Update: New school year officially begins today
The Department of Education plans to cancel Spring Break next year to make up for lost classroom days due to the delay in the opening of the new school year, which is now set to officially open today for all public schools on Tutuila and Aunu’u.
School year 2013-2014 for public schools was initially scheduled to start Aug. 12 but was delayed for a week due to unsanitary conditions and safety issues discovered by Health Department inspectors.
As previously reported, Manu’a schools opened Aug. 19 after they were given the green light by DOH, while schools on Tutuila and Aunu’u delayed opening for an additional week, so all repairs and renovations could be completed.
During last Friday’s cabinet meeting, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga told directors today (Monday) is the official first day of classroom instruction for Tutuila and Aunu’u and he has asked the DOE director “not to short change the school calendar,” and “make sure we have 180 school days and… our children are given every opportunity to make up for the loss of time and activities.”
Because of the delay in opening the school year, “we have cancelled our week of Spring Break to make up for lost instructional days,” DOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau said over the weekend responding to Samoa News e-mail inquiries.
However, in her response, she said a few schools have been given the okay to open today — with conditions — but she didn’t provide examples of conditions.
Vaitinasa said, the rest of the schools are pretty much cleared and contractors at the schools had until yesterday to clear everything, while some schools have minor things to complete.
During the cabinet meeting, Lolo told directors that everyone has been “quite busy” last week with the Adopt-A-School program and “it’s been quite an experience for all of us”, adding that “what is happening [is that] we have a different mindset as far as education is concerned.”
“We always think education is just the [DOE] director, teachers and all educators who are involved. Now we have a different perspective in terms of education. And as I said many times, education is everybody’s business,” he said before asking Vaitinasa to address the meeting.
The DOE director thanked her colleagues and their departments for their support in the Adopt-A-School program, which has been a great help to the department in getting schools prepared for the new school year.
She said there is a new policy in place, requiring all school principals, administrators and personnel to clean their respective schools before school gets out every Friday, and parents and teachers associations have been asked to assist in any way they can.
The DOE director said it's important to get parents involved, because children are first taught at home and they should have respect for government assets and properties set aside to educate them.
Lolo also thanked directors and their departments for their support in adopting a school and helping with the clean up.
“It’s our job to provide the support and services they (DOE) need, and it’s their job to deliver the mandate they are given to deliver — which is educating students,” the governor said. “It is our intention to keep and maintain our Adopt-A-School program.”
“We’ll try to get as many private schools involved. I feel that we have an obligation to the private schools, they are tax payers…” Lolo said.
The governor said he plans to organize a group of public and private school administrators to come together and work as a team to make sure that all public and private schools are given the same requirements of getting cleared by DOH inspectors.
Earlier in the cabinet meeting, the governor said that for the first time, he witnessed the ordination of a Catholic bishop, the Most Rev. Peter Brown, who is now the new leader of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago.
Lolo says it “was a once in a lifetime event and it was also quite an experience." He suggested cabinet directors attend these types of events when they get the chance because they will learn from it, the different issues and ideas surrounding the territory.
Vaitinasa said the word that she kept in mind from the ordination is “evangelization — preaching the gospel and keeping the people close to Jesus Christ.”
“Well, I hope through this whole process, that not only the community but especially the Department of Education, becomes evangelized in keeping up all of the good work that you have done and the parents, who are coming to help out,” she told directors.
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