THE 36 students who, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, had to stop attending adult vocational high school classes at the former Northern Marianas Trade Institute, will now have the opportunity to complete the program, thanks to the partnership between Northern Marianas College and the Northern Marianas Technical Institute.
The defunct trade institute implemented an adult vocational technical high school program, said Meena Benavente, the technical institute’s student support and curriculum coordinator.
With the enactment of Public Law 20-92 in February 2019, the former private nonprofit trade school became a public corporation known as the Northern Marianas Technical Institute.
During the transition, there were 36 students still attending the adult vocational high school classes of the defunct trade school.
But due to the health and safety measures imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Benavente said the program “was forced to close.”
In April 2021, Sen. Paul A. Manglona and Sen. Edith Deleon Guerrero told members of the NMTI transition team that the 36 students pursuing a high school diploma equivalent in trade and vocational certification “are being displaced from furthering their educational and vocational career at a CNMI-based institution. All of these students require the help of the government, more than ever, to ensure a productive future for themselves, their loved ones, and the entire CNMI.”
Benavente said that right now, the technical institute will not offer adult vocational technical high school classes. However, she added, "we have partnered with NMC's Adult Basic Education program so these 36 students can continue their vocational high school education.”
She said they have asked the 36 students to enroll in NMC's ABE program which will be conducted 100% online due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
NMC also offers computer laptops that the students can borrow, she added.
In addition, she said the college's ABE program offers an “alternative pathway” for classes that are not held online. These are the classes for which instructors provide each student with a weekly packet. The students can pick up their packets, complete and submit them.
Benavente said the program is offered free to students who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents or citizens of the Freely Associated States — Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia: Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap.
Moreover, she said the 36 students can attend the NMC ABE online classes at NMTI’s Lower Base facility which has WiFi.