The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C) launched some key policy documents at Malifa yesterday.
Among the documents were the Early Childhood Education Policy in Samoa, National Safe Schools policy, Inclusive Education Policy for Students Living with Disability and the Minimum Service Standards for Primary and secondary schools Policy.
Minister of Education, Loau Keneti Sio, said the launch is a critical component of plans to improve education for all in Samoa.
“Firstly, the Early Childhood Education policy emphasises strong links with family, home culture, and home language,” he said.
“The increased recognition of a child’s early years before entering primary school as we know, is critical. It is in these years that much learning takes place and patterns of social behaviour are established.
“For many children, the home provides the basis for “pre-school” learning and increasingly, early childhood education centres are established to complement the role of family and local community.
“The E.C.E. must therefore develop support of family, rather than a substitute of family and this policy document alongside the Minimum Service Standards for Early Childhood Education in Samoa 2015, provides the framework for clear direction to assist early childhood centres, organisations and parties providing Early Childhood Education services in Samoa, to ensure that all services offer quality programmes.
For the National Safe Schools policy, Loau emphasised that the Ministry is committed to positive and safe learning environments, where children and young people feel safe, connected, respected, achieve success and are fully engaged in education
“Much has been said about developing safe schools and eliminating corporal punishment which has been a widely used behaviour management strategy in our education system for as long as I can remember.
“Other types of violence in schools have raised concerns for teachers, parents, caregivers, different organisations, and institutions that work with schools.
“Whatever form it takes, the unsafe nature of behaviour in schools puts stress on young people and impacts their learning. It creates an unhealthy atmosphere, resulting in mistrust, withdrawal, low self-esteem, anxiety and isolation, and increases absenteeism and academic failure to name a few.
Loau believes that every child has the right to the best possible childhood progressing towards adolescence and adulthood.
“The Inclusive Education Policy for Students Living with Disability responds to the issues and needs of a specific group of vulnerable students — those with disabilities.
“From experience, the Ministry recognises the issues for groups whose access, meaningful participation and achievement are under threat.
“Different forms of exclusion are experienced by different groups.
“Groups vulnerable to exclusion, include students with disabilities, students who are gifted in one or more areas, girls who become pregnant while at school, children who are victims of various forms of abuse, including school bullying, children living in poverty and others who, out of necessity are street vendors to earn cash for their families.
The policy relates to all children and students with disabilities from birth to 21 years of age.
“It applies to all relevant government ministries and agents, early childhood centres, all schools, and post school education training organisations, whose mandate, policies and strategies impact on students with disabilities.
“It applies to non-government disability service providers, disability advocacy organisations, and special schools who provide services to people living with disability.
Lastly, the Minimum Service Standards for Primary and Secondary Schools in Samoa was conducted by the Ministry in 2016, in response to educational reforms that have taken place since 2012.
“The revised M.S.S is a crucial step to address quality issues in education, for government schools in Samoa.
“It clearly defines key areas for development by the Ministry, school Principals, school committees and the community to achieve quality used by the ministry to evaluate and measure school performance, improvement and further development.”