Fiame says transforming education for climate action vital


Education is a key driver for the achievement of our sustainable development agenda and remains a top priority for our government as articulated in our national development strategy.

The Pathway for the Development of Samoa with strategic emphasis on empowering communities, building resilience and inspiring growth.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa made the comments when she spoke at the Transforming Education Summit, UNGA held this week in New York. 

Fiame said  transforming education systems needed to address the crises of equity and inclusion, quality and relevance as well as transforming education for climate action in the Country.

“I am also happy to say that prior to arriving in New York I had attended the 10th Pan Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning, a very apt prelude to the Transforming Education Summit.” 

Adding the PDS mirrors Samoa’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals in particular SDG 4) for raising the quality of education and the 2030 Agenda; a plan of action for people, to realise their full potential and wellbeing, protecting the planet, and achieving prosperity.

A triple planetary crisis is faced by all of humanity; namely climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss and the COVID 19 pandemic which have contributed to diminishing the hard earned gains we had achieved in attaining our sustainable development gains. 

The pandemic also hghlighted the need to bridge the digital divide in the delivery of education and services remotely.

“Samoa’s government has adopted a collective response through wide consultative actions to develop this National Statement. 

“It is a statement of priorities indicating key levers to transforming education and accelerating progress in education.” 

The Prime Minister pointed out that Samoa supports Action Track in achieving quality and inclusive education as well as gender equity through relevance and free access to education for all delivered through its annual ‘One Government Grant’ for early childhood education, primary and secondary schools as well as for schools for students and people with disability. 

“Despite government efforts, the exclusion of a marginalized population due to social, cultural, and financial hardships impacts gender equality, inclusion, health, and well-being of students. 

“This is due to factors that are beyond the classroom and are under-funded by education.

“Samoa calls for inclusion on the Summit agenda decisions related to mobilizing dedicated funding to address targeted vulnerabilities, impacting students in Small Island States namely in the areas of nutrition, health, wellbeing, ICT, and technologies – which encompass all our basic needs for learning.” 

The Prime Minister pointed out Samoa is committed to improving literacy and numeracy in Samoa by empowering school communities, home environment for learning and strengthening partnerships such as those with pastors’ schools, churches and external partners such as the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO. Partnerships are key to resilient education systems.

“Students require accessible learning centres and support mechanisms that are community led and driven, to assist learning beyond the classroom. 

“Failure to provide such support will lead to higher drop out rates, exacerbating poverty and the emergence of other social challenges such as rising teenage pregnancies.

“In this regard Samoa calls for stronger emphasis on and funding support through the Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) to service Small Island nations in the area of literacy and numeracy, climate change, TVET, and sustainable projects through resource

development, procurement, and resource sharing.

“Samoa urges urgent attention to attain life learning skills that are sustainable. Emphasis is on strengthening social and vocational learning (TVET) skills as part of early primary and secondary learning programs in order to address the challenges of climate change and economic opportunties for our people in particular youth.

“The call from teachers for the profession to be given due recognition comes with the need for better incentives, and remuneration packages.

“Despite government efforts to increase salaries, the crisis of teacher retention in the face of higher-paid jobs exacerbates issues of teacher shortages that are most pronounced in hard to teach subjects such as Science and TVET despite the consistent promotion of professional development programs for teachers.” 

According to Fiame, Samoa calls for the Summit to look at innovative measures to address this global shortage of Science and TVET teachers. 

Attention to ensure freely accessible online and Open Education Resources for teachers and students is highly recommended. Similarly Samoa calls on UNESCO to relook at science innovations as well as least cost resource options for science laboratories in schools.

Samoa is committed to Action Track 4 and joins the global shift in the use of digital technologies to prepare schools for future closure as well as prepare students for real world work and study environments.

The shift, however, has left the most marginalized population at a disadvantage relating to access which include devices and unaffordable connectivity thus widening the learning gap. 

“Given Samoa’s support for the use of free and open education resources and quality eductional content in all areas of learning, the government’s attention is drawn to the students are calling on the government and educational institutions to establish appropriate financing schemes that will enable students to rent and buy devices. 

The Education sector is calling for tax leverages and exemptions to reduce costs on all ICT devices in order to benefit schools.

“Our experiences with COVID 19 and ongoing fight with climate change impacts on our people and infrastructure; reinforces our conviction of the importance of technolgy and online distance learning to provide access to quality education for all Financing education requirements for Samoa stands at 4.8% of GDP and 16.2% of government expenditure.

“Samoa calls for a multi-dimensional coordinated approach between multi-lateral and bilateral partners in supporting all 4 key thematic areas if Small Island Nations are to remain committed to achieving the SDG 4 indicators of the 2030 Agenda and Thematic Areas of

Transforming Education to enhance resilience.

“Very importantly, the higher the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index(MVI), the lower the SDG 4 progress, which makes a strong case for the adoption of the MVI as soon as possible for vulnerable countries to remain eligible to additional financing beyond income


“Ultimately, vulnerabilities produce losses that hinder SDG progress and repurpose scarce resources to disaster response at the expense of quality service delivery.”