Sixteen-year-old Grace Ah Young, of Samoa College, is the winner of the inaugural S.S.A.B. Impromptu Speech competition. She spoke about the topic: “Is Samoa’s Educational System good? If not why?” The Owner of S.S.A.B. Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai said she was impressed with the caliber of speakers and is looking forward to making the competition an annual event. The competition is among activities the company is using to mark its 10th year anniversary. This is a transcript of what Grace Ah Young said:
Is Samoa’s Educational System good and if not why?
I disagree with the notion that Samoa’s Educational system is good. I will explain my reasons through three points.
My first point is the lack of teachers; secondly we lack resources and thirdly, I want to talk about the issue of discipline within our schools.
Let’s talk about the shortage of teachers. There is a decrease in the number of good teachers in our colleges and primary schools. Last year I had a Physics teacher and he knew the subject from top to bottom but he didn’t know how to teach the students. This is a very bad thing because if teachers can’t get through to the students, how are the students going to learn?
And it’s not just the lack of teachers but it’s the lack of teachers who understand the subject, know how to teach the subject and know how to get through to the students. There have been a few complaints and cases where teachers have complained about their pay rates.
I really agree with this. Teachers, other than parents, are teaching our young generation today and they are responsible for bringing up students in the education system by teaching them the right things.
So if we don’t pay them right, how can we expect them to do a good job?
What you reap is what you sow and if we don’t give the teachers what they deserve, then why would they want to teach the students? Why would they want to teach our children?
I know that a lot of you are parents and you guys have jobs, but if you look at things from a teacher’s perspective, with a pay rate as low as $4 an hour and this is just an example, and the teacher has five kids that he/she is trying to put through good schools with good teachers, how do we expect them to do that? How do we expect them to do their job at a good pace with good influence and motive when they are not even getting a good pay? Why would people want to do that?
You know we are all human beings. There are times when we become selfish, it’s true because we cannot be selfless all the time.
There’s a time when we get tired of trying to be a good person and you just say ‘hey you know what I’m just going to break here and cut my job if these students don’t want learn.’ Besides, they pay me $4 an hour so why should I teach these students if they can’t pay me what I deserve?
My second point is the lack of resources. I believe this stems from the lack of support from the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.
Take my school for example. At my school, we lack textbooks. We have to share them and it’s kind of difficult to do that. I am in Year 13 and we do not have any Biology textbooks. We rely on your support on your Text Books to teach us.
How are we supposed to learn if we don’t get the support needed from the appropriate ministries in terms of text books and resources? How are we going to learn?
I am very passionate about this because I hate sharing. At the moment, it works like this; Monday you get this text book and the next day you get this Text Book and on Wednesday you have to give me this Text Book. It’s frustrating.
My third and final point is discipline.
Now, the United Nations has recently enforced the law that children are not allowed to be smacked in our educational system. But in the Bible it says that parents are supposed to discipline their children.
We see a lot of problems arising now from the lack of discipline in the educational system. For example the gangs, the fighting at the makeki. What have we been doing to stop all of that from happening? Nothing.
All we do is expel them. Should we not consider sitting them down and giving them a good smack and say ‘you are not supposed to do this, so do not do it again.’
Our parents are not the only people that are supposed to smack us. I believe everybody who has the responsibility and the appropriate knowledge and with the right reasoning, I believe they have the right to disciple our children.
It doesn’t have to be the smack where you need to get the fusipau and you go all out until the students have tattoos on their back. It can be just a little something to remind the child that ‘hey you are still young and you are under my authority.
And if God tells me to do this, then I will pull through with my job and I will do it.
To conclude, I believe there should be more discipline especially from our teachers. It has to be done for the right reasons because there is an appropriate amount of discipline that is needed, not to the point where the teachers kick out a student and fasi them in front of everybody to embarrass them.
But just to teach them a lesson in the right way.
Also we need to address the issue of the lack of teachers and quality teachers too. I believe that if we have teachers with the right understanding and knowledge and the right way to teach our students.
Lastly, we need more support from the Ministry of Education and other relevant Government Ministries. With these issues sorted, I believe our school system will vastly improve. Thank you.