School stretched beyond capacity

By Samantha Goerling ,

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CROWDED: The class size greatly exceeds thirty students. And that's just one of their problems. They also need a bigger school.

CROWDED: The class size greatly exceeds thirty students. And that's just one of their problems. They also need a bigger school.

With over sixty students in some classes, the teachers at Aele Primary School are stretched well past capacity. 

The primary school, which currently has over five-hundred students, is manned by twelve teachers, including the Principal.  In lower grade classes, parents are assisting.

Some of the teachers are taking classes with over sixty students, more than double the national target ratio.

For single level primary school classes, the national target is thirty students and the maximum is forty. 

Of the eight classrooms at Aele Primary School, four of them have been partitioned in half for grades with two teachers. 

The School’s hall has also been converted into a library, computer room and an office. 

Speaking to the Weekend Observer, Principal Aumua Fuatai Simanu, said they have become used to the challenges.

But he said they could do with more classrooms.

“It is the main concern for the school, how to get more rooms,” he said.

“Looking at the facilities, we can’t facilitate this number. This number is too many for the school.”

 In order to properly accommodate the number of students the school is working with, Aumua estimates they would need to double the number of classrooms.

“We are looking for more than six classrooms. Not only will that accommodate this sort of numbers the teachers will have their own rooms to work with.”

Another major difficulty for schools is the large range in abilities among the same age cohort. 

“We have a lot of students who’ve never been to school before,” he said. 

“This is the first time they’ve come to school. We see some students they should be in Year Six or Year Five but this is the first time they are being registered.”

The school is considering what approach would be best for the students.

“We are thinking of a special program for them because if we put them down in lower primary they will influence the young ones but if we put them up there they will need a lot of attention.”

Students attending Aele fou include a number of students from Savaii and rural Upolu whose families have flocked to Vaitele-fou.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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