STAP Coordinator Dr Bibhya Sharma with the new STAP graduates.
A total of fifty-one (51) students in the Science Teachers Accelerated Programme (STAP) cohort were conferred with the Bachelor of Science degree by Honorable Henry Puna, Chancellor of USP and the Prime Minister of Cook Islands, during the Alafua Campus graduation ceremony on 25 November 2016.
This number represented a noteworthy eighty-six percent (86%) of the fifty-nine (59) student cohort.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President said he was confident that each graduate had the potential to be exceptional and make a truly great contribution.
He encouraged them to believe in themselves, dream big, and work hard on their ambitions.
Professor Chandra thanked the Prime Minister of Samoa, Honorable Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Hon. Magele Mauiliu Magele, former Samoan Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, and Dr Bibhya Sharma for their role in this outstanding initiative and its success.
He added that STAP was also a cost-effective method of human resource development as it has saved about 2.2 million tala for the Government of Samoa by not having to send the teachers to Laucala (savings from airfares, accommodation and living expenses) and further 3.6 million tala by not having to employ replacement teachers since the STAP teachers remained in-service during their programme, giving total savings of 5.8 million tala.
The Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa and his Government were very impressed with the achievements of the first cohort and the ability of the STAP model to deliver quality graduates.
They have also decided to sponsor a cohort of sixty-five (65) teachers for a second edition of STAP in Samoa, which would commence with preparatory workshops from 12 to 23 December 2016 while the first set of degree courses would be offered in January 2017.
STAP Coordinator Dr Bibhya Sharma was also happy to announce that the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) will extend STAP to the USP Tonga Campus from January 2017 and to Vanuatu and most probably Solomon Islands in June 2017.
STAP is a new pedagogical model developed by FSTE.
It is an intensive two year in-service programme which provides a platform to upgrade the qualifications of underqualified teachers teaching science in the Pacific region.
This cohort-taught science model has been fancied by many due to its accelerated delivery plan, the tripartite partnership (between higher education provider, regional government and science teachers), heavily curtailed costs to all partners, in-service programme, blended mode of delivery, and the effective use of new ICT tools and technologies.
STAP was devised in light of the steady decline in students’ interests and uptake of science subjects in the Pacific region. While issues such as constrained resources, perceptions about science among parents and communities, science myths and job prospects generally influence the student decision to not take up science subjects, the lack of qualified science teachers further aggravates the problem.
According to Dr Sharma, “the STAP model is envisaged to have a scaffolding effect in the education sector as a mobiliser of societal change. Greater numbers of qualified science teachers in the region would generate an increased number of quality science students into mainstream tertiary level science programmes thus increasing the number of science graduates.”
The first STAP began in June 2014 at USP’s Alafua Campus as a joint initiative between the Government of Samoa and USP with a cohort of sixty (60) teachers sponsored by the Samoan Government.
The teachers completed 18 to 20 courses within two (2) and a half years, while four to six courses were cross credited from their past diploma and/or certificate qualifications to make up the twenty-four (24) courses required for the undergraduate programme at USP.
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