Satellite launch celebrates ‘Girls in I.C.T. Day’

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture has launched a new communications satellite to improve internet connectivity at school campuses helping students use the internet in their studies.

The satellite was launched at the M.E.S.C. compound in Malifa on Thursday morning coinciding with the 10th anniversary of Girls in I.C.T. Day, which promotes the need for girls and women to pursue a job in the fastest growing sector of the world’s economy.

The day is an annual event of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (I.T.U.).

One student at Aleipata College says it will help greatly in her pursuit of a career that involves numbers and computers.

Silonetona Leuiti, 17, a student at Aleipata College told the Samoa Observer that computer class is one of her favourite subjects at school.

“I.C.T. is a good career for us young women. At our campus I don’t really think there are many students or any students who plan to pursue this type of work but for me, I am here because I have an interest in working in this field in the future,” said  Ms. Leuiti.

“It’s a great career path because this type of work is needed for families and for churches too. My favourite subjects in school are commerce, accounting, computers and mathematics.”

Ms. Leuiti was among a handful of young women from nine secondary schools who participated in ‘Girls in I.C.T. Day.’

After she graduates, she plans to attend the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) where she might major in I.C.T.

“When I am done with college, I’d like to further my studies at the National University of Samoa because I am really going for this goal – I want to be one of those women to work in the I.C.T. field,” said Ms. Leuiti. 

“It’s a goal of mine and enrolling at the N.U.S. will help me achieve this goal.”

The Vice-Principal at Aleipata College, Doreen Alama, who is also a Computer Studies teacher said they are excited about the launch of the satellite. 

Currently, the two computer labs at Aleipata depend on a Wi-Fi connection that belongs to one of the school’s teachers, she said.

When the COVID-19 state of emergency restrictions closed schools, the need for connectivity at all campuses became an emergency of an educational kind, said Ms. Alama.

“We looked at emergency situations like the shutdown due to [COVID-19] that happened last year so this is to ensure that we can easily engage students especially at times when schools break or during the holidays,” she said.

“With this [satellite] no matter what happens, school can continue in a normal fashion. So this will help our students get their homework done and help us to communicate with them better. 

“This isn’t just great for the students but for the faculty and staff too. It improves communications for us way in the back (kua) but also for us who are kua in communicating with people in town to get our work done. We are so happy.”

There are more than 400 students enrolled at Aleipata College for the 2021 school year.

Their Computer Studies program was established just five years ago, said Ms. Alama.

“When the program was first opened, we had very few students who enrolled because they didn’t understand and were probably apprehensive about taking a new subject and also we didn’t have enough computers. Now we have two computer labs, our Wi-Fi connection and four computer teachers so we're progressing and moving forward,” she said.

Nine schools participated in the I.C.T. event, three of the colleges – Lefaga, Leifiifi and Safata – joined virtually. 

In attendance personally were students from Faatuatua Christian College, Saint Mary’s College, Maluafou College, Anoamaa College, Aleipata College and Palalaua College.

The satellite was made possible by M.E.S.C.working in partnership with the Office of the Regulator (O.O.T.R.).

It was the first major project between the two agencies, said Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Fuata’i, Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) at M.E.S.C.

 “It’s to ensure uninterrupted learning for the children,” she said.

Speakers included Afamasaga, Regulator Lematua Fuatai Purcell and Sarai Tevita, the I.C.T. Director at the National University of Samoa.

Twelve students who competed in the ‘Girls Can Code’ competition in 2020 were recognized with prizes from Digicel Samoa.

The awardees are as follows: Lupeoaunuu Vaai, Mariyon Mah Yuen and Carita Vili from Saint Mary’s College; Matalima Sialavai Tupulua Pelenato, Hailey Patu and Hailey Hunt from Faatuatua Christian College; and Milovale Paulo, Gardena Satiu, Lotoaomalua Afatia, Fagafou Peseta and Lomialagi Misipele from Malua fou College.

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