AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND —
Every year thousands of children in Kirbati, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga receive an education at a Church-sponsored school. For the last 15 years, a Church program has been helping their teachers.
The International Teacher Education Program was organized in 1997 to assist and encourage teachers working in the Church's school system to improve their teaching skills.
The primary goal of the program is to elevate the quality of education provided to students in the South Pacific.
ITEP is unique as the faculty comprises retired educators, school administrators and university professors who volunteer as missionaries for an 18-23 month assignment.
Currently, there are 10 ITEP couples living on site and working with teachers at 15 Church schools located in the Pacific. Their primary responsibility is to help teachers improve their skills by teaching university courses and helping them qualify for advanced degrees and teaching certificates.
"The purpose of Church schools is to assist the youth to reach their earthly and eternal purposes and to help them progress spiritually, physically, emotionally, academically and socially," said Elder Steve Ronnenkamp, a retired school administrator from Utah who, with his wife, Janis, supervises the couples working in the program.
He continues, "We are grateful for the outstanding work our ITEP missionaries are accomplishing, in improving the teaching and learning in the Church schools."
Education is a key goal for Church members in the South Pacific and worldwide. Elder James J. Hamula of the Seventy and Pacific Area President said, "Our goal is that every youth [and] young adult in the Pacific Area finish high school and then pursue either vocational or tertiary schooling."
He goes on to say, "The rising generation in the South Pacific needs to be educated."
ITEP is sponsored by the Church and operates under the direction of the Pacific Area Seminaries and Institutes of Education in partnership with the dean of the College of Human Development at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. — Pacific Area public affairs