Malua Fou opens Saturday classes

The Malua Fou College has added Saturdays to its school week, in order to prepare its Year 9 and 10 students for mid-term exams, as well as to compensate for disrupted classes due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) state of emergency.

The college’s Principal Leatufale Lasi Tavae told Samoa Observer that their staff made that call to add Saturday as the sixth day of classes to assist students prepare for their upcoming mid-term examinations.

“We started last Saturday…it came about as a decision made by the staff and this was based on the effects of the lockdown on our students’ studies. We are preparing our students for their mid-year exams that were supposed to be executed in June,” she said. 

The college is run by the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, hence the decision by the church’s Education Director to postpone the midterm exams to July.

“The Director of Education for EFKS schools has decided to postpone midterm exams to July to give us enough time to prepare students. We are all aware of the effect of the lockdown on schooling, even though there was a decision made to postpone these mid-year exams to July, we have realised that the timing is still not enough to teach the content coverage as planned from the beginning of the year,” the Principal added.

When classes in schools and colleges resumed a fortnight ago, following the relaxing of SOE orders, students in Year 9 and 10 were only allowed to go to school on Thursdays and Fridays. Those in Year 11, Year 12 and Year 13 only went to school on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in line with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture’s official policy on social distancing.

But the nominated days of classes for the different grades is problematic for Year 9 and 10 students, according to Leatufale.

“So we identified a big problem…for every subject being taught, students are supposed to have four periods a week, but we found out that in some of the subjects they lost these four periods, we have set up a new time table to address that issue and that’s when the decision came of adding a Saturday to make it three school days for the kids. We added a Saturday to make three school days for them,”she added. “This way we are now able to have two periods per subject by adding the Saturday, that’s the main reason we have come up with this decision is because the students are victimised because of this, in terms of the effects on their learning and their studies.”

A letter has been sent to parents to advise that children in Years 9 and 10 have to attend school on Saturdays in their uniforms.

“I prepared a letter to inform the parents about this, asking the parents to have their children wear the school uniform on Saturday to make them feel that Saturday is a school day. Once they wear it they can feel the importance of coming to school on Saturday so I was so thankful to the parents for the support,” according to Leatufale. 

“I am thankful to the parents because of the turn up on Saturday, only two kids didn’t turn up and they are two boys and that is because they are Seventh-Day Adventists. Our staff decided on this because of the issue when we looked at the implementation of the syllabus for all subject areas. It’s not easy for me to drag the staff to come back to work on Saturday, but I am so thankful to my team for the big sacrifice they are making to the school and the children who are educated here.”

Prior to the college starting its Saturday classes, they contacted the Police Commissioner to give him a heads up of their plans. 

Leatufale said they appreciate his understanding and if the S.O.E. orders continue after this week, they are of the view that the college is compliant.

“I want to thank him (Police Commissioner) for understanding and we feel encouraged in moving forward. I think this week they might just release changes to the S.O.E. orders, if this [Covid-19] continues, we are safe on the ground,” she said.

Currently, the college has 1,027 students with 32 full-time teachers and eight part-time teachers.

Besides being the Principal, Leatufale is also a classroom teacher, who added that it was “different” seeing students wear uniforms on Saturday.

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