ICT IN EDUCATION
Within the education sector, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) has developed an Information Technology Strategic Plan 2000–2003 which looks at managing ICT to ensure the ministry properly meets the needs of stakeholders. This plan includes the management and operation of an ICT system, not only for ministry functions, but also for the schools system. It has been developed around 19 issues that include Internet access for both the ministry and the schools, hardware/software, an ICT steering committee and staff training. The recently launched MESC 10 year policy includes ICT policies for education.
The Education Ministry acceptance and willingness to introduce and use ICTs is mainly for basic form of ICTs in the form of broadcasting applied through the Educational Broadcasting Unit. The Broadcasting unit is prevalent and operational between 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on school days. The use of television and video is encouraged, but mostly restricted to private schools. A project has also been implemented to extend broadcasting for Year1 to Year3 to use CD audio whilst Year 4 to Year 8 generally use cassettes.
It is perceived that the value of ICTs in the education process is for research, communication and networking purposes. The ministry is generally supportive of ICT interventions, although not directly involved. It has assisted in facilitating partnership between Samoa College and Pacific Island Network (PIN) and Schools Online to receive computers and engage in online collaborative projects between it and other schools internationally.
The Education ministry/government involvement in provision of telephony to schools is in the form of the Institutional Strengthening Project of the Department to look at telephonic contact support for all schools. An estimated 59. % of schools have telephone access (fixed or mobile).
Previously, only 52. % of education graduates complete education with access to ICTs but this has now changed with computer studies (basic literacy skills) compulsory for all education students at NUS. Home access to ICTs is very limited. Currently there are no incentive mechanisms to encourage use or ownership of ICTs among educators. A small number of schools have internet access, mostly private schools but this is increasing. Education Ministry/government involvement in provision of Internet to schools is via the recently implemented Schoolnet project with 5 schools being connected. There are 63. % schools with at least one computer. 64. % of schools have access to classroom/lab of computers. These include some private and mission schools and six government colleges have complete labs, namely Samoa and Avele and the 4 schoolnet colleges. There is no direct government funding for provision of computers to schools. However, they are working with the Asian Development Bank in an ADB-funded project to equip 13 schools (three secondary, 10 primary) with at least one computer each. The Education Ministry has recently formulated as part of its 10 year policy, policies regarding use of ICTs in education system.
In terms of current and/or planned use of ICTs in secondary education, there is none at government intervention level, although individual schools are implementing strategies. In terms of pre-service, all pre-service education students undertake a compulsory literacy course in ICTs. A national curriculum for Computer studies for Year 12 and Year 13 was introduced in 2004 with in-service workshops for computer studies teachers. However there is no current and/or planned use of ICTs for in-service educator training. Consideration of use of ICTs to supplement /complement /replace learning materials for curriculum delivery is viewed as supplemental at this stage.
Consideration of use of ICTs to supplement/complement/replace learning methodologies is still in its planning stages. It is speculated that a large-scale implementation would definitely have a positive effect on learning methodologies and techniques. Consideration of use of ICTs for communication between learners and others, within the school, country or internationally is viewed as desirable. ICT in Samoan schools is viewed as opportunity for remote schools in small island states to have world-class education. The Internet is viewed as having a positive influence in the classroom. Current school/national project interventions include the recently implemented schoolnet in 5 schools with plans to extend the project to 22 other schools; external interventions by ADB in 13 schools; and the PIN initiative related to Samoa College.