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NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — The Navy is closing four computer-based education centers — including two in Europe — due to tighter budgets and poor participation rates.

Navy College Learning Center branches are shutting down at the end of the month in Rota, Spain; Keflavik, Iceland; Atsugi, Japan; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The centers are designed to give sailors, Defense Department civilian employees and family members a place to brush up on basic academic skills, but not enough people used these four to keep them running.

The center in Rota has struggled to attract students after opening nearly six years ago. Most of the time the center is nearly empty with an average of between 20 percent and 30 percent of the computer terminals being used, according to the center.

Last year, the Navy threatened to close it unless the numbers went up.

“But it never really got that high,” said John Rizkallah, director of Rota’s Navy College Office.

In Keflavik, eligible students on the Navy base filled the center only one-quarter of the time, said Sydney Decker, the lead education facilitator.

The center is popular among spouses who speak English as their second language, she said. They used the computer programs to boost their language skills.

“They’re concerned because they’re going to have to do it on their own,” Decker said.

The centers, which are operated by contractors, offer individual computer courses designed for adults in subjects such as math, reading, science, chemistry and language arts.

They also provide training for college-entrance exams and for those who want to retake the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, better known as the ASVAB.

There are nearly 30 centers at Navy bases worldwide.

One of the reasons why the center in Keflavik didn’t get enough people is because sailors could not get time away from their jobs, Decker said.

In Rota, so many military personnel have at least some college education that the center might not have been a good fit for the community, Rizkallah said.

The base plans to conduct a survey next month to see what types of academic training people want, he added.

It is possible that if enough people surveyed say they want the center back, the Navy could consider reopening it.

“[The assessment] will be a blueprint for the next three years,” Rizkallah said.


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