Tautua Samoa unveils education plan

Greater specialisation among public sector leaders is the key plank of an education policy unveiled by the Tautua Samoa opposition party on Friday.

The party;s President, Afualo Luagalau Dr. Salele, in an interview on Friday emphasised the importance of specialisation and having different Ministry directors separately oversee early childhood, primary and secondary education. 

Under the plan, directors will continue to work and report to the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture’s (M.E.S.C.) Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.), while they work more closely with their assigned specialty areas, said Afualo.

Samoa has 68,594 students, according to figures cited by the opposition party. A total of 193 others are undergoing post-school education. 

Afualo said the majority of students were in primary school (62 per cent) with 23 per cent in secondary education. 

Each level, he said, was too large to be handled by just one person.

The Tautua Samoa Executive, Le Tagaloa Pita, said the plan mirrored the National University of Samoa’s being under the supervision of a sole director and board and the Samoa Qualification Authority’s exclusive leadership of post-school education matters. 

"We have an increasing problem of students not making it to higher levels, especially the University Foundation level, and when this system is implemented, we can directly ask the Director in charge of Secondary level, what is happening?," he said.

"Why aren't students making it to University and what needs to be done."

Samoa's education sector is composed of 126 early childhood education centres;,168 primary schools; 42 secondary schools; and 26 post-school education centres. 

Afualo said the party believed specific knowledge was the key to better management. 

The Tautua Party was questioned about the impacts this proposal may have on Government spending on education, they said it can be done when adjustments are done.

According to the Ministry of Education 2019-2024 Education Sector Plan, a total of $109,517,345 was spent by the Government on the education sector, or 14.7 per cent of the total budget. 

Tautua Samoa has also called for better pay for the country’s 3302 teaching staff.

"If we want our students to be well taught in schools as a priority, we need to pay our teachers well," said Afualo.

Afualo described teaching as a noble cause.

"We should not compare teachers' salaries with other fields, because if we want an improvement in this area, we need to consider these types of increases,” he said. 

Tautua Samoa said they intended to enter into specifics about funding their policies closer to the general election. 

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