The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, has apologised to the nation for the ongoing problems with the end of year exam results caused by the Ministry.
Loau issued the apology in Parliament this week, on the back of many complaints from Members of Parliament about how the latest problem with the S.S.L.C. result has affected their constituents.
In response, Loau offered no excuses but acknowledged the problem.
“The truth is this is not a new issue. It started on 2013 and this issue has been happening over the years. But we are doing our best to solve it,” he said.
“I admit that the Ministry made a mistake but we are doing our best to avoid having such problems. Our main priority is to improve on our service to nurture and educate the future leaders of Samoa.
“I cannot hide in the shadow of the tree or try to make up excuses. The truth is, the Ministry made a mistake. But mistakes can teach us great lessons moving forward. This can help improve our work.
“I apologise on behalf of the Ministry to our country.”
Loau also addressed the issue of teacher shortage, especially in the rural areas. But he assured Members of the Assembly that they are working on fixing the problem.
“Once we launch the Tui-Samoa Cable, this will assist us with our work and especially for the schools in the rural areas.”
The complaints from Members of Parliament were raised when the Supplementary Budget was discussed.
The first speaker to raise the issue was M.P for Lefaga and Falease’ela, Tole’afoa Ken Poutoa who said it is time these problems end.
“This is not the first time it has happened, and we can’t keep having problems like this,” he said.
Toleafoa said the Ministry must utilise the finances appropriately, to ensure that the necessary resources are procured for the safekeeping of educational records.
Member of Parliament for Salega East also urged the Minister of Education to fix the problem.
“Education is very important in any country,” said Olo Fiti Va’ai. “And the constant errors we continue to have when it comes to students' results is not a good thing. You see our children work hard all throughout the year to get good marks.
“So if they lose two or three marks when they get their results, that’s an insult. The Ministry should make sure they record proper and correct marks of student’s exams.
“The Ministry always blames the system for the errors, but the question is, who is operating and running the system?
“The other thing is I’ve heard is that parents were asked to pay $50 in order to do recounts for the students when they got the wrong results. You see, these are the things that the Ministry needs to look at carefully.”
Olo also questioned the Minister of Communication and Information Technology about the Samoa National Broadband.
“It has been more than five years since the Samoa National Broadband was put in place, with one of the motivating factors for its implementation being to aid the education sector.”
With ongoing cases of student exam records being lost, he said this is evidence that such a goal has yet to be achieved.
M.P. for Alataua, Ali'imalemanu Alofa Tuuau, spoke about one school that services 12 villages in their constituency.
“The thing is the school’s location is an issue because most of the students must wake up as early as 3am to catch the bus, in order to make it to school on time.”
She proposed the building of another school within her constituency, to service the 12 villages.
M.P for Safata West, Lea’ana Ronnie Posini, raised an issue faced by his constituency in terms of education.
“The problem is the shortage of teachers,” said Lea’ana.
“Currently, there are only 12 teachers teaching around 500 students at Safata College and also for primary school.”
The M.P. requested more teachers for the area, including for primary schools.
Fa’aulusau Rosa Stowers, M.P for Gagaemauga No.3, noted the need to improve the overall educational standards within her constituency.
The last M.P. to comment on education was the Deputy Speaker, Nafo’itoa Talaimanu Keti. Nafo’itoa urged the Minister of Education to also focus on the development of boxing and weightlifting in schools.
In response, Loau welcomed the recommendations and assured that the Ministry will take them on board to help with their work.