School Principal defends limited weekly classes

A school Principal has thrown her support behind the Government's decision to limit school days as debate continues on the rationale behind the Government’s decision.

Lepea Primary School Principal, Masivao Faamau Aliimalemanu, told the Samoa Observer in an interview that she supports the position of the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio.

Loau has defended the Government from criticism as it continues to place restrictions on the number of classes each student can attend in a week, in a bid to enforce social distancing rules in schools.

Masivao, in response to the critics, argued that she was satisfied that the Government has put in place safeguards to protect the children as they try to catch up with school work. 

“First of all, the Covid-19 is a worldwide thing and it should not be taken for granted," she said.

 "As we can see on the news, the virus is still very much trending in countries overseas and we’re also slowly repatriating our people back home. Secondly, consider our children lucky as we’re still given the chance to at least bring our children back to school while in other countries, they are completely locked down.

 “So to me, the schedule regulated by the Government for schools is more than enough for our children to at least catch up with their education.” 

Upon the resumption of classes in primary and secondary schools and colleges last month, Masivao instead blamed parents for not doing their work properly, and failing to monitor their children’s homework while at home.

But the challenge of parents not monitoring their children’s work at home is not only restricted to the Lepea Primary School, as there have been similar cases in other schools.

Another challenge that Lepea Primary School faces are cases of its students skipping classes because they forgot to do their homework, which Masivao has also blamed the parents for.

Consequently, she appealed to parents to support and appreciate the work of their children’s teacher instead of complaining.

In a bid to address the limited number of weekly classes students have, Masivao said they have decided to bring forward their school starting time to 7.30am instead of 9am.

In line with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.)-sanctioned schedule, Years 1, 3, 5 and 7 attend classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday while Years 2, 4, 6 and 8 go on Thursday and Friday.

It is understood some schools switched the grades for the first three days and last two days of the week. On the days the students stay home, teachers give them homework to do at home, which are returned the following week for assessing.

Masivao said those days the children are at home are important for the parents, as they will need to assist their children with the work they bring home.

“And this is where the parents come in, as I said, it is not just our work or the Government’s work or the teachers’ – it is also very much your work (parents).”

Given the limited number of classes for students to attend in a week, groups of three and four teachers supervise each class each day, which the Lepea Primary School Principal said is a win.

“It’s now mostly up to the teachers as the good and bad results of the students are on their hands now,” she added. “Three or two days are more than enough so long as the teachers are being proactive in making sure that the students don’t go home empty handed and empty minded.

“I am also monitoring my staff so they manage their time properly and the teachers now are very unusually active when it comes to the students’ education.”

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