The Ministry of Education (MOE) had identified around 80 Palauan teachers who needed to at least earn associate degrees to be able to get the teacher certification required by the newly passed law that seeks to elevate educational standard in Palau.

MOE Chief of School Management Raynold Mechol told Island Times that the identified teachers possessed only high school diplomas, college credits, and teaching experience.

Mechol said that the ministry is working closely with the Palau Community College (PCC), through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last October 2018, to come up with strategies to accommodate the needs of the teachers by establishing teacher cohorts.

Prior to the passing of the law, around 40 of the teachers who did not have associate degrees already enrolled in PCC since the fall of 2018. Another 20 are also set to begin taking courses this spring.

Since the identified teachers are not going to have uniformed classes because they have different educational needs and had earned different college credits, the PCC had designed an educational plan for each teacher.

Mechol said that PCC had assessed each teacher’s educational background and based on that, the number of units that they needed to get to earn an associate degree are determined.

According to Mechol, teachers who are eligible for the US financial aid will get the educational support through that but MOE will shoulder tuition fees and book expenses for those who are not eligible for the aid.

“We try as much as possible to support them but the bottomline is they have to attend courses and at the same time do their job,” Mechol said, reminding the teachers that they needed to take the classes while continuing to teach at their educational institutions.

Teachers are scheduled to take their associate degree classes after school hours, Mechol said.

President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. signed on December 26 the law requiring all public teachers in Palau to have at least an associate degree in education of relevant fields as a response to the growing demand to improve the educational system.

Teachers who did not meet the qualification stipulated by the law are given at least five years to comply with the mandates.

It was found that 38% of Palauan public teachers are only high school diploma holders with college credits while another 38% only hold associate degrees. Only 23% of the public school teachers were found to be holders of bachelor’s degree or higher.

Meanwhile, majority of the educators with foreign nationalities all possessed the requirements of the new law. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)