Every child in Samoa must attend school from early childhood education until he/she reaches tertiary level. In the context of Samoa, ECE is not compulsory; however the Education Amendment Bill 2018 which is now ready for its third reading in Parliament proposes for all children to attend ECE when they are four years old, as it is the initial fundamental first step of every child’s education life.
The government provides funds through a School Fee Grant Scheme (SSFGS). These funds are distributed to government and mission schools only. It covers tuition fees for all students enrolled at primary and those at years 9 to 11 (secondary). This grant also provides opportunities for schools to purchase materials and equipment to improve student learning. The Government also provides funds for the purchase of consumables for TVET in secondary schools. As well, an annual government grant is provided for all mission schools, private schools, ECE centres and special schools.
Early Childhood Education in Samoa is governed by the National Council of Early Childhood Education with the assistance of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. The centres are managed by boards of various churches/religious groups and organisations namely (i) Methodist; (ii) Catholic; (iii) Faalapotopotoga A’oga Amata Ekalesia Faalapotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa, as part of the Congregational Christian Church (CCCS); women committee groups (iv) Komiti Tumamā and (v) Private ECE centres. While the official age2 for ECE is 3-4, enrolment of 2.5 year olds is optional. The information presented here is collected and used for verification purposes to inform the disbursement of the grant. This information mainly focuses on the number of children enrolled at all registered ECE centres across the country.
Primary Education covers Year levels 1 to 8 as governed by the Education Act 2009. At primary level, three national assessments are conducted. The Samoa Primary Education Literacy Level (SPELL) assessments; which are diagnostic and competency based tools which are administered for years 4 and 6. At the end of Year 8, students sit the Samoa Primary Education Certificate of Attainment (SPECA) assessment, in which its focus is changed from being an aptitude test to an achievement test in alignment with Samoa’s outcomes based curriculum.
Secondary Education in Samoa is from year levels 9 to 13. At the end of year 12, students sit the Samoa School Certificate (SSC) national examination to determine their progression to year 13 level. The Samoa Secondary Leaving Certificate (SSLC) is sat by all year 13 students and it is to determine and prepare themselves for enrolment into tertiary education.
2 Some children are not enrolled until 4-5 years old