WASHINGTON, January 21, 2021 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$10 million Education and Skills Strengthening Project for the Republic of Marshall Islands that will improve access to quality secondary education, vocational training, and employment intermediation services, benefitting around 13,500 students, job seekers and employers in Marshall Islands.
The five-year Marshall Islands Education and Skills Strengthening Project will support improved skills training and education in Marshall Islands and create clear pathways for students to continue their education. The project will also incentivize employers to participate in training development and delivery and support the employability of Marshallese in domestic and international markets.
Marshall Islands faces a series of significant challenges that are impacting the quality of its education and training. While rates of early education and primary education are relatively high in Marshall Islands, enrollment numbers drop off considerably at secondary and tertiary levels. Low academic performance is also a concern, with most students not meeting minimum national educational requirements and not mastering skills valued by employers.
“In addition to educational challenges, the labor market in Marshall Islands faces a dual problem of high formal sector unemployment (especially among youth) and skills gaps that are preventing our younger jobseekers from finding work. Training is critical to address these issues but technical and vocational training options for these young people are limited within the country,” said Hon. Kitlang Kabua, Minister for Education, Republic of the Marshall Islands. “This World Bank-supported project will address these issues while contributing to the Government’s National Strategic Plan and education sector-wide plan. The Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is pleased to be working with the World Bank in implementing this important work.”
The new project will support improvements of general secondary education by training teachers and providing them with tools (including IT hardware and software) to develop strategies better aligned with each student’s needs. It will also support the roll-out by the Public School System of two ‘tracks’ for secondary school students to help build vocational and islands skills, earn industry-recognized credentials, continue their education and training, find work, or be self-employed while living on outer islands, where formal employment is limited.
Outside of secondary education, the project will support the expansion of college-level Technical and Vocational Education and Training programs and short skills programs for graduates and out-of-school jobseekers.
Finally, a third component of the project will build on improved education and training by providing more opportunities for graduates to find work. This will be done by improving labor market information, support for career counselling and job matching services, better recognition for job seekers’ prior learning, and creating incentives, payments and support for work placement projects.
The new project will provide opportunities to those most in need through promoting enrollment and engagement of female students and those on outer islands away from the capital, Majuro through improvements of school accommodation, differentiated instruction strategies, awareness campaigns, supply of childcare services, and enhanced labor market intermediation activities.
“Every child, no matter where they live, deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential,” said Acting World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific, Paul Vallely. “The Marshall Islands Education and Skills Strengthening Project will not only benefit current students but improvements to education and skills training will also encourage others to enroll in further studies and employment training in Marshall Islands and abroad – especially the most disadvantaged students and jobseekers who have, in the past, had to contend with fewer opportunities.
“And the project’s focus on improving access to employment, while developing relevant skills in students and jobseekers, will not only contribute to reducing poverty through employment and education, but will also benefit businesses in the Marshall Islands by enabling a stronger pool of candidates that will address their long-standing hiring needs,” added Mr Vallely.
This operation is funded through a US$10 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries. The project’s focus on promoting greater economic inclusion and strengthening institutions to address fragility is well aligned with the World Bank Group Strategy for Fragility, Conflict, and Violence (FCV), and the IDA19 Special Theme on FCV.