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Republic of Kiribati

Maiana is an island in the northern Kiribati Group. It has an area of 15.9 square kilometers and an estimated population of 1,685. Contrary to the general trend of Gilbertese legends, the people of Tebanga on Maiana claim that the Maungatabu maneaba (public meeting house or place) had its origin at their village. This may well be true since in the southern Gilberts it is held that the first Maungatabu type maneaba was built by a chief who came from the northern islands.



The relationship between the Gilbertese and the traders in the late 19th century were generally good, even amiable. There were, however, many incidents which led to complaint from one against the other, as visiting naval commanders and Swayne, the first Resident Commissioner first discovered.

Kiribati Islands

Theft, the destruction of traders' property and tabus on trade were the most common complaint raised by the traders. The islanders were quick to take advantage of any weakness in the traders' position. On Maiana, for example, a German trader who was a very timid man was bullied, had his property stolen, and was forced to cut his prices. On the same island, Robert Corrie, who had been a resident trader for 33 years by 1892 had also been obliged to lower his prices under threat of a trade boycott. As Corrie observed, much of the problem was caused by the islanders demanding more money for their copra, despite fluctuations on the world market.

lagoon at sunset


The first post-war comprehensive statement of colony educational needs and aims was published in 1965. Agreement was reached with the Catholic Mission to co-operate with the Government to establish an education system on a national basis. It was decided to consolidate the small mission-run village schools and island schools into larger schools with a six year primary course under trained teachers. The Government was to supply grants in aid towards the cost of teachers' salaries, school supplies and the capital costs of new permanent buildings. The programme of consolidation, together with the intended expansion of secondary education is beyond the colony's resources. Moreover, the people were not satisfied with only six years education for the majority of the children.

Secondary education in Kiribati is highly selective. Each year, about 3,000 children sit for an entrance examination for 200 places in Government and mission secondary schools. This selection is necessary because the government cannot afford general secondary education for everyone. Moreover, manpower requirements and job opportunities are limited, and thus it is unnecessary to educate large numbers to such a high level.

The Government is faced with the necessity of providing for the children who are not selected for higher training. In 1970, the primary school's course was extended to nine years and community high schools were established on four outer islands including Maiana as a pilot project to provide post primary education for the majority of children. These schools are vocationally and practically orientated and replace classes 7, 8 and 9 of the primary school.

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Jane Resture
 (E-mail: -- Rev. 13th February 2004)