It is not uncommon for a village primary school in Samoa to not be fitted with desks and chairs. Students in several village primary schools across the country are being taught in classrooms, whilst sitting on the floor.
So when desks and chairs were delivered for Afega Primary School last Thursday morning, Principal Mrs Lesuea Sa’u Toleafoa was emotional.
“This is the realisation of a dream,” says the school Principal.
“For years we have been praying for school furniture – desks for our students to be able to sit up and write their work, because our children have been sitting on carpets and mats on the floor during classes,” she said.
“The student numbers continue to grow and it was getting difficult to create a conducive teaching environment without desks and chairs,” she Mrs Sa’u Toleafoa.
The school received 200 desks and 200 chairs, made possible through the joint efforts of the Afega Primary School Committee, the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (MESC), the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and the Best Value Supermarket that currently leases space from the village market area.
Chairman of the Afega Primary School Committee Maulolo Tavita Amosa said education is paramount to the advancement of Samoan society and reflects back to the ongoing work of the Village School Committee over the years, including the school building, sports field and fence around the school compound.
“The education of our children is key to the future prosperity of Samoa through the development of families, villages and churches,” said the recently elected Member of Parliament who has led the Afega School Committee for some years now.
The first step towards securing desks and chairs for their students was when they approached the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (MESC) who responded favourably.
“They responded with $10,000 tala, for which we are extremely grateful,” said Maulolo.
Another $10,000 was raised by the Village School Committee with the support of the PTA.
“We then approached Best Value Supermarkets, but their initial quote was 30 sets for ten thousand. So we kept negotiating with them to try and get our target number,” explains Maulolo. “They then agreed to donate 100 desks and chairs..”
The Minister of Education Sports and Culture Hon Seu’ula Ioane attended the handover celebration. The Minister acknowledged the importance of ongoing cooperation between Village School Committees and MESC.
One such example of working together between MESC and the School Committee was outlined by Principal Sa’u Toleafoa, who said the cooperation helped them to solve an issue of teacher shortage they had faced for the 2022 school year.
“The second problem we had was teacher shortage because we lost three teachers who left at the end of last year.. I took that request to the MESC and the Village Council and again, they have responded favorably,” said the Afega Primary School Principal.
Four members of the village have been approved to take up teaching roles with the primary school this year.
“We are so grateful to the Ministry of Education as well as the Village Council of Afega for making this all possible,” said “We will work hard this year to show our appreciation for their hard work and commitment to us.”
Also present at the handover ceremony were members of the Tuanai and Malie Village School Committees.
As Member of Parliament for Sagaga 2, Maulolo said the needs of Tuanai and Malie Primary Schools were next in the pipeline for him.
“We are now working with School Committees of the other two primary schools in the district, Malie and Tuanai, to assess their needs, and hope to approach those projects in a similar way,” concluded Maulolo.