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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (January 15, 1999 - Marshall Islands Journal)---Nearly two-thirds of all public elementary schools in the Marshall Islands are in sub-standard condition and need immediate renovation or replacement which will cost more than $1 million, according to a report released by the Ministry of Education this week.

A survey of the 76 public elementary schools found that 26 were in poor condition and another 23 were fair. "Immediate attention should be given to these school structures through maintenance and repairs, completing the unfinished school renovations or constructing a new building," the report said. "Over a three year period, renovations can be carried out for at least $1.2 million."

The report warned that if immediate attention is not paid to the deteriorating schools "more money will be needed in the future for renovation, maintenance or repairs if current problems are left unresolved and neglected."

Only six schools were found to be in excellent shape and four of these were in nuclear test-affected communities that receive special compensation funds from the United States. The balance (21) were described as being in good condition.

The report said that most of the schools on Majuro are in good shape when compared to schools on the outer islands. Since most of the Majuro schools are overcrowded, with leaking roofs and rusting structures it confirms the severe problems facing outer island school facilities.

The report strongly recommended that old corrugated metal buildings "formerly housing offices at the U.S. nuclear test site on Enewetak Atoll in the 1950s" currently used in three of the largest urban elementary schools be replaced because they turn into "ovens" in the hot afternoon tropical sunshine, a problem which "may affect the process of teaching and learning."

The Ministry of Education recommended that funding be sought to renovate and repair the 49 school buildings that received fair and poor ratings, and that the Ministry establish a system for maintenance and repair for all public schools.

MARSHALL ISLANDS JOURNAL Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: Fax: 692-625-3136 Tel. 692-625-8143 Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year: US $87.00; International $227.00 (air mail)

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