ON-LINE EDUCATION IN MICRONESIA

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THE SASAKAWA PACIFIC ISLAND NATIONS FUND Tokyo, Japan

PRESS RELEASE July 23, 1999

As part of its evolving program of assistance for distance education in the Pacific Islands region, the Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund (SPINF) has launched a new three-year project titled "Transcending Borders with Education On-Line."

Although Micronesia is undergoing rapid modernization, the region has no facilities offering education in developmental and social issues, and no real mechanism for debate on how to address such problems. While more than 20,000 Micronesians are currently working or studying overseas, many will find it difficult to fit back into Micronesian society upon returning home.

Under this project, Micronesians and other participants both within the region and abroad will use the Internet to teach and learn methods of analyzing and solving social problems. In an on-line seminar conducted through a website set up in April of this year (http://www.micsem.org/), over 40 registered participants engage in ongoing, on-line debate while also studying such subjects as research methods, policy formulation and report writing. Studies on ways to develop such Internet-based learning itself are also being made under the project.

Planned negotiations with relevant educational institutions in the region are aimed at eventually enabling participants in the on-line seminar to receive credit from local universities and colleges.

The Micronesian Seminar, which is implementing the project, has been actively promoting local education at the grassroots level for more than 20 years. The organization's founder, Rev. Francis X. Hezel, S.J., is a world-renowned expert on Micronesian anthropology and, as principal of Xavier High School, among other positions, has made an enormous contribution to education in the region.

Further details about SPINF's multifaceted distance education program are available at the following website: http://www.spf.org/spinf/distedu.html

Rieko Hayakawa Associate Program Officer The Sasakawa Pacific Island Nations Fund

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