MARSHALL ISLANDS EDUCATION SECRETARY STEGE ON "CATHOLIC TAKEOVER"

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ALLEGATIONS: "WE’RE PUSHING EDUCATION, NOT RELIGION"

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (September 14, 2001 – Marshall Islands Journal)---Education Secretary Biram Stege is a former Assumption Schools principal. She has brought in Catholic Sr. Dorothy Nook to manage Marshall Island, High School.

And Stege wants the Ministry of Education’s school supervisors to visit Catholic-administered schools in the outer islands -- generally rated as the best in the RMI -- to see what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Topping it off, Education Minister Wilfred I. Kendall is a graduate of the Catholic-run Xavier High School in Chuuk.

Is it a "Catholic takeover" of the RMI’s public schools?"

Siege, in an interview, commented that some people are saying it is. But, she said, aside from Sr. Dorothy, the other three newly installed principals are not Catholics – though two of them went to Catholic schools.

"We’re pushing education, not religion," Stege said.

"We’re Marshallese and we want to see our kids do better. We’re using Marshallese to do it (make improvements), whether they’re Catholic or whatever religion."

She pointed out that local Catholic school administrators had offered to assist Ministry of Education staff by providing opportunities to visit their outer island schools to see what is being done at the high-achieving Maryknoll Sister-run schools in the RMI. She said that many Marshallese, including herself, have benefited from Catholic education. "It’s instilled values about the importance of education that we want to pass on," she said.

The Marshall Islands Journal, Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: [email protected]  Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year US $87.00; international $213.00 (air mail).

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