The USP Marshall Island Campus initiated a Bwebwenato, a Seminar series on 03 September 2020. The inaugural seminar “Wa Kuk Wa Jimor (canoeing together), Voyaging the Seas of Educational Change in the Early Years: a Multi-sectorial Approach to Skills Development and Life-long Learning” was presented by Dr. Kelesi Whippy.
Dr. Whippy, an academic at the School of Education, is on secondment duties at the Marshall Islands Campus since 2018. She works in close association with the Public School System (PSS) and development partners such as ADB and UNESCO to provide teacher, including community-based, training towards improving the quality of basic education in the Marshall Islands. Her research focus is on socio-ecological perspectives of play and its implications for child holistic development and education for sustainable development.
The Chief Guest for the Seminar was the PSS Commissioner Mr. Kanchi Hosia. Participants included additional officers from the PSS, staff from the Marshall Islands Council for NGOs (MICNGOS), staff from the Natural Disaster Management Office (NMDO) and USP teaching staff and students.
Dr. Whippy used the analogy of “Walap, a traditional ocean-going sailing outrigger canoe, which normally accommodates up to 50 people plus food supplies” thus reflects the cooperative effort of all seafarers, including women and children” to the smooth sailing of the canoe. Likewise, we need the whole society to work cooperatively to raise a child as early years are the most significant growth period in a child’s life.
“The initial bwebwenato is an attempt to generate discussions on a proposed model, exclusively but not limited to the context of the RMI which draws upon participation and social cohesion surrounding the young learner’s immediate and wider support systems,” stated Dr. Kelesi Whippy, the USP Early Childhood Education Specialist.
The PSS Commissioner thanked USP MI campus for arranging and launching the new program of ‘Bwebwenato’, “though it is very new, it brings together people from various professions and ethnic background to discuss things that are important to life – a small canoe symbolizing collective effort in the area of education, family, religion, government, culture that usually work together for the benefit and wellbeing of our children of today and tomorrow”. He also wished the seminar or conversational series program, ‘bwebwenato, a wonderful success.