Cutbacks Could Affect RMI Adult Education Program

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GED program restarted only months ago on Ebeye

By Giff Johnson

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 2, 2013) – For the first time in two decades, a group of adults on Ebeye Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands graduated this weekend with general equivalency diplomas or GED’s. But the adult education program, only restarted in January, is already facing the possibility of budget cutbacks.

Catholic Schools Director Gary Elaisha said people on Ebeye are delighted "now that they know the College of the Marshall Islands’ (CMI) GED program is for real and will be graduating 17 students. We have old timers in their 50s calling up and asking how to enroll."

But Elaisha said he and other Ebeye officials are concerned that budget cuts could undermine the recently restarted adult education program for Ebeye. The program is run by the College of the Marshall Islands.

"There might be budget cuts to the program and the College of the Marshall Islands is asking the government to provide for the shortfall," he said. "GED has been absent from Ebeye for close to 20 years. With a successful semester ready to go into the books, will the program be stopped?"

Elaisha said there are many others who want to take advantage of this educational opportunity that has been reopened for Ebeye.

The College of the Marshall Islands shut down its satellite campus on Ebeye nearly 10 years ago when it was struggling to resolve dozens of Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation problems. Now that its accreditation situation is stable, the Majuro-based college started up the GED program in January and also aims to start a Distance Education Program soon on Ebeye. "The facility is done," Elaisha said. But, he added, college President Carl Hacker’s recently submitted budget request to the government for fiscal year 2014 shows CMI needs funding to make this opportunity for adult education-starved Ebeye.

"What will happen, wait another year?" he asked. "We have many people who want to start."

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