On March 5, 2020, Chargé d’affaires OGINO Takeshi of the Embassy of Japan and Ms. BOHMAN Kelsey, Executive Director of Palau Community Action Agency (PCAA),signed the grant contract for “The Project for Procurement of School Buses for Head Start Centers”, valued $79,917, under the Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The signing ceremony was held at the Embassy of Japan and was witnessed by PCAA personnel.

The PCAA plays a very important role for early child education in Palau. The Head Start Program operated by PCAA is a free educational program that provides childcare and other services for children ages 3 to 5. This program also enables their parents to maintain their jobs while letting their children receive a quality education.The program also offers free transportation for the children between the school and their homes. Additionally, these buses are sometimes used to provide transportation for Head Start children in Babeldaob to get doctor’s treatments in Koror.

However, the buses for Ngaremlengui and Melekeok Centers are deteriorated and facing many mechanical problems since these buses need to travel across the different states because the residences of children are dispersed on the island and many schools roads are unpaved.  Many parents are also concerned about their children’s health because of the no-air-conditioning environment inside of the bus.

In light of this, the Embassy of Japan decided to grant a brand new 15 seater microbus to both centers. Procurement of these buses will allow each center to provide safe and reliable transportation for children to commute from their homes every day.

At the ceremony, Charge d’affaires Ogino expressed his hope that the implementation of this project would lead to further development of PCAA, its children and their parents, and also requested PCAA to take good care of the buses in order to serve at two centers for a long period of time. Executive Director Ms. Bohman showed her appreciation for Japan’s grant to the Head Start Program and emphasized the importance of school buses as they largely contribute to the program.

The Government of Japan launched GGP in 1999, for the purpose of responding to various development needs engaged in grassroots activities in Palau. As ofMarch 6, 2020, the Embassy has signed 82 grant contracts with schools and hospitals as well as state governments and non-profit organizations. Education, health care and environment are the primary fields prioritized by Japan and its GGP.For further information about GGP, please contact 488-6455or visit the Embassy of Japan website at http://www.palau.emb-japan.go.jp/itprtop_en/index.html .