More education assistance for schools outside of Govt. System
By Nanai Taofiga Laveitiga Tuiletufuga
The $18 million One Government Grant, (OGG) dedicated to subsidise operational costs for private, mission, ECE and Schools for people with special needs is back on the Cabinet agenda and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi says Samoa should expect changes in the near future.
During his weekly Taimi ma le Palemia television program, Tuilaepa says many of the private and mission schools have approached him requesting financial assistance to pay for teachers’ salaries.
In revisiting the OGG, he said Cabinet will consider the requests subject to a full review of the OGG assistance package.
“Preliminary findings show that the $18 million tala grant is simply not enough to cater for the needs of private, mission and special schools not under the Government system,” says the Prime Minister.
“And the review is looking into more than just teachers’ salaries for these non-government schools..
“It looks into the entire assistance package to include incentives to upskill teachers’ capacity through scholarships with NUS and other such opportunities available.”
The Prime Minister says the changes would reflect Government’s recognition of the contribution and crucial role played by all non-government schools for the education of Samoa’s children.
“It is also a testament to reaffirm that Education is one of the top priorities for Government”, he said.
Presently, only teachers employed in government schools are included in the Government budget.
The OGG is a new version of the annual School Grant Program (SGP) started by Government over 40 years ago.
It started with an annual budget of $50,000 tala in cash pay-outs to the missions and private schools to support with the administrative costs. And the amounts allocated per school depended on enrollment numbers.
By last year, the annual school grant program’s budget ballooned to more than $6 million tala representing a 200% increase in the number student coverage. The expansion included cash pay-outs to Early Childhood Education and Schools for persons with disabilities.
For the current fiscal year, Government has approved over $10 million tala to subsidise teachers’ salaries for Church and private schools not to mention Early Childhood Education and even schools for those with special needs.
The funding is part of the $18 million tala approved allocation in the 2020 2021- Fiscal Year Budget to roll-out the Government’s “One Government Grant” (OGG) initiative.
For the current Fiscal Year, MESC approved budget is over $103 million tala as outlined below:
1. Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture – $103.4million tala
• $72.6 million tala for the Ministry’s planned operations;
• $30.7 million for Transactions on Behalf of State.
The planned initiatives of the Ministry include the following major developments;
• $18 million for the One Government Grant to schools;
• $6.5 million for the Education Sector Support Program under the auspices of the New Zealand and Australian Government;
• $1.5 million for Teachers’ Scholarship program;
• $350,000 for the Samoa Rugby Union;
• $200,000 for Sports Development;
• $150,000 for the Samoa Netball Association;
The Ministry is also working in collaboration with its major development partners in the implementation of key projects of which the largest are:
• $2 million for Inclusive Education;
• $1.2 million for the Nursing Workforce Development Program.