Teachers go the extra mile for their students

Four teachers for a hundred and twenty six students. That is the teacher student ratio at Papa Sataua Primary School. Despite the challenge, however, the teachers are determined to do the best they can for their students.

One of the four teachers, Luagia Samau, told the Samoa Observer in a telephone interview that since the state of emergency (S.O.E.) lockdown in March this year, the school has had it tough.

With a roll of 126 students at the beginning of this year, the staff took a hit when the Principal passed away in June.

That left only four teachers to continue.

It was only recent that a successor has taken over as Principal.

Unlike other schools, each teacher oversees two classes and Mr. Samau cannot remember the last time the school ever had more than four teachers.

“Despite these unprecedented times and the lack of teachers, we’re still firm with our responsibilities to the students despite that it takes a lot of effort to do so,” he said.

However, the onset of the S.O.E. orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic created more challenges as they couldn’t enforce the two meter social distancing policy. 

“We can’t enforce the two meters because two classes share one room from Year 1 to Year 8 so it’s really difficult for us,” he added.

“I guess we’re not really realising that now but if the recent suspected case of COVID-19 is confirmed, I’m sure the whole school will take it seriously.”

Due to the challenges that some of the schools in Savai’i currently face, school staff have asked that the Government considers preventative measures such as shutting down the daily ferry service. 

The Papasataua Primary School also has other challenges, such as the lack of furniture including desks for its students. 

Currently, most of the school’s 126 pupils either study sitting on the floor or use dilapidated furniture. According to Mr. Semau, poor infrastructure has contributed to poor learning outcomes for the students. 

But there is light at the end of the tunnel for this far flung school, as the Australian government recently donated 67 desks and chairs. 

“For everyone who doesn’t know yet, our new school building was just opened last year and our old building was taken down completely,” he said.

“But before that, the facilities were all worn out, the environment was just unhealthy for their minds (students) and mainly the fact that most of the children were educated on the floor while some were on desks and chairs but were worn out as well.”

Mr. Semau acknowledged the work of those overseeing and funding the project and parents for their continuous support.

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