Minister stands by limited school schedule, calls for patience

The Minister of Education has defended the Government’s decision to continue to limit the number of days schools can open because of the coronavirus pandemic, despite Samoa having no recorded cases.

The Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, was responding to complaints from parents who say the Government should tell Samoa the real reason students are not back at school full time.

But the Minister said the Government would not jeopardise the safety of students amidst fears about the coronavirus pandemic.

 “If there will be a case, what will they (concerned parents) do?” Loau responded during an interview with the Samoa Observer.

 “Every decision is made for the well being of Samoan children so I don’t understand how some concerned parents are not looking at this side.”

The Minister admitted that he understands why parents are anxious to get their kids back to school, with final exams fast approaching. He was also mindful of the impact of the measles crisis last year which cost students precious learning time in the classrooms.

But he called for patience, saying the Government could lift the ban when the new S.O.E. orders are reviewed in July. He added that the Ministry has also received positive feedback from some parents.

 “There were a number of parents whom we spoke with that have given positive feedback with regards to education on television, radio and online learning,” he said.  “They’re all very happy and glad that the children are still learning.”

Loau said the Government’s mantra is that it is better to be safe than sorry. He said the Ministry would await a review of the S.O.E. orders from the National Emergency Operation Committee (N.E.O.C.) before they decide their next move.

In the meantime, he has urged parents to place the safety of students first.

Out there in the community, the call for schools to return to normal is not just not shared by parents, teachers also welcome the idea.

The Principal of Puleia Primary School in Savai’i, Fiu Norman Fa’afetai, said they want schools to return to normal.

 “We can’t really tell how much of an impact this has cost our students because we haven’t had any exams yet,” he said.

“But there is a need for the schools to return to normal.”

At Amaiele, Gasologa Falanaipupu Iere said students are struggling to adapt to limited days of school.

Due to the lack of access to television, radio and good Internet connection, she said students in their village are badly disadvantaged.

 “I bet if our village was to have access to television, radio and the internet, we wouldn’t allow our children to waste time roaming around while there is education available on TV and those things,” she said.

 “I think it’s time to get back to normality because we haven’t had any cases of the virus yet.”

Samoa remains one of the few countries in the world without a coronavirus case. The pandemic has so far killed 408,615 people from 7.2million cases worldwide.

 

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