Samoa
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Retired Teachers re-hired to alleviate the teacher shortage

By Lagi Keresoma.

APIA, SAMOA – 31 JANUARY 2023: The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education, Sports & Culture, Aeau Christopher Hazelman has confirmed that the Ministry is rehiring retired school teachers to cater for the shortage of teachers.

“It has already been done and we have quite a number of retired teachers back on the field,” said Aeau.

Most of the rehired teachers are for Mathematics and Science subjects.

Aeau confirmed that there is a high demand for Science teachers, and whilst he is aware that Samoa has a lot of science experts working locally, they are however not teachers.

“In the past we had Science teachers under the US Peace Corp volunteer program, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and also from India,” he said.

The Ministry is now looking at other avenues to resolve the challenges with the shortage of Science teachers.

“We are looking at utilizing or sharing teachers in neighbouring districts and utilizing technology for virtual lessons where other schools can zoom in to a lesson being delivered,” said Aeau.

This means benefits in terms of salaries and allowances for the person who would be delivering such service.

Asked about the impact of the Public Service Commission policy on public servants retirement age, Aeau said they have overcome that barrier.

He said they have requested PSC to allow the return of some retired teachers in the most needed areas and has been approved given the teachers health have been cleared.

Aeau said that all employees of MESC have to have a medical clearance which is mandatory.

Year 2 National Assessment Program Cancelled
Meanwhile, the Year 2 National Assessment Program (SPELL) has been cancelled.

The program is basically a 15-20 minutes conversation between the teacher and a student to assess the student’s progress.

“Some schools have 50 to 60 students per class and by the time others have done their assessment, other students are either playing outside or have gone home, so we noted the program, as unsuccessful,” said Aeau of SPELL.

Team Work Builds Excellence
The Annual Teachers Conference took place last week where Aeau spoke of the issues of shortage of teachers and the 2023 school year plan.

It was also a chance for the Minister for the Ministry of Education Sports & Culture (MESC) who is a former educator, Seuula Ioane to encourage and urge his fellow teachers to do what they do best, teach.

The conference was on the theme “Team Work Builds Excellence

“The theme is timely because more than ever, in our journey as educators, we need to be working and collaborating as a team. It is the only way we can ensure our goal of assuring quality teaching and that learning is affordable to all students irrespective of where they attend school,” said Seuula.

He urged teachers not to forget that their purpose is to guarantee that our young people’s education adequately equips them with the tools to be active participants in the current and future development themselves and of Samoa.

He also encouraged the School Committees, school advisors, parents, principals and all stakeholders to work together to “shape our tomorrow.”