Low numbers in preschool

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 23 February 2024, 8:00PM

Only 20 per cent of children from three to five years of age in Samoa are enrolled in early childhood education, statistics that have been described as "disappointing" by the Minister for the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (M.W.C.S.D.).

Mulipola Anarosa Ale-Molio'o, who was the Co-Chair of the Pacific Early Childhood Development Forum in her position as the Minister of Finance confirmed this in a recent interview on the Soalepule programme this week. 

Mulipola confirmed that consultations have begun in Samoa this week to solicit and gather opinions from various stakeholders and the wider community about the development of early childhood education across the country. 

The consultations started in Upolu and moves to the big island next week. 

The aim is to collect people's perspectives on the issue and also raise awareness on how the country can formulate a multi-sectoral policy towards improving early childhood learning in Samoa. 

Mulipola truly believes there needs to be a collective approach from different government ministries, non-governmental organisations, churches, communities, and everyone in the country. 

"The aim is to prioritise learning and development of a child in their early stages of life," Mulipola said. 

"We want to formulate a policy that would guide our strategies and approach on how to invest and prioritise the learning environment of a child in the first four or five years of their lives. 

"It's very important because this is the foundation of everything and we normally focus on the youths and elderly population, but we need to shift our priorities and also start developing them and ensure that they grow up in a healthy and educational environment."

Speaking of the statistics, Mulipola said it's disappointing that only 5,000 out of 25,000 children under the age of five years are enrolled in preschool and early childhood learning facilities across the country. 

"But we already have legislation to enforce sending our children to school. That is why we must have everyone on board because everyone has a part to play in bringing up our children the right way as they are the future of our families, villages and country. 

"The parents have a role to play, the village council, the decision makers of the government, all the ministries and community at large. 

"Church leaders also have a huge role to play. Back in the day, there were pastor's schools that taught children how to read and write and by the time they reached primary school, they would already know how to read, write, do addition and subtractions. 

"So there is a lot of work that needs to be done, but I am excited that we are making progress and taking the initiative to collect the community's views and all the various stakeholders on how we can improve early childhood development in Samoa."

E.C.D. is a multi-sectoral coverage that combines the Ministry of Health, Education and Social Welfare which falls under the Ministry of Community and Social Development.

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 23 February 2024, 8:00PM
Samoa Observer

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