PALIKIR, Pohnpei—On September 19th, 2022, His Excellency David W. Panuelo—President of the Federated States of Micronesia—provided remarks at the United Nations Transforming Education Summit. The President’s remarks, as prepared, are below in full.
The Federated States of Micronesia
UN Transforming Education Summit – September 2022
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to commend your vision to work with world leaders for solutions to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda while pursuing recovery solutions from the pandemic-related learning losses and transforming education in a rapidly changing world. The themes provided for each thematic area encompass fundamental issues that the world is facing, resulting from the COVID 19 Pandemic, War in Ukraine, and other growing concerns globally.
One of the very important concerns which are interlinked with all of our Government’s hopes for a better future is the engagement of youth. We cannot continue to pay lip-service to empowering the youth without involving them in the decision making process. The engagement of the youth is an effective new instrument in the cause of youth’s advancement in ensuring that their perspectives are reflected across our governments’ and the United Nations’ work. We seem to have reached a point where it is painfully obvious that if the youth is to have continued relevance, something must be done differently. So leading up to this Summit, our nation hosted a series of public consultations with youth, educators, and members of the community. Through these discussions, we affirmed our commitment to uplift the voices of our nation’s people in shaping the future of education for all. Youth delegates convened to envision the future for education in the Federated States of Micronesia. As the youth presented their aspirations for the future, they delivered a striking sentiment: “The voice of the youngest citizens holds the power of change.”
Our nation hosted a series of public consultations with youth, educators, and members of the community. Through these discussions, we affirmed our commitment to uplift the voices of our nation’s people in shaping the future of education for all.
The Federated States of Micronesia is a unique island nation. With a population of roughly 116,0001 spanning more than 3 million square kilometers of the North Pacific, the strengths and challenges of our country are distinct. Given the expansive spread of communities across four island states, differences between education systems and outcomes among our states can be significant, reflecting varied languages, values, socio-cultural attitudes, and economic conditions.
Our nation’s transformative education vision is grounded in regional, national, and international commitments, including our Education Sector Strategic Development Plan, the Pacific Regional Education Framework, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our vision for the future of education is guided by a central goal: to improve the quality of learning at all levels in safe, climate-resilient learning environments for the children of the FSM.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the FSM remained one of the world’s few countries free from COVID-19 for over two-and-a-half years. While the geographic location of our country can present challenges, including vulnerability to climate change and difficulties in interstate coordination and the positioning of the FSM during this challenging time has served as a strategic asset.
As we strike a pathway forward in the changing global landscape, we bring a renewed vision for education transformation, shaped by the lessons of the last 2.5 years, and guided by youth and community perspectives.
Through consultations, our youth delegates helped to identify areas to strengthen education in the FSM. Their calls for change include the increased investment in education infrastructure and school facilities, increase skilled, knowledgeable, and better-compensated teachers, school resources such as textbooks, classroom supplies, and access to technology and a broader public service to support inclusivity needs, such as enhanced public transportation and strengthened medical care, particularly in the area of mental health.
1 Source: World Bank, 2021.
Access to electricity and technology continue to be a major challenge to hundreds of remote islands throughout the FSM. It is our dream that we can bring training and skills development to our students in these remote island communities to learn first-hand how to build and sustain power grids using renewable energy. If we are to adhere to the notion of ‘education for all’, we have to be mindful of all children and youths, including those in remote and inaccessible parts of the world.
Our children and community have spoken, and we are listening. Our renewed commitment to transforming education includes partnerships with donors to expand work in the following areas: early childhood education; primary education teaching and learning; technical and vocational education and training; technology expansion in our rural, remote areas; and water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure to all schools.
The FSM is committed to transformative investments to strengthen educational opportunities for the future of our nation. In addition to currently financed projects underway, we are building a vision for
transformations necessary to address lingering gaps in reaching our education goals. In this effort, we commit to prioritize funding allocations to support improved infrastructure, resources and teacher preparation, advancing our goals under the Education Sector Strategic Development Plan and introducing mechanisms to consistently engage youth and communities to ensure that the education system remains relevant to the needs of our future. We also invite the relevant agencies of the United Nations to partner with Micronesia in democratizing access and quality of education to all children in our country. Finally, I thank Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his leadership, and for convening a productive dialogue on Transforming Education.