Literacy is the foundation of a child’s education. This is the belief of Miss Samoa, Papali’i Alexandra Iakopo.
She shared this during the Samoa Stationery and Book’s Meka Book Fair yesterday morning.
The Book Fair is an initiative by Samoa Stationery and Books C.E.O. and President, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai, who has a passion for books. Its aim is to develop the literacy level of children in Samoa.
“Literacy has always been our banner and we have been very active setting up related events such as this Book Fair to open up opportunities for the children of Samoa,” said the Assistant Marketing Manager of S.S.A.B, Viali Williams.
“S.S.A.B’s objective is to bring to light the importance of literacy for the future of our children so the Book Fair is our president’s initiative.”
“It is from Tofilau’s passion and love of books that the idea originated hence why she set up Samoa Stationery and Books or S.S.A.B.”
Papali’i is an ambassador for literacy in Samoa and her role yesterday was to read the young children who were present. More than 50 students, including parents, crowded at Togafu’afu’a to witness the reigning Miss Samoa read to them.
In an interview with Papalii, she said reading to the children is the most important aspect of a child’s life.
“For this programme, it’s mainly to encourage our kids and to empower them that literacy is a big part of their education,” she said. “So in partnership with S.S.A.B. this partnership is mainly to promote reading for our students and it puts a big emphasis on literacy for our students.”
She added compared to last year, yesterday’s session was much more different.
“There has been an increase in the number of our students and I’ve also noted that the participation of our parents has increased,” said Papali’i. “So I have read to the kids and then I gave the chance to the kids to come read out loud the book that he or she chose.”
“And then I have asked the parents to come and read to the kids, it’s good because the kids will also see that the parents can be another motivation for them to push on with literacy.”
“For literacy, I encourage the parents to make time available throughout your schedule and just take an hour of your time because it’s important.”
“Literacy is basically the foundation for every stage throughout the child’s education, even if the kids are at a pre-school level, parents can still read easy books to them and it can provide stable foundation for them and extend their knowledge as well for literacy.”
Mr. Williams added that this is not a new initiative for the company.
“We have been doing this for so long, however today (yesterday) is way different from the previous Book Fairs we’ve held in the past because of the number of kids showing up as well as the support from the parents,” he said. “This is where we also saw the improvement of the kids’ reading as we can see today (yesterday), there are kids whose reading are fast and then there are kids who are slowly getting to that level.”
“And that is the whole purpose why our President, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai, came up with this idea to push the kids to love books and love reading.”
“This is why S.S.A.B. is also in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture during the Literacy Program that is held every year to push kids to read.”
Telesia Petana, a mother of two, said the programme really helps with her children’s reading.
“This is a great and very important initiative by Samoa Stationery and Books,” she said.
“As a parent, I believe we should start reading to our children from the age of six months, even if at that age, if the kid does not talk, there are pictures in the books that the kid will see.”
“As the saying goes, kids are like cameras, they will remember everything from a young age, so I believe that is the best age to start reading to the kids.”
“So as parents, we should make time to read to the children and by the time they start school, they will love to read.”
“So this is a great programme for the children of Samoa.”
Nine-year old Rozell Shail said she is very happy to be part of S.S.A.B’s book fair.
“I love reading because it helps improve not only my Samoan language, but also my English,” she said.
“Having the Miss Samoa read to us also is a good thing as well as our parents who are here.”
“Not only that, but I have made some new friends today (yesterday), but most especially I have learned some new words as well.”
Bob Hellesoe echoed Rozell’s thoughts.
“I’m happy to have met the Miss Samoa and most importantly it is really good to see someone who is as popular as Alexandra take the time from her busy schedule to read to us.”
“When I grow up, I want to make a difference in other people’s lives and it is a lesson learned for me as well that reading can take us to places and it opens the door to a brighter future.”