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No single higher education institution can embrace changes and turns out to be perfect in its systems and processes unless there are control mechanisms in place to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

How does one university know that national and international excellence is achieved through its delivered programmes and courses?

Whose work is to maintain, monitor and manage the existing policies in these higher institutions?

Of course benchmarking can be perceived as a tool to spy on one’s performance by most educators where such process is first introduced.

However, that notion far outweighs the advantages of such a powerful tool to gain competitive insight and provides evidence based views of performance throughout product and organisation lifecycles.

So said Dr Sara Booth, a Strategic Advisor Quality at the University of Tasmania and an acknowledged expert on academic benchmarking who facilitated the National University of Samoa’s (NUS) first Academic Benchmarking Workshop held for three days recently.

“There were problems identified during the benchmarking process and peer review as you would come across academics who do not acknowledge issues that require changes in managerial level.”

“Follow up actions is also critical as some academics still haven’t completed their reviews.  What is also difficult about this process is finding partners to benchmark with and aligning with other higher education strategic initiatives,” Dr. Booth added.

But what really is benchmarking as this underpins the next steps for all universities and higher institutions in the Pacific region including Australia and NZ.

Australia’s Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (T.E.Q.S.A) defines it as a structured, collaborative, learning process for comparing practices, processes or performance outcomes. Its purpose is to identify comparative strengths and weaknesses, as a basis for developing improvements in academic quality. Benchmarking can also be defined as a quality process used to evaluate performance by comparing institutional practices to sector good practice.

In other words, identifying gaps in the system that requires improvements to achieve best practices in higher education standards by comparing one university’s standard against the other so that quality education is recognised internationally.

“I know a lot of institutions in the region think resourcing is an issue but to start small to acquire best teaching practices really is an achievement.  This exercise also enables educators to think innovative given the use of online resources to produce best results.”

For NUS it was a successful academic benchmarking workshop since the establishment of its Academic Quality Unit (A.Q.U) last year.

Successful in a lot of ways that not only nine regional institutions attended other than New Zealand and Australia, its management and staff have improved understanding of using benchmarking as a quality improvement tool as well as bringing the Samoa Qualifications Authority (S.Q.A) on board to be part of the discussions and to see where the university is heading in terms of quality assurance and enhancement.

Those nine institutions included NUS, The University of Fiji, The University of the South Pacific (U.S.P), The University of Papua New Guinea (U.P.N.G), Divine Word University (PNG), Fulton College (Fiji), AKO Aotearoa (NZ) and the University of Waikato (NZ) and University of Tasmania.

“The inclusion of participants from other universities brought an additional dimension to the discussion, raising the level of awareness among (NUS) staff of the role of internal and external quality assurance operations within a university,” A.Q.U Director Tea Tepora Wright said.

Funded under the Education Sector Plan Budget Support (E.S.S.P) for quality assurance, Tea felt that this has paved way for the many steps to be taken by the institutions that attended.

“Obviously the first is improved understanding by (NUS) staff of the process of using benchmarking as a quality improvement tool, applied for a process such as teacher professional development, course design and approval or discipline area.”

“There were several outcomes from the workshop. Many areas for quality improvement in NUS operations were identified by the staff themselves.  This is critical as it raises the level of ownership among staff for on-going quality improvement at the university.”

“The final outcome, which will be discussed further, is that of a possible benchmarking project with one or more of the universities which were represented at the workshop. Areas that seemed to be of particular interest were professional development for academic staff and programme and course design.”

An outcome also shared by the Director of the Academic Audit Division at U.P.N.G, Professor Steven Winduo. “What has been noted in our line of work is having too many processes that lack monitoring.  It is not one person’s job but involves management support.”

He told the workshop that there is a huge need to benchmark with other universities to identify weaknesses in university quality standards.  “Being here at this workshop will help (U.P.N.G) initiate quality control process and Action Plans for each university division is now underway.  To benchmark against what is taking place is a step to the right direction.”

But there is always help from advanced institutions whose academic quality units have taken off with a lot of actions in place such as that shared by the Deputy Director of AKO Aotearoa, Helen Lomax who co-facilitated the workshop.

As for NUS, the A.Q.U will be discussing further with the university management and overseas colleagues possible next steps in this area.            

This is in support of further recommendations highlighted in the 2015 Academic Audit Report conducted by the Academic Quality Agency based in N.Z.

Tuesday 13 December 2016, PR. Afioga Seumanutafa Dr Malcolm Hazelman donated to the National University of Samoa (NUS), a prize consisting of a handcrafted plaque and $300 cash. The prize was for the top all-rounder NUS Horticulture student. Dr Hazelman stated that the prize would be offered annually for 5 years.  The $300 cash prize, according to Dr Hazelman, is to help kick start the top student’s vegetable garden.  The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic and Research, Peseta Dr Desmond Lee Hang accepted the prize on behalf of the University, and thanked Dr Hazelman for his generosity and support of the Horticulture programme. 

Seumanutafa Dr Malcolm Hazelman donates prize for Top All Round Horticulture Student to NUS, receiving the prize is DVC (AR) Peseta Dr Desmond Lee Hang

 

 

 

 

If you have a strong heart, you would care enough to make the difference and end violence in your families and in your communities.

This was the message from the United Nations Women Country Programme Coordinator Ms Suisala Mele Maualaivao in an interview with N.U.S. Media.

A message that was shared during the Fun Run with the international theme ‘Strong hands, stop violence against women and girls’ held at the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) Fale this morning.

“Today is the international Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and it is celebrated globally around the world,” she said.

“It is the first day of 16 days of activism. It starts with the International Elimination of Violence Against Women and it finishes on November 10th with the international Day of Human Rights.”

So we decided to do a fun run to end violence against women.

Mrs. Mauala’ivao also explained the main aim behind the fun run.

“We really just wanted the public to come out and do a healthy activity, such as zumba, running and eat some healthy food,” she said.

“If you have a strong heart, you are caring enough to make a difference and end violence in your family and in your communities.”

“Strong hand comes from strong heart. It is not about physically but it is about being brave enough to say that this is wrong and you need different ways to engage with people you care about.”

This is the first time for such Fun Run event to be celebrated here in Samoa and Mrs. Mauala’ivao spoke of how the public participated.

“It is the first but I do not think it is going to be last. Everybody had a really good time and it really nice to see,” Mrs. Mauala’ivao said.

“It has been raining and we thought there might be fifty people but it looks like we had 150.

“Everybody needs to be involved because we have to end violence.”

 The finale of the event will be the international day for Human Rights.

“The human Right Institute of Samoa is going to launch their National Inquiry on Gender Based Violence,” she said.

“It is obvious that there are a lot of different ministries, organisations and government bodies know that this is the real issue in Samoa, and we are all trying to do our part in one way or another.”

The Fun Run is not the only programme for the first day of the international E.V.A.W.

There is going to be the Ten’s Tournament at the Apia Park later today which is the E.V.A.W. Tournament hosted by the Samoa Rugby Union (S.R.U.).

Other initiatives also include a Y.W.C.A. Rise Up Forum at the Ministry of Health conference room and also the Samoa Family Health has a session too and these are open to the public.

The U.N. Women has partnered with Digicel Samoa, Ministry of Women’s Community and Social Development (W.C.S.D.), Samoa Australian Police Partnership (S.A.P.P.) and U.N. Agencies in commemorating and promoting programmes to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

Caption: Media Class – Media and Journalism students who took part in this morning’s Fun Run.

Caption: Mele Maualaivao – UN Women Country Programme Coordinator sharing the message of ending violence against

women during the Fun Run this morning.

*Katalina Tovia is a final year media and journalism student at NUS.

 

 

 
 

Twenty eight percent of Samoans are living below the basic needs poverty line, the day two keynote speaker told the Measina Samoa Conference at the National University of Samoa this morning.

Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo  Tuilaepa, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development spoke of the many challenges faced by the Samoan people nowadays.

“46% of women are against violence,” she said.

“There are still an increasing number of children mainly abused by their own relatives, 79% of children bullying other children.”

“There is also an increase in the number of people affected by lifestyle diseases especially non-communicable diseases.”

“The increasing number of theft in different organisations because people wanting to meet the needs of church donations, family fa’alavelaves and daily needs. The differences between urban and rural areas, the performances of boys and girls in schools, and also between private and public schools,” Fuimapoao said.

Fuimapoao added that these changes occurred due to traditional, religious, and personal beliefs.

Fathers have sexually abused their own daughters are also involved in such cases.  With the mentality that she is my daughter, I own her and I am the only one who knows what is good for her. There is a rising number in teenage pregnancy because parents do not spend enough time to consult their children about the many changes of life. Parents do not intend to teach their children but they intend to punish them.

Fuimapoao explained that these changes are a clear indication that the methods from the past cannot meet the challenges of today.”

She concluded by saying, “The solution that we might be working on to overcome these challenges is to trust and strengthening our ties between our culture and our christian beliefs.”

 “The main focus is for us to hand over to our children a peaceful and happy life. We all want a peaceful Samoa and be the place where all our children can dream and achieve their dreams.”

Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo Tuilaepa was a member of the Justice and Courts Administration, a consultant for the Samoa Police Services, and also the former Chief Executive Officer for Public Service Commission for six years.

Photo caption: Challenges faced Samoans today, Fuimaopo Beth Onesemo Tuilaepa, during her speech.

*Katalina Tovia is a final year media and journalism student at the NUS

 

The 7th Measina Samoa Conference opened at the National University of Samoa (NUS) Fale this morning with the theme, Practices may Change but the Foundation Remains. The official opening ceremony began with an ava ceremony prepared by the NUS Centre for Sāmoa Studies and the welcoming of participants and guests by the master of ceremony, Matiu Matavai Tautunu.

The opening prayer was said by the chair of the National Council of Churches, deacon Kasiano Leaupepe. The keynote address was delivered by the retired vice president of Lands and Titles Court, Afioga Faamausili Solonaima Brown.

“I strongly believe that tradition and culture are precious because I am respected as a matai Samoa,” said Faamausili.

“Samoa is founded on God since Malietoa Faigā accepted the missionaries from Britain. That was when changes were made, as the pastor was called susuga but not for Malietoa anymore.”

Faamausili also explained the changes during the arrival of the missionaries.

“The changes which people faced nowadays are mainly because of mental, physical and especially the way they live their lives.”

“The family’s income as their main focus of life.”

“Others do bet on religions’ donations for they do not want any other family to be on the top but their family,” she said.

She mentioned the challenges that include donations for the religions in Samoa.

“Some are not happy because of the many donations needed by the churches, such as Faiga Me, Alofa and Taulaga,” she explained.

Apart from the challenges in the churches she also talked about the changes within the Samoa culture as in between the matai sa’o and the extended families.

“The matai sa’o bestows new matai titles without the knowledge of the extended families.”

“The matai sa’o divides the extended families in different saofa’iga to satisfy what they want.

“The current matai sa’o decides to relocate the children of the latest matai sa’o so that he can have the land all to himself.

“The latest matai sa’o’s son wants to become the next matai sa’o without mentioning the tautua from the families while the matai sa’o was alive,” Faamausili said.

Faamausili thanked God for dismissing the act to note the rightful owners of traditional lands for it solved many issues between Samoan families who have lost their lands.

She asked the participants when Samoa will overcome these issues concerning the culture and tradition through lands and titles.

“May God help us, may we hold on to our culture and traditions for it might be stolen from us,” she concluded.

The conference will continue until Thursday the 17th of November 2016.

 

7th Measina Conference keynote address. Afioga Fa'amausili Solonaima Brown

 

 

 

Photo Caption: The 7th Measina Samoa Conference Opening group photo.

 *Katalina Tovia is a final year Media and Journalism student at the NUS

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Thumbnail No single higher education institution can embrace changes and turns out to be perfect in its systems and processes unless there are control mechanisms in place to ensure effectiveness and efficiency. How does one university know that national and international excellence is achieved through its...
Thumbnail Tuesday 13 December 2016, PR. Afioga Seumanutafa Dr Malcolm Hazelman donated to the National University of Samoa (NUS), a prize consisting of a handcrafted plaque and $300 cash. The prize was for the top all-rounder NUS Horticulture student. Dr Hazelman stated that the prize would be offered...
Thumbnail   If you have a strong heart, you would care enough to make the difference and end violence in your families and in your communities. This was the message from the United Nations Women Country Programme Coordinator Ms Suisala Mele Maualaivao in an interview with N.U.S. Media. A message that was...
Thumbnail Twenty eight percent of Samoans are living below the basic needs poverty line, the day two keynote speaker told the Measina Samoa Conference at the National University of Samoa this morning. Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo  Tuilaepa, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women Community and Social...
Thumbnail The 7th Measina Samoa Conference opened at the National University of Samoa (NUS) Fale this morning with the theme, Practices may Change but the Foundation Remains. The official opening ceremony began with an ava ceremony prepared by the NUS Centre for Sāmoa Studies and the welcoming of...
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