Senate wants NMTI to be a public institution

THE Senate on Wednesday passed a measure that would change Northern Marianas Technical Institute’s status from a non-profit educational institution to a public institution.

All nine members present voted yes to Senate Bill 20-21 which was introduced by Sen. Justo Quitugua. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

Quitugua said the establishment of NMTI as a public institution is vital to the commonwealth as it will help reduce the commonwealth’s reliance on non-immigrant foreign workers and support the commonwealth’s economic development.

Justo Quitugua

NMTI was first established in 2008 as a non-profit institution to provide training and education opportunities to CNMI residents.

However, Quitugua said there is a need to change its status so it can better serve the commonwealth and qualify for sufficient financial resources that will enable NMTI to improve and expand its programs and curriculum.

If the bill is enacted into law, NMTI will be funded by the central government.

Quitugua thanked his colleagues for supporting his bill. “I first introduced it in the 19th Legislature, and public hearings were conducted and comments were solicited and now finally we are here to pass this very important legislation. Recommendations were also taken into consideration to polish the bill, and that’s why we have this substitute bill so we can put in those recommendations especially the ones from the president of Northern Marianas College.”

Sen. Sixto Igisomar said the bill “will prove that it’s not always about an individual’s intelligence, but more about harnessing one’s assets or skills.”

He added, “We all have different forms of assets as human beings and if there’s one thing that is missing it is the individual’s choice to provide the community with his or her assets.”

Sen. Jude Hofschneider said the bill will also benefit students on Tinian and Rota who are interested in acquiring trade skills.

Senate President Arnold Palacios said the passage of the bill is a positive step forward in expanding the local workforce.

“This will help us reduce our reliance on our guest workers,” he added.

NMTI Chief Executive Officer Agnes M. McPhetres, in an interview, applauded the Senate for passing the bill, saying it is high time that the trade school is acknowledged as a public institution.

“I am very pleased not for myself but for the students because the Senate is giving them more choices,” the former NMC president said.

“For many years, the CNMI lacked a very essential educational choice and this is the choice that any [jurisdiction] needs, this kind of education. Without a trade school, the educational system is not complete. This is the first time that CNMI actually recognized that trade is an option for students and not necessarily for people that are ‘behind.’ No, this is the choice for people who want to learn different types of skills. Not everybody is made for a university or a college. The nation is built not just for offices. The nation is built by people with different types of skills and so for the first time, the CNMI has a real good foundation for an educational system.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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