Manu’a schools plight brought to DOE director’s attention
The Department of Education has been requested to extend to schools in Manu’a, especially Manu’a High School, sports programs so that students there can get the same benefits as their counterparts in Tutuila, who have more exposure to off-island sports scholarships.
The request was made by Manu’a Sen. Nua T. Saoluaga in a letter this week to DOE director Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau, who was also asked to look at other problems faced by schools in the island group, like inconsistent air and ocean transport services.
“...There is a lack of sports and athletics in Manu’a, especially at the high school level,” Nua wrote and pointed out that many students have expressed their interest and are eager to play organized sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, and track & field, however there is a lack of required direction.
In previous years, said Nua, DOE was able to bring teams from Manu’a to Tutuila to compete. He also says that many parents are considering and have sent their children to attend schools in Tutuila in order to participate in sports programs.
“As we have seen in the last few years, an explosion of students from our local high schools [in Tutuila] were afforded various athletic scholarships to attend a host of colleges and universities off island,” he said. “These same opportunities should be extended to students in Manu’a.”
According to the first-term senator, Manu’a High already has a gymnasium with a basketball and volleyball court but needs athletic equipment and trained coaches. “More consideration and effort should be made to resume athletics [programs] for Manu’a,” he added.
He shared the current transportation arrangement for the teachers and students who travel to Tutuila for school activities. He says that often, students and their chaperones are either tardy or absent from events because of transportation scheduling.
“It is even more difficult for them to return to Manu’a resulting in several days of stay in Tutuila,” he said. “The Manu’a High School PTA reports that they pay $50 per student per day for their accommodations [in Tutuila]. This is unacceptable.”
Samoa News should note that because of the inconsistency with air and ocean transportation, Olosega Elementary School student, Walter Nevile Fa’apouli—who came in 2nd Place in this year’s Territorial Spelling Bee held on Wednesday— is stuck in Tutuila and staying with relatives.
There are no direct air service to Ofu Airport, which serves Ofu and Olosega islands and residents either take the MV Sili to Ofu Harbor, or fly to Fitiuta Airport on Ta’u island and wait there for an alia to sail to Ofu Harbor.
In his letter to DOE, Nua also discussed the shortage of teachers, a need for “elective courses” for Manu’a high school and the need to fix some of the problems with school building conditions. (See yesterday’s edition for more details).
“I understand that these issues are probably a result of a much bigger problem and that is transportation. However, I believe a lot of it can be addressed and improved with a genuine will to do so,” said Nua, who added that education system in the island group was much better in the 1980s and 1990s compared to now.
“Simple improvements and proper planning is key to tackling some of these concerns. Manu’a is well underserved in many other areas, but if the education system continues to be neglected and undermined, then the welfare and development in Manu’a will not improve,” he wrote.
Additionally, the quality of education in Manu’a is reflected on the fact that most of its students who attend our local community college begin their college career taking English language classes, he said and requested a plan of action concerning these issues.