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From the Director

MSPP Staff Member Visits Islands in Preparation for the TAs Arrival

The month of May finds one of the MSPP staff, either Nancy or me, visiting the islands in preparation for the arrival in June of most of the technical assistants. This visit is to assure that the parameters of the projects are well-defined, that counterparts are ready to work with the TAs, and that housing has been secured for the TAs.

It is gratifying and exciting to see evidence of the program's work in places throughout Palau, Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae, and Majuro.

What I saw when I visited this May is very heartening to me. It had been nearly two years since my last visit to the islands and in this period, many of the projects on which we worked had come to fruition. It is gratifying and exciting to see evidence of the program's work in places throughout Palau, Pohnpei, Yap, Kosrae, and Majuro. Some examples:

the Pohnpei Tourist Commission frequently revises and repub lishes the visitor's guide which was initially developed and published under the guidance of an MSPP technical assistant.

Palau Community College has had several TAs work with them on development of their physical

plant and grounds, and it is looking better with each passing year.

Libraries throughout Micronesia have benefited from training and support from the MSPP, and they are continuing to flourish, serving many people who previously didn't have access to well-organized reading and reference materials.

Computer skills training in an agency in Kosrae has, according to the manager, greatly improved the productiv ity of the staff.

Situations where technical assistance projects seem to have disappeared can often be traced to the fact that the counterpart was either not fully engaged in the project during the tenure of the technical assistant, or had been transferred to a position outside the agency. In some cases, the skills transferred during the project enhance the capability of the counterpart in his or her new position. At times, however, those skills are not subsequently transferred to the counterpart's replacement.

As someone who has observed the difficulties of transfer of knowledge and skills in the islands for many years, I am concerned about this, as it has made the continuation of projects over time chal lenging in some situations. In projects where a great deal of time and money was invested, lack of continuation due to reassignment of a key person within the agency may be detrimental to the future development of the island. The tendency for frequent movement between agencies and jobs is exacerbated by the Micronesian proclivity to guard information as a form of wealth. There is little impetus for information and training to be shared with others, even with those taking over one's position within an agency.

Given the need for trained personnel, the tendency to repeatedly re-assign individuals impedes the development of an increasingly skilled workforce in the islands. As funds for off-island training become more scarce, it is important that the people of Micronesia look for ways to increase their own learning and opportu nities within the islands. The sharing of learned workplace skills is one way economies and people in them can advance. The MSPP is looking for ways to encourage such transfer of skills.

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