Education chief calls for disability inclusion
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.), Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata'i has called for equal learning opportunities for people with a disability in schools.
She made the announcement during a video announcement on disability inclusion released on the Ministry’s Facebook page on Monday.
According to Afamasaga, the Samoa Inclusive Education Policy for the Ministry of Education derives from the international Convention of the Rights of People with Disability 2007.
“The aim of this Policy is to recognise the rights of persons with disabilities and respond to the needs of all learners’ right from Early Childhood Education towards college with the aim that all students will reach university,” she said.
She also stressed that persons with disabilities need to be recognised and accepted in society:
“If we achieve that, then all glory must be returned to God.
“Let’s all support and embrace our families and children with disabilities.”
In the video, 12-year-old Harry Harima who has a vision disability also shared a testimony on his educational experience.
He is from the village of Vaiala and attends Moata’a Primary School.
“I am happy to have wonderful teachers who appreciate me,” he said.
He added that he has found friends that support him with his school work and help me move around school.
“I also thank Mr. Tito (the school’s Principal) for his love and support for me.”
Principal of Moata’a Primary School, Vailili Tito, said that the support they received from the Ministry were Teacher Aides through their partnership programme with service providers like Senese and the Blind Persons Association.
“This has provided us with extra teaching support for students with disabilities,” the Principal said.
The Principal of Fa’atuatua Christian College, Selepa Tipama’a said that when you have a child with a disability at home they are boxed, but he said when the students come across to Faatuatua they can do anything.
“They can participate in sports, they can do cultural activities, they are part of that and I have seen that it is the most fun part in their learning,” the Principal said.
“If everybody in the community including parents are equally supportive and regard them in that manner.”
In addition, the Principal of Puleia Primary School, Norman Faafetai said that we should move away from segregating those who have disabilities from those who do not have a disability but promote equal opportunity for all.
In a statement issued by the Ministry on the disability inclusion videos, it states that the Government of Samoa, through M.E.S.C. has long had a commitment to strengthen inclusive education programmes through greater support for children with disabilities and those with learning delays.
“It is a broad issue that cuts across all education sectors from Early Childhood Education to Primary and Secondary education,” reads the statement.
It also added Vocational Education, Post School Education Training, Adult Education and Teacher Education.
“M.E.S.C. recognises inclusive education as a process of addressing and responding to the diverse needs of all learners through adjustment and enhancement of the system of education,” the statement said.
“As educators, we need to embrace and value the diversity of our children in our homes, schools and community; giving them the best opportunity to make positive changes in this difficult world.”
The Ministry also acknowledged the continuous support of its donor partner, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, our Government, Mission, and other private partners and representatives from community organisations.