Samoa Education Network advocacy for better education policies and programmes
Even though Samoa has recorded only few cases of infection up to the time of writing, the country has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the closing of its borders, the stopping of international flights, the loss of tourist income, the loss of jobs, and the closure of schools, setting back the education needs of children, and especially the most marginalised. A 2014 survey indicated that only 3.5% of households nationally had access to the internet.
Allowing for some growth since, it is clear that the vast majority of households and students could easily not access online learning opportunities. This is just one indicator demonstrating that despite efforts from the Government, donor partners, school teachers and parents to respond to the pandemic, much needs to be done to address the loss of learning in addition to the previous gaps in learning especially for marginalised groups.
The Samoa Education Network (SEN) is a small, young coalition aiming to work with communities and marginalised groups to identify and give voice to the education challenges facing them, and to advocate for education policies and programmes that address these challenges.
On the basis of SEN's analysis of Samoan context, drawing on the first 2 years of the EOL project, and in response to the impact of COVID-19, SEN has developed four objectives that focus on SEN’s institutional strengthening and more effective education policy and programme advocacy.
- Objective 1: To strengthen SEN's capacity to contribute to Government education policy, budget and program development processes, especially the LEG, so that they are more gender inclusive, and better able to address the education needs of marginalised groups in Samoa. (OC1 Outcomes: 2, 3)
- Objective 2: To broaden SEN’s membership and collaborations to include and give voice to marginalised groups including youth, in education policy and program processes through their participation in workshops, meetings and forums. (OC1 Outcome 1)
- Objective 3: To undertake research that involves marginalised groups including youth on key education issues that affect them, to enhance their agency and to advance SEN’s evidence base for advocacy. (OC1 Outcome: 1)
- Objective 4: To strengthen SEN's institutional capacities, analytical skills and advocacy strategies by participating in sub-regional, regional and international education advocacy mechanisms and processes, and learning events and collaboratives, to more effectively engage in national education monitoring and accountability mechanisms. (OC1 Outcomes: 4,5)
In 2022-23 SEN will focus on engaging NGOs, community based organisations (CBOs) and communities to empower and give voice to marginalized groups. SEN's approach is rights-based, with a SDG4 lifelong learning framework, based on values of inclusion, gender equity and close connections with rural communities, listening to and voicing their concerns and recommendations.
SEN will draw on the experience of its members, especially METI the lead agency, and its relationships with CBOs and rural villages, to build capacities and provide evidence from the ground as a basis for constructive critique of the Government's policies and gaps, especially in relation to education quality, access and inclusion. SEN will also strengthen relationships and engagements with the new Government and MESC officials to advance its advocacies.
An earlier phase of the project was implemented in 2020-2021 with support from Education Out Loud.