Samoa Minister Accuses American Samoa Of ‘Stealing’ Teachers

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MPs concerned about recruitment due to teacher shortage in Samoa

By Mata‘afa Keni Lesa

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 24, 2014) – Minister of Education, Magele Mauiliu Magele, did not mince words in response to concerns about local teachers being recruited by American Samoa.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Magele said: "About the representatives from American Samoa who are in the country, it appears that they have come to steal, in a respectful manner, teachers from here."

Several Members of Parliament voiced their concerns about the impact of having teachers from Samoa recruited for jobs outside of the country when Samoa already faces a teacher shortage.

This week, a recruitment drive by American Samoa started. They are looking for up to thirty teachers to take back to the territory, offering to double what teachers here, are being paid.

In Parliament yesterday, Minister Magele was not upset. Rather, he said "this is a challenge to the Ministry."

The Minister also told Parliament he was "not fully aware" about what’s being offered by the American Samoa recruitment drive to lure teachers over.

"But we are looking into it," he said.

On the other hand, Magele said if Samoa "had many teachers, this would be one of the good markets" for our people to find work.

Earlier this week, Fa’auifono Vaitautolu, the Deputy Director for the Department of Education in American Samoa, told the Samoa Observer that the recruitment is not new.

As for why the recruitment is necessary, Faaiufono said: "Every year there is a shortage of teachers in American Samoa because they would either resign, retire or transfer to other countries."

According to Fa’auifono, American Samoa lacks qualified teachers for basic subjects such as English, Maths and Science. The territory also needs teachers for vocational subjects such as carpentry, plumbing, electricians and mechanical engineering.

"These are the teachers, which we are seeking for and we’re hoping to find them here in Samoa," Fa’auifono said.

Assistant Director of Secondary Schools in the Department of Education, American Samoa, Samasoni Asaele said the recruitment drive offers good opportunities for teachers in Samoa.

But why is American Samoa recruiting in Samoa?

"Instead of going to overseas countries like India, Philippines and America for help, we thought that Samoa is close by. Samoa is our neighbouring island and teachers from here are familiar with the language."

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