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Samoa is an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean. It is said to be the “Cradle of Polynesia” because it is believed that the island of Savai’i is Hawaiki, the Polynesian homeland.

Samoa became independent from New Zealand in 1962, which brought over 100 years of foreign dominance to an end. Internationally, Samoa is thought of as a tropical paradise where the inhabitants are welcoming of tourists, but there are still problems on the small island nation, one of which is education.

The major challenges for education in Samoa include the quality of education and access to early childhood education, according to a 2015 report filed by the government of Samoa. Early childhood education helps get children ready for primary school, but most teachers do not have the skills to fully prepare them. Another concern for early childhood education in Samoa is children’s performance in basic education. A number of children do not gain basic literacy and numeracy skills, which are important for them to further their education.

The quality of teaching poses a problem for early childhood education in Samoa as well. There are some challenges when it comes to qualifications and certifications, but the main problem is the competence of teachers and principals. Many early childhood education teachers are untrained.

Primary and secondary education in Samoa also has problems. Various schools do not achieve the minimum standards for the quality of learning in the classroom. Many primary school teachers do not have the proper training and support, and teachers seldom have the skills to identify and teach special needs students. Teachers often have a lack of commitment to the profession as well. For many teachers in Samoa, teaching is not their career of choice, and they often leave when the opportunity comes up. This makes keeping good teachers a challenge in both the primary and secondary levels. To improve the quality education in Samoa, high quality teachers must be retained.

Despite this, the graduation rate among high school seniors continues to be above 90 percent, according to the Samoa Observer. Between 2011 and 2014, the graduation rate was 98 percent, but it fell to 96 percent in the 2014-2015 academic year. The CIA reported that the literacy rate among adults was 99 percent, but the country ranks 48th in education spending.

Although education in Samoa has made significant progress, it still faces problems with quality. In order to improve on this, they must they must prepare children for further schooling in their early life. Public awareness of the importance of early childhood education must be raised as well.

For primary and secondary education, marketing for teachers must be more aggressive in order to attract teachers and keep them committed to the profession. Teachers should be encouraged to find creative ways to deliver a lesson in order to keep students engaged.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr