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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 26, 2000 - Marianas Variety/PINA Nius Online)---Hopeful that the U.S. Schools and Library Division (SLD) will approve its requested 82 percent e-rate (education rate) discount this May, the Public School System (PSS) is now faced with a major decision: what to do with the e-rate equipment when it arrives.

According to the CNMI coordinator for e-rate application, Nic Sablan, training on the use of the new technology is badly needed for PSS teachers and staff. The training would involve learning how to maximize the use of telecommunications and computer equipment.

Areas in the Western Pacific region such as Guam, Hawai‘i and American Samoa that are also eligible for the e-rate program reportedly have the same technological concerns.

"We have a similar need with these entities. Our e-rate equipment will be very similar, so that's why we're collaborating among us," said Sablan. "We will be learning how to use video conferencing, how to create web pages, how to use multi-media features, and how to use technology to enhance instruction," he said.

A staff technical training course on how to maintain computer networks will also be conducted, he added.

Hawai‘i-based Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) will play a big role in the inter-islands technology training, according to Sablan.

CNMI, Guam, Hawai‘i and American Samoa, in close collaboration, are in the process of coming out with another federal grant application to make possible the comprehensive technology training. CNMI and the other islands are working on the grant through a mainland-based consultant.

E-rate is the federal discount program for telecommunications services created through the Telecommunications Competition and Deregulation Act of 1996.

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