking for funding to finish the high school."

Looking at the need to restructure, deBrum said that he agreed with the ADB's assessment that the Ministry is over-staffed. Despite having a large staff, the Ministry has not always gotten the best results, he added. The Ministry is committed to improving its efficiency, and this may mean reducing staff levels, he said.

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