Oct. 05 – KVZK-TV Center in Utulei is officially opened; beams first educational program.
The Governor of American Samoa to the Secretary of the Interior for the fiscal year ended June 30th. 1964 Annual Report,
H. Rex Lee (Dem)
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
Fiscal year 1964 was a year of exacting and complex preparation for one of the most dramatic educational experiments yet attempted in any of the world’s underdeveloped lands: the use of educational television as a comparatively inexpensive and highly efficient means of providing the young in even the most isolated villages with an education of high quality.
The idea was that of Gov. H. Rex Lee, who found, on arrival in American Samoa in 1961, that standards prevailing in the American Samoan school system did not approach those required to enable Samoans to compete on terms of equality in the modern world.
Village schools were ramshackle and neglected. In many instances, their Samoan teachers were inadequately prepared for their important positions. Correction of these major deficiencies began with supplemental appropriations in fiscal year 1962, continued in fiscal year 1963 and reached fruition in fiscal year 1964.
The problem confronting Governor Lee was that of overhauling the entire school system without the severe social and economic dislocations which would have been caused by placement of some 300 mainland teachers in the villages and without jeopardizing the careers of the system’s Samoan teachers, many of whom had given long and loyal service.
Educational television seemed, to Governor Lee, a means of simultaneously upgrading the quality of instruction while retaining the Samoan staff and necessitating the importation of only modest numbers of new mainland teachers. Officials of the Department of the Interior and members of Congress believed that the suggestion had merit. The House of Representatives and the Senate authorized a feasibility study to be carried out by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.
That expert survey supported the idea. A further $1,538,000 was appropriated for an initial three-channel television system and $2 million was authorized for replacement of the existing village schools by a series of new consolidated village schools which would have another use as village community centers when not in school use.
The Department of Public Works completed major portions of the educational television system during the year under review and the Department of Education completed many of its major preparations. The national Association of Educational Broadcasters contributed substantially to the plan with expert consultations and recruitment of highly trained and experienced staff in the mainland States.
During the fiscal year, the Michael J. Kirwan Educational Television Center was completed at Utulei, an aerial tramway was constructed across Pago Pago harbor to the television transmitter site atop Mount Alava, and 14 sites have been acquired of the 26 needed for the consolidated elementary schools.
The Kirwan Center was named for representative Micheal J. Kirwan, who has shown long and sympathetic interest to the educational needs of all the children in areas under Department of the Interior administration. It is a large, two-story, air-conditioned, video-tape production center, the central unit of the television network.
While there was major DoE emphasis on preparation for the future, the day to day problems of management and improvement of the existing school system were not neglected.
The main policy objectives of American Samoa’s educational program can be summarized as:
1. A simultaneous upgrading of all levels of school instruction… etc….. (Lee, 1964: pp. 13-16)
The function of the Feleti Memorial Teacher Training School is to train teachers in the basic skills of instruction, especially as related to teaching in the elementary schools. Graduates from this school are in great demand and are assigned immediately upon being graduated to teach in the elementary and junior high schools. The program whereby trainees start receiving a regular school teacher’s salary upon admission to the
teacher training school was continued. All trainees signed agreement that they would remain in American Samoa and teach for at least 2 years upon the completion of their training course.
…A Teachers’ Institute is normally held yearly to keep the Samoan education personnel abreast of new techniques and methods….(Lee, 1964: pp. 19-20)