House speaker says teachers should be thankful for what they get

Teachers want spring break for DOE teachers reinstated
ausage@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In response to a request from Manu'a Rep. Vesi Talalelei Fautanu Jr., that the American Samoa Department of Education (ASDOE) should have a spring break so teachers can get time off from work, House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale told lawmakers during yesterday's session that teachers should be thankful for what they have, getting paid for the whole year while working only nine months.

Vesi, a teacher by profession, told lawmakers that teachers need time off and spring break is a good chance for them to relax before heading back to the classroom to educate local children.

“I request that a hearing be called so we can advise the Director of Education, that teachers need time to relax from their busy schedules," Vesi said, adding that he wants to know the reason why students from Manu’a High School are not involved in many of the school activities such as sports programs and other competitions so students there can get the same benefits as their counterparts in Tutuila, who have more exposure to off-island sports scholarships and other things.

Rep. Kitara Vaiau seconded Vesi’s request, saying that every single day inside the classroom is a challenge for the teacher, not only to teach the students to become good leaders, but also to make sure the lesson for the next day is ready.

As a member of the House Education/Scholarship Committee, Rep. Sataua Dr. Mataese Samuelu told lawmakers that the issue regarding Manu’a High School not participating in many of the activities on Tutuila is not a new one.

He referred to the request for a spring break for teachers and informed his fellow lawmakers who raised the issue that under the law, students are required to be in the classroom for 186 days, or 7,647 hours in order for them to graduate and pass each class.

As a former high school principal, Sataua said the relationship between the teacher and students inside the classroom is very important, because the future of students is in the teacher’s hands.

OTHER EDUCATION ISSUES

Rep. Lavea Fatulegae’e Palepoi Mauga expressed his concern on the lack of school bus services for all the schools in his (Vaifanua) district. He told lawmakers he is saddened to see kids from his district walking — rain or shine — to school.

He supported Vesi’s request for a hearing with the Director of Education, to explain the reason why there are school bus services for some schools and not others.

Rep. Toeaina Faufano Autele put his two-cents in and offered a solution.

According to him, if there is a need for more school buses, the government can draw funds from other DOE division budgets to buy new school buses for students.

About the request for a spring break, Toeaina urged his colleagues to look at how the government is using schools to provide entertainment for this year’s Flag Day. He said some schools are using school time to carry out siva & pese practices, which is something that shouldn't be happening.

The House Speaker told lawmakers he understands why teachers need a time out from their busy schedule but added that DOE canceled school for over a week after Gita and this may be one of the reasons why there is no spring break this year.

“It’s a good issue and we can advise the DOE director to think about it, but teachers should not complain if they don’t have time off. Look at their yearly calendar, they only work 9 months but they get paid for 12 months. I agree with you if the complaint about having no spring break came from the students; but for the teachers, they should be thankful and continue to teach our children so they can become successful and good leaders," Savali said.

(Samoa News should point out that faipule and senators work two 45-day sessions a year (a total of 90 session days). But they get paid every Monday, bi-weekly during the usual government payroll run, and on non-payday Mondays, they get their tax-free office allowances. Their last recess was for 4 weeks, at which time they were paid accordingly.)

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