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Governor asks other depts to come to DOE's aid

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has called on departments and agencies that have a role in school sports to absorb costs involved, instead of passing them on to the Department of Education, which should be concentrating on educating the territory’s future generations.


Some of the expenses borne by DOE in past years when it comes to the sports program are things such as electricity, after-hours use of the Veterans Memorial Stadium, police services and KVZK-TV crew filming football games.


This was one of the many issues pertaining to DOE that the governor mentioned during the July 11 cabinet meeting, where Lolo stressed several times the need for all directors to offer their assistance in any way they can when it comes to the DOE and educating our students.


Among the “educational activities” that DOE is involved with, said the governor is that they have sports at the Veterans Memorial Stadium and they have “been bearing this cost every year.”


“... so I’ve instructed the departments that are involved, to bear with us. Whatever the cost to your department, you bear that cost,” the governor told directors. “We have things like charging overtime to the Education [Department] — that will not happen in our administration.”


“You’re given that responsibility to provide the service, provide it for our people.” he said. “Let the DOE do what they are supposed to do... focus on educating our young people and our children.”


During the cabinet meeting, the governor said other ASG departments, such as Department of Public Works, could assist DOE by working out an agreement to provide maintenance to public schools.


He said, “Educators spend so much time on how to fix the light bulbs, to fix the toilet — anybody can do that. Let the educators focus on teaching our children. When they do that, the next five to ten years, we’ll be getting better students than what we have had so far.”


“So we are in the process of developing a system where we can maintain all the supporting services from other agencies and let DOE focus... on education,” he added.


DOE director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau told Samoa News earlier this month that DOE received a $1.6 million increase in its new school budget from the Governor’s Office with a specific request to restore the sports program.


At least $200,000 is being restored for the sports program, but Vaitinasa added a precaution that sports and all other extracurricular activities are secondary to DOE's primary mission, which is academic achievement.


Some lawmakers plan to question DOE officials during the not-yet-scheduled hearings for the fiscal year 2014 budget, on the issue of funding for sports programs.




Also during the cabinet meeting, the governor suggested that directors and other senior ASG officials, who have teaching backgrounds, should assist as well by being substitute teachers at schools where they have been designated to help clean.


“If you can serve as a role model in the classroom or as a substitute teacher” that will greatly assist in the administration’s goal to improve student performance, he said.


Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga added that there are about eight or so staffers at the Governor’s Office with backgrounds or credentials in teaching, who could be substitute teachers. Lemanu said he was been instructed by the governor for these staffers “to brush up on their teaching skills" in order to help out with classroom teaching.