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October 10, 2001 - Palikir, Pohnpei

Update from the President's Office - No. 195

October 10, 2001


To:       All Regents, Faculty, Staff, and Students

From:     President

Subject:  Update from the President's Office-No.195

FACSSO/JCN meeting.    A joint meeting of the FSM Association of Chief State School Officers (FACSSO) and the Working Committee of the Joint Committee on Compact Negotiations was held on Chuuk from September 24-26, 2001, to discuss policies relating to the Education Sector grant. By FSM law the COM-FSM President is a member of FACSSO. The following persons were in attendance: Senator Joseph Urusemal, Senator Jacob Nena, Dr. Olter Paul, JCN Executive Director Asterio Takesy, JCN staff member Bill Nall, FSM Deputy Secretary of Health, Education, and Social Affairs Midion Neth, Yap Director of Education Henry Falan, Kosrae Director of Education Henry Robert, Pohnpei Director of Education Casiano Shoniber, Chuuk Director of Education Kangichy Welle, FSM Assistant Secretary for Education Weldis Welley, Jimmy Hicks of the FSM HESA Department, support staff, and myself. Agenda items included the following: report on progress of negotiations; reviewing and approving sectoral objectives; illustrative listing of activities and objectives to be supported with US grant and program assistance; agreeing on an approach for future meetings with the US technical agencies; and summary of decisions. Of particular concern to COM-FSM is the language of the current US counterproposal which would prohibit funds designated for the Education Sector to be used for postsecondary education.

The following paragraphs are contained in the recommended policy positions presented by FACSSO to JCN:

FACSSO fully understands the JCN position that while the US counterproposal is good for education and health, it does not provide the necessary funding for continuing the current overall government and private sector reform efforts. Quality education and health systems cannot be developed and maintained in a vacuum. However, FACSSO does request that an approach be used to seek additional funding for other government operations and continued development of the private sector while maintaining the levels of funding recommended by the US for elementary and secondary education. The same recommendations applies to federal programs. FACSSO recommends preserving existing education and training programs (including Pell Grant, Head Start, WIA, Land Grant, etc.) while seeking continued eligibility for programs such as FEMA. FACSSO recommends that provisions of the Compact be negotiated to allow seeking of additional federal programs (such as E-rate) that fit the needs of the education system in the FSM.

Additional funding should be sought for postsecondary education. It is unlikely the FSM can develop and maintain a good education system without strong postsecondary support for inservice training, teacher development and technical assistance. A strong COM-FSM system is a vital part of the overall education system recommended by the Education Summit that encompasses education from early childhood to adult education and life long learning.For FY 2002 approximately $4 million is provided to COM-FSM from Compact sources and $1from local revenue. Also there is a need for Compact funding to support scholarships and loan programs for FSM citizens. Very few students will be able to complete their studieswithout assistance beyond Pell Grant and work-study.

It was further recommended that one or more representatives of FACSSO provide assistance at technical meetings between the US and FSM and that regular meetings between FACSSO and JCN be held to discuss the status of negotiations for the Education Sector.

The meetings with FACSSO and JCN concluded on Tuesday, September 26th, with a luncheon hosted by the Chuuk State Schools System. Following this luncheon I paid a visit to Chuuk Campus. On Wednesday morning I had a breakfast meeting with Chuuk Regent/First Lady Gardenia Walter to bring her up to date on the most recent Board of Regents meeting in Kosrae which she was unable to attend. I returned to Pohnpei on Wednesday's flight.

Accreditation visit to FSM FMI.  Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Executive Director Barbara Beno and Associate Director Gari Browning conducted a follow up visit on October 5, 2001, to validate a substantive change report on the FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute that had been approved by the Commission at its June 2000 meeting. Although their report is still in the draft stage, in their exit interview with me they reported that, in their view, FSM FMI has met the requirements of the substantive change and the accreditation standards and is in "very good shape." Congratulations are in order to FSM FMI Director Matthias Ewarmai and his staff for a well-organized and successful visit. Improvements expected on the next visit include completion of the roof repair and associated renovations, enhanced student placement for shipboard training, and installation/establishment of the library and computer lab.

While on Yap, Dr. Beno and Dr. Browning also conducted workshops on the new proposed accreditation standards with staff at both FMI and Yap Campus to gather input before the standards are finalized. At the same time COM-FSM Director of Personnel Linda Maradol conducted workshops for staff at FMI and Yap Campus on the newly updated personnel manual. I returned to Pohnpei at approximately 2:00 a.m. on Monday, October 8th, while Linda traveled on to Chuuk to conduct workshops on the manual with the staff at Chuuk Campus.

A special word of thanks to the staff at both FSM FMI and Yap Campus for the wonderful hospitality provided to all of us during our stay on Yap.

Chuuk Campus update. Chuuk Campus staff held a surprise farewell dinner at the RS Plaza Hotel for former Director Graceful Enlet on September 6, 2001. The following farewell message from the staff was read on this occasion:

We shall miss you, Mr. Graceful Enlet, but your legacy will remain steadfast. It is like the unique Chinese bamboo called "moso." As a young bamboo shoot, just sprouting from the ground, it grows slowly - very slowly. In fact, for many years, it appears to be growing most humbly only a few inches a year. During all those years, our bamboo was busy growing roots, reaching deep and spreading wide, ensuring a foundation that no other bamboo species has - a foundation so strong that it will last several hundred years. When that foundation is set, then the "moso" grows rapidly above ground and soon towers over its lesser relatives. What looked like a slow start was more - fundamental preparation - deeply rooted so as to stand prime and resolute. We have that foundation - our campus today and tomorrow - and all we can do is to look upon your legacy - our humble "moso" and humbly thank you. You leave us at that prime and resolute moment, and we promise to continue that legacy. Thank you Graceful, thank you very much. Now, go forth and lay foundations elsewhere. Best wishes, from all of us. And may our Heavenly
Father bless you in your future endeavor, and your family."

All of us from throughout the COM-FSM system join Chuuk Campus in wishing Graceful and his family the very best.

Three instructors in the English Department volunteered to cover classes for instructors who were delayed for fall semester due to problems with flights and/or immigration. Special thanks go to Karen Simion, Richardson Chiwi, and Margarita Cholymay for their willingness to help out.

The Math/Science Department is offering a total of 18 classes to 496 students. In addition, tutorial services and study periods are provided to students who need help.

The Business Department is offering 20 classes with 3 full-time and 3 part-time instructors this fall. Of these students, 24% have enrolled in the bookkeeping certificate program. Due to the increase in enrollment, the Computer Lab is open more hours for student use.

Under the Agriculture and Natural Resources program under Land Grant, the planting phase of a project entitled, "Enhancing Subsistence Crop Production in the Northwest Region," has been completed for the municipalities of Onoun, Tamatam, and Houk. This phase involved the planting of 24 varieties of taro plants and 19 varieties of pelle. Additional activities included the maintenance of the demonstration garden and the ornamental plants.

Food handlers' training was conducted from September 24-28, 2001, at the Land Grant facility. A total of 32 food handlers from department stores, bakeries, cake shops, take out facilities, and restaurants attended this training. Training was also provided to a total of 150 Chuuk Organization Community Action and Head Start staff on proper food choices and nutrition for preschoolers.

A total of 180 out-of-school youths applied for a 3-month course at Land Grant. After screening, 63 were chosen to participate in this program which began in September. Two parent meetings were held in conjunction with this program to brief parents on their roles in promoting and supporting this program.

Staff of the Community Resource Development program conducted community education to 35 youths from Pollap Community residing in Iras Village on the importance of education, including prevention of child abuse. During September, the sewing instructor continued to assist former students in garment pattern design and shape cutting to increase their capacity to produce garments for sale.

The Career Ladder Program enrolled 80 participants for the pre-service and in-service training programs at Chuuk Campus during the summer session. Instructors were contracted to teach 3 of the required courses for the Bilingual Elementary Teacher Education Program and other courses required for teacher certification. Another 30 teachers are enrolled under this program this fall. Six (6) desktop computers have been received and will be installed at their designated locations under this project. The Executive Director of the Chuuk State School System has approved the 5 elementary schools located on Weno to serve as the Professional Development Schools.

Pohnpei Campus update.  According to the September update report from Pohnpei Campus, after 4 weeks of instruction, 140 out of 325 students have been identified by instructors as students who may be listed on the deficiency list at midterm. "Early warning" lists were forwarded to the Counselor so that appropriate tutorial services and other support can be provided. The Student Support Services (SSS) program will be a primary source of support. Also, library and computer lab hours have been extended and the study hall will be opened during non-working hours when tutors are available. A room has been identified and renovated to serve as the SSS office. Pohnpei Campus should be congratulated for addressing the needs of students needing additional encouragement and help in a timely manner.

The following students have been elected as Student Body Association (SBA) officers for this school year: President - Bemore Penias; Vice President - Tasichy Reim; Secretary - Cathleen Altern; and Treasurer - Adaltrick Isiel. On September 21, 2001, Acting President Ringlen Ringlen administered the oath of office to these new officers. The SBA hosted a luncheon following the ceremony. Congratulations to all of the officers!

Computer training for Pohnpei State Government employees began on September 24th. It is anticipated that more than 140 employees will benefit from this training. Classes in Pohnpeian language and dance have been advertised and courses in woodwork and repair of air conditioners are being developed.

The Pohnpei State Legislature, through the sponsorship of Senator Fernando Scaliem, passed a $50,000 appropriation for completion of the Pohnpei Campus gymnasium. Although this measure was vetoed by Governor David, earlier today it was learned that the Legislature voted to override this veto. I understand that students were helpful in communicating the need for completion of this facility.

Under the Cooperative Extension Services (CES) program of Land Grant, a total of 106 farmers, homemakers and high school students and teachers were served during the month of September. Forty (40) farmers/homemakers in 3 different villages were provided instruction on site selection, soil fertility and management, soil drainage, and the preparation and planting of corms under the banana project. Thirty-eight (38) hog farmers were assisted in various ways. Twenty-three (23) farmers/homemakers were provided instruction on preparing beds/boxes for sowing vegetable seeds, how to transfer seedlings to individual cups, how to prepare beds for transplanting, and how to prepare and use compost and animal manure. These same individuals were also taught how to prepare a nursery for black pepper plants.

Forty (40) homemakers from Ipwitek, Kepin Awak, and Enipein Pah were given cooking demonstrations including recipes for chicken salad, kangkong tops with fish, sardines with chili pepper leaves, chicken with kangkong, breadfruit salad, and mackerel with kangkong and wild fern tips. A nutrition course was also provided for the Special Education Transition Group at PICS High School with 19 students and 2 teachers in attendance.

FSM Congress. I attended the opening of the second regular session of the 12th Congress at 10:00 a.m. on October 9, 2001. Of special concern for the College during this session is the supplemental request for funding for the FSM FMI to cover the second half of this fiscal year. I expect to be called for hearings on this request sometime in the next 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the College's request for funds for the Trial Counselor's program cannot be accommodated at this time according to a letter received from the FSM President.

Christmas card contest.A contest for the design of the College's Christmas card for 2001 is now underway. This contest is open to all full-time and part-time students at all of the College's campuses. The following are the rules:

  1. The design should reflect the FSM, the College, and Christmas.
  2. All designs should be submitted on 8 ½ X11" paper. Use of color is permitted.
    Computer generated designs will be accepted.
  3. Identifying information (your full name) should be clearly written on the back
    only. Drawing with identifying information on the front will be disqualified.
  4. Each student may submit a maximum of 2 entries.
  5. All entries should be submitted to either Norma Edwin or Hadleen Hadley in the
    President's Office by November 2, 2001, at 5:00 p.m.
  6. All entries become the property of COM-FSM.
  7. Eligible entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges and prizes will be awarded
    as follows: First Prize -- $100; Second Prize -- $50; and Third Prize -- $25. The
    winning entry will be used as the official design of the College's 2001 Christmas card.

Good Luck to All!

PersonnelDirector of Personnel Linda Maradol is conducting workshops on the personnel manual with employees at Chuuk Campus and, as a result, an update on newly hired staff and those who are leaving the College will not be included in this update.

However, word has been received that a research project entitled, "Application of Biotechnology to Conserve Citrus Germplasm and Save the Citrus Industry in Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia," by Dr. P.C. Josekutty of the Kosrae Land Grant program has been approved by USDA. Congratulations on this achievement!

More Next Time!
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