Volunteer teaching group halts service in Marshall Islands

12:35 pm on 11 June 2019

A United States-based volunteer teaching program that has served the Marshall Islands for 17 years wrapped up its operations this week as part of a worldwide review of its program.

An American WorldTeach volunteer teacher works with students in a public school in Majuro

An American WorldTeach volunteer teacher works with students in a public school in Majuro Photo: File / Marshall Islands Journal

The WorldTeach program has provided volunteer teachers to Marshall Islands public schools since 2002. At one time, the program supplied as many as 30 teachers a year, with many working on remote outer islands.

For the school year just completed, WorldTeach provided 17 volunteer teachers - seven of whom came in January for the second semester, but the programme isn't sending any volunteers abroad for the 2019-2020 school year.

The heads of the programme said in a letter to program partners dynamics in the world of volunteers had changed dramatically, leading WorldTeach to "take pause to think strategically about the future of the organisation and to recalibrate as necessary and feasible".

President of the Board of Directors Fernando Reimers and the program's Executive Director Mitra Shavarini said the future of any additional cohorts would be evaluated during a strategic planning phase.

They said they remained optimistic about the program on its 33rd anniversary.

"We've come a long way since our humble beginnings, a student-run organization at Harvard University's Phillips Brook House."

In its 33 years, World Teach has provided over 7,500 teachers to 34 countries.

"As a leader in international education, we have supported volunteers to fulfil educational needs of local communities while providing volunteers with transformative, culturally immersive experiences, grounded in pedagogical training and engagement in the local community," Dr Reimers and Dr Shavarini said.

They said they were still committed to serving global education needs and they looked forward to remaining in touch with future projects.

Aside from the benefit to local schools and students of volunteer teachers on one-year assignments, a substantial number of WorldTeach volunteers were hired by the Marshall Islands Public School System to continue teaching after their volunteer period finished.

The only other volunteer teachers still serving the Marshall Islands are provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.