A matai from Iva Savai’i has revived the call for villages to feed their teachers.
Tofilau Lino, a member of the Iva School Committee, made the point during the Teachers Conference at the T.A.T.T.E Building earlier this week.
“Listen again to the name of the Ministry. It is the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture,” he told the conference participants.
Turning his attention to officials of the Ministry, he asked: “Where are you from? Which culture are you using? Why have you made a public announcement to stop the feeding of the teachers?”
Tofilau said he was tired of listening to the Ministry’s senior officials making public announcements that the villages shouldn’t look after the teachers.
“In the Samoan culture, it is our duty to look after people,” he said.
“Why is that we take care of the pastors in the village and we neglect the teachers?”
Tofilau added that villages should treat the teachers the same as pastors because they are strangers to the villages.
“If you come to the village of Iva, we are still looking after the teachers and feeding them,” he said.
“Remember, Jesus told His disciples that when they go, don’t take anything because there will be people who will take care of you. The same principle applies to teachers.”
The high chief urged the Ministry of Education to revise their policy about feeding teachers.
“The people who are against this policy are the loafers living on free hold land in Apia,” he said. “In the villages, we are quite happy to look after and feed the teachers. We cannot stop it because it is part of our culture, it is part of who we are.
“Can you work from 9 o’clock in the morning until 4 o’clock and have just a piece of bread? It’s impossible.”
Tofilau also criticized the policy against feeding teachers who are hired to supervise national examinations.
“For us in the villages, it is a slap in the face to let these people come and go without giving them something to take with them,” he said.
“Our culture in Samoa is that we look after our guests and make sure that they are given something to take back when they leave.
“[But] it is not a Samoan culture for the guests to go and buy their own food, no it’s not. Why are you doing this?
“No matter how much you try to stop this you cannot because this is the way Samoa was from the beginning so you cannot do that.
“We were brought up with love. I urge the Ministry to look into this and bring back our ways of doing things. This is us; our culture and who we are.”
Tofilau’s speech was greeted by applause from across the room.