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Finance Chief points out half a million for education

Contrary to media reports, Samoa's education sector received $500,000 from the Government's coronavirus (COVID-19) Stimulus package.

This was confirmed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Leasiosiofa'asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, who said the allocation is to fund  learning programmes being televised and streamed online.

The funding was part of the $2.5 million allocated into the multi-sectoral share of the stimulus package.

According to the Second Supplementary Policies budget, the amount was reprioritised from the Pacific Festival of Arts' budget funding since it has now been postponed to 2021.

"The allocated provision in the Second supplementary budget supports the Ministry of Education with their online learning programs using multiple media platforms (TV and internet)," Leasisosio said in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

The response from the Finance C.E.O. comes after the Vice-Chancellor of N.U.S., Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma, said the absence of assistance for education is already hurting the National University of Samoa.

N.U.S. is expecting to cut more of its courses that “are not sustainable” as a sacrifice to reduce its costs.

Enrolment will also drop for the educational year, Aiono predicts.

Since the state of emergency, the university has moved online to educate its students. 

“A lot of our people in [the] community are hurting and also parents who have lost their jobs and therefore the number of students will drop because parents can’t afford to pay for fees,” Aiono said in an interview with the Samoa Observer. 

Although Leasiosio says the $14.5 million annual Government grant should be sufficient to support the educational needs and provide assistance to parents and families in Samoa.  

"There was also a $250,000 allocation in the First supplementary budget for an NUS Scholarship Fund initiative," he adds.

"All in all, Education remains a Priority of Government."

The Ministry of Education confirmed lesson plans and programmes for school children, which can be accessed on its website, TV1 and Government Channel television stations and the 2AP Radio Station in early April.

For older classes, mostly in high school, students have been provided home-based activities worth weeks of work for the students to complete.

Interview requests to the Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, were not responded to at the time of going to press.

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