Japan Ambassador Kazunari Tanaka attended the handover ceremony of new school buses for Ajeltake Elementary School, Laura High School and Majuro Cooperative School earlier this month.
$83,968 was provided to fund the bus for each school through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGP).
The public school ceremony was attended by Education Minister Wilber Heine, Public School System Commissioner Kanchi Hosia, Associate Commissioner for Secondary and Career Education Junior Paul, Associate Commissioner for Primary Schools Hannah Lafita, Associate Commissioner for Property and Maintenance Cassiano Jetnil, and other representatives from the Ministry and schools.
These two public schools have faced difficulties in providing transportation for students residing in distant areas. With this project, students will have a safe and proper transportation between school and their homes, which will contribute to improving educational environment for students in these schools, said the ambassador.
Tanaka expressed appreciation for the efforts of PSS, principals, and school staff, who made it possible to have a handover ceremony in the difficult situation of Covid-19 community transmission.
Japan has been continuously supporting the education sector in the RMI, he said. Education and training is key area of focus under the “Social and Culture” pillar in the RMI’s National Strategic Plan 2020-2030, he added.
Minister Heine expressed his appreciation for another indication of friendship between Japan and Marshall Islands. He said the schools will maintain the buses to last long. Moreover, Principals Amity Jarom of Ajeltake Elementary school and Jimmy Kemem of Laura High School expressed their gratitude and reiterated that the buses were something they needed and would help provide students educational opportunities.
Majuro Cooperative School (Coop) now has its first-ever bus to rally around the island after winning champion games and, of course, to get students to and from school. Japan Embassy officially handed over the school bus to Majuro Cooperative School purchased through Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.
Benjamin Banda, who is a librarian at Coop, commenced the ceremony with an opening prayer. Leading the ceremony was Principal Kenneth Fernando.
Benjamin Wakefield who is the Coop board chairperson welcomed members of the Coop community, Japan Ambassador Kazunari Tanaka and his staff, Coop’s staff and friends.
“For many years the Coop community has had close collaboration with Japan through the Grassroots program and also for many years, a lot of our community parents have brought their kids to school out of their own pocket,” said Ben Wakefield.
Ben said that the middle and high school building along with the office building were all from the generous assistance from Japan. “We had plans to construct more building but due to Covid it was uncertain if there would be enough funding to do so. However our friends from Japan made sure that we would have some funding to at least have a small project, and that’s where the idea of the school bus came to,” he said. “Coop looks forward to maintaining out precious relationship with the government of Japan in the many years to come.”
“As we all know transportation is part of our daily activities, and today we are happy and delighted to be a recipient of a brand new school bus which was made possible through the Japanese Grassroots program,” said Jennifer Fowler-Hawley. “We have waited many months for this day to come and it was worth the wait.” She expressed gratitude to all that were involved. “I know the students will be looking forward to school field trips and extracurricular activities with their very own bus. I can already hear kids singing the wheel on the bus go around and round, the middle and high schoolers chanting their cheers after a big win.”
Ambassador Tanaka congratulated Coop on the handover of the new bus. “With the provision of the school bus, students will be able to arrive at school safely and on time,” he said. “Majuro Cooperative School has more than 200 of students commuting from a large area within Majuro Atoll. During this Covid-19 pandemic, the bus is expected to be utilized for the transportation of school materials and necessary supplies as well. Over the past 20 years, Japan has been continuously supporting the education sector in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and has donated about 21 school buses. We also supported the construction of 43 school buildings including at the Coop.
The Japan Ambassador pointed out that “Education and Training” is one of the strategic areas under “Social and Culture” pillar in the National Strategic Plan 2020-2030 of the RMI.
The grant for the school bus marks the fifth Grassroots Grant Project between Japan and Majuro Cooperative School.
Japan launched the Grassroots Grants Program for RMI in 1996. Its purpose is to respond to various development needs and directly benefit people at a grassroots level. As of September 2022, the Embassy has granted 157 GGPs in the RMI.
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