POHNPEI'S INVOLVEMENT IN PRIVATE SECTOR JEOPARDIZES U.S. GRANT

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By Pamela Joseph KOLONIA, Pohnpei (July 27, 1998 - The Island Tribune)---"Because of Pohnpei's Government involvement in competing against the private sector," says Loni Hancock, Regional Representative of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), providing grants to promote the School-to-Work program in the FSM might be a problem.

School-to-Work is a program to educate students and bring their education closer to the economic strategy of the State, says Hancock. The idea of School-to-Work is to have high schools, the community, and business people work together to help plan the school curriculum. This way, students are given better ideas of exactly what they need to know of their area of work or business.

The grant, which could be provided by the U.S. DOE is a competitive grant. Hancock explained that the FSM will be competing against other Pacific regions for this grant. The amount of the grant will be decided after it has been determined which region qualifies and how much it needs to implement its School-to-Work program. According to Oliver Joseph, Administrator of Vocational Education and Manpower, the FSM submitted its proposal on May 26, 1998.

The US DOE will make three reviews to determine if a region is eligible to receive the grants. Hancock said the first review for the FSM was made, and it was determined that the FSM could be qualified to receive the grant. Hancock was on Pohnpei the week of July 5, 1998, to conduct the second review, which is the on-site visit. She visited most of the schools, and participated in one Chamber of Commerce meeting to meet with some of the local businessmen and businesswomen of Pohnpei. She also spoke at a Pohnpei Rotary Club meeting.

The final review will begin by the first week of August, Hancock says. The DOE will determine whether the FSM should receive the grant based on FSM's proposal and Hancock's recommendation.

"The pepper incident [SEE: U.S. Criticizes Pohnpei's Involvement In The Pepper Industry, Pacific Islands Report, July 27, 1998]will be a big issue during the final review," Joseph stated, "and will put a shadow over the review because of our application." He continued saying, "Our application is saying that the FSM is trying to promote the private sector, but the [Pohnpei] Government tried to compete against the private sector, when it got involved in the pepper industry. The whole incident contradicts our application."

In an interview with Governor Del Pangelinan, he stated strongly that the Government should not be blamed for the declining pepper industry. It was with good intentions when the Pohnpei State Legislature tried to save the pepper industry.

Hancock says she was told by both Governor Pangelinan and FSM President Jacob Nena that this matter will be dealt with immediately to clear things up.

Whether or not the FSM receives the grant from the US, Susan Moses, President of the College of Micronesia-Federated States of Micronesia (COM-FSM), says COM-FSM should pursue the idea of School-to-Work, to tie students closely with the economic development of each State. Moses says the college already has three faculty members helping the FSM DOE to articulate plans more closely with the public high schools.

For additional reports from The Island Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Island Tribune or http://www.islandtribune.com 

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