The Learning Center in T$21,000 partnership

Some 200 children stand to benefit from a partnership between the German government and The Learning Center in Motootua, which will see the replacement of old computers with brand new laptops at a cost of T$21,000.

Tagaloa Christa Szegedi, the Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany to Samoa, signed the contract on Tuesday with the Learning Center Co-Founders, Marj Moore and Stephanie Wynne.

Spokesperson for Tagaloa, Stefan Szegedi, said the partnership was borne out of coronavirus restrictions that closed schools and disrupted classroom learning for children.  

“Basically, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the German government has come up with an initiative to try to provide support for distant learning, where they sort of understand that it’s not always possible for teachers having lots of students in one place, and to provide some support to overcome these challenges because children still need to learn,” he said.

“Just because there is Covid-19 restrictions they need to learn, they need to grow and so this initiative is to provide support to the Learning Center for their distant learning programs, so that children coming here to learn can learn from a teacher, who is basically anywhere in the world. “He or she doesn’t have to be here, they can teach children from the comfort of their home so that’s the idea.”

Mr Szegedi said after the contract is finalised, the next step would be the supply of the laptops and emphasised that the funding is not a grant.

“It’s not necessarily a grant, it’s a partnership with a long term partner. We’re very very excited…[to] form this partnership,” he added. 

“What we are also really excited about is that they can learn through distance learning, but they can also learn how to operate a computer, which will be very important for them as they grow up and develop so nowadays everything runs through computers so at an early age if you get to learn how to use it that helps a lot.”

Children with special needs also stand to benefit from the partnership, according to Ms Wynne as there are increasing demands to support them.

“There is a huge demand as always also to support children with special needs, special learning needs for children, who perhaps don’t get enough attention in the classroom because of their learning disability or their behavioral disability, they can get concentrated attention from the tutor,” she added. 

The Learning Center will receive 15 brand new laptops which will replace computers that are 18-years-old. 

Ms Moore said the brand new laptops are a great thing and they feel lucky to be recipients of the funding and ultimately the laptops, which will go a long way in enhancing the education of the children.

“The Learning Center has already a good system here in place so we are very excited to be able to start this partnership together with the learning center to get this up and running because as we all know that learning and teaching of children is important for them to grow so this is one way we can provide support to that,” she said.

“This is really just an amazing thing with the German government. What I like about it too is that the students who come here are from all the different schools – government schools, mission schools, the private schools.”

According to Ms Moore, it is not just one little section of the community as they have students from Year 1 to Year 13 and total about 200 every week.

“So it’s primary through to secondary so we can reach out to a lot of our students so it’s really thanks to the German government and it’s through Christa and Stefan facilitating it that we’ve been able to come to this wonderful thing of having 15 new computers.”

The Learning Center gets a diverse range of students from the very bright to those who want to learn more and others who need extra assistance with their school work.

“We have the whole range. We have children who are very bright and they just want an extension, we have… children whose parents just want them to have a little bit more learning outside school,” Ms Moore said. “And then we have children who need extra help and this is where we can give that little individual help. We have one tutor per four children so the children feel very comfortable asking about things they don’t understand.”

Some children have never seen a computer until they visit The Learning Center, she added.

“Some children here, they have never seen a computer before so the keyboard is like [whoa]. They look at it and it’s got capital letters and they think ‘okay that looks like a B but maybe it isn’t a B' so it takes a while…they do learn computer skills, it reinforces their alphabet and they have fun with it. It’s a fun thing.”

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