Governor looking at appointing Task Force to assess education challenges

fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga is looking at appointing a task force to assess and make recommendations as to how best to address some of the “education challenges” in the public school system faced by American Samoa.

The governor made the revelation at last week’s cabinet meeting held at the Agriculture Department conference room, where he told cabinet directors that “education is always a challenge, [and] it’s an everyday challenge.”

He said that last week Monday he conducted visits to public schools on the west side of Tutuila. From that visit, Lolo told directors, “We really need to revisit and relook at the structure of our education system.”

Gov. Lolo said, “Not only is it getting expensive every year but we still question the quality of our education system in a lot of ways,” and thanked Education Department and others pushing for the education of local students, but noted “it’s a big challenge.”

“…we need to find ways so that we can better serve our children,” he said, adding that “hopefully in the very near future, we’ll be appointing a task force to really look into the whole education system and recommend how we can better serve our people.”

The governor said, “Consolidation is one way to look at,” and noted, “We are paying eight and nine teachers to serve 60 or 70 students.” He said schools are scattered all other islands but “we have to make sure that we have teachers and everything in those schools.”

Lolo said these are some of the questions that need to be addressed that he hopes that he and the Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga will soon appoint a task force “to review and to make recommendations on how we can better improve our [education] system to make sure that we can provide the service to our people.”

He pointed to the overcrowding in the schools as “one of the biggest problems we face today with our education.” For example, schools like Pavaiai Elementary and Leone Midkiff Elementary each house about a 1,000 students, including Tafuna High School as well.

“Problems arise every day and it’s a big challenge for us and that’s why we ask departments to take time to go out visit” schools under the Adopt-A-School program, he said and noted that without this program, it would have cost the government at least $3 million or $4 million every summer to maintain and get schools ready for children in the Fall.

“As we visit the schools, we realize the big thing for us is to revisit and relook into the structure of our education system,” he said and noted that some of the cabinet members will be asked to “sit down and look into the system and recommend on how we can better deal with the issues we are facing today…

The proposed new task force comes at a time when the governor, in a Sept. 13 general memorandum announced the establishment of a Teacher and Administrator Compensation Task Force, which is chaired by the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira.

The 10-member task force is to “conduct a comprehensive assessment of the compensation structure and policies for teachers and administrators and to make any recommendations for changes that will improve our system of compensation.”

See Samoa News edition Sept. 16 for details.
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