Teachers aged 50-plus to continue teaching: Minister

The Minister of Education, Loau Keneti Sio, has confirmed that teachers who are 50 years and older will continue to teach until the end of the 2020 academic year.

There have been concerns that people aged 50 years and over who are either in Government or private sector employment are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection risks, especially following Samoa recording two historical cases of the coronavirus.

However, Loau, when contacted for comment by the Samoa Observer, said the Government did not have any plans to send teachers in that age bracket home due to their vulnerability to COVID-19.

“How will the kids learn if they will be sent home,” he said in a telephone interview. “If they do work from home, how will they be able to teach (the students) from home?

“That’s why the retired teachers are back to work as well to help out with the education system.”

The Minister, in a previous interview, clarified that retired teachers have returned to reach in order to fill the teacher shortage crisis that the country is currently facing.

“There are a lot of reasons why there is a shortage of teachers. We cannot stop people from emigrating overseas, they win the quota and they leave. There are also those who have chosen a different career path,” he said, after admitting that there is a shortage of teachers which he described as a huge problem.

Retired teachers are required to apply each year and provide a medical report to prove that they are still able to work. Once they are approved, the Ministry sees where they would fit in the country’s education system.

It is understood that all Government schools would close for the year on 18 December.

Asked for the number of retired teachers who have returned to work, Loau said he does not know and referred this newspaper to the M.E.S.C. Chief Executive Officer.

According to a school teacher, who did not want to be identified, it is not normal for schools to complete the academic year seven days before Christmas.

However, due to the COVID-19 lockdown another week has been added to the final term, she said.

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