Students in Samoa now have the option of studying at an overseas school without leaving our shores – at the Apia International School (A.I.S.).
A.I.S., launched yesterday and declared “officially open” by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is a ‘bring your own device’ online correspondence school, where students enrol in high schools anywhere in the world.
Welcoming speeches were followed by a ceremonial tree planting by Tuilaepa, which was met with applause.
Fiona Ey is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for A.I.S., registered as a charitable Trust and as a secondary school with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture.
She said A.I.S. is a “correspondence school for the 21st century,” and that Samoan high school students should have access to world class education.
“Our digital learning environment via student laptops is unique in Samoa,” she explained.
“Information and communications technology is integrated into every aspect of our students’ studies, equipping them for life in the modern world.”
Ms. Ey said the idea for an international school began with having space to run it in.
Marj Moore runs The Learning Centre (previously Kip McGrath), an afterschool centre for English and maths tuition.
This time last year, she was telling Ms. Ey that she wished her school could be used during school hours as well as after.
“Have I got an idea for you!” Ms Ey told her, recalling the story to the audience at the opening ceremony yesterday.
“One year later, here we are with our first intake of students ready to start orientation and commence classes next Monday.”
Online learning does not mean isolated learning, Ms. Eye explained.
Students will have a volunteer teacher, currently being recruited through Australian Volunteers International, and a local teacher, Papali'i Momoe Malietoa von Reiche to teach Samoan studies, creative arts and sport.
“They have a regular school day, with structured class times, and a set timetable,” Ms. Ey said.
The students, teachers and parents all work together to create a productive learning environment. Parents play an active role to choose an online high school.
Ms. Ey said for the first year, AIS is capping the classroom at 15 students, and there are spaces available still. There is room to expand and build more classrooms, to reach a capacity of 30 or 40 students in the future.
While being proficient in English is not a requirement for prospective AIS students, it all depends on the overseas high school of their choosing. While there won’t be many options for Samoan language teaching from overseas, the school may be able to help students learning in European or Asian languages.
“The school caters for both local families and for overseas students who are here temporarily,” Ms Eye said.
“The idea is that we have got more choices for local families, and those students that may be coming here.”
Parents and students who see potential further study abroad may like to consider working towards high school diplomas in those countries, and can now more easily do that in the online format.
“It’s an easier transition into the tertiary system there,” Ms Ey said.
“We’re about incorporating technology into every aspect of education so that our students aren’t being left behind because that is where education is going elsewhere in the world. When eventually our students are studying overseas, that’s the environment they’re going to be studying or working in. the world of work is all based around technology and the younger that you start that, the better your opportunities are.”
Parents interested in enrolment information like timetables and fees can contact Apia International School on Facebook, or ring Marj Moore at The Learning Centre on 7516766