The government is persevering with its effort to address academic needs of teachers and students in Samoa in relation Science.
On Monday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi launched the second cycle of the Science Teachers Accelerated Programme (S.T.A.P.) at The University of the South Pacific’s (U.S.P.) Alafua Campus.
The programme is a new model of delivering science programmes outside the Laucala Campus in cohorts. It is especially designed for in-service teachers who have Diploma or Certificate level qualifications.
The programme then builds their science background by providing a specific number of courses in a combination of delivery modes including a significant amount of intensive face-to-face teaching.
The first cycle of S.T.A.P. was launched last year which ended with the graduation of 51 students in November 2016.
The success of the first S.T.A.P. with over eighty-six percent pass rate gave the government of Samoa confidence to use the project to upskill and upgrade the qualifications of its own science teachers.
S.T.A.P. II started at the Alafua Campus soon after the 2016 graduation, and the government of Samoa is again funding 60 scholarships in the programme.
At the launch, Tuilaepa said good initiatives that develop the country’s human resources should be supported.
He highlighted that the Pacific region has many pressing issues which require immediate attention and full commitment, not only from regional governments, education institutes and non-government organisations but also from every citizen of the Pacific and beyond.
“We need to invest in our people to take our nation forward,” he said.
“We all, in the public and private sectors need to collectively champion affirmative action in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.Gs) which are heavily hinging on innovative ideas, tools and technologies.
“These all point in the direction of Science and the need to sincerely dedicate and gather our focus in Science.”
He assures the government is doing its best to not only advocate Science in Samoa and the region but is also deploying strategies to implement plans and intensify growth in science.
In thanking the Samoan government, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology & Environment (F.S.T.E.) Dr. Anjeela Jokhan said that U.S.P. as a capacity building regional institution of higher education always aspires to meet the needs of its member countries in efficient and cost effective ways while maintaining the quality of its programmes.
Dr. Jokhan added that in terms of responding to the needs of its member countries, S.T.A.P. is one of the most innovative modality of full programme delivery in a cost effective and timely manner while maintaining quality and improving high success and completion rate.
S.T.A.P. was designed by F.S.T.E’s Associate Dean Learning & Teaching Dr Bibhya Sharma and implemented under his leadership.
In his address, Dr. Sharma encouraged the students to “be excellent ambassadors of U.S.P. and make U.S.P., your families and Samoa proud by your strong, innovative, ethical, and excellent contributions.”
Dr. Sharma said that for every student joining S.T.A.P., Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of U.S.P. has awarded a tablet to help the students in their studies and garner the best learning experience.
With the success of the S.T.A.P. model, other member countries have also shown a keen interest in running S.T.A.P. to improve the capacity of science teachers. S.T.A.P. model has been extended to the U.S.P. Tonga Campus and is set to start in Semester 1, 2017.