High Schools in the Outer Islands

During the early years of post-war US-rule a public high school was established on the Ulithi Atoll. This Outer Island High School (OIHS) was later joined by a Neighboring Island High School (NIHS) on Woleai in the late 1990s. These two schools are unique in the FSM in that they are located outside the main district centers. They were designed to serve Outer Island children, who for cultural and economic reasons, would not attend school in Yap Proper.

When OIHS was first established it was hailed as “the Best in the Western Pacific.” Staffed by dozens of Trust Territory employees and Peace Corps volunteers it was considering a shining (and exceptional) success story in the late 1960s.

Now there is a sense among the local communities that things have fallen apart. The Americans have left, and many locals feel that the money and (more importantly) the sense of focus left with them. The efforts of the Americans were well intended but not sustainable.

Father Francis Hezel has published extensively about development issues in Micronesia, and about education in particular. He has identified the Outer Island Schools of Yap State as some of the lowest performing in the FSM. He observes that completion rates are low, test scores poor, and that females are particularly underserved.

The latest data reiterate this assessment.

Here are the 2005 rankings according to an FSM wide comparison, based on College of Micronesia Entrance Exam Scores:

Grammar and Vocabulary
Yap High School 5th of 20
Outer Islands High School 13th of 20
Neighboring Islands High School 15th of 20

Yap High School 9th of 20
Outer Islands High School 17th of 20
Neighboring Islands High School 13th of 20

Yap High School 7th of 20
Outer Islands High School 12th of 20
Neighboring Islands High School 13th of 20

There are two major issues. The first is low performance of Outer Island Schools in a national context (nearly all the schools with lower scores than OIHS and NIHS are based in Chuuk, which has a Pacific-wide reputation for poor government services, but also a large independent school market serving parents dissatisfied with government schools).

The second concern is the great intra-state disparity between the public high school on Yap Proper and the two public schools serving the outer islands.

At Habele we recognize that this unfortunate educational situation is, as David Nevin explained, "both a metaphor for, and central actor in, the Micronesian delimma."