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“Owning Our Successes While Focusing on Our Strengths”: President Panuelo Addresses Micronesia Teacher Education Conference
PALIKIR, Pohnpei—From Monday July 22nd to Friday July 26th, 2019, teachers from across the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) will be attending the 9th Micronesia Teacher Education Conference (MTEC), hosted by Pohnpei State Department of Education at Nett Elementary School. With presentations on topics ranging from Alternate Assessment based on Alternate Achievement Standards to Indigenizing Our Micronesian Education System, the MTEC provides teachers professional development in areas of interest and import with the intended effect of improving educational outcomes for students. On July 22nd 2019 His Excellency David W. Panuelo, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), attended the opening of the Micronesia Teacher Education Conference (MTEC) where he gave the keynote address.
President Panuelo began by first congratulating the Teachers of the Year from across the Nation. They are Mr. Kenneth Mathbereg, from Yap State; Mr. Erson Louis, from Chuuk State; Ms. Emma Melander, from Kosrae State; and Mr. Erwin Alex, from Pohnpei State.
The President then re-emphasized that, while he occupies the highest office, he remains a public servant; he spoke on the recent successes of the education system, including that the vast majority of teachers have been certified, and systemic improvements to how the FSM School Accreditation process is conducted.
“We’ve enhanced the FSM School Accreditation process to make it more transparent and the results more accountable…and we’ve updated the mathematics, English, and science teachers for teacher certification,” the President said. “And we’re pushing both a Nation-wide aggregate education database as well as a School-specific database to ensure that data is up-to-date and accurate, so that leaders are able to make informed decisions.”
“Working in the best interests of our children is the reason we do everything we do,” the President continued. “What’s best for children should ultimately inform every single decision in the Education Sector, with decisions entirely apolitical and the decision-makers themselves passionate about children’s needs.”
The President was also quick to point out that, while many successful schools across the Nation reach success through dedicated leadership, community support, and a combination of empathy for children and dedication towards meeting their needs, that many schools in the FSM remain largely under-served.
“When I asked my staff to help me understand why some of our schools underperform, an answer I received is that many of our schools are under-resourced and under-funded,” the President said. “Kapingamarangi Elementary School, for example, has slightly over $1,000 per year for instructional supplies…now that’s really injustice.”
The President addressed the concern of school funding head-on. “As your new President, I will focus on education…to make sure that resources are available, by working with [the] Congress [of the FSM], with State Leadership, and with the United States.”
President Panuelo advised that education would be a priority agenda item at the next State & National Leadership Conference, and said that education—along with health and infrastructure—will be a priority area when the expiring provisions under the Compact of Free Association, as Amended, are negotiated.