The Republic of Nauru is located in the South Pacific Ocean south of the Marshall Islands. The population is 14,019. Nauruan is the official language, but English is widely-used and understood. Nauru is the world's smallest independent republic.
The origins of the original inhabitants of Nauru are unknown, but are thought to be explorers from Micronesia and Polynesia. The first European to visit the island was the British whaler John Fearn who arrived in 1798 and named it Pleasant Island. On April 16, 1888, Germany annexed Nauru and it became part of the German Marshall Islands Protectorate. Phosphate was discovered on the island in 1900. Following World War I, the League of Nations made England a trustee of the area and gave England the rights to mine phosphate on the island.
During World War II, Nauru was occupied by Japan. In 1947, the United Nations created a trusteeship on Nauru that was administered by Australia, England, and New Zealand. On January 31, 1968, Nauru was granted independence. Nauru joined the United Nations in 1999.
Due to an enormous economic crisis that resulted from the drastic fall of phosphate prices, education on Nauru ceased to function from 2000-2005. The Department of Education is working with educational authorities in Australia to re-vamp the curriculum and increase school attendance. Vocational training at the secondary school level is expected to be implemented in 2009.
There are currently 2 primary schools and 4 secondary schools on Nauru. Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 15. Primary school is 6 years, although only 31% of students make it to the 5th year. At the end of the 6th year, sit for an external examination leading to the Nauru Primary Certificate.
Secondary school is 6 years. The first 4 years are compulsory and the final 2 years are optional. Most students complete secondary education in Australia or Fiji; students who complete the 6th year of secondary education in Nauru sit for an external examination leading to the Fiji School Leaving Certificate.
Most students continue their post-secondary education in Australia or Fiji. The University of the South Pacific has a campus on Nauru that provides certificate programs and coordinates distance learning programs from the main campus on Fiji. In 2008, 21 students were enrolled at the University of the South Pacific Nauru campus.
Teacher training is not available on Nauru. Most teachers complete teacher training programs in Australia or Fiji.