By: L.N. Reklai
(Koror, Palau) 97% to 98% of students enrolled in public schools in Palau are in classes daily according to Minister of Education Sinton Soalablai. 94% of the teachers are also in attendance based on daily statistics collected by the Ministry of Education.
“We thank Japan Government for the recent donation of buses to the schools in Aimeliik and Airai. These buses enabled us to ensure that most of the students are in school and allow us to get this data,” added Minister Soalablai.
Improved transportation is just one of the support services built around the central theme of “student centered” education system.
“We do still get reports from communities that there school age children not in school. One of our upcoming activities will be to survey the communities to find out how many school aged children are not in school and why.”
The Ministry of Education is putting together its next 10 year master plan. “We had requested a third party evaluator to come in last year and review our performance against the objectives of the last master plan. We cannot assess ourselves without biases and therefore requested external evaluation by UNESCO,” reported the Minister.
According to Minister Soalablai, the new master plan’s core objective is student centered education system.
“To accomplish this requires community and Ministry to partner together. We are now going State to State to conduct meetings and discussions with the communities and sharing ideas on how to build a student centered and community supported education master plan,” added Minister.
Answering a question on how do Palauan students rate against students from other countries, especially similar to Palau, Minister Soalablai stated that it depends on the tests given. A regional test that was administered showed Palau students to be performing very well against their regional peers but US college entrance tests showed average and little below average.
“This is not just Palau but similar percentages are seen in most US schools as well,” stated Minister Soalablai.
Other means of evaluation include peer evaluation such as Palau High School being accredited by Western Accreditation of Schools and Colleges (WASC). They are process to get public elementary schools have also started according to Minister Sinton Soalablai of MOE. [/restrict]