On July 26, 2019, the first cohort of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Education PACMED program graduated in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). PACMED is a Master of Education (MEd) degree program in the Department of Curriculum Studies with a focus on culturally responsive, Pacific, placed-based STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). The program was previously known as the MSLMED, which focused on middle and secondary level students and began in 1996, going fully online in 2009.
Chaired by Professor Paul Deering, and co-piloted by Professor Deborah Zuercher, PACMED’s digital delivery expanded access to students across the Hawaiian Islands, American Sāmoa, and now RMI. The recently graduated cohort of 17 Marshallese students included classroom teachers as well as high-ranking administrators and brings the program’s combined total of alumni to approximately 300.
“This historic RMI Commencement was a festive celebration attended by about 400 family members, friends, and dignitaries,” said Deering. “RMI President Dr. Hilda Heine, who received a master’s degree from the College of Education, gave an address urging the graduates to use their deepened knowledge to steer the canoe of education toward a prosperous future in which the grave threat of climate change is addressed head on.”
PACMED is a two-year program focused on the nine RMI Public School Standards for Teachers, plus a tenth standard focused on place-based STEAM teaching. During the semester, courses are delivered in a live online classroom, while summer classes are in-person and hands-on. Topics include marine science, organic gardening, computers, robotics, ethnomathematics, as well as traditional cultural practices, such as weaving, fishing, canoe building, and navigation. There are 20 students enrolled in PACMED for Fall 2019.
Deering concluded, “Some of the graduates from RMI-1 will work as part-time lecturers for RMI-2 as we gradually build greater and greater educational leadership capacity in collaboration with our southern neighbors. Jeraman graduates!”