School Principal praises digital literacy project

A school principal has praised a $2.4 million tala project to boost digital literacy amongst teachers, saying it is a dream come true for her and her colleagues.

Speaking during the launching of the project on Monday, Aana 2 College Principal Iemaima Tiumalu told guests who attended the project’s unveiling that the US$954,545 (approximately $2.4 million tala) Japan government-funded project marks a milestone in Samoa’s education sector.

“This important project that we have witnessed this morning is a very remarkable step that we need to move forward as principals,” she said.

“It will support the teaching of our students in and out of the classroom, also it’ll assist and give students more opportunities to enhance and continue their learning in using technology.”

The project’s timing couldn’t have come at a better time, Mrs Tiumalu added and pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on classes.

“So this morning we are so thankful especially that this project suits the vulnerable time of COVID-19 pandemic that we are in,” she said.

“For us school principals, it’s no longer a wish, it’s no longer a dream, it is a prayer that has been answered.”

The project will use online and multimedia platforms as a countermeasure against the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Technical assistance for the implementation of the 12-month project will come courtesy of UNESCO and it will support approximately 20 primary and secondary schools in both Upolu and Savai’i.

The schools were selected based on their marginalisation due geographical location, low socioeconomic status, gender imbalance and have enrolled children with learning disabilities.

The project’s aim is to increase digital literacy for education, in particular among the teachers, to support blended teaching and learning and to enhance steps to redress digital-divide in education plans and strategies.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer on Monday, Japan’s Ambassador to Samoa, Genichi Terasawa said the project marks another milestone in the partnership between Japan, Samoa and UNESCO.

“Japan and UNESCO have historically collaborated towards sustainable development across both the region and the globe,” he said.

“Thus this contribution demonstrates Japan’s strong commitment to support UNESCO and it’s essential operations to assist Samoa in making education available through online and multimedia methods under the serious situations of COVID-19.”

Special guests for the launching ceremony on Monday included Pastor Amosa Pouoa, UNESO Representative to Pacific States Ms. Nisha, and the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture C.E.O. Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuata’i.

Principals from selected schools also attended the launching with Afamasaga also highlighting the benefits of the project.

“We gathered here for the very purpose of launching this unique program ICT in education project,” she said.

“Developing resilient education systems through online and multimedia as the countermeasure against COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The shift to online learning programs also poses a great challenge for students with disabilities who may be left behind. 

“Therefore, improving equity for students in this respect is paramount.”

Ms Nisha gave the concluding remarks to wrap up the official program and talked about the benefits of technology to educators. 

“The turbulent year and half marked by the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to see the uniqueness of education resources on each island,” she said. 

“Through this project, it is giving us to consider how technology and educators could respond to address inequalities in access, and teaching and learning resources for both students and teachers.”

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