Hefty checks go to Gov’s Ed Task Force top personnel
Checks totaling $21,000 were issued to four members of the Governor’s Task Force on Education (GTFOE) following the Governor’s Education Summit, the three-day event held Oct. 22-24 at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium in Utulei.
Those who received high payouts or stipends included Pulefaasisina Palauni Tuiasosopo, chairman of the GTFOE, who got $6,000, GTFOE secretary Dr. Sili Sataua, GTFOE vice chair Fofo Sunia and GTFOE member Rev. Father Iosefo Timu, who each received checks for $5,000.
Several other Summit participants including teachers, received stipends of $150, although Samoa News understands the Director of Education Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau did direct her teachers through a memo to return their stipends. However, an immediate response to a SN query on the issue was not returned.
Samoa News also understands that not everyone who participated in the Summit received a check, only those whose names were on a “list”.
Further, the stipends were drawn from the ‘special programs’ account under the Governor’s Office approved by the Fono earlier this year in the amount of $300,000 and earmarked specifically for the Education Summit, which means local funds were used for the stipends, not federal funds.
(The initial proposed amount for the Education Summit was $500,000 but the Fono cut the request by $200,000)
The Governor’s Office has confirmed Samoa’s Head of State his highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, who served as keynote speaker, and his wife each received a $1,000 sua presentation, in addition to a $10,000 meaalofa.
The Executive Director of the Summit, the first of its kind in the territory, was Mikaele Etuale. It is unknown if he received a stipend.
The 3-day event was packed with government leaders, lawmakers, district governors, village mayors, educators, church leaders, and business owners.
The Governor’s Executive Assistant, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira told Samoa News yesterday, via email, “Directors did not receive any stipends as well as other government employees who attended”, adding “upon completion of the work of the Educational Summit Commission a complete financial report will be prepared.”
He said, “The Educational Summit Commission has presented its preliminary report to the Governor. The Report is being finalized and will be transmitted to the Governor for subsequent submission to the Legislature of American Samoa and made available to the community along with proposed actions resulting from the Educational Summit Recommendations.
“Legislation will then be submitted for Legislative consideration facilitating implementation of key recommendations,” he stated.
Iulogologo continued, “The success of the Summit was attributed to the diligence and hard work of the Governor's Educational Summit Commission with technical support from the Department of Education and its Director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin Finau, and the American Samoa Community College and President Dr. Seth Galea'i. The Education Summit Commission is currently working on follow up issues emanating from the Conference.”
According to Iulogologo, Governor Lolo Moliga called the Education Summit to bring all of the education stakeholders together to address alarming student performance statistics.
“Governor Lolo M. Moliga firmly believes that the business of educating the children of American Samoa must not be left solely to the Department of Education but a responsibility which must be shouldered by the legislature, parents, businesses, community/villages, religious leaders and organizations, and everyone else; coining the phrase ‘it takes the entire village to educate a child’,” he said.
“It is Lolo’s hope that the Education Summit generates recommendations on the direction American Samoa’s educational system should take to ensure that the Territory will grow economically and socially, along with guaranteeing the provision of choices and success, through education, to our children and future generations in whatever endeavors they wish to pursue.”