Micronesia is the name for the numerous tiny islands to the west of Polynesia, and north of Melanesia. The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is the largest country in this part of Oceania. It is home to four states - Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. To the west of the FSM is the Republic of Palau. The "Outer Islands" are the isolated low-lying atolls and islands that form a chain from the south of Palau, across present-day Yap, Chuuk and Pohnpei States.


The Outer Islanders, or Remathau, are linguistically and culturally distinct from the people living on the larger, high islands, such as Yap Proper and Palau. Their isolation resulted in a system of sea-faring tributes to the people of Yap, which continues to manifest itself in a complex caste system. During the Spanish (1700s-1899), German (1899-1914) and Japanese (1914-45) periods of colonial ownership, these islands had little interaction with the occupying powers. The US administered the region through a UN trust territory (1947-86) and continues to provide generous aid to the FSM government, but the Outer Islands remain relatively undeveloped.

One major area of focus during US rule was education. For decades the United States spent millions of dollars attempting to create an infrastructure of elementary schools on each island, with commuter high schools serving clusters of islands and atolls. On the larger islands a wide array of independent and parochial schools have been formed to provide an increasingly competitive range of educational choices. In the Outer Islands there is not yet the demand or economy of scale to support this development and a troubling student achievement gap has developed between Outer Island students and their main island peers.

In the Outer Islands, the public schools represent the primary employer in an aid-driven pseudo-cash economy. On some islands nearly every working adult is employed by the government school system. The heavy public sector employment undermines performance-based hiring practices and limits support for instructional or spending reforms at public schools. Unfortunately, the teachers themselves often lack the educational background to properly instruct the island's children. Few if any students are able to successfully make the transition from the Outer Island schools to community or junior colleges in the FSM or on Guam and Hawaii.

By providing exceptional children with scholarships to attend independent schools on the high islands we hope to, in time, educate a cadre of Outer Islanders who can return to their home islands and develop a more sustainable and results-oriented educational system. We complement this scholarship fund with material assistance for the Outer Island schools and project support for Peace Corps Volunteers and Non-Government Organization employees working in educational development. Our approach has grown out of years of personal experience in the schools of the Outer Islands. Each of three founders of Habele has served as classroom teachers and have personally sponsored students attending independent schools. We recognize the deeply held frustration with the educational system, and believe that providing students with an off-island education will help to raise and refocus community expectations of formal schooling.

For the more information and news from the Outer Islands click here.


Habele Outer Island
Education Fund
701 Gervais Street
Suite 150-244
Columbia, SC  29201


Scholarship Application (pdf)

Grant Application (pdf)

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