Rep faces off with DOE director over Samoa teacher junket
Rep. Toeaina Faufano Autele faced off in an exchange with Education Department director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finua during a House Education Committee hearing last week over the number of DOE officials who travel to Apia to recruit teachers from Samoa
Vaitinasa led a three-member delegation to Samoa last month but Toeaina - a long time educator - questioned the need for DOE to “take a crew” on recruitment trips, saying that when football recruiters comes to the territory, there are only one or two people.
Toeaina says he does not understand why so many people traveled to Samoa when the applicants should come to the territory to be interviewed by a DO panel.
Hunkin-Finau says there were “only three of us that went to Samoa”, but Toeaina responded, that’s “still too many” to which the DOE director commented, “that’s you’re objective”, but Teoaina, didn’t give up and responded, “it’s still too many.”
Hunkin-Finau pointed out the trip “was approved” by the government and Toeina again replied, “I’m just saying… it’s still too many” people traveling to Samoa.
The director asked, “I failed to hear your question sir?” to which Toeina said, “I don’t have a question” but he quickly added, “Why did you need to take so many people” to Samoa and the director responded, “There were only three of us.”
Toeina was still not satisfied, and fired back with sarcastically, “well, I’m telling you, three is a crowd.”
Neither Toeaina nor any other lawmakers bothered to ask how much it costs taxpayers to send three DOE officials to Samoa.
Toeaina did say that he will hold his other comments about DOE because he and the director will continue to go-back-forth in responding to issues without good results. However, on another issue Toeaina disagree with the DOE director’s interpretation of the law on the language used in classroom teaching for all public schools.
DOE had proposed during the Education Summit last October to use both English and Samoan for classroom instruction. Hunkin-Finau told the committee that the law states, “the language of instruction in public schools shall be English and Samoan should be used only for clarification.”
And the plan is to use Samoan language in lower levels, she said and hoped that the administration will support this move and the Fono will approve appropriate legislation to amend the law.
However, Toeaina said Samoan language is already used in several schools and this is evident if anyone visits classrooms. He believes the law says to use the English for classroom instruction but also use Samoan language to facilitate teaching.
“So I don’t know what other changes to the law” that DOE wants, he said.
Other details about teachers from Samoa in Tuesday’s edition of Samoa News.