Samoa awarded $1.9 million education grant

Samoa has been awarded a grant of USD$750,000 [$1.9 million tala] to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 related disruption to children's education.

The award from the Global Partnership [G.P.E.] was announced in a 30 October letter addressed to Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti and the Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio.

The G.P.E. is a fund that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries and grow the number of children in school. 

The letter is signed by Alice P. Albright, who is the Chief Executive Officer of G.P.E. based in Washington D.C. 

“On behalf of the Global Partnership for Education, I am pleased to inform you that with the delegated authority from the G.P.E. Board of Directors, I have approved Samoa’s application for a COVID-19 accelerated funding request in the amount of US$750,000,” said Albright.

In the same letter, she announced the approval of a 7 per cent agency fee for the grant agent, UNICEF, in the amount of USD$52,500.

The country Lead for Samoa for the project is Daisuke Kanazawa, a senior education specialist at G.P.E. in Washington D.C.

“We look forward to working with you closely to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education of Samoan children,” Albright wrote.

Twelve people are copied on the letter including Samoa’s Finance C.E.O. Leasiosifoa’asisina Oscar Malielegaoi, and the C.E.O. for the Education Ministry, Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata’i. 

“The G.P.E. C.E.O. recognised with appreciation the leadership and commitment of the Government of Samoa in preparing a national response plan and grant proposal that will mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector as well as support the recovery of the education system from the crisis,” the letter says.

The G.P.E. Secretariat makes several recommendations for use of the grant.

Given the urgency of the crisis, they recommend the grant implementation and response plan commence on schedule and the grant agent to submit a cash transfer request within two weeks of approval to facilitate the timely release of funds in support of implementing a programme. 

The Secretariat recognises the need to support the physical and emotional wellbeing of girls and boys – which can be especially important in a remote learning context, the letter states.

They recommend that programme emphasis on improving teachers’ monitoring of vulnerable students (to identify those who are not engaging or appear to be struggling due to different pressures at home). 

Cross-cutting interventions provided through the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development and the Samoa Victim Support Group [S.V.S.G.] to provide helpline support and emergency housing would be well suited, the letter suggests. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade [M.F.A.T.] is the coordinating agency for Samoa and will be represented by Pati Gagau.

Members of the G.P.E. Secretariat include Jo Bourne [Chief Technical Officer], Sven Baeten [Team Lead of Grant Operations], Nilse Ryman [Regional Manager] and Kanazawa have also been copied.

The grant has a start date of 1 November, 2020 and an end date of 30 April, 2022, Albright said. 

Inquiries sent via email to Minister of Finance Sili and Minister of M.E.S.C. Loau, were not immediately responded to.

Samoa is one of 66 countries to receive emergency COVID-19 funding. 

Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga and Samoa have each been awarded a USD$750,000 grant.

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