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Ed Summit denotes pledge to future generations

“It’s imperative to accept the undeniable fact, that the responsibility to educate our children can no longer be left solely to the Department of Education and parochial schools, because this awesome responsibility demands the active involvement of every resident of American Samoa- including the Legislature, our Congressman, parents, cultural leaders, businesses, villages, churches, and all agencies of the Executive Branch in order for us to transform our educational system to ensure that our children succeed,” said Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in his speech opening the three-day education summit on Tuesday.


Called the Governor’s Education Summit, the event calls for “Students First…” highlighting his belief that only together — all stakeholders, not only educators — can address the extremely poor academic performance of local students.


It is the first of its kind in the territory, and according to the governor, “this summit deserves recognition as a significant event in history, for it memorializes our collective acknowledgement that the children and future generations of American Samoa deserve the best of our God given talents, to establish an effective pathway guaranteeing their future success.”


He noted that the Samoan culture memorializes significant historical events by referring to them as “taeaos”; literally translated as “mornings”, denoting a significant historical event, “which gave rise to the transformation of our way of life”.


The summit has been packed with government leaders, lawmakers, District Governors, Village Mayors, educators, church leaders, NGO representatives and business owners, denoting by their collective presence what Governor Lolo stated was “a full recognition of commitment to the future generations of American Samoa, and assures that legacy, and a place in history, that we have faithfully and diligently discharged our duty, inherent in improving the probability that our future generations are guaranteed success.”


Over the last two days, the Governor’s Education summit has had sessions and panel discussions on issues such as language and education, teachers, and the involvement of parents and the community in the education system.


Panel discussions continue today and will conclude with conference resolutions, according to the Summit director, Ti’alemasunu Mikaele Etuale. Samoa News will continue reporting on the events of this summit in following editions.


In his speech, the governor said the summit compels collective attention to identify risk factors and infrastructural deficiencies, from which "we will jointly fashion solutions to reverse this debilitating trend”.


“For a natural-resource poor island micro-state, with its economic development options limited by its geographic size, and being far removed from the economic mainstream, American Samoa must depend on the intellectual resilience of its people, and its future generations,” Lolo stated.


“Policy issues such as the use of our [Samoan] language as the medium for instruction in the classroom, teacher credentialing, teacher performance assessment, teacher compensation, optimum student-teacher ratio, evaluation of student performance, a conducive learning environment, use of technology to supplement instruction, consolidation of low enrollment schools, school facilitates’ maintenance, transportation system, school lunch program, and a myriad of others, will be addressed in this educational summit.


“It is no longer acceptable for parents to expect teachers to work miracles in the classroom, not only to guarantee maximum assimilation of knowledge, but also to instill values critical to our children’s success in the real world,” he said.


During his speech, the governor acknowledged and complimented the presence of Samoa’s Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi given he is a consummate author and a renowned scholar.


Tui Atua, who was introduced by the governor, was the keynote speaker during Tuesday’s opening session of the Governor’s Education Summit.


Samoa’s Head of State spoke on the importance of retaining and passing on “the richness of our language” as a deep responsibility that calls for a commitment — “The deciding factor … is whether we have the character and humility to commit the resources and energy required to take and keep control” over what we as individuals, communities and nations do.


(See story in Wednesday, October 23, 2013 Samoa News for more details of Tui Atua’s keynote address before the Governor’s Education Summit)