Education pioneer, Aiga Esera, retires
After dedicating more than four decades of her life to educating children one of the country’s most experienced teachers, Lafaitele Aiga Esera, is calling time on a distinguished career in which she changed the nature of education in Samoa.
Lafaitele, better known as "Mrs. Esera" was farewelled by Principals and teachers of all schools in the Sagaga District from where she worked as the school inspector. Friday’s emotional farewell service honouring her farewell service was held at the Sagaga Primary School hall.
The Principal of Faleula Primary, Selau Maulolo, became emotional recounting her contribution to the development of education in the country.
Mrs. Maulolo said it had been three years since she started working together with Lafaitele.
But she said she felt like the beneficiary of more than ten years’ of Lafaitele’s wisdom/
"She is a phenomenal mother figure," Mrs. Maulolo said.
"She does not do things lightly. She gives her best and is always pushing us to do our best. She does not hesitate to help. She [just] keeps [trying] just so we get everything we want for to further develop the education not only for our schools but also for Samoa as a whole.
"She had shared all her talents, experience and skills [with all of] us. [After all her] many years in the education industry, she is quite skilful and knowledgeable. There are so many skills that she has shared with the teachers and students.
"Once her heart is set on an idea, she will work hard to make sure that she will succeed."
Mrs. Maulolo said Lafaitele is a passionate woman and her heart is always dedicated to the children of Samoa.
"When she sees that something is wrong, she will not hesitate or think twice to tell us off to keep us on the line,” she said.
" Working with her has been such a blessing. I can honestly say that I learnt a lot from Lafaitele. She is an inspiration.”
According to Mrs. Maulolo, one of the greatest lessons they learnt from Lafaitele is fasting and praying every Wednesday.
"This is, in my opinion, a great way to continue on. We say that we are founded on God so we must practise that as well, especially for our children to grow up in an environment where they understand and know that God should be at the forefront [of their education].
"We will miss having her around but we will continue on the legacy and the lessons she taught us during our time together.
"Lafaitele was the reason why the Government started to have school inspectors again. She pushed for it and we are proud and blessed to have had the time to work with her and under her leadership."
Mrs. Maulolo said the educational community was sad to see Lafaitele’s departure but also that she had more than earned her break from the frontlines of education.
"I know she wants to rest and spend some time with her children and family, so we wish her all the best,” she said.
At the farewell ceremony, Lafaitele did not mince her words when she addressed the gathering.
She reminded the teachers of the work required of them.
"God called you here for a purpose; so serve your purpose,” she said.
“The future of this country is in your hands."
Lafaitele also used the opportunity to encourage teachers to keep working hard despite the many hardships they face.
"This is a challenging profession," Lafaitele said.
"But nothing is impossible if you have faith and you trust [in] He who chose you and called you here. Be brave and courageous
"Work hard and rely on the Lord, He will carry you through any storm you come across in life. Don't just do it for the sake of doing it. Do it from your heart, as it is your calling.”
Lafaitele said she would spend her retirement serving her family, her church and spend more time with her children and grandchildren.
Lafaitele Aiga Poasa Tupae Esera is 70 years old from the village of Tulaele.
She began teaching in 1972 and was a School Principal for Avele College for 18 years.
She is a widow to the late Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, Levaopolo Tupae Esera.
As Principal of Avele College, Lafaitele was among the pioneering advocates of equality in education who convinced the Government to change Avele from just an all-boys’ school.
She is also a former President of the Post Primary Principals’ Association
She became the first woman executive to sit in the all-boys National Rugby Union Executive Board of Directors.
And she is also the first woman President of the Schools’ Rugby Union and the only woman to be appointed President ever since.
In 2017, her contributions were recognized when she was awarded the Head of State's Merit Service award.
She has three children and seven grandchildren.