President Amata Kabua spearheaded RMI becoming a member of The University of the South Pacific’s regional family 20 years ago. “President Kabua was anxious that the Marshallese people advance in knowledge and education,” USP Director Dr. Irene Taafaki said in her speech to students at RMI-USP’s open day on Friday. “As part of his visits to other countries in the Pacific, particularly those south of the equator, he was impressed by the quality of thinking and confidence in the peoples of the countries.
“On several occasions he would recount how he would ask those he met where they went to study for their LLBs, their BAs, BSCs and graduate qualifications – and they would invariably respond ‘to USP.’ ”
The President subsequently arranged with the university, whose main campus is in Fiji, to start a campus in Majuro. Before long, however, it became obvious to USP staff that many high school graduates weren’t suitably prepared for tertiary studies: “It is one thing the enter university, it is another to exit with a degree,” Taafaki said. “To this end, the President and Cabinet established the RMI-USP Joint Program in 1995 to prepare students for tertiary or post secondary education.” All Marshallese students attending the two-year program are on RMI government scholarships.