Education reform to dissolve Year 13
All schools in Samoa will dissolve their year 13 classes following changes passed by Cabinet that will condense secondary school into four instead of five, in a reform beginning next year.
The new system of having secondary schools last from years 9 to 12 will officially commence in 2021.
This was discussed during a meeting of secondary school Principals from around Samoa facilitated by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) on Friday.
According to one participant, Leififi College’s, Sifuiva Malaea Lauano, said that implementing the new system will require a lot of effort from students, teachers and parents to make this work.
“I think new changes are good for us, because it gives a chance to try and see how we can improve in various areas,” she said.
She noted that under the new system, a secondary school student’s educational journey will be condensed into four years,
“I think this new programme will help students because one of the challenges they face is that when they look at the lifespan of five years, it seems long,” she said.
“But the first year which is Year 9, it seems that they have the mentality of not putting any priority and significance placed on it.
“There is no real focus is the beginning of his secondary-level journey.”
The Leififi College principal, who looks after more than 500 students, also agrees that by Year 9, a child should already decide which career pathway to take so they can choose the relevant subjects.
“It will make it easier as they progress further,” she said.
“I also advise our teachers and parents that we must take [on] this new challenge in a positive way so we can try and help the children of Samoa improve their learning capabilities.
Sifuiva added that some of the matters discussed at the forum were the school’s programmes but also the cancellation of the much-anticipated annual sporting event, “Champ of Champs”.
“We cannot have sporting events with large gatherings such as netball, volleyball overall but it’s up to the school if they want to have their own games,” she said.
“However, speech competitions are still pushing through but only in zones,” the Principal said.
“M.E.S.C. has conducted a presentation which clearly explained the programmes which we Principals have to prepare for each school and no more Year 13.”
In a statement issued by the M.E.S.C., the Ministry said that the current five-year education has been reorganised.
The growing rate of early school leavers after Year 9 and declining results in consecutive national assessments form part of the inspiration behind the educational reform according to the Ministry.
The Ministry’s press release also pointed to what it said is the decline of students' achievements in the Year 13 Samoa School Leaving Certificates [S.S.L.C.] after sitting the Year 12 Secondary School Certificate [S.S.C.]. The Ministry said the decline was particularly pronounced among male students.
The current system indicated a need for “appropriate interventions” in-between two national examinations, the Ministry said.
"Consequently, the four-year [secondary] level is a national response to addressing these issues in order to improve student's achievements, especially in the last year of secondary level," the Ministry said in a statement.
The implementation of the new changes will start next year. Year 9 students in 2021 will be the first cohort to undertake the new system. Students will have to make a choice between four learning pathways when they get to Year 10: commerce; arts; technical, vocational education and training; and science.
"Starting from Year 10, students will be streamed into learning areas based on their strengths and interests," the Ministry said.