Samoa takes the lessons
The findings of a survey designed to improve the quality of education in Samoa and two other Pacific countries will be used by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture for that very purpose.
That was the message at the T.A.T.T.E. Building yesterday where the findings of the Pacific Benchmarking for Education Results (P.a.B.E.R) Survey were discussed.
Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands were used to pilot the project, which aimed to improve the quality of education and student performance, in particular to respond to low levels of Literacy and Numeracy.
Speaking yesterday, the C.E.O. of Education, Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata’i said the findings could only improve the education sector if they are used appropriately.
“The focus of the project is really looking at the practises in the classrooms and also our policies at the Ministry level as to how all of that contributes to achievement and non achievement of literacy and numeracy outcomes of the students,” she said.
“The most useful thing out of this project is the engagement and the level of ownership of the Ministry, staff and also those who participated in the study in not only conducting the study but the analysis and also contributing to organising the findings in a way that makes sense to us, also determining what action we should take based on those evidences so that we can make a difference in the student’s achievement.”
According to Dr. Fuata’i, one of the needs clearly identified by the survey is that teachers need all the support they can get.
“It’s not going to be easy but we know from the evidence that the Ministry and the team cannot do it alone. We call upon the community much broader than the school committees, parents and teachers association.
“We need to have the support of everyone in the villages to not only monitor what happens at the school, to query what is going on as to whether their children are getting the benefits of their teaching and whether they are learning anything.
“We also need the support of the community to make sure that when the children go home they are supported in their studies and homeworks.”
Australian High Commissioner, Sue Langford, pointed to a more serious problem in education, and that is children in primary schools are struggling to read, write and count in accordance with standards they are supposed to meet.
“The Samoan Government has responded quickly and I am pleased the government is already using the evidence in this report to draft and adjust policies in the areas of teacher quality, curriculum and assessment,” said Ms. Langford.
“Much work remains to be done by Policy Makers, School Directors, Principals, Teachers, Parents and Communities to ensure that all children are learning and achieving their potential.
“This is important because quality education and improving learning outcomes has the power to generate positive and lasting change.”
The Australian High Commissioner also had some words of encouragement for the stakeholders of the education sector.
“First, to think about policies that will lead to positive learning outcomes for students and how they can be implemented,” she said.
“Second, to consider what recommendations can be implemented to support teachers to improve learning in the classroom. Teachers are the key to improving learning outcomes in every classroom in every school in Samoa.”
Lastly, Ms. Langford reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to support the developments in education in Samoa.
“Over the next four years, Australia and New Zealand have jointly committed approximately $9-10million tala each year to support Samoa’s education priorities,” she said.
“Additionally, Australia will provide $6 million tala in technical assistance to support Teacher Quality, Inclusive Education, Literacy and Numeracy, Post-Secondary Education and Training, Education Management Information and ICT.
“Australia’s support to Samoa’s education sector includes support to early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education and training.
“It is important for us as a donor because quality education provides access to opportunity and choices. Quality education increases incomes, reduces poverty, and enables individuals to effectively participate in community life.”