Palau, a democratic island nation located southeast of the Philippine Islands, has made significant strides and commitments to reducing gender inequality over the past two decades. The most significant improvements have been in girls’ education in Palau.
Palau has a population of about 22,000 citizens. In the past, Palau maintained specific gender responsibilities on the island, typically relating to the division of labor and education. Now, gender plays an insignificant role in jobs, with the exception of politics. Despite the island’s ongoing tradition of a matriarchy, women seldom hold national political offices. Governmental commitments to education, however, are increasing.
Girls’ Education in Palau
For a period of time, the percentage of females attending all levels of schooling was higher than their male counterparts. However, since 2012, the percentage of female enrollment in school has been steadily decreasing. Female education statistics are lower than males’, showing female education needs improvement. However, the Palauan government has been proactive in addressing the issues within girls’ education in Palau.
Palau has begun to confront this issue of girls’ education in Palau with programs sponsored by The World Bank, including the Access and Quality in Higher Education Project and Excellerating Higher Education Expansion and Development Operation Project. These projects aim to improve educational learning and access to education.
Measuring Up to Other Countries
The education system of Palau is comparable to the education system of St. Lucia, a developing nation. Both Palau and St. Lucia are island nations struggling with diversity due to the limited resources available in the respective countries. Lack of diverse educational resources has hampered educational progress. It has also been a cause for greater initiatives to further and enhance progress. Like St. Lucia, Palau has a history of gender gaps in education; however, unlike St. Lucia, Palau is working to bridge the current disparities.
Using the U.S. as a Model
Palau’s government and culture have increasingly imitated the trends of the U.S. While this has been key in the structuring of Palau’s government, it has also been used in education. In 1927, when Palau was under Japanese control, a trade school was founded. However, in 1969, just over twenty years after the U.S. took control of Palau, the trade school morphed into the first and only community college on the island. This transition imitates the U.S. dedication to learning and higher education.
The goals for girls’ education in Palau are reachable and realistic because they are intended to improve the quality of education and post-educational hopes for all citizens, regardless of gender. The vision statement from the Palauan Ministry of Education sums this point up, saying, “Our students will be successful in the Palauan society and the world.”
– Alexandra Ferrigno