Gov’t, parents must work to fix education problems
“The government isn’t ready to start the new school year,” said Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga during a briefing yesterday with (PTA) parent teacher associations, teachers, DOE officials and health officials on the status of DOH’s school inspections that have been ongoing since last month. The meeting was held at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium.
These inspections have led to the delay of the new school year for two weeks already, with the start of the new school year now slated for August 26, 2013.
“The question is why... this is happening; why are the schools not in a condition to start the new school year?” asked the governor.
During the briefing, DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua conducted a presentation of what the inspectors discovered at the schools that were cited, after which DOH recommended they be closed down.
As previously reported, the issues they found with the schools included kitchens not being clean, with rodent & insect infestation found in food storage and preparation areas.
Governor Lolo noted along with the presentation prepared by the DOH Director, that the scenes at the schools are disgusting. The governor went on to say that sanitation is not the only problem that schools are facing — but they are also facing academic hurdles.
“The sanitation issues will be dealt with within a few weeks, when students are able to return to school," he stated. "However, one of the predicaments is that 80% of the students are at remedial level and that’s why this meeting is important — because you parents need to complain to us in order for us to fix the problem.”
The governor noted that students at the high school level should be able to attend universities and colleges off island; and students also attend school to attain jobs afterwards, but this is a problem because some students who graduate from high school cannot even write a complete sentence properly.
“That is the biggest problem in the education system,” said Governor Lolo.
He noted this problem did not just occur yesterday, rather it's been there for a long time. “We shouldn’t turn away from this problem, we should work together to fix it.”
Lolo noted that regarding the condition the schools are in, parents are not doing their job —which is to complain to the DOE Director about the teachers, the principals —or to the government leaders about problems.
“How are we going to know there is a problem when no one complains to us about it? Complain to me about issues and I will look into it. Parents—your voice needs to be heard out there.”
The governor appealed to parents that the problems with the education system is not a problem just for the government to deal with but rather, a problem that the government and parents must work together to combat. According to the slideshow presentation by DOH Director, they inspected cafeterias, bathrooms and total grounds including the classrooms and the restrooms, which are in a much more critical condition.
The schools that were cited and recommended for closure included two high schools—Fagaitua High School and Nu’uuli Vocational Technical High School; while Elementary Schools consisted of Afonotele, Aua, Coleman (Pago Pago), Le’atele (Fagasa), Matafao ECE Program, Pava’ia’i, Siliaga (Aoloau) and Tautalatasi Tuato’o Alofau. Two private schools are on the list: Marist St Francis Elementary and Ta’iala Academy.
The issues they found with the schools included unsanitary kitchens, along with insect infestation.
DOH Director noted that their initial inspection was mainly to see if cooks had valid health cards, however when they were approached by Rep Faimealelei Anthony Allen about the condition of the Aua Elementary cafeteria, they expanded their inspection to the whole school, where they found outrageous sights of uncleanliness and unhealthy facilities and classrooms.
In another issue brought up during the DOH presentation — that of clean drinking water— Motusa noted that there should be water coolers for every school, depending on the number of students.
During the presentation, there were recommendations made for the DOE to work closely with DPW, ASPA, DPS and EPA, with the idea that the DOE school lunch program needs to cooperate with DOH.
“DOE Sanitation teams need to work together to conduct regular facility visits and implement action plans, and recommend an immediate government task force of multi-disciplinary individuals, departments and agencies and private entities to deal with immediate citations."
The DOH slideshow had photos of rodents and insects found in food storage areas. DOH Director Motusa indicated that it was through this inspection they found out there is a DOE Sanitation team that was apparently not doing their job.
According to the presentation, the Fire Department also needs to be more involved in training school staff. EPA and ASPA need to monitor water, sewage and disposal on school premises. There should also be a "long term outlook on building permit regulations and include Public Health input for sanitation standards.
“Every school must have a security, fence or retaining wall. Fumigation must occur annually and all cooking areas should be equipped with exhaust vents. All school lunch workers should possess a valid health card and proper attire and every kitchen must have an inspection checklist. All unserviceable equipment should be inventoried and removed from the campus."
Lt Governor Peleti Mauga who has been working on the projects with the schools in repairing and building new restrooms and classrooms which are needed, pointed out that some of the damage to the schools are caused by culprits who are roaming around the school areas.
He appealed to village councils — saying they should keep an eye on the schools within their villages to ensure that the schools are not being vandalized.
THE NEW COMMENTS PROCESS
To make comments, you will need to register. You can register under your real name or use a 'screen' name. This way, people will be able to follow comments and make comments back and forth to each other. If you choose to use a 'screen name' no one will know your true identity. In either case, no email addresses will be available to anyone. It is an automated process. If you have questions, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You currently are not logged in, please LOGIN to post comments.