National University appoints first lecturer with disability


Fa’aolo Utumapu –Utailesolo  with Louise Le’auanae, NOLA’s Program Co-ordinator

BY Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2017: The National University of Samoa (NUS) has appointed for the first time, a person with disability as a full time lecturer at the university.

The appointed lecturer is Fa’aolo Utumapu –Uta’ilesolo, who will be attached to the Media and Journalism studies Program.

The appointment was announced by the NUS Vice Chancellor at the closing of the 5th regional Disability Forum hosted in Samoa last week.

Fa’aolo holds a Masters degree in Communications and Media Studies from Monash University in Australia, and a Bachelor of Communications from the Auckland University.

Asked about the appointment, Fa’aolo said she has been informed “but haven’t made any arrangements as am still digesting the news.”

“At the moment I have not seen the logistics of which area they want me to be at,” said Fa’aolo.

“I feel a bit nervous although journalism and communication is my area, and I have worked closely with the local media, but I haven’t been doing lecturing,” said Faaolo.

Born blind, Faaolo is excited because “it’s a chance to contribute to one of the areas I’m most passionate about which is the media.”

Fa’aolo’s appointment is hailed as a milestone for the media and Samoa and is a positive step towards the movement towards inclusiveness of those with permanent disabilities.

“I believe this is a historic milestone not only for the media, but the disability community,” said Faaolo.

Fa’aolo started working for the Government with the Ministry of Education then studied for her Masters in Australia. Returning home, she worked as a news reporter for Radio Polynesia, then took up a stint as a translator for the Legislative Assembly.

From there she went on to work as the News Editor for Samoa Quality Broadcasting TV1.

She is one of the co-founders of the Nuanua O le Alofa (NOLA), the national advocacy organisation operated by persons with disabilities.

She is an active church member and a musician who leads the band of those with disabilities and also a Sunday school teacher.

Samoa FM on air presenters Herbert Bell (left) and Lanu Tasele

Others with permanent disabilities currently working full time in the Samoan media include a wheel chair based news reporter for the Savali newspaper, Tusiga Taofiga, wheel chair based owner of PowerFM, Henry Silva and the blind on-air presenter for Samoa FM Radio Herbert Bell.