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Recognizing and Reducing Barriers to Science and Math Education and STEM Careers for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Authors
  • Kerr, JoNita Q1
  • Hess, Donald J2
  • Smith, Celia M3
  • Hadfield, Michael G4
  • 1 Department of Math & Science, Guam Community College, Mangilao, Guam 96923. , (Guam)
  • 2 College of the Marshall Islands, Majuro, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Majuro, MH 96960. , (Marshall Islands)
  • 3 Department of Botany, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822.
  • 4 Kewalo Marine Laboratory, Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96813.
Type
Published Article
Journal
CBE life sciences education
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2018
Volume
17
Issue
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1187/cbe.18-06-0091
PMID: 30496031
Source
Medline
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Climate change is impacting the Pacific Islands first and most drastically, yet few native islanders are trained to recognize, analyze, or mitigate the impacts in these islands. To understand the reasons why low numbers of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders enter colleges, enroll in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, or undertake life sciences/STEM careers, 25 representatives from colleges and schools in seven U.S.-affiliated states and countries across the Pacific participated in a 2-day workshop. Fourteen were indigenous peoples of their islands. Participants revealed that: 1) cultural barriers, including strong family obligations and traditional and/or religious restrictions, work against students leaving home or entering STEM careers; 2) geographic barriers confront isolated small island communities without secondary schools, requiring students to relocate to a distant island for high school; 3) in many areas, teachers are undertrained in STEM, school science facilities are lacking, and most island colleges lack STEM majors and modern labs; and 4) financial barriers arise, because many islanders must relocate from their home islands to attend high school and college, especially, the costs for moving to Guam, Hawai'i, or the U.S. mainland. Most solutions depend on financial input, but mechanisms to increase awareness of the value of STEM training are also important.

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