Ta'i's Take - The pain of the education crisis
The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries. Rene Descartes.
Few would argue with the man who also said in Latin “cogito, ergo sum” which is usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am.”
But the take today is not only thinking because I agree with Martin Luther King Jr when he said: Rarely do we find men willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains me more than having to think.
We can almost feel the pain that the director of education, A’e’au Christopher Hazelman, has been suffering facing what has been described as a ‘national crisis’ – the shortage of teachers; about three hundred (300) in the government and private schools.
But reading good books is the take for today.
Once upon a time, Samoa’s literacy rate was almost one hundred percent - 100%.
That was when two of the main churches, the Lotu Toga and the Lotu Ta’iti (the Methodists and the Congregationalists) concentrated on teaching reading and writing to their young members. The congregations even read their Bible lessons in church every Sunday. As they still do. The Catholics had their services, mostly in Latin so reading was not so necessary.
It was the days of no electricity so much of the night reading was done in kerosene lamplight. But the ministers were determined; learning to read was serious business.
I still remember the night I got a Bible just missing my face and hitting me smack on the chest, when Rev. Sapolu, the Elder, caught me telling a latecomer the book and chapter which was being read.
With ministers competing in the district examinations of their charges, the literacy rate was thus very very high.
It is now obvious that the churches must again be involved with the teaching of reading, writing and mathematics.
Now the director of education, A’e’au Christopher Hazelman, says the levels in the old three Rs – Reading, wRiting, and aRithmatic – have dropped because of the national crisis of the shortage of teachers.
According to a recent report in the Samoa Observer the desperate education director has tried a number of steps in efforts to deal with the national crisis. These include appeals to churches, the public service and even private individuals who may have teaching experience to help out. The use of technology and the Internet have also been considered.
It is now quite obvious that it was a mistake for the churches to have left the teaching of Reading, wRiting and aRithmatic to the government schools. They must get involved again.
Further, the television and radio stations must be involved. A half-hour reading lesson every morning and every evening by the nine (9) television channels and the many radio stations will go a long way in providing a remedy for the fall in the literacy level and the standards of writing and mathematics.
Parents must also take time out to read to their children. Why? Because:
Reading develops your brain, provides a window into the world around you and helps you do better in all school subjects.
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