Raynold’s of very useful life-skills.’ Just then a

Raynold’s response was an unequivocal ‘Yes!’ He went on to explain that academic and vocational studies are not seen as alternatives, but as part of an integrated curriculum: ‘The academic and the vocational complement each other. The students who go on to university (in Guam or the USA), take with them a range of practical skills that help them find part-time jobs during their university years, as well as a range of very useful life-skills.’Just then a couple of teachers came past to buy a drink and I was introduced. They were on their way to classes in one of the career academies. I was surprised to learn that they were not staff of the high school, but lecturers from the Palau Community College, a post-secondary institution. Again, Raynold came to the rescue by explaining that the Community College campus was right next door to the high school, and that staff of the college regularly helped as teachers in the career academies.In talking with the two college lecturers, I learned that most students graduating from the high school had earned a full semester of credit that they could carry with them if they chose to continue their studies at the college.

I was becoming more and more impressed!But it did not finish there. I also discovered that the Ministry of Education and the Palau Employers Federation had a close working relationship, and that over one hundred employers had agreed to offer vacation employment to students. During the long summer holidays, all students who so wished could gain work experience in their chosen vocation. Most did. The work was full-time, and in 2004 students were paid a weekly income of $50.

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By the end of high school many had accumulated up to nine months of work experience in their chosen career.After my tour and further conversations with Raynold and other staff of the Ministry of Education, I was convinced that I had experienced an approach to secondary education that was unique in the Pacific. Indeed, even in my own home country of Australia, I had never encountered a programme as innovative and visionary as the one at Palau High School.


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