My alma mater, Weipat High School, located on the remote outer island of Onoun in Chuuk State officially made one giant virtual leap toward bridging the huge digital divide. They are now hooked up to the internet via a solar powered satellite dish thanks to Deacon Bill Hagen and a team from his Guam-based Cuthbert Project and TR Mori from Chuuk-based iSolutions.com which completed in a week what our own inept state and national government leaders could not complete for 3 years even after repeated requests. In addition, the Cuthbert Project brought a huge shipment of school supplies, laptops, and books from Guam and also installed audio visual equipment to help in classroom instructions.
Cuthbert Project was founded by Bill Hagen in partnership with Guam Community College with funding from the U.S Department of Interior to support educational resources and opportunities for the outer islands of Chuuk focusing specifically at Weipat High School which serves the entire Northwest region.
The Weipat technology project is one of a series of projects planned by my long-time friend, a fellow Weipat, Chuuk High and University of Guam alum Floren Akkin who was recently promoted to the principal post at our school. Immediately upon his official appointment, Fr. Akkin recruited me and his friend Deacon Bill Hagen from the Archdiocese of Guam to use our global networks to help Weipat and the feeder elementary schools in Namonweito, Pattiw, and Pafeng. Between my Raatior Ventures (www.raatior.com) and Bill’s Cuthbert Project, we are working to infuse global resources to support the local efforts. Bill is helping from Guam in the areas of technology and school supplies for Weipat and in June 2012, I will bring a team of dentists from the Micronesia Dental Support Project (www.mdsp.unitedcp.org) to Weipat to help provide free dental care needs for the children.
Before leaving Guam for Onoun, Bill asked my help in soliciting new or used educational DVDs to be used as instructional materials at the school. Bill and his crew have set up solar powered DVD projectors and speakers at Weipat for use in classroom instructions. They need new or used educational programs on DVDs such as Sesame Street, Electric Company, PBS shows, National Geographic, or any other educational DVDs related to spelling, math, sciences. If you have any of these, please send them directly to Bill Hagen at The Cuthbert Project, 136 Flores Rosa Loop, Barrigada, Guam 96913. (Note: For those who don’t know, Guam is a U.S. Territory so the usual U.S. postal rates apply). Your donated DVDS will be shipped to Weipat either on the next shipment or to accompany me and the dentists in June.
Long-term Educational Goals
In 2010, I worked with Fr. Floren to develop Weipat’s new School Improvement Plan based on the State’s ineffective decision to turn a 2-year junior high school into a 4-year high school without any additional resources. While this would save the State money, it further isolated the outer islanders thereby keeping them in those poor schools without any attempt to send more teachers, provide additional textbooks, build more classrooms. It also kept the outer islanders from accessing any of the resources found at the main center on Weno including computer technology, books, healthcare, etc. A year later, the State further proved its lack of vision by merging Weipat High School with an enrollment of 200 students with Onoun Elementary School with its equal number of students thereby making Weipat High School a hybrid secondary / elementary school with Fr. Floren serving as the principal with a shortage of qualified teachers.
- Advocate for the immediate creation of a Fanapi School District (FSD) to take full control of our own educational destiny from the dysfunctional Chuuk State School System (CSSS) in the areas of curriculum development, funding allocation, staffing, leadership development, and strategic development. FSD would be operated by its own Board of Education comprising of competent educated representatives from the three regions of Pafeng, Pattiw, and Namonweito controlling all aspect of educational reform and program implementation without the disempowering intrusion of politics which has curtailed educational progress in the State of Chuuk.
- Fund scholarships for teachers to get their certification and credentials and return to teach in the outer island schools.
- In FSD schools that lack qualified teachers, recruit American college graduates to come out and volunteer in our schools until we have enough local teachers to take over our own schools.
- Engage the sons and daughters of the Northwest living overseas for their help in program development, curriculum implementation, funding sources, and other needs of the children.
- Instill an innovative community-based public school system that engages the goodwill of the island community, church groups, youth groups, clan system, and all aspect of the community.
- Build key partnerships with international organizations such as Guam-based Cuthbert Project, One Laptop Per Child (www.one.laptop.org/), Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org) and humanitarian organizations to help with all aspect of the school system especially in technological advancement of the schools with regards to computer technology, textbooks, libraries, scholarships, and school needs.
- Utilize the key strategies in the ADB report to improve education in the outer islands.
- Have a systematic and transparent approach to awarding scholarships for highly qualified and needy students from the Northwest region to attend high schools on Weno and college.
- Partner with College of Micronesia, University of Hawaii, University of Guam and other institutions of higher learning for teacher training and certification programs for teachers and administrators from the Northwest.