Samoa Literacy and Numeracy Bilingual Books Workshop Strengthens Collaboration


Pacific cultures are intricately intertwined through the avenue of education.

Addressing attendees at the Samoa Literacy and Numeracy Bilingual Books Workshop organised by the Institute of Education (IoE), The University of the South Pacific, Aeau Christopher Hazelman, CEO of Samoa’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports highlighted the importance of collaboration between the Ministry and The University of the South Pacific.

He drew attention to the common cultural thread across the region, symbolised by the tapa cloth.

“We all share the same importance of the tapa cloth, and it is basically why the USP gowns are brown – because of the common theme and cultural identity around the region,” he said.

The CEO also emphasised the role of education in preserving and empowering local communities.

“Literacy and numeracy continue to be an issue for the work that we do in the ministry and now we continue to look at the use of bilingual materials and bilingualism is a key element of the work that we do in the ministry,” he said.

“As we are looking at our local literature, whether it is in literacy, numeracy, TVET, digital platforms, we must understand we are trying to look at the importance of the role of education in preserving and empowering our local community.

“Education is empowering our young people, empowering the future of our country,” he said.

Acknowledging the challenges ahead, the CEO also highlighted the importance of collaboration with regional partners.

“As part of the job we have in the Ministry, we have reached out to our friends in PacREF, we have reached out to USP, the Institute of Education, so that we can continue to collaborate and enhance the the use of bilingual materials, especially in the areas of literacy and numeracy,” he said.


Student support

Institute of Education Fellow in Literacy and Curriculum, Mrs ‘Ana Heti Veikune highlighted the relevance of the Samoan proverb ‘Gau le tila tuu i Manono’ in grounding the work being done at the writeshop.

“The use of the Samoan proverb to ground the work being done here resonates with our idea of good, sound educational practice- give it to the experts, in this case, the officers and teachers in Samoa,” she said.

She said the workshop had been a golden opportunity to engage with Samoa Ministry of Education and Culture officers, especially their curriculum development and professional development units.

“The development of curriculum-aligned, culturally relevant bilingual readers is a strategic activity to ensure teachers and students continue to access good resources for teaching and learning Gagana Samoa and English.

“This writeshop has enabled the coming together of officers from secondary, primary, ECE, TVET and Inclusive Education to create bilingual readers from ECE to lower secondary level, including TVET and inclusive education at primary levels.

“Opportunities to learn from each other in this way do not happen often so we are making the most of this time we have been given,” she said.

IoE Fellow in Research and Mathematics, Dr Teukava Finau, said as Samoa had few initiatives already in place and implemented in their system to the support primary school teacher and students in numeracy, the big question that was raised during the workshop was ‘what else can we do’ to support students learning in numeracy.

“With the experience of the participants and what I have, we believe that producing hands-on numeracy bilingual resources can be a piece of puzzle that may be added to support these initiatives and the learning of students in numeracy,” Dr Finau said.

“So, throughout the workshop, I work closely with staffs from CDU division, teacher training division, and teacher appraisal division and share our ideas, expertise, and skills on how to develop hands-on activities for teachers to use.”


Positive Outcomes and Future Prospects

After three days of intensive collaboration, Dr Finau noted positive results from the participants.

“They are able to design and write simple bilingual activities with instruction/guides for teachers to use in the class with students.

I have a positive feeling that this workshop, these staffs have wider view of how to design and write student-based hands-on activities in bilingual language,” Dr Finau said.

Mrs Veikune added the bilingual materials for the children of Samoa, written by their own experts in the language and curriculum had to be one of the best practices IoE could offer to ensure the resources gifted to children were the best for them.

These bilingual readers are being written and illustrated in Samoa and will be made available on the Wakamoana Learning Hub.


The five-day workshop, funded by Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF) and hosted by Samoa’s Ministry of Education and Culture at the Soifua A’oa’oina MESC Lifelong Learning Lab, will conclude on Friday, February 23.


USP Chat Service
Lets start: