Science, technology and innovation vital: Minister

By Adel Fruean 05 November 2021, 10:16PM

The potential of science, technology and innovation and its contribution to the development of Samoa's economy was highlighted during a Government conference on ICT Policy.

The stakeholder consultation and dialogue of the National Science Technology & Innovation (ST&I) Policy for Samoa was held on Friday at the Elisa Hotel conference room.

The dialogue was a collaboration between the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.), the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the National University of Samoa. 

The workshop provided an opportunity for key stakeholders to have an open dialogue on science, technology and innovation for Samoa, and to provide input into the development of a national ST&I Policy for Samoa. 

Among the attendees was the Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Seuula Ioane, the N.U.S. Deputy Vice Chancellor, Peseta Desmond Lee Hang and the S.R.O.S. Chief Executive Officer, Seuseu Dr. Joseph Edward Tauati. 

The Education Minister said that the dialogue was initiated by a joint Cabinet submission by the S.R.O.S. and the N.U.S. dating back to 2015 to result in the releasing of FK (30)15.

Giving a speech to mark the occasion, Seuula said that this is a reflection that science, technology and innovation are important to Samoa.

“The 2018 mid-term review of the Samoa Pathway by the United Nations and the Small Island Development States (S.I.D.S.) reminds us, that the achievement of these internationally agreed mandates and milestones cannot be done alone,” he said.

Furthermore, he said the same could be said about the Sustainable Development Goals or S.D.G.s.

“It is therefore important to note that science, technology and innovation is one of the means to achieve certain S.D.G.s. Hence, the work that you will deliberate and discuss today is very significant and will have lasting impacts on our economy.

“I, therefore urge you all to deliberate with clarity and with common purpose.” 

According to the ST&I Policy for Samoa Zero Draft, it emphasises that the vision for the ST&I Policy is to enrich the lives of all Samoans and their future generations, including their social and economic welfare and community sustainability, through support from research, science, technology and innovation across all areas of governance underpinned by open science. 

The overall goal is to ensure advanced education, applicable research, affordable technology, accessible scientific research data and publications, sharing of innovation knowledge to support sustainable livelihoods and a better quality of life for all Samoans.

Despite Samoa not having an overarching policy directing and guiding the integrated development of ST&I across different development sectors including the community and grassroots levels, the dialogue heard that there is a need for innovative thinking on how Samoa can use ST&I and its development to improve the way things are done, in terms of improved efficiency and effectiveness in operations, service deliveries, social inclusion and human development.

This includes using ST&I for improving technological and knowledge transfers, e-government, e-commerce, e-banking, entrepreneurship, business development, and other areas.  

But based on the consultations conducted so far on the ST&I Policy development, the key issues, challenges and gaps identified so far include the declining number of students interested in science as an area of study, which has implications for the human capital development of scientific areas and fields of work in Samoa that require science and scientific knowledge.

Also, the declining number and quality of science teachers in Samoa impacts on the issues identified above. Samoa is not full capitalizing the benefits and potentials of ST&I in the development of its economy across various sectors and domains.

In addition, limited evidence-based understanding of ST&I and its current status of development, including potential areas for priority development. 

By Adel Fruean 05 November 2021, 10:16PM

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