Samoa Opposition: Rural, Urban Schools Differ In Quality

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Education minister says district schools ‘equipped’ for students

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 30, 2013) – The Opposition Party has dismissed claims by Samoa’s Government that schools in rural areas are on par with their counterparts in town.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Palusalue Fa’apo II says that when you compare the schools in town to those out in the districts – the reality is they are not the same.

"I am talking from experience," says Palusalue. "When you talk to the families in the villages, all they want is to send their kids to the best school available.

"So I don’t take what the Chief Executive has been saying."

The "chief executive" in question is the CEO of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Matafeo Falanaipupu Aiafi.

Asked about transportation problems for students who live in rural villages, in relation to the new finishing times for government schools, Matafeo said the time has come for parents in the rural areas to consider sending their children to nearby district schools.

"Those are more reasons for parents to utilize colleges in their own villages," Matafeo said. "The schools have been equipped and we’re also addressing the teacher issues, which means that the district schools are well ready for the children."

Palusalue, however, disagrees.

He says the mentality among most parents is that the best schools are in town. "This is despite the fact that the Education (Ministry) is trying to talk to the parents that the education in the villages is the same.

"But in reality, it is not the same. All the good teachers the facilities the resources are in town."

Palusalue went on to share the experience he had from his own constituency. "You will take a long, long time for the schools in the villages and in the districts to be at the same level as the schools in town. He used the high school in Safata as an example, saying there was both a shortage of teachers and resources.

"There are no science subjects because there are no science teachers so they have to send their kids to another school where science subjects are available," says Palusalue. "So the thinking of the parents is, they have to send their kids to the best school available which is in town.

"It will take a long time to convince the parents that the town schools and the village schools are the same. Which they’re not; that is the reality of the situation." Asked about the survey the government conducted upon which they based their decision to lengthen school hours, Palusalue said it was not the first time the government has failed to consult the community before a major change was put into place.

Last week the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture claimed that this survey resulted in the majority of respondents wanting longer school hours.

Speaking during a press conference, Matafeo claimed that making the school days longer will raise the standards of literacy and mathematics.

"This has happened often. The government does not consult the parents the community," he said.

"A survey – it’s the same case with the daylight saving; they said they did a survey but they never did that.

"They wake up in the morning and feel ‘oh we should change the daylight’ saving without any consultation with the community." He said the process should have been done properly by consulting the parents in workshops.

"For example the kids from my district get up before six o’clock to catch the bus and come over to town and when they return home its dark again so it’s very long hours," he said.

"It’s very important also for the kids to be around the parents as a family so when they come home they are tired and so forth.

"So my concern is, the hours are too long especially for the kids coming from the districts and the villages, the outback. "It’s very important for them to communicate with the community. "But in terms of communication with the parents, they didn’t do so."

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