While Samoa remains free of COVID-19, the pandemic has taken its toll on the country’s education system. When a national state of emergency was announced in March 2020, schools were shut, and the Samoa Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) found itself with a new set of challenges on its hand. Much change was required to meet teachers’ needs for digital resources and improved digital literacy, and to ensure teaching reached students in their homes.
To meet these needs, the Ministry put in place several programmes, including developing teaching and assignment packets which were delivered to students
Recording lessons for broadcast on TV and radio; filming select teachers to support the professional development of their colleagues; and training teachers in using the Moodle platform to communicate with students.
The COVID-19 crisis presented several challenges for the Ministry, which had to re-programme its work and funds in response to the new reality. Limited internet connectivity for students and teachers, insufficient resources to pay for online modalities for learning, and a lack of capacity in digital literacy and curating online resources all impacted on the reorganization of teaching during the state of emergency.
However, the crisis also represented an opportunity to move forward the online learning agenda, which had always been in the long-term planning of the Ministry. The state of emergency made these issues acute, forcing teachers, principals, parents and Ministry staff to pull together to make sure that children Samoa continued to have access to learning.
It brought out the best in everyone as they mobilized partners and resources to ensure education could continue, in the face of a crisis