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‘I can’t say enough good things about the teachers on Ejit.’

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (March 15, 2002 – Marshall Islands Journal)---The level of education on Kili Island is to be given an enormous boost from this year, it plans for four American graduates to teach on the island beginning each academic year from September come to fruition.

The teachers, all graduates of the prestigious Dartmouth College in America’s New Hampshire, will be in addition to the three Dartmouth graduates working at Ejit Elementary School, Majuro. All will be sponsored by the Bikini Atoll Local Government.

Professor Andrew Garrod, the Chair of the Education Department at Dartmouth, made a field trip to Kili last week and is excited about sending graduates to work in Kili Elementary School. "The ‘experiment’ of having three teachers working at Ejit Elementary has worked beyond our best expectations," said Goddard, adding that he sees no reason why the college shouldn’t include Kili in the Marshalls education project.

"The three teachers on Ejit tell me that school attendance is good and that the students’ English skills have improved enormously in the time they’ve been working here."

The link between the Marshal Islands and Dartmouth began four or five years ago when Dartmouth lecturer, Sarah Ritter-Paulin, was interested in adopting a child and forged links with the Queen of Peace High School it Gugeegue.

"The principal, Helen Clare Sievers, was committed to improving the students’ English skills," said Goddard. We did send teachers to Queen of Peace but I have always personally wanted to link with public schools."

The result of this desire has been a series of undergraduates from Dartmouth coming to Majuro to teach at the Marshall Island High School in their winter term.

"Each year we’ve had a group of students here between January and March," said Goddard. "The parents of these students like our program because myself and a Canadian teacher come out here to make sure everything is looked after."

The three teachers currently on Ejit are the first of the Dartmouth graduates to work here in the current program. "Whereas the undergraduates are sponsored to the tune of $25,000, the graduate program -- transport, accommodation and food -- is looked after by Bikini."

The Bikini link came when Tim Stege, who works at the RMI Embassy in Washington, and Nisma Jamodre, acting Mayor of Kili, approached Goddard about the need for helping with education in the outer islands. There follow much work on the logistics of the project, and then the three graduates arrived in September.

Bikini Liaison Officer Jack Niedenthal said this week: "We think this is a really great program. I can’t say enough good things about the teachers on Ejit and the message to Dartmouth is, ‘We’ll take whatever you can give us!’"

What Dartmouth ‘gives’ is people with one of the highest levels of education available in America. Dartmouth is a relatively small college with a focus on excellence. "The students are generally from privileged, upper-middle class backgrounds," said Goddard.

"Their coming to places like the Marshalls is a way to give something back after receiving such an excellent education."

Dartmouth has education programs in many countries, but Goddard’s focus is RMI. "One thing that takes me quite a lot of time is interviewing candidates to come to the Marshalls.

"I screen them carefully for intellectual curiosity, respect for other people’s way of life, a sense of adventure, emotional stability and whether they can be a team player."

It seems his interviewing technique does the job. Everyone from the residents of Ejit to the President, Kessai Note, have only good things to say about the graduate program. The President made a special note in his speech on Kili last week about how well the program is going, said Goddard.

Ivy League School

Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, was founded in 1769 under a charter granted to Eleazar Wheelock, a Congregational minister, by King George III of England.

The College is a private coeducational liberal arts school and today has about 4,500 students. Dartmouth is one of the eight universities and colleges in the northeast United States that comprise the Ivy League. Noted former students include Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss, author of children’s books, including ‘The Cat in the Hat’) the 41st vice president of the U.S., Nelson Rockefeller, and poet Robert Frost.

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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