Funding, support crucial to education plan
Support from Principals and teaching staff and more funding have been identified as the key success factors for a new five-year plan for Samoa’s education sector.
Launched on Thursday morning at Taumeasina Island Resort, the 2019-2024 “second sector plan” centred on priorities including: Inclusive education; early childhood education; technical and vocational training; information and communication technology; and building staff capacity.
Education Ministry C.E.O. Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Fuata'i appealed to heads of schools present at the plan’s launch to work to ensure that the goals for the sectors were met.
She emphasised the importance of planning ahead and meeting goals on time.
But Afamasaga said the sector also needs funding of $540.7 million to realise the plan’s goals.
Existing costs are $456.8 million, the C.E.O. said; development costs amount to $83.9 million.
Spending on the education sector constituted 14.7 per cent of total Government expenditure for the 2019-2020 Financial year, or just under $110 million.
More than 68,000 students are currently in formal and non-formal education and training in Samoa. A total of 3,302 teaching staff are employed in the education sector.
Across the country there are currently 126 early childhood education centres, 168 primary schools, 48 secondary schools, and 26 post school education and training centers.
The current five-year plan has five goals, including: to enhance the quality of education and training for all learners; providing access to good quality education and training opportunities; making training relevant to the needs of the nation and the labour market; improving the effectiveness of sector planning, monitoring and reporting; and developing and managing resources sustainably.
Afamasaga said the last sector plan produced many lessons for the Ministry.
"As we become smarter, we also want to do things more efficiently, more effectively and that is not going to work if you don't have a common understanding," she said.
"A shared vision of where we want to go, but to enable that dream and plan, we need funding."
Afamasaga also highlighted the importance of early childhood education (E.C.E.) to the plan.
"It needs to be supported so that we have students going into primary well prepared for that level," she said.
"E.C.E. is now going to be considered a priority and we look beyond the child as well, we look at the parents and we look at the teachers.
"So assistance will be put in place to make sure that the environment of the child at E.C.E. is fully supported and addressed."
The rate of drop-outs from secondary level education was also addressed.
"Is [the number of people dropping out] because what they're learning is not relevant?," asked Afamasaga.
The question underscores the importance of technical and vocational education, Afamasaga said.
Agencies responsible for implementing the plan include the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture; the National University of Samoa; and the Samoa Qualifications Authority.