May 19, 2014

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

May 6, 2014 Pohnpei, FSM-The first comprehensive Student Atlas of the Federated States of Micronesia will soon be in use in FSM schools. The editors for the 489 page glossy format text book were Danko Taborosi and Yvonne Neth, both of IREI (Island Research and Education Initiative) but Taborosi says that there were more than a hundred contributors to the beautifully printed book.

The book was the brain child of FSM's President Manny Mori who saw a similar but much less comprehensive and smaller book published by another country while attending one of the Micronesian Leader's Conferences. Upon his return to the FSM, he instructed the Department of Education to develop similar materials in order to boost environmental education in the FSM.

During an interview at the office of The Kaselehlie Press, Wehns Billen of the FSM DOE and Taborosi of IREI both said that the publication of the Student Atlas was a truly collaborative effort between IREI and DOE driven by the President's vision.

The book contains over 1000 illustrations including diagrams, historical pictures, and high quality color photographs and aerial images including satellite views of the islands in the FSM.

The Atlas incorporates more than 100 original maps that were custom created for students with no previous map experience, yet are authoritative and appropriate for general use. The maps were prepared by expert cartographers who contributed to the project. They include portrayals of the key physical and environmental aspects and manmade features of the main islands, as well as a comprehensive coverage of the outer islands, the announcement for the book says.

"This Student Atlas of the Federated States of Micronesia is the indispensable and comprehensive reference to the nation. It is about where we are today, what we have achieved, and where we may be going. Focused on the needs of junior high, high school, and college students and created in response to the National Curriculum Standards and Benchmarks, this atlas is also a general reference that can be read and appreciated by the public and anyone interested in learning about the geography, environment, and people of the FSM," the book announcement says.

Billen said that President Mori also directed DOE to work on the publication of environmental education materials.

Coincident with the publication of the massive Student Atlas of the FSM, DOE in collaboration with IREI published five environmental books geared toward elementary school students. There is one book for each FSM State written in the dominant languages, and one for the FSM Atoll Islands, which, due to the large number of languages spoken in the Atolls is published in English. Each book is specific to the environment and topography of each State and the atolls.

Taborosi said that a Minister of Education in another Micronesian nation once lamented the use of foreign textbooks in the islands. "We are teaching our island children about Maple trees and squirrels," Taborosi quoted him as saying. The publication team decided early on to ensure each and every element of every illustration in all of the books can actually be found in the FSM or in any of the individual FSM States or atolls to which the illustrations apply, right down to the last starfish and shell.

The books will all be put to use in the FSM's public school. Billen said that the Student Atlas is not intended to be a page by page type of text book but as a resource as teachers see fit. 2000 of the expensive print books will be distributed to public schools throughout the FSM based on enrollment numbers. The book contains a very clear release that allows FSM educators to reproduce any of the content for use in the classroom.

IREI also paid to print an additional 500 copies. In Pohnpei they will be sold at the Joy Hotel though at press time we were unable to find the price for each of the books. The atlas is a beautifully bound but expensive to print book with glossy pages. During our interview Taborosi said that they will likely sell for $50 to $70 depending on the quantity ordered. Though IREI is working on an online ordering system which was not up and running at press time, enquiries about book purchases can be made by contacting IREI at irei@

Taborosi said that publication of the the 489 page Student Atlas of the Federated States of Micronesia took just an astounding two years to reach the publication stage. He said that many businesses in the FSM supported the work in many ways. He said that several local hotels provided complimentary rooms and meals during the many travels that the team had to undertake while working on material for the books.