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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

Education in Slovakia
Education in Slovakia has a lot of similarities to the education system in the U.S., however there are a few key differences worth noting.

The first one of these major differences is the years of preschool education. In America, most schools have one year each of pre-school and kindergarten, which most students attend at the ages of four and five, respectively. However, Slovakia has a few years of kindergarten education. Most students attend this when they are between three and six years old. Although this level of schooling is not required, kindergarten is a period where students learn numbers, nature, colors, how to draw, shapes and names of the days and months.

The next level beyond kindergarten is primary school, which is required by law. In America, primary school is called elementary school and is six years long, and leads into two years of middle school. In Slovakia, primary school is split into two sections. The first section starts at age six and is four years long (first to fourth grade) and the second section is five years long (fifth to ninth grade). By the time students finish this level of education, they should be about 15 years old. In America, at 15 years old, students would already be halfway into their high school education.

Secondary schools are where the most differences show between American and Slovakia. High school education in America is still focused on core subjects like history, science and math, although they usually delve deeper into the subject matter. Rather than general subjects, you can specialize in certain subjects. For example, it is no longer just science class – you can usually pick between biology, chemistry or physics. Secondary education in Slovakia focuses not only on higher education in these subjects, but vocational training is a key aspect. This better prepares students for the future job market, and also this blend of general education and vocational training is what makes education in Slovakia so effective. The Legatum Institute releases a yearly ranking of countries based on certain aspects. In 2016, according to the Legatum Prosperity Index, Slovakia ranked 30th out of 149 countries evaluated, compared to the U.S., which was ranked eighth.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), attending secondary education gives students a significant advantage in the job market. Employment rates for those who complete upper secondary education is 70 percent and that rises to 82 percent if they complete tertiary education as well. However, the rate of employment for those without upper secondary education is 30 percent, which is against the OECD average of 55 percent.

Slovakia and America have different ideologies about education, but it is clear that Slovakia’s focus on higher education and vocational training especially have hugely benefitted Slovakia in terms of education for its citizens.

Scott Kesselring

Photo: Flickr