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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (November 15, 2001 – The Marshall Islands Journal)---The education delivered by Marshall Island schools doesn’t adequately prepare students for an off island education. This is one of the primary causes for the low graduation rate of Marshall Islands college students, according to public and private school educators interviewed by the Journal.

The elementary and high school education in the RMI doesn’t match up to what the U.S or Australian students receive. Consequently, local students find themselves at a big disadvantage when they go to off-island schools, say local principals.

This is due to lack of facilities, textbooks and resources, and current standard of teaching in the Marshall Islands.

"The level of education here is not up to par with U.S. schools," said Marshall Islands High School principal Sister Dorothy Nook. "Our learning materials are non-existent."

It was suggested by public and private school educators that English should be taught to all students from early elementary school.

Most public elementary schools teach in Marshallese language in the early grades, adding English instruction in about the fourth grade.

"Training should start early," said Rita Elementary School principal Elmo Kabjor. "Unfortunately our school budget can not afford this."

A number of the principals say that there is also room for improvement from the schoolteachers themselves. According to a Ministry of Education Assessment on RMI Education only a third of high school teachers had a bachelors degree or higher in 1996.

"Teachers need to be able to answer the questions that the students ask, such as the meanings of words," said Assumption High School principal Biuma Samson.

Not only do teachers need to work on this, but just showing up for work five days a week could improve the attitude of students to learning.

"Teachers need to improve their skills and deliverance," said Sister Dorothy. "Teachers need to be enthusiastic with the students and show up to classes, too."

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

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