Samoa’s Efforts to Develop Early Childhood Echoed at Regional Meeting

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NADI FIJI, 23 October, 2019: Four Government Ministries are inputting Samoa’s efforts at the Forum for Early Childhood Development (ECD) being held in Fiji this week.

Samoa’s delegation in Fiji is lead by Samoa’s Minister of Finance, Afioga Sili Epa Tuioti and the Minister of Women Community and Social Development (MWCSD), Afioga Tuitama Dr Talalelei Tuitama.

Also attending are the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga Fuata’i; Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development, Afamasaga Faauiga Palepua Mulitalo and Ministry of Finance ACEO for Legal Division, Salote Peteru.

The CEO of the Ministry of Education, Afamasaga elaborated on the scope of the meeting.

“The recognition of ECD should include four different sectors of Government that includes Education, Health, Finance and Social welfare.”

She said Samoa can offer the experience emphasizing Samoa’s efforts in developing Early Childhood Education (ECE).

“We can offer experience after having completed some of the stuff required to make sure that we drive the development for ECE,” said Afamasaga.

She took for example the legislation that was approved in Parliament to make two-year old children attend early childhood education and start attending Grade 1 at age five.

Afamasaga said this is a change from children attending ECE at age four.

“We also have in place our ECE policy, our curriculum statement for ECE and our teachers’ manuals for ECE.”

She said the education sectors has already developed their minimum service standards for ECE to upgrade ECE teachers.

Afamasaga believed that each countries are at different phases of development or progress towards setting national policies for ECD, adding that Samoa does not have an ECD policy yet.

However according to Afamasaga, there is regional talk involving three other countries, and they will put in place a draft for the rest of the island countries to comment on so that an ECD policy can be put together.

Afamasaga said most of the discussions evolved around who the full councils should be on the first day of the forum, and most have suggested that heads of four sectors that are involved in the ECD, and to also include the political level to help drive the development of early childhood.

“Right now in Samoa we already have a development and initiative by the Ministry of Health and that is antenatal, postnatal and parents with care; and also the Ministry of women to discuss social developments,” said Afamasaga.

The CEO said they all need to come under the umbrella of education, and we need to set up bodies to coordinate early childhood development.

Speaking of challenges, Afasamaga said there are so many challenges at different levels.

“We can draft and drive but if there’s no money it dies,” she said.

“And that is the involvement of the finance sector. Not only that, but the steering committee should find time to get together to discuss issues on how to improve the development of early childhood.

“That is to find resolution and to get the full support from the community.”