Education and saving the planet, and saving lives!

Just four days into the New Year and events in the last couple of days should give you an indication of another busy year ahead for the education sector. 

We sympathise with the students and teachers of the Vailoa Primary School on the loss of their classrooms to fire, and are thankful for the intervention by the Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority, which ensured the school hall and the office building were saved.

The front page pictures of the charred remains of the classroom desks — in yesterday’s edition of the Samoa Observer — would have brought tears to the eyes of the teachers, students and their parents. As it means affected students and their parents are now unsure of what lies ahead, especially with the 2019 academic year set to commence in four weeks.

We hope the Ministry of Education Sport and Culture will give the school special dispensation, funding and resources to begin the work to rebuild and restore the classrooms, as well as provide new desks for the students.

Assisting students to find new schools or even deferring the start of the academic year for Vailoa Primary School — until all work on the burnt classrooms are complete — will also go a long way to ensure the impact of the fire will not directly impact on the study programs of the students. 

In today’s edition of the Samoa Observer, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi threw down the gauntlet for schools in Samoa, by challenging them to introduce tree planting as part of their students’ learning programs.

“Let us start now by teaching our children to plant more trees and to care for the environment,” he said.

But teaching children to plant more trees should not cost any extra, Tuilaepa said, but rather a strong curriculum.

“You don’t really need to expend funds,” he said.

“What is necessary is to programme education for children so that they can use their time to plant.”

He suggested including tree planting in the sports component of the curriculum, and for teachers to be able to lead that activity.

In an age of climate change and increasing challenges to the quality of our water sources, wildlife habitat and even the air that we breath, we need to start getting our children to think basic conservation practices — think locally, act globally. And a primary and secondary-school-based curriculum that incorporates and promotes tree planting is the way of the future! 

And to go up to the next scale of the education hierarchy in Samoa, we note the announcement by the School of Medicine under the Faculty of Health Science — at the National University of Samoa — on its preparations of a Foundation in Medicine programme. 

“A major change with the university will be in our School of medicine, we started conversations last year on the need to have a foundation of medicine programme, and we are planning to launch it next year. 

“The programme is a pre-requisite into the School of Medicine programme and it will prepare students that will be entering the medical programme.

“We were thinking of putting together some courses for that programme so that we can continue the programme next year,” Vice Chancellor of the NUS, Professor Fui Asofou So’o, said in an interview with the Samoa Observer at the Campus yesterday.  

Congratulations to the NUS administration on the proposed establishment of a Foundation in Medicine programme. It is a step in the right direction for Samoa’s national university, and will go a long way in ensuring aspiring Samoan doctors and medical practitioners are properly prepared, for a journey that would teach them the skills to save lives. 

A group of Papua New Guinean doctors, who spent six weeks in Samoa last year — under the auspices of the Pacific Islands Orthopaedic Association — spoke very highly of Samoa’s healthcare system, and how the training they underwent in this part of the Pacific will go a long way in saving hundreds of lives back in PNG.

The PNG doctors’ experience of the training they were underwent here in Samoa and the positive feedback they gave at the conclusion of their 6-week programme augurs well for the future medical and health training in Samoa. There is a lot of potential for Samoa to become a regional leader in medical and health education.

What do you think? Have a wonderful Friday Samoa and God bless.

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