The 1991 Education Act and the 2013 Public School Education System Act both do not mention the term “information and communication technology (ICT)” and “educational technology (Edtech)” nor other technology-specific terminology (e.g., distance education, open educational resources and assistive technologies in education).
The 2004 Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Part B of the U.S.A only mentions the term “assistive technology”. However, the act defines the term “assistive technology device” as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability”. Furthermore, the act also defines the term “assistive technology service” as “any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device”.
Similarly, the 2010 Comprehensive Technology Plan mentions the term ICT; however, it does not define the term.
Constitution and laws: The Marshall Islands's 1979 Constitution gives people the right to education and charges the Cabinet with the responsibility for establishing and maintaining public schools and for making other provisions that may be reasonable and necessary to provide educational opportunities for the people of the Republic. Technology is not mentioned.
The 1991 Education Act and the 2013 Public School Education System Act aim “to provide a thorough and efficient system of education to provide all children the educational opportunity that will prepare them to develop into self-reliant individuals and to function socially, politically and economically in society”.
The 2004 Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Part B of the U.S.A aims to provide a framework for designing educational media services that are of educational value in the classroom setting to children with disabilities; and to promote the development, demonstration, and use of technology in those services.
Policies, plans and strategies: The 2010 Comprehensive Technology Plan recognises technology as an important tool for moving the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training forward. The plan targets students, teachers, school leaders (principals and head teachers), staff of the ministry and envisions them to become technology literate.
The Marshall Islands' 2014 Child Protection Policy aims to establish a framework that the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training uses to assess and manage the risk to the children participating in all programs, including any donor-funded programs, and the measures and systems put in place to respond to concerns about their wellbeing.
The 2017-2020 Strategic Plan of the Public School System (PSS) of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training aims to educate and prepare all students to be independent, literate critical thinkers and problem-solvers, and be culturally and globally competent and responsive in order to reach their greatest potential through promoting the effective use of technology in education as one of the important goals.
The 2020 COVID-19 GPE Accelerated Fund Plan aims to ensure that all girls and boys have continuous access to and participate in high-quality education programmes before, during and after health-related emergencies.
Digital competency frameworks: The 2010 Comprehensive Technology Plan has established the K-12 digital skills standards for students and the digital skills standards for teachers based on the National Educational Technology Standards for Students and Teachers, developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).. Furthermore, the plan has identified key competencies for school leaders, staff of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training, and support personnel throughout the system.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Changes that occurred in laws, policies, plans and strategies as a result of COVID-19 were not found.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: According to the 2018 Electricity Roadmap, in addition to solar home systems on outer islands, solar/ battery stand-alone power systems have been installed to provide electricity to 7 schools (of a total of 61 schools without reticulated power). The 2018 Electricity Roadmap also plans to bring stand-alone systems to the remaining 54 schools.
Computers and devices: According to the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan of the Public School System (PSS) of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training, solar laptop learning systems (21 sets) donated by the Republic of China were distributed to 21 schools in the Outer Islands.
According to the 2010 One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Pilot Project, 1000 units were distributed in schools; however, the initiative is not perceived as having been effective.
Internet connectivity: Providing internet access and/or an appropriate package of off-line computer-based learning resources to all schools by 2020 was one of the important targets of the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan of the Public School System (PSS) of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training. According to the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, internet connectivity has been achieved for all public schools on Majuro.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
According to the 2020 COVID-19 GPE Accelerated Fund Plan, the Public School System (PSS), the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training, in consultation with the school principals, decided to provide paper-based distance learning for all primary school students. At the secondary school level, a combination of paper-based and internet-based distance learning was provided. Furthermore, to complement both paper-based and internet-based distance learning, radio and TV messages as well as separate guidelines distribution for parents and caregivers also explored and implemented, especially for schools on the main islands during the pandemic.
Through skill-maintenance programs for students, the 1991 Education Act and the 2013 Public School Education System Act aim to achieve minimum standards of students’ proficiency and self-reliance. However, both acts don’t mention the type of skills included in these programs.
Within the framework of the principles of the 2004 Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Part B, the Special Education Program of the Public School System (PSS) of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training aims to equip students with disabilities with technology and media skills.
The K-12 standards established within the 2010 Comprehensive Technology Plan calls for students to: demonstrate an understanding of technology concepts; effectively use computer-based technologies for word processing, analysing and displaying data; using spreadsheets, preparing presentations, and communicating using e-mail and other tools; use a variety of technologies to communicate and work collaboratively to support their learning and the learning of others, including at a distance; employ technology tools to gather, evaluate, and use information; use critical thinking skills to build knowledge and create products using technology; apply thinking skills to carry out research, manage information, solve problems, and make decisions using technology; understand and apply appropriate behaviour when using technology.
One of the proposed areas of intervention in the 2020 COVID-19 GPE Accelerated Fund Plan is to support the wellbeing of learners and their acquisition of relevant soft/21st-century skills (e.g., social and emotional skills).
The 2017-2020 Strategic Plan of the Public School System (PSS) of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training aims to support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education using technology in education. The value of STEM education is also highly recognised in other plans as well. The 2018 Electricity Roadmap, for example, emphasises the need to increase the quality of teaching and students’ interest in STEM subjects at high school and elementary school in order to establish a highly skilled Marshallese energy workforce.
Many official documents reflect the importance of teachers’ skills and training in technology and their well-being.
The teacher standards established within the 2010 Comprehensive Technology Plan call for teachers to: demonstrate an understanding of technology concepts and operations; effectively use computer-based technologies for word processing, analysing and displaying data, using spreadsheets, preparing presentations, and communicating using e-mail and other tools; use a variety of technologies to communicate and support their professional development thus strengthening their teaching practice and productivity; plan and design appropriate technology-enriched learning experiences for their students; effectively implement curriculum plans that include methods and strategies for using technology to enhance student learning; understand and apply appropriate behaviour when using technology and ensure that their students do the same.
Developing in-service training programmes for teachers is emphasised in the 1991 Education Act and the 2013 Public School Education System Act. However, both acts do not mention the content of in-service teachers' training programmes.
The Marshall Islands' 2014 Child Protection Policy aims to train all regular and volunteer teachers in child protection issues, including recognising and responding to signs of abuse through an induction program.
The Public School System (PSS) of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training gives priority to conducting training on online learning to equip teachers in using digital platforms for distance learning. Furthermore, the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan of the Public School System (PSS) aims to hire full-time instructional technology specialists to support teachers in the use of instructional technology.
One of the proposed areas of intervention in the 2020 COVID-19 GPE Accelerated Fund Plan is to support training of teachers on distance learning, education in emergencies, SEL, safe school operation, and formative assessment of learning and wellbeing. Within the other proposed area of intervention: Quality of learning continuity, the 2020 COVID-19 GPE Accelerated Fund Plan highlights assisting teachers in establishing an effective communication and support structure throughout all phases of the emergency through the provision of necessary materials (wave radio, VHF radio, portable speaker system). Furthermore, the 2020 COVID-19 GPE Accelerated Fund Plan also emphasises supporting the training of teachers in acquiring soft/21st century skills as an important pre-requisite for teaching. However, the 2020 COVID-19 GPE Accelerated Fund Plan does not mention the type of 21st-century skills.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Section 13 of Marshall Islands' 1979 Constitution with Amendments through 1995 guarantees the right to privacy. However, in the Marshall Islands, there is neither a general data protection law nor any legislation governing cybersecurity. The 2014 Child Protection Policy aims to protect children’s data (of age less than 18 years) in educational settings, especially children with disabilities.
Section 10 of the 2015 Child Protection Act guarantees children’s right to privacy. However, the 2015 Child Protection Act does not explicitly guarantee data privacy from the use of technology in education.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
While the Republic of Marshall Islands does not have a cyberbullying law, the Marshall Islands’ 2014 Child Protection Policy protects children (less than 18 years) in educational settings, especially children with disabilities, from online abuse and cyberbullying. There are also many provisions in the 2015 Child Protection Act to protect children from online abuse and cyberbullying. However, the 2015 Child Protection Act does not explicitly mention protecting children in schools/educational settings from online abuse and cyberbullying.
The Division of Policy, Planning & Standards of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Training comprises the Information Communication Technology Office (ICT) and Information Systems Office (ISO), Testing & Evaluation, and Policy & Accreditation. The Division's primary function is to contribute to improving education results in the Republic by providing information technology services and up-to-date data on schools and students, use of standardized assessment of student learning, policy formulation and school accreditation.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) is responsible for the overall regulation, promotion and development of transportation and communications which impact the ability of schools access to the Internet for student learning, teacher professional development, and reporting and school management in the Marshall Islands.
Marshall Islands National Telecommunications Authority (MINTA), a private corporation with significant ownership by the National Government, is the authorized provider of telecommunications services and is responsible for providing local and long-distance voice, fax, data, and Internet services in the Marshall Islands. The authority, as the primary communications and Internet service provider (ISP), played a key role in the implementation of the 2010 Comprehensive Technology Plan both through their continued infrastructure development and establishment of rates for access to their systems.
Two institutions of higher education in the Marshall Islands: the College of Marshall Islands (CMI) and the RMI Campus of the University of the South Pacific (USP) ensure that students enrolled in pre-service teacher preparation programs meet the teacher ICT standards and are well prepared to provide standards-based ICT instruction in their classroom upon graduation.
The 2010 Comprehensive Technology Plan established the Implementation Leadership Team (ILT) (comprising of the Secretary of Education, Assistant Secretaries, and member of the Fiscal Management Team of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Training) responsible for the overall implementation and monitoring of the plan.
No specific responsibilities of schools with respect to the use of specific devices such as mobile phones or tablets are defined in current laws and policies.