Retired teachers could be brought back

The lack of qualified science or mathematics teachers is an ongoing problem and if bringing back retired teachers is a solution then do it, says Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

Speaking in the Parliament on Tuesday, Tuilaepa said there are far-reaching effects of not having enough qualified teachers in Samoa’s education system.

He then recalled a major challenge that faced the Government some years ago when the lack of teachers resulted in the implementation of a re-marking scheme where student test results were up-scaled. 

However, the Prime Minister told the House that he is adamant there are enough qualified teachers to teach at schools in Samoa.

He then recalled the lack of science and mathematics teachers not only in Samoa but across the Pacific.

“I was surprised when [some time ago] the Minister [at the time] lamented on how we failed in this area, in terms of planning, and this depicted the lack of foresight by previous Ministers and C.E.O.’s [for Ministry of Education] to assure there are enough qualified teachers allocated to Colleges and Primary.” 

Tuilaepa said all the students who passed their examinations at the time had their grades “re-marked” due to the lack of qualified teachers. 

“The teachers remarked and scaled up the students' grades to reflect good marks," he said. 

He said the scheme is premised on the idea of scaling up grades “artificially” so students could pass. 

But when a student with a passing score of 70 is re-marked to 90 and was accepted for scholarship overseas, the student failed courses as a result. 

“I wrote to the University and Ministry of Education at the time seeking a solution because this is after all their responsibility to make sure there are enough [qualified] teachers.” 

He said the solution given at the time was to select 60 science teachers to take refresher courses at the University of the South Pacific but it would have been expensive. 

Tuilaepa added that at the time this was the same issue faced by the Pacific and when the University of the South Pacific was asked for assistance, the Pacific leaders were told to follow the resolution by Samoa.

“Select Science teachers and have them undergo Science courses at the expense of the government,” said the Prime Minister. 

“We took the initiative on this and other Pacific islands followed suit.

“This is the same issue we’re facing today, parents and the public are asking for qualified teachers.

Tuilaepa then turned to the Minister of Education Sports and Culture and the Public Service Commission to amend their policies on the retirement age group and afford the opportunity for retired teachers to return to the classrooms.

The Prime Minister said the Ministry of Education should continue to upskill the teachers, through the courses to assure there are qualified teachers in the country. 

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