Sustainability in PalauForeign investment, tourism, agriculture and fishing all play an essential part in supporting the economy of Palau. These areas ensure that the employment and well-being of the Palauan people are maintained so that poverty and hunger decrease significantly. These economic drivers also play an important role in sustainability in Palau.

Marine Life

Marine life is vital to the island nation of Palau. It is its very heartbeat. The Palauan government has organizations in place, such as The Palau National Marine Sanctuary, established in 2015, which covers an expanse of 500,000 square kilometers of protected ocean area that prohibits actions such as fishing and any other commercial business.


To thrive, Palauans also need to use their abundant resources. If overfishing and industrialism take over, it could be detrimental to the island nation, increasing hunger due to the depletion of resources. A few answers to this challenge are:

  • Palau collaborates with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which partners with The Pacific Community (PC) “to improve sustainable fisheries in Palau…” and collaborates with the organization OurFishOurFuture, established in 2021, which “addresses the social and ecological drivers of IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing) that are degrading coastal fisheries and biodiversity, as well as negatively impacting local livelihoods, food stability and maritime security.”
  • Generations of skilled fishermen practice “the local custom of bul,” which “temporarily closes certain areas to fishing in order to allow marine life to recover.” This is a necessary and crucial step to protecting Palau’s valuable resources and protecting its biodiversity for the future.
  • Businesses such as fish farms, where responsible fishing is encouraged.
  • Palau has partnered with the FAO to reduce hunger in Palau and promote sustainable farming.
  • Producing and trading certain crops, such as marijuana, which grows abundantly on the island.

The Promise to Move Forward Together

Palauans have a strong sense of identity and belonging and deep respect for the well-being of their island nation. The government of Palau now mandates that every single tourist who visits the beautiful archipelago have the Palau Pledge stamped proudly on their passports — a promise to take care of the island on their visit. It says, “Children of Palau, I take this pledge, as your guest, to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home. I vow to tread lightly, act kindly and explore mindfully. I shall not take what is not given. I shall not harm what does not harm me. The only footprints I shall leave are those that will wash away.”

– Matha Mathieu
Photo: Pixabay

3 Factors Impacting Poverty in Palau
Palau is an independent island group in the Pacific located just southeast of the Philippines. In July 2020, Palau recorded a population of 21,685 people. The latest data from 2006 shows that 24.9% of people were living below the national poverty line. Despite this figure, the quality of living in Palau is actually among the highest in the Pacific. There are three factors that impact poverty in Palau; tourism, geographic location and non-communicable disease.

A number of factors make it difficult for Palau to maintain a healthy and growing economy. Palau’s economy relies mainly on the tourism industry, with trade-in fishing and agriculture as secondary industries. Because of its reliance on tourism and its remote location, Palau is vulnerable to external economic shocks or other global events. Since gaining independence in 1994, Palau has come a long way with achievements like universal access to healthcare, quality education and the formation of valuable regional and global partnerships. It has also moved towards a gradual reduction in poverty but still struggles with this issue.

In the 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Palau identified the eradication of poverty in all its forms as its primary goal. To achieve this goal, Palau currently focuses primarily on supporting its economy, strengthening its agriculture industries and improving health services.


Because Palau’s economy heavily relies on tourism, the small island nation is particularly susceptible to global factors that affect tourism rates. In 2019, Palau reported a GDP growth rate of -1.8%, showing a declining economy which was expected to continue declining in 2020 to 9.5% following a slump in tourism. The COVID-19 crisis is especially damaging to Palau’s economy as it has caused tourism to fall to an unprecedented low. Palau’s reliance on tourism poses a risk to its overall economic stability and vulnerability to poverty. High tourism rates are highly variable and dependent on global events.

In order to best take advantage of its tourism industry, Palau developed the Palau Responsible Tourism Policy Framework in 2015. This aims to pursue a more sustainable and lucrative tourism industry by moving from a high-volume industry to one focused more on low-volume tourism but with a high-value experience. Palau will achieve these goals through coordinated management between the public and private sectors, community awareness and a focus on attracting high-value consumers with new marketing strategies. This shift will help make revenue from tourism in Palau less volatile. Therefore, it will contribute to a more stable economy and promote sustainable growth.

Geographic Location

As a small group of islands in the Pacific, Palau’s geographic location and topography make it susceptible to factors that can exacerbate poverty. Pacific islands are often vulnerable to cyclones, violent storms, tidal surges, drought and other natural disasters. As a result, it can wreak havoc on infrastructure and natural resources. Additionally, Palau’s topography is mountainous, and only about 2.2% of its land is arable. Because of its minimal arable terrain, Palau is currently unable to satisfy food demand with domestic production. Consequently, Palau is highly dependent on foreign food imports. This accounts for roughly 86% of Palau’s food expenditures for imported foods. This dependence on imported foods can be dangerous because even short disruptions in food shipments can result in the depletion of food stocks.

To address this issue, Palau has created a Policy to Strengthen Resilience in Agriculture and Aquaculture. It sets a target to meet 50% of food requirements with local production by 2020. New practices in pursuit of this goal include switching to more resilient crops. As a result, it can withstand natural disasters and saltwater intrusion, increase the number of farms and better manage farmland. Between 2015 and 2017, land used for agriculture increased from 306 hectares to 503. The number of commercial farms rose from 16 to 19. In addition, more students enrolled in agriculture at Palau Community College.

Non-Communicable Diseases

As part of its third 2019 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), Palau indicates that non-communicable diseases are a factor causing people to fall into poverty. The report reveals that the main non-communicable diseases in Palau include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, lung diseases and mental health disorders. These diseases are at extremely high levels in Palau. It accounts for more than 80% of deaths and reduced life expectancy. In 2011, the government declared a state of emergency in regard to non-communicable diseases. Additionally, the government addresses the issue through the promotion of healthy choices in schools and workplaces. It focuses on beginning preventative education in early childhood. To combat the proliferation of disease overall, Palau is vowing to strengthen its health systems. The country will provide accessible and quality hospitals and primary and preventative services.

While Palau generally experiences a higher standard of living than some of its neighbors, economic instability, geographic factors and non-communicable diseases contribute to poverty. However, measures are occurring to strengthen and improve each of these sectors. Through these efforts, Palau is optimistic that it can become more resilient and achieve its goal to eradicate poverty.

Angelica Smyrnios
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in PalauThe Republic of Palau is a relatively young country, having gained its sovereignty in 1994. Previously, it was a member of the U.N. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. It has made significant progress in its healthcare initiatives over the past few years. Here are six facts about healthcare in Palau.

6 Facts About Palau’s Healthcare

  1. Palau boasts a universal healthcare system. In 2010, Palau implemented the Palau Healthcare Fund through the National Health Financing Act. It works through two pathways: the National Health Insurance, which pays for in-patient and off-island referrals, and the Medical Savings Account, which covers medical checkups and out-patient services. All Palauan employees must join the program.
  2. Belau National Hospital is the main medical treatment center on the island. There are four super dispensaries, the colloquial term on Palau for community centers, on the island. There are also four other satellite dispensary locations, according to a World Health Organization report in 2017. No one knows the potential for the financial sustainability of a secondary health facility yet.
  3. As an island nation, Palau is susceptible to natural disasters. To mitigate the health impacts of these disasters, the Belau National Hospital had been improving its facilities. Last year the Palau government invited global experts to conduct a Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of healthcare in Palau and its preparedness to deal with outbreaks and health emergencies. Officials involved noted that Palau had already made significant investments in this area, but also laid out recommendations for further improvement.
  4. The island has avoided the spread of COVID-19. As of August 16, 2020, there were no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Palau. Since April 14, Palau has conducted 1,354 tests. Within the Western Pacific Region itself, there have been 403,399 confirmed cases and 9,125 deaths. Flights to Palau are undergoing screening to combat any potential spread of the virus, but commercial air travel remains suspended. Schools reopened on August 3, according to a Palau Ministry of Health situation report.
  5. Palau has relied heavily on foreign aid despite being classified as high-income. Much of the funds are from the U.S. In 2019, the India-U.N. Development Partnership Fund granted Palau $1.5 million to improve healthcare in Palau. The grant is meant to give the Ministry of Health in Palau the ability to finance improved facilities to deliver patient-focused care and increase the safety of working conditions for healthcare professionals.
  6. Palau has achieved five of the nine SDG goals. The WHO writes that SDG goal three is to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.” Those targets, including goal three, that have been achieved include lowering maternal mortality rates, eradicating communicable diseases, providing universal coverage, immunizing its population for the measles and improving reproductive health. They are on track for reducing childhood deaths and are making progress in reducing substance abuse and tobacco use in the population. The nation struggles with non-communicable disease reduction, especially cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive lung diseases and mental health disorders.

On the whole, healthcare in Palau has a strong base, and the nation continuously seeks improvement in this arena. As its population ages, the “Big Five” – referring to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive lung diseases and mental health disorders – will become increasingly prevalent health concerns. These diseases will likely become the focus of healthcare initiatives in the future of healthcare in Palau.

– Olivia du Bois
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Palau
Palau is a small country in the Pacific Ocean that attracts tourists from all over the world with its amazing scuba diving sites, stunning rock islands and gorgeous beaches. With a population of about 21,000 people, Palau is continuously working towards improving life on the island by bringing focus to some of its biggest issues such as lack of funding for non-communicable diseases, and drug and alcohol addiction in children and adults. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Palau.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Palau

  1. According to the CIA World Fact Book, life expectancy in Palau was 70.4 years for men and 77 years for women as of 2018. The life expectancy has stayed relatively the same over the years with only a two-year decrease since 1995.
  2. The leading causes of death in Palau are non-communicable diseases (NCD) with cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes being the four main causes of death in the country. Because of the lack of funds going into the prevention and treatment of these diseases, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. signed a law in 2016 to set 10 percent of the revenue raised from alcohol and tobacco taxes aside to finance NCD prevention.
  3. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease which can cause high fever, headache, vomiting and skin rash. Palau is no stranger to this disease and the Ministry of Health has been educating and bringing awareness to the public ever since its biggest outbreak in 2008. In December 2018, the Ministry of Health reported its first-ever cases of the Dengue Serotype 3 virus which the small country had never seen. It immediately issued an alert and urged the public to search for and kill mosquitos in and around homes, wear clothes to cover skin and use bug repellant. Fortunately, the country did not report any deaths from dengue fever and it had only 250 cases as of June 2019.
  4. Both children and adults in Palau have a dependence on drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. The country has created many educational efforts and protective laws for children, but despite these efforts, 70 percent of children chew on a drug called betel nut. The betel nut which has been a part of cultural practices since the 1970s is a popular and accessible drug on the island. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, ingesting this drug can lead to oral cancers, stomach ulcers and heart disease when used regularly.
  5. Estimates determined the infant mortality to be 14 deaths to 1,000 live births as of 2015 in Palau, which was a 55 percent decrease since 1990.  Palau’s National Health Profile explains that 75 percent of expecting mothers used betel nut and tobacco during their pregnancy between 2007 and 2013. These were the main causes of the high rate of preterm complications that resulted in deaths of newborns. Along with these two risks, the health profile also highlights that overweight and obese mothers had a higher risk of preterm delivery as well. Because health services have become more available, mothers are now receiving education and given prenatal care preventing the infant mortality rate from going up.
  6. Health care and health services are becoming accessible to more and more families and children which has caused the mortality rate to decrease on the islands. Obesity still remains a problem for 24 percent of children, though. Many children do not have any knowledge of good eating habits and do not participate in any physical activity. Humanium reports that only 10 percent of children are eating fruits and vegetables in Palau.
  7. Palau reportedly has approximately 300 children with special needs on the registry with the Health Department but only around 189 are receiving special education services. Most special needs kids will receive health care, education and social services up until the age of 21. Once they reach 21 years of age there are not many resources on the small country to assist them in adapting and transitioning into the adult life which leaves these families without any aid.
  8. Although crime rates are low in Palau, emergencies do happen and getting help from police officers or medical personnel can be very difficult. The ability for police officers and ambulances to respond to crimes and medical emergencies can sometimes be very limited because of the lack of essential equipment, response vehicles and roads on the island. Ambulances often do not have proper equipment or staff. In rural areas receiving ambulance services is much more limited.
  9. Pollution affects 25 percent of the available drinking water in Palau. Groundwater pollution is caused by poorly maintained septic tanks and saltwater intrusion while land-based pollution, gasoline and oil from motors and ships impact coastal waters. Due to the ongoing development of the country, further pollution from sewages, chemicals and oil spills will be unavoidable if people do not control them which could greatly affect the country’s population.
  10. Seventy-one percent of the population in Palau live in urban areas on the islands of Koror and Airai. People without land rights must lease houses from the government which are usually one or two-story homes made of wood or cement with tin roofs. Living conditions are improving, however, due to the work of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the National Development Bank of Palau. They have been working together to create homes which will use less energy and reduce dependence on petroleum fuels that are imported to the island every year. Although this is an ongoing project having built only 60 homes, the improvement in living conditions will not only help the environment but also the people of this small country.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Palau show progress within its 340 islands. Government officials are putting many efforts into fixing the issues that Palau and its people are facing. By creating programs to help aid the disabled, providing education on health issues, passing laws to receive the funds necessary for treatments and starting new projects such as the building of energy-efficient homes, Palau is on the right track to bettering life on its islands.

– Jannette Aguirre
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Palau

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 citizensIn 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
Photo: Google

Hurdling Over Causes of Poverty in PalauPalau is an island country located in the west Pacific Ocean. The country has attempted to circumvent the common causes of poverty in Palau by bringing the United States on board with its economic policies.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United Nations assigned the U.S. the task of administering authority in a few Pacific islands, including Palau. The U.S. helped Palau by building roads, hospitals and schools and eventually extending eligibility for U.S. federal programs. Palau flourished and obtained independence in 1994. As a sovereign nation, Palau makes its own decisions about its economy.

A Helping Hand
As of 2008, the U.S. hoped to influence Palau’s economy for the better, keeping economic-related causes of poverty in Palau at bay. The U.S. continued to give millions to Palau’s economy, especially through federal programs. The U.S. also made sure to assist private sector growth in Palau. The U.S. economic support in Palau is essential to ensure Palau’s financial system, labor and commercial sectors are thriving. If these vital sectors collapsed, the general population would face poverty because the country would experience a great drain of economic power.

Between 1995 and 2009, the U.S. gave approximately $852 million to Palau to help the island become a self-sufficient economy.

Does the Aid Help?
While Palau businesses’ financial coffers are seemingly robust due to U.S. aid, there are disproportionate sectors of the population that continue to face common causes of poverty. For example, since Palau is an island, some of its population earns a living through fishing.

Fishing is an accessible way to earn a living to keep poverty at bay. However, almost a third of the fish stocks in the world are overfished or overused. Trade barriers also prevent local fishermen and producers from meeting the high standards that international markets demand. Overfishing causes damage to nature and to the cycle of life. In turn, fishermen may be damaging their financial futures.

Fortunately, Palau noted that fishing would help erode poverty in its more remote areas. The government of Palau started a shark sanctuary. The idea behind the sanctuary was to encourage conversation about conservation and to draw a higher number of tourists to boost the local economy.

Tourism is a leading economic contributor to revenue in Palau. There was a dramatic increase in visitors from relatively nearby China. In 2016, Palau hosted over 138,000 tourists—not only from China, but around the world. Now, Palau plans on preserving its natural beauty, including its fisheries, to continue to benefit from this revenue.

By having the U.S. support its economic endeavors and establishing its own industries, Palau is ensuring that it has a sound plan to effectively combat any remaining causes of poverty in Palau.

Smriti Krishnan

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Palau

For 18 years, the Republic of Palau, an island country in Micronesia, has worked with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to improve the lives of families living below the poverty line. Together, the government and the FAO are combatting issues of hunger in Palau in the following ways.

7 Ways the FAO is Tackling Hunger in Palau

  1. Palau first partnered with the FAO in 1999. The cooperation between the country and the FAO to reduce hunger has helped increase production and productivity of farming systems, and contributes primarily to support local food production.
  2. Palau has received assistance from the FAO through the 2013-2017 Country Programming Framework (CPF) for the Pacific sub-region. The four-year plan focuses on improving legislation, food quality and safety and production of ecologically sustainable agriculture in 14 Pacific Island countries. In Palau, these plans are priorities for the National Master Development Plan 2020 and the Medium Term Development Strategy 2009-2014.
  3. Goals for the FAO CPF for Palau include robust legislative and strategic planning frameworks, increased production of agriculture and aquaculture and improved market access.
  4. To support local food production, the FAO has been working diligently to develop policy and planning for the country’s fisheries. Seafood is a primary food source in Palau, and many people find employment in the marine sector.
  5. Additionally, the FAO has sought to strengthen the country’s agriculture sector in connection with the tourism industry and domestic markets. With approval from Palau’s Bureau of Agriculture and the Tourism Office, the plan will also increase farm management and marketing.
  6. Subsistence crop production of taro, cassava, sweet potato, banana and coconut is the main agricultural system in Palau. Both rural and urban women are the dominant growers and harvesters of these crops. Most of the harvest feeds families and the country’s small commercial sub-sector in local markets and farms.
  7. In 2015, the FAO held training events in Palau as part of targeting agriculture and domestic farming practices. Participants received training in basic farm financial analysis and recordkeeping. They also trained to be able to advise smaller, local farmers in marketing and value addition.

As a result of the partnership with the FAO, the government and local agricultural workers are striving more and more for a better life. With the progress already made, reducing hunger in Palau appears to be successful.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Unsplash

Common Diseases in PalauPalau is a small island of about 18,000 citizens located in the western Pacific Ocean. Among its neighbours are Guam, New Guinea and the Philippines. The Republic of Palau only recently gained sovereignty in October of 1994. The country is so small that there is only one major hospital that provides healthcare to all citizens; in fact, more remote parts of the country are served by field dispensaries of this hospital or by private clinics. Disease control is critical for Palau’s small population. The following are five facts about common diseases in Palau.

  1. As the developing nation of Palau undergoes political, economic and cultural transitions, health emphasis has shifted from communicable diseases to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs currently cause 78 percent of deaths in Palau – a number which is still expected to rise.
  2. Three out of four Palauan adults are overweight or obese, often leading to high blood pressure and elevated blood glucose – these are associated with hypertension and diabetes, respectively. However, hypertension and diabetes, already common diseases in Palau, are often under-diagnosed.
  3. One quarter of adult Palauan men smoke, and three of five Palauan adults chew tobacco. Tobacco usage is tied to the advent of four major NCDs: cancer, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has partnered with the Palauan government to implement mechanisms for tobacco control and develop a five-year NCD plan.
  4. In Palau, over 40 percent of adult males binge drink, while young females binge drink even more than their adult counterparts. Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to acquiring more than 60 different diseases. Among them are liver disease and cardiovascular disease, both common diseases in Palau. Fortunately, Palau has an NCD Prevention and Control Strategic Plan of Action that includes the goal of reducing harmful alcohol use by 10 percent by 2020.
  5. One major challenge to strengthening the health system in Palau is the lack of healthcare employees. Even the majority of existing healthcare workers are underprepared. This begs the solution of more thorough medical schools and training programs, as well as better access to necessary medical materials. Most important is a heightened recruitment process for the healthcare system. These are some of the goals of the WHO’s strategic plan for Palau.

Although it is disheartening to see development tied to a slew of new diseases and causes of death, NCDs are fortunately preventable as they are chiefly associated with lifestyle choices. Palau’s Ministry of Health is clearly aware of these health problems and is taking necessary and effective steps toward making progress in controlling them, including developing a comprehensive five-year plan.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Google

Palau Refugees
The Republic of Palau, a small island group in the Pacific, forms the far-western chain of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia. The country is doing surprisingly well in terms of its refugee population, which began decreasing rapidly in 2009. It is now at its lowest rate of refugees and asylum-seekers, according to the UNHCR. Here are 10 facts about Palau refugees and how the country handles those in need of sanctuary.

  1. Because of Palau’s small numbers of asylum-seekers, refugees, stateless persons, and internally displaced persons, Palau is not a participant of either the Status of Refugees 1951 Convention or the Status of Stateless Persons 1954 Convention. This means that Palau is not protected under this treaty.
  2. Despite not being a signatory of these conventions, Palau commendably took in 11 refugees from Myanmar, known as Uighurs, in 2009. These 10 men and 1 woman fled from Myanmar for fear of arrest after their political outcry. They moved from Malaysia to the Philippines, resting finally in Palau because of its openness and visa-free entry.
  3. While the refugees awaited their asylum acceptance, a local Roman Catholic church housed and fed them. During their stay, a spokeswoman for the refugees said that they finally felt free in Palau.
  4. Palau President Johnson Toribiong said upon the guests’ arrival, “It’s our age-old tradition to receive those in need whenever they somehow arrive on our shores.” The government and Palau locals selflessly gave the Uighurs hope of asylum and temporary relief from arrest.
  5. Palau made an official agreement with the U.S. in 2009 upon the arrival of the Uighurs that it would extend its small island to the refugees as home. A long-standing friendship with the U.S. aided President Toribiong’s acceptance of the Uighurs as part of both countries’ human rights system.
  6. Toribiong vehemently dismissed allegations upon the Uighurs’ arrival that the government of Palau accepted the 10 men and 1 woman as part of a reported pact between the U.S. and Palau, where the former would be paid $200 million. Toribiong claimed Palau’s goodwill was spurred only by its humanitarian nature.
  7. Palau’s reputation of accepting all displaced or endangered people is reflected in its population, which is comprised of 20,000 natives and some 6,000 foreign citizens, including 445 Bangladeshi Muslims.
  8. The UNHCR noted that Palau’s involvement with the Pacific Immigration Directors’ Conference will only increase the collective and national response to issues of refugee acceptance and protection.
  9. As a Pacific Island country, Palau remains under watch for its own displaced persons, due to climatic factors such as rising sea levels, frequent severe storms, and increased salinization. In the case of such an event, the population is protected by the IASC Pacific Humanitarian Protection Cluster, co-led by UNHCR and OHCHR to support the country in case of displacement.
  10. A recent 2016 Palau Human Rights Report states that Palau continues to respect the law of Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons. The law allows for internal movement, emigration, and foreign travel for all Palau residents.

It appears that Palau is doing well as it has low numbers of internal refugees, and welcomes others in need of assistance and asylum. The situation of Palau refugees shows that the country is progressing past the immigration turmoil of many other countries.

Olivia Cyr
Photo: Flickr

Considering that it gained sovereignty 23 years ago, there is much work to be done regarding education in Palau. The Republic of Palau, which proclaimed independence from the United States in 1994 (after becoming a post-World War II trust territory), is comprised of 16 states. It lies 722 nautical miles east of Guam in the Pacific and consists of more than 200 islands spread out over 177 miles.

Teacher training greatly impacts education in Palau. In 2013, the Ministry of Education in Palau directed all teachers to take a practice teacher certification test from the Educational Testing Service called the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST). The test contributes to one of the initiatives in the Master Plan for Educational Improvement for 2006–16 established by the Ministry.

The test measured skills in reading, writing and mathematics to determine whether the teachers were qualified to teach. The results were unsatisfactory. The average scores were 29 percent in math, 43 percent in reading and 35 percent in writing. Only 62 percent of the teachers reported having earned a postsecondary degree, and teachers with seven or more years of experience scored lower than their peers. Not only did teachers with less experience score better, but they also reported higher English proficiency, levels of education and tended to teach upper elementary or high school students.

In 2015, 60 percent of elementary teachers claimed high school as their highest level of education. Compare that with Palauan high school teachers: 36 percent earned an associate’s degree and 50 percent earned a bachelor’s degree. While these figures are low, the 2015 figures are higher than those from 2014.

Despite these shortcomings, Palauan census records reveal astonishing improvements in student retention and college education. In 2015, not quite 21 percent of those 25 or older went beyond a high school education. By the time of this report, the percentage of those who attended one to three years of college had also greatly increased, to nearly 64 percent for those 25 or older. This means that college education in Palauan teachers has risen by 45 percent since the year 2000.

While there is much progress left to be made in the arena of Palauan education, it appears to be on the right track, particularly as the country has made its development a priority. Its last plan was not incredibly successful, but it now has a place from which to build. If Palau continues to utilize the PPST, develops additional training for teachers and accepts some of the more highly-educated citizens into its ranks, it is possible for Palau to continue to drastically improve its educational system.

Emma Tennyson

Photo: Flickr