The Value of Eduaction in Micronesia Education

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Value Of Education In Micronesia Education

Education has been an affluential force in the recent history of Micronesia.  For the past fifty years, it has responsible for opening better living opportunities for many of the islands' people.  From its beginnings in religious lessons to its boom in the 1970s, education has been labeled a prominent must-have for any person aspiring to be a respected citizen in Micronesia.  However, the present-day islands are exposed to a number of factors, such as technological advancements and job prospects abroad, that have brought about a change in life choices and education values in the islands.  While education has been considered an important attribute throughout Micronesian history, the current generation is adapting a quickness to disregard it for other opportunities thus degrading it to the level of an ill-respected feature of the past.  It continues to be an important part in the achievement of a better lifestyle, but what is the purpose of education in today's Micronesian society? In Micronesia, the roots of education can be traced to a well-known cultural practice known as oral tradition.  Oral tradition is defined as the “verbal messages which are reported statements from the past beyond the present generation (Vansina 28).”  In other words, information regarding a particular culture or group of people (society) is passed from the old to the young via verbal methods such as storytelling, chanting, singing, etc.  According to an article entitled “Oral Traditions and Archaeology in Micronesia: An Attempt to Study Past Ideology in a Built Environment” written by Rita Olsudong, oral tradition in Micronesian history “finds norms that govern...the proper methods and protocols.”  For example, the brother of a woman is responsible for his nephew's knowledge of male responsibilities (in Palauan culture).  The uncle may teach his nephew the ways of a man by sharing his life experiences through casual, afternoon talks and storytelling.  Through such practices Micronesians were able to preserve a majority of there traditional values. Eventually time passed and the Micronesian islands fell under the administration of different foreign powers.  The practice of oral tradition was gradually replaced by the formal educational practice now known as schooling.  Under the rule of Spain, the first forms of education were established.  In his article entitled “Schools in Micronesia Prior to American Administration”, Francis X. Hezel, SJ identifies Colegio de San Juan de Letran as the first school established in Micronesia and the entire Oceania region.  Colegio de San Juan de Letran was founded by the Spanish power in 1669 on the Marianas island of Guam.  Its purpose was to provide for the people, specifically the young boys, of the islands a “strong instilling of Christian beliefs (Hezel, The Price of Education in Micronesia).”  Other skills, such as reading and mathematics, were tied into the school's curriculum but the backbone of the education system was Christianity.  Eventually other missionary schools, such as the Protestant schools on the Marshall Islands, were founded on the other islands of Micronesia providing similar curriculums. After the islands fell under the control of Germany, the religion-based schools were kept and continued to be the fundamental providers of education for the islanders (Hezel, “Schools in Micronesia Prior to American Administration”).  However, the German administration expanded on the concept of public school education.  Under German administration, schools were required to teach the curriculum in the German language as a means of establishing a sense of German power in the islands.  As sated by the German government in an annual report, the role of education for the natives was to “[train them] to work; they must be encouraged to earn and save money.”  In other words, Germany was interested in establishing a sense of material value via the education system. ...
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