Community Literacy Centre in Samoa - why is it so successful?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
Concerns and issues facing achievement in literacy are not new, particularly in developing countries. The challenge in Samoa is that many children speak the Samoan language in their everyday communication with families, friends, villages and the wider society. However, in Year Four, they are introduced to English as a subject and this continues until they are ready for secondary school, when, all formal examinations in schools and universities with the exception of Samoan, are conducted in English. The small island nation is preparing to be a greater part of the world stage, as its people get ready to expand their horizons through migration, regional and international exchanges of employment, and further interest in the tourism market to improve its economy and foreign exchange earnings. As a result, the need for improved literacy and competency in English is becoming more apparent. This means that children will need as much assistance in improving their literacy levels as is possible, to support their learning at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels and as they choose careers. One way of doing this can be the establishment of community literacy centres that operate outside of school hours. This research reports on one of these centres. The Centre was selected based on its years of operation, the manner of its organisation, the service that it offered, and the successful results that it appeared to be having with its clientele. The principal purpose of the study was to identify the role of the centre, observe its operation closely and recommend whether or not the model could be copied to another setting under similar circumstances and at the same time achieve comparable results. Qualitative data was gathered from semi-structured interviews with the facilitator, both face-to-face and telephone (to clarify any points), observations of the programme at the centre, individual interviews with the students and finally a focus group interview with parents. The findings show that with a committed and informed facilitator or leader, an organised programme, regular reading hours, capable teachers or assistants, a ‘print saturated environment’(Duffy, 2003, MOE, 2003, MOE 2006, Pressley, 2002,) with a variety of books designed to attract children, and a safe, non-threatening environment, school age children could improve their literacy levels and engagement in reading. The conclusion indicates that centres similar to this one can be set up in other villages in Samoa to assist children with improving their literacy skills in English and hopefully their future outcomes.