A bill that was passed by the Senate on 1st reading is seeking to improve quality of education in Palau by establishing a regulation for the issuance of teacher certifications.

According to Senate Bill No.10-123’s legislative findings, the current makeup of Palau’s educators calls for systematic improvement of the educational system.

The bill cited that 42% of Palauan teachers only hold high school diplomas, 40% hold Associate’s Degree, while only 17% hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.

Meanwhile, out of 25 foreign teachers, all but two only hold associate’s degree or higher with the majority of them holding a Bachelor’s Degree.

“Recent studies show correlation between a teacher’s education level and the positive outcome percentage of such teacher’s students,” the bill read.

“Prospective teachers, especially those of foreign backgrounds, should be required to possess at least an Associate’s Degree in Education or the field they seek to instruct before being certified as an educator for the Republic of Palau,” it added.

According to the bill, those who are already hired as teachers must be imposed a strict timeline to comply with certain requirements.

The bill, which seeks to amend Sections 151 and 154 of Title 22, states that “no person may serve as a teacher in any public school without first having obtained at least an Associate’s Degree in the field of Education or the subject matter in which the individual seeks to teach, and a certificate from the Ministry which shall be issued without cost to the teacher.”

If passed into a law, it will require teacher certifications to be renewed every four years and the Ministry of Education (MOE) will also be tasked to establish standards and requirements for the issuance of certifications.

Among the bill’s propositions are to require prospective teachers to have at least degrees in education or specific subject matter, certificates, and other proof of career development, teaching experience, practical experience on subject to be taught, and to have a criminal background check.

Non-citizens are also required to meet the minimum requirements for certification before becoming a teacher while the MOE is also tasked to provide training programs to enable Palauans to qualify for the teacher certifications.

“Those teachers currently employed at the Ministry of Education who do not possess the minimum educational requirements of this Act shall have two years from the date the Ministry promulgates implementing regulations of this Act as required by Section 3, to come in compliance with this Act,” the bill stipulates. (Rhealyn C. Pojas/Reporter)