Samoa Education CEO Apologies For Offending Teachers

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Matafeo: Wants to encourage teachers to stay, not leave for Am. Samoa

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Oct. 22, 2014) – The Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C), Matafeo Falana’ipupu Aiafi, is adamant that his comments about teachers from Samoa, who have left to teach in American Samoa, have been taken out of context.

"I apologise if they have received it in such a way but that wasn’t the intention of my comments," Matafeo told the Samoa Observer.

"My intention was to encourage teachers to stay in Samoa and develop our country and for the government to support them. Of course we are all grateful to teachers who have been able to educate all of us."

Matafeo has angered teachers and their families over comments he made on national TV last week where he said the teachers who have left have forgotten about the investment the government made in their education.

He went on to accuse them of putting better salaries before service to the country.

What seems to have infuriated Matafeo was that he said only one teacher gave official notice of their departure.

The C.E.O. said it's the prerogative of the teachers to seek better benefits especially salaries however he felt they have neglected their calling to serve Samoa.

Asked to elaborate yesterday, the C.E.O said he is not stopping teachers from leaving Samoa to seek greener pastures.

"But they should go through the proper process of resigning so that when they return they will be given jobs," he said.

"We can’t satisfy everyone but the government has been very supportive of teachers and we are in the process of implementing a salary increase (for teachers)."

During the weekend, a teacher who identified herself as "Ms. Alofamosamoa" verbally attacked Matafeo over his comments.

"At first I thought he was joking until I kept on watching and I realised that he was actually serious," she said. "I have been teaching for more than twenty years and I feel a bit like those teachers who have left. For many years we have been crying out to the government for better salaries and better working conditions."

She added, "I am ashamed to tell you that after all those years of teaching, I’m paid just above $20,000 per year. I’m grateful that I still have some money but for all those years of teaching for that amount of pay, I will gladly join those teachers in American Samoa."

Last week, seven teachers from Samoa and their dependants arrived in American Samoa. More local teachers are expected to join them.

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