12 Nov 2004

No Marshall Islanders pass US army entrance exam

3:02 pm on 12 November 2004

In the Marshall Islands, unofficial results from a US Army entrance test show that none of the 90 Islanders passed the test.

The US Embassy military liaison officer Tom Maus has confirmed that none of those taking the test late last month in Majuro met the pass mark of 31 out of a 100-point scale.

Poor English comprehension was identified as the main problem for those taking the tests.

Marshall Islanders are eligible to join the US military through the Compact of Free Association in the United States.

More than a hundred are serving in the US military, and at least 14 are currently in Iraq.

The fact that all of the 90 Marshall Islanders taking the test were at least high school graduates and some are attending college underscores the serious academic deficiencies in the country's public schools.

A group of 21 Marshall Islanders enlisted in the US Army in August - the largest number ever to join the military at one time since islanders became eligible for the military in 1986.

Tom Maus says the Army relaxed its minimum entrance test score requirements for several of those who enlisted at the time.