The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is a group of fifteen islands in the Pacific Ocean located 3,500 miles west of Hawaii and 125 miles north of Guam. By Presidential Proclamation, on November 3, 1986, a territorial trusteeship was terminated and a covenant was established between the United States and the indigenous people of the Northern Marianas. The same covenant made resident Chamorros and Carolinians citizens of the United States of America. Since the territorial trusteeship days, the NMI has experienced a continuous influx of immigrants from the neighboring islands of Micronesia to Saipan, the capital. Lured by tourism, business opportunities, and job offers, Asian nationals of the nearby countries of Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand, and China found in the NMI a temporary residence. Too, a number of U.S. mainland citizens have claimed the NMI as their second home. Intermarriage among people of different ethnic origins has become a fact of existence thereby has created a multicultural society on the islands.

The Adult Basic Education Program of the CNMI under the administration of the Northern Marianas College was embodied in the Adult Education Act of 1975 under the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands Administration. Initially, political education was the necessary thrust of the program. Later on, the ABE Program offered courses in sewing, typing, and the Japanese language.

The advent of political maturity, the improvement of transportation, and the boom of economic development have necessitated the ABE Program to change focus from political education to economic education. With English as the language of economics and technology, ABE has included English as a Second Language and has integrated literacy courses in its growing curriculum.

The ABE Program has deemed that if the NMI was to properly belong to the U.S. family, it had to move ahead with western education and should endeavor to move aggressively in that right direction. The Program magnified instructional efforts in the areas of Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics to assist the adult students to pass the General Education Development (GED) tests. With the hope that a GED diploma would open opportunities to better jobs and subsequently better economic status, the ABE Program has offered Pre-GED and GED courses.

To cope with the demands of high technology, the ABE Program has offered courses in computer literacy. With the multimedia trend in instruction, the Program, in collaboration with the college's Learning Skills Center makes possible the use of multimedia systems for instruction.

Literacy Links:

Northern Marianas College

Saipan Tribune

US Department of Education Northern Marianas Resources

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