The church should play a more proactive role in promoting early childhood education.
It should work with villages to ensure every child in Samoa has the opportunity to learn in their formative years.
That’s the opinion of the Secretary General of the Samoa Council of Churches, Reverend Ma’auga.
He made the comment when his views were sought about the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture’s renewed push to develop early childhood education.
“When it comes to Early Childhood Education, I know that has to start from the church,” he said.
“I believe the church has the initiative to make this happen considering the fact that all church ministers have their own Sunday schools.
“For example, there are villages that have four church ministers and each of the four have their own church’s pre-school.”
Rev. Ma’auga said it is so important to develop early childhood education.
“My suggestion is for every village to hold a meeting (fono) where everyone; starting from the church ministers, chiefs and their wives, the youth(aumaga) and all the women should be present.
“It doesn’t matter if that meeting happens one day of the month as long as everyone is participating.
“It is everyone’s duty in a village to push and encourage children to attend school for their own good. The parents can go about doing their work once their children are in school, knowing there are teachers to look after them.”
Rev. Ma’auga added that there are opportunities there.
“It will be a good opportunity to have the youth of the village that are not teachers to be trained and employed as teachers so they can also contribute.
“It will also be good when overseas people want to donate, that means that each village will have its donation because I know some people can be greedy over matters like these.
“Whether it’s financial support or something, that should go straight to the teachers to help out the kids with what they need and that’s more than enough.
“If every village has its own early childhood education center and have their own village people trained as teachers, that’s way better than going to drop off your kid to another pre-school out of your village.
“That takes time and it takes money.
Rev. Ma’auga believes church ministers have the ability to make parents see how good it is for their children to have an early childhood education.
“For every church minister, their main duty right now is to advise every parent to bring in their kids to pre-schools.
He said that prioritizing Early Childhood Education is one way to avoid children becoming vendors.
“If those street vendors had a good early childhood education, I believe they would not be where they are now,” he said.
He agrees with Afamasaga Dr. Karoline in an article published in the Samoa Observer on 15th February, 2017, where she said; “Parents play a vital role in changing the figures.
“There are many countries in this world that do prioritize this matter and that’s exactly what our government is aiming to do,” she said.
“It’s good to have the childrens’ minds developed at an early age and that will continue on as a working progress when they reach primary school, secondary school and university.
She added: “It all comes down to the parents and what they decide, depending on how much they want their children to go to school.
“Add on to that, is the support from the village council according to their plans and decisions regarding school buildings for pre-schools and secondary schools.”
Rev. Ma’auga added on to that by saying “No matter how far these parents’s homes are from school, it’s still a must to have their kids taken to pre-schools. That’s a priority.
“But it’s not just that. We also have to look at ways to make these little children want to stay in school and keep on coming to school.
“For example, they should eat their lunches together like one family and that might be a reason for those kids to always look forward to when coming to school.
“So whatever the government decides on regarding this matter, I know the churches will do a good job in putting it into action.”