The woman driving education in Samoa is positive about the future, assuring the sector has made tremendous strides in the past few months.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Fuatai who took over the reigns earlier this year gave the assurance during an interview with the Sunday Samoan on Friday.
The Chief Executive Officer provided an overview about the challenges and the achievements of the education sector during a Mid Term Review meeting held at the T.A.T.T.E building. It was attended by the relevant stakeholders.
At the meeting, Afamasaga said the education system is making great progress.
“I say that with confidence because given the current situation we have looked at what happened in the past, we have also consulted widely and the work that is being carried out by the sector plan came about after a very wide consultation of the community, the stakeholders and the education sector,” she said.
“Based on best practices and lessons learnt from previous years, we are at the point where we can say that we are progressing very well forward but it is not without challenges."
“Challenges don’t mean that we should stop doing it but it means that it creates opportunities for us to reflect, rethink and reconceptualise so that we achieve what we set out to achieve.”
Afamasaga said there are certainly lots of challenges too.
“There are many challenges at this point in time given the many distractions our students and children are being exposed to from everywhere.
“So we have to try and make education more engaging and more motivating and aspiring for students but that is easier said than done.”
The C.E.O said the vision is to improve the sector on all fronts to ensure that students are provided with a conducive environment to support their learning.
“We want to address the quality of teachers, the school environment, and the resources and of home support and also quality of supporting materials,” she said.
“All that that takes money, effort and coordination hence the efforts the three implementing agencies M.E.S.C, N.U.S and S.Q.A has been to the point where we are working together closer and much better because we all want to support the sector’s vision and achievements of goals.”
Asked if the Ministry has made progress in terms of the failure rate of past S.S.L.C exam papers – including Maths – the C.E.O noted that progress has been made.
“We are looking at ways in which to try and make mathematics more engaging and much easier for the students to learn and that’s by providing them with clear learning outcomes."
“We are also looking at providing professional development for teachers to support them with the promoted way of teaching which is encouraging and engaging students in their learning more through activities and self independent learning rather than the teacher always telling them what to do,” she said.
“It is encouraging and professionally developing the capacity building teachers so that they are more student focussed."
“[And] also let the students do the thinking and the reasoning and also let them make mistakes but they should also learn from their mistakes.”
She went on to say that one of the plans they want to achieve is to find positive ways for students to use forms technology.
“We are looking at positive ways of using technologies, hand held technologies so that is one of the other area that we hope to work together with the Ministry Communications and Information Technology."
“All the C.E.O’s recently had a meeting with the Prime Minister."
“We presented our school net project and how we want to see the integration of I.C.T into the teaching and learning."
“We are moving into the use of tablets in some schools where the resources are available and the students access them directly."
“We find that the students are very keen to work with the tablets and the resources there because they can explore on their own and where they see fit.”