Teachers: "You are the transformers of a nation"-says Togiola at DOE TOY event
Despite turmoil within the Department of Education in the past several months, Gov. Togiola said, public school teachers continue to carry out their duties and responsibilities teaching the future leaders of the territory.
Togiola was speaking Friday night at the Department of Education's 2012 Teacher of the Year celebration, which the governor says is an event honoring the "best of the best", under the theme, "Embrace our teachers to empower the future".
Togiola told educators at the Gov. H. Lee Auditorium that teachers are "nurturing the future" of American Samoa.
"Teachers... you are the only ones who can transform. Teachers are the transformers of a nation," he said. "Teachers transformed our country to be where it is today. It has been slow, because for over 70-years we had to accept leadership that was non-Samoan."
Togiola said that American Samoa had to depend on off-island people to provide classroom teaching many years ago while the government at the time sent local Samoans to be educated off-island as teachers.
"Today, as we endeavor to continue to lead our own country and to bring leaders from amongst our children and the future of American Samoa, you... are the key to that transformation," he told educators. "If you don't turn that key, it won't happen. And if you turn it, and turn it wrong, it won't happen."
"Oh yes, there will be transformation, because no matter what you do, there will be transformation," he said, adding that no one wants transformation going backwards.
Togiola said the DOE has gone through "some turmoil... indeed it has, but what we see in schools tells us, that you do not care so much what is happening anywhere else, except what's happening in your classroom. I thank you sincerely for that."
"Because if you had not done that for us, we wouldn't be the same," he said adding that teachers will get the blame for students who failed, despite the success of other students.
To the teachers selected as teachers of the year, "we urge you to continue to lead" and "never stop, because the future cannot be empowered unless you are empowered. Without the empowerment from your capacity as a teacher there will be no empowerment anywhere."
In his Samoan speech, Togiola said the most important investment for any country, especially remote ones, such as American Samoa, is the investment in the minds of their young generations by educating them. He said money spent on educating the children of a nation is money well spent.
Although it's important for a government to focus on infrastructure, such as building roads, hospitals, and other government assets, if that nation's children are not educated, there is no future for that nation, he said.
He continued, saying that there is no sense having beautiful, new infrastructure, when a nation depends on importing others to operate the government, and recalled that between 1900 and 1977 it was people who came here from off-island to operate the local government, while the local generation - at that time - were being educated off-island.